On average, each household in the United uses approximately a whopping 300 gallons of water per day! 70 percent of this use occurs indoors, right from when we wake up in the morning—brushing our teeth, showering, and making a fresh brew of coffee.
Home water testing is essential in ensuring that the water you and your family are drinking, cooking, and bathing in is safe and free from harmful contaminants. With such high amounts of water consumption daily, it is imperative to test your home’s water supply to ensure that it’s free from any contaminants such as arsenic, magnesium, bacteria, lead, iron, and nitrates, to name a few.
In this blog post, I’ll go over the best home water tests available on the market. From simple dip-and-read test strips to more advanced digital testing kits, I’ll cover a range of options to suit different needs and budgets. I’ll also discuss what to look for when purchasing a home water test and how to interpret the results. Whether you’re concerned about lead, bacteria, or other contaminants, this guide will help you make an informed decision about testing for the quality of your home’s water supply.
Different Types of Water Tests
There are several testing types to choose from: DIY water tests, professional water tests, free water analysis, and laboratory water analysis.
Note: DIY home water tests are extremely convenient, and most deliver near-accurate results.
Cheap DIY Water Tests
You can buy two cheap DIY kits online but they lack certain features that you get with premium DIY home water test kits such as TapScore.
1. SJ Wave 16 in 1 Drinking Water Test Kit
- HOME TESTING KIT – Ready to use, for your convenience; tests for 7 most critical parameters in fish tanks, pH, Chlorine, General Hardness, Carbonate Hardness, Nitrate, Nitrite and Temperature. 6 in 1 Testing strips with thermometer makes it 7 in 1 Kit.
- ACURATE AND FAST RESULTS – Strips come with a detailed color chart, detect low levels of impurities and foreign substances, help prevent any invisible water problems and keep your fish safe
The SJ Wave 16-in-1 drinking water test kit is designed to test your water against 16 parameters, including hardness, free chlorine, iron, and copper.
The package includes 10 testing strips divided into 10 sealable bags complete with a dry agent for long shelf life and reliable results.
This DIY home water test kit can be used to test every water source in your home, including drinking, well, and tap water, and renders results quickly within 2 minutes.
2. Varify DIY Home Water Test Kit
- ✓ SAVE MONEY / TEST 100 TIMES! – Testing each element separately at a lab can cost hundreds of dollars, which prevents people from testing every six months. Use this test to stay updated on your water quality without spending hundreds! 100 Strips means 100 tests!
- ✓ SIMPLE AND ACCURATE – No need to be a professional. Get your results quickly and easily whether it’s your tap, well, filtered, or any other water source!
Varify is another great DIY home water test kit designed to render near-accurate results. It tests your water against 17 parameters, including lead, bacteria (E. coli), mercury, iron, and copper, and comes with 100 strips.
The Varify DIY home water test kit also comes with two separate bacteria tests and a home water quality test, allowing you to get a more comprehensive perspective of the water in your home.
Best Lab Tap Water Testing Service
Tap Score by SimpleLab Review
The Tap Score water test kit is in a league of its own for several reasons. Unlike the SJ Wave and Varify water test kits, which use strips to test your water, Tap Score is a data-driven test supported by a team of experts.
Tap Score offers several different home test kits to choose from:
- City water test kits
- Well water test kits
- Rainwater test kits
- Spring water test kits
- Specialized test kits
- Self-testing kits
How Does Tap Score Work?
Tap Score works much differently than the SJ Wave and Varify home testing kits. Instead of sending you strips, Tap Score sends you a box with everything you need to test your drinking water, including vials to collect water samples, an instruction leaflet, and a return (prepaid) shipping label.
Simply follow the instructions and send your samples back to the Tap Score lab for rigorous, certified, independent testing.
The “SCIENCE” behind Tap Score’s testing is truly remarkable! Unlike other test providers, Tap Score has partnered with hundreds of certified labs from across the country, resulting in twofold benefits —faster water sample tests and superior scientific standards.
Tap Score bills itself as the “ONLY” company to operate a nationwide network of water testing labs.
- Stronger specialization – your water sample is sent to a lab that specializes in your specific drinking water and concerns
- Faster speed – more labs mean faster testing so you can expect a turnaround time of 5 – 7 business days
- Higher standards – Tap Score’s expertise is unmatched and the company’s specialized labs provide no room for error
Tap Score Lab Results
After the experts evaluate your water sample, your Tap Score is calculated using an algorithm that includes:
- Water aesthetics
- Plumbing impact
- Health & safety impact
- Local data and federal benchmarks
The Tap Score report is “simple, actionable, and unbiased.” Your Tap Score is rated out of 99 points.
Depending on the testing kit you choose, Tap Score examines every contaminant in your water and lets you know whether they exist at safe or potentially harmful levels.
The Tap Score comprehensive report also outlines any risks your water poses to your health and safety.
But that’s not all; Tap Score provides treatment recommendations that are unbiased and geared towards reducing or removing your specific contamination risks.
Tap Score is a bit more expensive than the SJ Wave and Varify home test kits. But a Tap Score test will put you at ease if you want to know exactly what’s in your water and how it’s affecting your health.
Free Water Test Reports
You can also check out free water test reports to check water quality. However, these tests will only inform you about the quality of water in your area, not the quality of water in your home.
Clearly Filtered is a service that provides general information about the water quality in your neighborhood. Input your Zip Code, see what contaminants are in the water, and find the best water filter.
What Do Water Tests Measure?
Depending on the type, most water tests give you detailed insights into the presence of contaminants in your water supply.
According to the Safe Drinking Water Act by the EPA, a contaminant is any biological, chemical, physical, or radioactive substance in water.
The EPA has detected over 90 contaminants in drinking water that fall into one of two categories—and each category depends on the health effects it may cause—acute or chronic effects.
Acute effects aren’t typically permanent effects because most of our bodies can fight off the contaminants, just like fighting off germs.
But these contaminants can be dangerous when consumed at high enough levels, especially in people with compromised immune systems.
Chronic effects are caused by contaminants such as radium and arsenic. Over extended periods, people who consume above the EPA safety standards are at risk of cancer, liver, kidney, or reproductive difficulties.
Common Drinking Water Contaminants
Arsenic naturally occurs in rock and is sometimes found as an industrial byproduct.
This natural component of the earth’s crust is present in high levels in the groundwater of most states in the U.S.
Testing for arsenic in tap water is important because it is a toxic chemical that can have serious health effects if consumed in high levels. Long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic can increase the risk of cancer and other diseases, such as skin disorders and neurological problems.
Additionally, it is essential to ensure that the water we drink is safe and free from harmful contaminants. Regular testing can help detect the presence of arsenic in the water supply and take steps to remove it or prevent exposure.
You’ve probably heard about the biggest E. coli outbreak in 1999 due to contaminated drinking water at a country fair.
This should be a good enough reason to test your water with the best home water testing kit and install a water filter in your home.
Testing for bacteria in tap water is important because it can indicate the presence of harmful microorganisms that can cause illness if consumed. Bacteria such as E. coli and coliform can indicate the presence of fecal contamination in the water supply, which can lead to serious health problems such as diarrhea, cramps, and other symptoms.
Additionally, other types of bacteria, such as Legionella pneumophila can cause Legionnaires’ disease, a severe lung infection. Regular testing can help detect the presence of bacteria in the water supply and take steps to remove or disinfect it to make it safe for consumption.
Calcium and Magnesium
Even though minerals like calcium, magnesium, and sodium do not have a direct impact in your health, their presence does cause hard water, which can cause several other issues like dry, itchy skin.
Testing for calcium in tap water is essential because it can indicate the water’s hardness, which measures the number of dissolved minerals, mainly calcium and magnesium, in the water. High calcium levels can cause scaling and build-up in pipes and appliances, reducing their efficiency and lifespan.
Additionally, hard water can also cause skin and hair dryness, and may leave a residue on dishes and clothes after washing. Regular testing for calcium levels in water can help identify if the water is hard and take steps to treat it if necessary, such as installing a water softener.
When Should You Test the Water in Your Home?
It’s tricky to tell when to get your home water tested, but why wait until the last minute?
I’ve mentioned earlier that arsenic is naturally present in “HIGH” levels in most U.S. states, so there are great chances that yours is no exception.
There are several common signs to determine when to get your water tested, most notably:
- Your family suffers from recurring gastrointestinal illnesses
- You live near agricultural areas
- Staining of plumbing and laundry
- Salty taste in your drinking water
- Living near gas stations
Conducting water tests regularly is important to check for potentially harmful contaminants such as bacteria and viruses and to ensure your family’s safety.
Water test strips are an affordable way to test your water but only show the chemical concentration of a limited list of contaminants in your water.
Your water isn’t tested by experts so using water test strips is guesswork about the chemicals in your water.
Tap Score, however, gives you a detailed breakdown of the contaminants in your home water supply, rates your water, and even lets you know if your family is at risk.
It is recommended that you test your home water at least once a year for bacteria and every 3 – 5 years for other contaminants, for which Tap Score is a good deal.
For example, Tap Score’s actual city water test is $149, and the extended city water test is priced at $625, which equates to just $17 a month for a 3-year test.