Healthy drinking water is one of the basic requirements of a healthy life. Many people get their drinking water directly from the tap, and the purity of this water is regulated by the local municipality. Unfortunately, there are plenty of factors that can diminish the quality of your drinking water, from chemical contamination, to plumbing issues, to dangerous bacterial growth in the water supply.
Having said those, here are some key tips on how to check the quality of your drinking water:
- Try Testing Kit
One of the simplest ways to test your drinking water is by using a testing kit. The prices of testing kits range from USD$20 to USD$150 USD, although your local municipality may provide free testing kits.
Here are essential things to do when buying and using a testing kit to test the quality of your drinking water at home:
- Choose a kit that tests from multiple factors, such as pH, hardness, and presence of bacteria or harmful chemicals, such as lead.
- Read the instructions included in the packet.
- Dip each of the included strips in water.
- Shake off any excess water and compare the color of the strips to the color chart included in the kit.
A good home test kit should be able to tell you a lot about the quality of your tap water. If your body is still having hydration issues even when your tap water seems to be contaminant-free, it could be an issue of your body’s ability to retain water.
- Request A Water Quality Report
Your locality, most likely, tests your water supply regularly, unless you get water from a well. Contact them to receive the latest report, which you may also be able to find online. Your water company, village hall, or the National Drinking Water Database are also useful resources for learning more about the quality of your drinking water. Most minor issues with water quality, such as excess chlorine from purification or hardness, can be addressed by installing a filter on your tap, such as the 5 stage from Filtap, to make your water cleaner and safer to use.
- Examine Your Water
If you suspect that there might be a problem with your tap water, your first instinct may be to call a plumber or water engineer. While this might be a good instinct in some cases, you can learn a lot about the quality of your water using your senses.
Here’s how to examine your tap water for any issues using your senses:
Fill a glass with water and leave it on the countertop for a short while. Hold the glass up to a light to check for turbidity or cloudiness, as well as any floating particles. You can also run the tap for a short while to clear out any build up and, then, fill a glass to check the color of your water. Your water should be clear, not cloudy, with no particles in it.
Pour some water into a cup and smell it, checking for abnormal smells. The smell of bleach is likely chlorine added as a part of the water treatment process, and which dissipates as the water is exposed to air. The smell of rotting eggs could be a sign of bacterial growth, either in your pipes or in the local water supply. An earthy smell is likely caused by decaying organic matter in the pipes.
Take a sip of your tap water, but make sure to spit it out if the taste is particularly foul. A metallic taste is sometimes due to low pH or excess minerals, or, perhaps, even rusty pipes. The taste of bleach most likely stems from excess chlorine, while a salty taste could be caused by industrial waste or irrigation drainage adding chloride ions or sulfates to your water.
When you wash your hands, does the water feel sticky? This may be a sign of hard water, caused by a buildup of calcium and magnesium. While hard water isn’t inherently harmful, it may be a warning sign that other metals, like lead, have leaked into your water supply.
If you encounter any major danger signs while examining your water, contact your local municipality or the EPA to report it.
Problems To Watch Out For
While contaminated tap water is a nightmare affecting many communities in the United States, there’s a key difference between issues that make your tap water unsafe to drink. The key issues to keep an eye on are the following:
- Microbial: The presence of any pathogenic microbes in your water supply, most notably E. coli, cholera, or salmonella, pose major health risks.
- Chemical: Your tap water naturally contains sodium, calcium, and other harmless minerals. However, chemicals from pipe corrosion or industrial waste, such as lead or sulfates, can cause major health issues over time.
- Physical: Discoloration of your water could indicate an issue with your pipes, most of which can be addressed by a plumber. Other issues, such as turbidity, mostly don’t pose major health risks and can be addressed with a high-quality filter.
Having safe drinking water is a crucial requirement for a healthy life. Use these simple steps to check and improve the quality of your drinking water to help keep yourself and your family safe.