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Podcast Q & A 1: Do you recommend a do-it-yourself test kit, we do ourselves, or a laboratory test?

podcast Q&A 1: well water testing

Hello! Welcome to the Clean Water Made Easy Podcast, Q&A Episode #1.

Hey, my name is Gerry Bulfin. I’m a WQA-Certified Water Master Specialist and Water Treatment Contractor here in lovely Santa Cruz, California. Today’s question comes from Sally and she asks, “We recently moved into a home on well water and we’d like to get the water tested. Do you recommend a do-it-yourself test kit, we do ourselves, or a laboratory test?” She also said, “Can you send me more information on your well water test kits?”

Hi Sally. Yeah thanks for asking about this. This is actually very important. You know, since you’re new to the well, the EPA and we, and most water professionals, would say, “You should get a complete laboratory test at least once because you want to rule out any problems of contamination such as heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, other chemicals.

Mostly the do-it-yourself test kits will not test for those things. Well, you can test for pesticide, do-it-yourself, it’s just one pesticide that it tests for. It doesn’t cover a lot of different kinds and it doesn’t really tell you the level. It just tells you if it’s there or not.

So, at least once is a good idea to get to see if there are any heavy metals such as arsenic, lead and then general mineral analysis and test for bacteria, nitrate and all the pesticides and herbicides.

Years ago we first started getting folks’ waters to test it for our customers on well water. The pesticide, herbicide, and chemicals were very expensive. A lot of folks spent 900 dollars, thousand dollars for all the different tests.

Now the price had really dropped. There are different labs that have automated the procedure and you can get quite a number of tests done like 80 to a 100 different parameters tested for between a $150 and $200.  It’s at least a good idea to consider that and the other thing is that it’s important to consider where you’re at, where is the home at.

Are you in the middle of agriculture area, near a farm or lots of corn, weed or other agriculture going on where they use an intensive pesticides or herbicides? That’d be a good reason to consider laboratory tests. Is your well properly drilled, is it a normal with a submersible pump and a standard deep well drilled? Or is it a shallow well, old well that might be under the influence of water from the surface?

These are all the things to consider when you’re considering why you’re getting your test done. It’s just for peace of mind when you’re new to it; or something has changed, in which a lot of our customers are.  Also if whether there has been hydro-fracking in the area. In industries, there’s a lot going on where  they’re extracting oil and gas. So they might want to have their water tested periodically, say yearly,  in a lab.  We have a lot of customers that don’t have any problems;  or consider if there’s any contamination problem;  but they do have iron in their water.

They see rust staining. They have hard water, and they see white deposits, or maybe there is corrosion going on. They see blue stains from their copper piping, or maybe they have clogged pipes with sediment. They want to figure out what’s going on.  You could start with that. You could actually use a do-it-yourself test kit because do-it-yourself test kit can tell you the basic general minerals that you need in order to figure out what kind of filter to use.

A typical home do-it-yourself test kit would test for alkalinity, copper, hardness, hydrogen sulfide, iron, arsenic and manganese as well mostly manganese with lots of iron and often and nitrate, nitrite ph, sulfate and total dissolved solids. It’s all good things to test for if you’re getting a do-it-yourself test kit and you’re after non-health threatening, even though nitrate is a health threat you could just see what you could come up with the test kit.

I would still recommend a laboratory test for the nitrate especially if you’re new to the well because that is a health threat especially for infants.

That’s basically it. If you want to also do a testing for bacteria, you can get a home test kit for bacteria. Those tests have improved a lot and though they don’t tell you how much bacteria, the test will tell you if it’s there or not, which is a good place to start.

Another reason,  a lot of times I’d mention earlier about corrosion, a lot of times folks would say “Yeah, I’m getting stains, I have copper stains or corrosion.”  Well, then, you’d want to test for lead, copper, pH, alkalinity, total dissolved solids, hardness, and temperature. So those are things you could also do with a home test kit.

The other thing to consider is that every year, this is also recommended by health departments and EPA, World Health Organization as well said, you want to test your well for nitrate, coliform bacteria. Those are the two things that is a good idea to get your well tested once a year. Just to see if anything has changed.

We also recommend, which is a very, very cheap and easy to do yourself,  for you to  get your water tested for total dissolved solids and get a total dissolved solids, TDS tester, and just check your well. Check your well for pH and total dissolved solids. Let’s say once a year then you can spot changes. Maybe there’s something going on, your total dissolved solids are increasing or your pH changes just give you a kind of a clue if anything is going on in your groundwater.

Hey! I hope that answered your question.

Do you have a question that you like to answer? If you do, then set up an easy way to do it just go to and you’ll see there on the right blue button that says “leave a message” and you could just click on that and leave me a voicemail and I’ll answer your question properly.

Well, thanks for listening I hope you have a good day!

For further reading: Well water testing

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