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Home Water Tests That You Can Do Yourself, For Free.

Problems with hard water spots or rust stains?

Water rust stainsHome Water Test Kits are available but did you know there are some basic steps you can take to find out the condition of your water without spending a penny?

Are you wondering if your water is eating up your pipes and contaminating your water with corrosion by-products?

Follow the four free fast ‘water tests’ below to get some fast insight into what the water is doing (if anything) to your pipes, fixtures, and appliances.

There are four ways you can test your water’s effects on your appliances, fixtures, and plumbing without having to spend a penny or use any special tools, or buy anything!

1. Hardness Soap Test

Calcium scale (“hardness”) costs U.S. homeowners billions of dollars each year by destroying plumbing, water heaters, fixtures, and appliances. See if your water is hard by using the simple Soap Hardness Test.

1. Use a 12 oz measuring cup or another container that you can measure 12 oz, such as a small water bottle.

2. Fill to the 12 oz line.

3. Add 10 drops of liquid dish soap and shake.

4. If you see lots of suds, your water is most likely low in calcium hardness.  If you do NOT see suds, add another 10 drops.

10 Drops  =  0—1 Grains Per Gallon    VERY SOFT

20 Drops  =  1— 4 Grains Per Gallon    SLIGHTLY HARD

30 Drops  =  4— 8 Grains Per Gallon   MEDIUM HARD

40 Drops  =  8—16 Gains Per Gallon  HARD

50 Drops  =  16 & Higher Grains Per Gallon  VERY HARD

2. Kitchen Faucet Aerator Test

Kitchen sink aerator testMinerals and sediment can build up in your fixtures and appliances. Check your kitchen faucet aerator and treat with vinegar to see how your water is affecting your fixtures.

  • The aerator is at the end of the faucet, where the water pours out.
  • This has a small screen which traps debris.
  • Remove aerator on your kitchen faucet by unscrewing it by hand or using small pliers.
  • Be careful not to scratch the aerator.
  • Place aerator in a bowl of white vinegar for one hour. The white vinegar will dissolve and remove hardness build-up and allow you to inspect what is left in the bowl after cleaning.
  • Clean and rinse and re-install aerator.
  • If your bowl of vinegar has mineral deposits and sediment in it, you can know that these same minerals are clogging other fixtures such as toilets and dishwasher.

3. Water Heater Flush Test

Water heaters can collect sediment and hardness and are easy to drain. Use this simple and fast test to see if your water heater is filling up with sediment or minerals.

1. Connect the drain valve to a garden hose (drain valves on water heaters typically are ‘hose bibs’ meaning they can connect to a garden hose).

2. Turn on the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and allow water to flush into a 5-gallon bucket or another container.

3. This serves as a visual water test for sediment and minerals that your home appliances are exposed to, and also can indicate the condition of the water heater.

4. The water should appear clean and clear and free of sediment.

5. If you see flakes or sand or grit, this can be an indication your water heater’s anode rod has deteriorated, and/or the glass lining of your water heater is going bad.

4. Toilet Flush Tank Inspection Test

The Toilet Flush Tank Test is an effective, easy and free way to quickly see what your water may be depositing in your pipes and appliances.

Keep in mind that the toilet flush tank has clean water from your cold water pipes.

The flush tank holds the clean water that is used to flush the toilet, and it is like having a mini settling storage tank right in your home.

The water goes in the flush tank and is exposed to air.  The water may leave sediment, rust, or corrosion by-products from the pipes (assuming that there is any in your plumbing).


Top Ten Water Problem Symptoms Found in Toilet Flush Tanks:

Clean White

This could be a new toilet, or recently cleaned. If your tank looks like this and it is not new and recently cleaned, then it likely indicates that your water is NOT leaving sediment or deposits in your plumbing or fixtures.

Deposits in the Bottom 

This can mean the water coming into your home has sediment or rust in it. Or if there is rust or flakes in the bottom, and your home has older style galvanized iron plumbing, it could be your piping needs replacing.

Rust or Dark Colored

If you are on city water, it might indicate the city main distribution pipes have been recently flushed, or just plain bad or poorly treated city water. If you are on well water, this can indicate you need an iron filter system.

Black Water and Deposits

Typically occurs on well water. Black deposits and black water mean either manganese in the cold water, and/or ferric sulfide (black rust). This can also occur when the water has a rotten-egg odor. Treat with chlorine or peroxide and filter with Pro-OX filter media.

Slimy Rust-Colored Deposits

Typically occurs on well water. Stringy-looking, slimy deposits growing from the side of the toilet tank indicates iron bacteria. Water may appear frothy or bubbly. Treatment with chlorine or ozone (OR periodic shock treatment of well and pipes) to kill the bacteria, followed by filtration is needed.




If the tank is white and clean, then it can be a good indication your pipes are in good condition.

Toilet flush tanks rarely get cleaned and you can often determine a lot of what is going on with your water by simply looking in.

If you have a new low-flow toilet with air tank inside your flush tank, then this test won’t work for you.

My wife thinks I’m a nut, but I have a habit of looking into almost every toilet flush tank that I come across.

In hotels, friend’s and family’s homes and other places I come across that have removable flush tank lids, I just take a quick look. It’s fascinating to see what is happening with the water inside and I often add an image or two to my ‘toilet flush tank’ photo collection!

The most serious condition I see is when the toilet flush tank has blue or greenish blue stains.  This means copper corrosion, and this type of water problem should be addressed immediately as it means your copper pipe is corroding and leaching heavy metals into your water.

The new ultra-low-flow toilet flush tanks make this type of inspection a little less useful, as the air bladder apparatus partially obstructs the view of the flush tank. Eventually, as the standard flush tank toilets get replaced with the new ultra-low-flow flush with air bladders inside, you won’t be able to see as much, but it still doesn’t hurt to look.

Easy Well Water Test Kits

Happy family with clean water.After doing these free home tests, if you notice any concerning water problems requiring a more in depth look, you can order a test kit. See our easy well water test kits by visiting this link.  As always, if you would like to speak directly with one of our water experts, you can call us toll free at 1-888-600-5426. Or, simply fill out our fast help form and we will get back to you. Good luck!






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  • Clean Water Systems & Stores, Inc., Water Treatment Equipment,Service & Supplies, Santa Cruz, CA

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