How To Test Your Water

How To Test Your Water. In Australia most of us take water for granted though not all of us are aware that water quality can vary from one location to the next. Water sourced from city reserves travels through many kilometers of plumbing which can sometimes be corroded or damaged causing contamination. Only when pipes burst are repaired or patched up. Old house plumbing is also an issue as lead was originally used to join pipes together and most of us don't look after our pluming until its too late. Country suburbs still reply on rain water tanks, wells and dams. Most of this water is not monitored which can be harmful to your health.

How To Test Your Water

If you suspect that your water is not clean, the following points will help you determine the quality of your water. For those that rely on water from tanks, wells or dams, we suggest that you regularly test the quality of your water.

Appearance Test

How To Test Your WaterInspecting the colour of your water is the easiest test for you to do. Simply fill several clean glasses of water from several locations within the property and compare with a glass of filtered of bottled water. Hold the glass in front of light and closely inspect to see if there is any difference in colour of if there is any sediment.

If you see a difference between the bottled and tap water this is always the first sight of unhealthy water. An odd colour in can be caused by many contaminants including iron which changes in the presence of oxygen to yellow or red a sediment.

  • Iron Yellow or an colour may cause stains on laundry and fixtures, and may have a bitter taste.
  • Manganese Causes black or purple color in water and may stain fixtures, and cause a bitter taste

Smell / Taste Test

Tasting your water is the next point of action, simply tasting it can help you to determine if there is an issue with your water. In most cases water that has been contaminated may not have any odd taste though the following are a few examples.

  • Iron Has an odd bitter taste.
  • Manganese Has an odd bitter taste
  • Hydrogen Sulphide Smells like rotten eggs

If you experience any of the above, go onto the next step. If you don't feel confident with testing your own water, we suggest getting a professional in to do the test for you.

Water Test Kits

Purchasing a water test kit can help you to understand if there is a contamination issue with your water. Most test kits use test strips which are dipped into water for a few seconds, wait  another 60 seconds and compare the colours on the test kit with the colour chart provided with the kit.

Using a test kit with as many parameters as possible will help you to cover a broader range of issues. The following paramters are examples.

1.pH

2.Total Alkalinity

3.Nitrite

4.Residual Chlorine

5.Total Chlorine

6.Water Hardness

7.Bromine

8.Nitrate

9.Cyanuric Acid

10.Lead

11.Iron

12.Copper

13.Fluoride

14.Chromium/Cr(VI)

The parameters that a kit tests for will have a value which you should record so that it can be compared with water standards. The standards will vary depending on the intended use of the water. You can find more information by contacting your local council or water board.

Professional Water Testing

Professional Water TestingIf you find that your water is contaminated or if you are not comfortable to run your own tests, contacting a professional water tester is always a good choice. They can determine if your water is safe though if an issue is detected they will not be able to provide a solution unless the problem is simple to detect. Water contamination issues should be  inspected by a plumber or your local water board.

You can expect to pay $150-$200 for tests which you post to a testing lab or $300+ to have a professional water tester visit your property.

Common Causes of Water Contamination

Water contamination is generally caused by many reasons including:

  • Sewage & Waste Water Sewage, farm and factory liquid waste is sometimes discharged into water sources which can mix in with local water supply. These chemicals can be poisonous for animals, plants and humans.
  • Rubbish Dumping Dumping of rubbish into water lakes and rivers causes problems with water quality. These include plastics, aluminum, steel, Styrofoam and waste chemicals. Many of these can take hundreds of years to decay in water.
  • Industrial Waste Industrial waste is one of the worst water pollutants as it includes dangerous  chemicals including asbestos, mercury, lead and mercury which are hazardous to people, plants, animals and environment.
  • Acid Rain Acid rain is common in industrial and highly polluted areas. When it rains acidic particles will mix with vapor resulting in acid rain collected by rain water tanks.
  • Eutrophication Eutrophication happens when there is an increase of nutrients in water bodies. This causes bloom of algae in water. Eutrophication depletes oxygen in water which affects aquatic animal population and can contaminate drinking water.
  • Lead Homes built before 1986 most likely have lead in pipes, fixtures and solder. When they corrode significant amounts of lead enters into water especially hot water.

To learn more on How To Test Your Water, visit our FAQ's page or visit your local water board website.