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Water testing strategy:
What should be our approach to testing well water for contamination? - US EPA advice, annotated. Here we give information about drinking water from home wells (also considered private
drinking water sources). It describes types of activities in your area that can create threats to your water supply.
This US EPA material also describes problems to look for and offers maintenance suggestions. Sources for more information and help are also listed. [Editing for clarity by DF are marked by brackets or italics] Initial Source: EPA 816-K-02-003 January 2002. Edits, content addition, & web page design
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2. Strategy: Have Your Well Water Tested [for Contaminants - EPA Suggests a Well Water Testing Strategy]
Test your water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, test for these also. Chemical tests can be expensive. Limit them to possible problems specific to your situation. Again, local experts can tell you about possible impurities in your area.
Often county health departments do tests for bacteria and nitrates. For other substances, health departments, environmental offices, or county governments should have a list of state certified laboratories. Your State Laboratory Certification Officer can also provide one. Call EPA's Safe Drinking Water Hotline, (800) 426- 4791, for the name and phone number of your state's certification officer.
Before taking a sample, contact the lab that will perform your tests. Ask for instructions and sampling bottles. Follow the instructions carefully so you will get correct results. The first step is getting a good water sample. It is also important to follow advice about storing the samples.
Ask how soon they must be taken to the lab for testing. These instructions can be very different for each substance being tested.
Remember to test your water after replacing or repairing any part of the well system (piping, pump, or the well itself.) Also test if you notice a change in your water's look, taste, or smell.
The chart at Reasons to Test Well Water will help you spot problems. The last five problems listed are not an immediate health concern, but they can make your water taste bad, may indicate problems, and could affect your system long term.
Reasons to Test Your Water [and What Water Tests to Order for Various Situations]
This article series gives you general information about drinking water from home wells (also considered private
drinking water sources). It describes types of activities in your area that can create threats to your water supply. This text also describes problems to look for and offers maintenance suggestions.
Sources for more information and help are also listed. [Editing for clarity by DF are marked by brackets or italics] Initial Source: EPA 816-K-02-003 January 2002. Edits, content addition, & web page design
Reasons to Test Well Water: Signs of Possible Water Contamination
|Conditions or Nearby Activities:
||Test for: (also See CHEATING ON WATER TESTS)
|Recurring gastrointestinal illness
||Coliform bacteria - See BACTERIA TEST GUIDE and TOTAL COLIFORM TESTING
|Household plumbing contains lead
||pH, lead, copper - LEAD CONTAMINATION in WATER, HOW to TEST
|Radon in indoor air or region is radon rich
|Corrosion of pipes, plumbing
Corrosion, pH, lead -
See LEAD CONTAMINATION in WATER, HOW to TEST
and LEAD in WATER, ACTION GUIDE
and LEAD POISONING SYMPTOMS
and LEAD TEST VARIATION CAUSES
|Nearby areas of intensive agriculture
Nitrate, pesticides, coliform bacteria, also
See SEWAGE CONTAMINATION
|Coal or other mining operations nearby
||Metals, pH, corrosion
|Gas drilling operations nearby
||Chloride, sodium, barium, strontium
|Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station, or dry-cleaning operation nearby
||Volatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
|Odor of gasoline or fuel oil, and near gas station or buried fuel tanks
||Volatile organic compounds -ODORS IN WATER
|Objectionable taste or smell
||Hydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
|Septic system failures or septic too close to well
||Sewage, coliform bacteria, nitrates, nitrites - See SEWAGE CONTAMINATION
|Stained plumbing fixtures, laundry
||Iron, copper, manganese
|Salty taste and seawater, or a heavily salted roadway nearby
||Chloride, total dissolved solids, sodium
|Scaly residues, soaps don't lather
|Rapid wear of water treatment equipment
|Water softener needed to treat hardness
|Water appears cloudy, frothy, or colored
Article series contents
Continue reading at INTERPRET WATER TEST RESULTS or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
Or see WATER POLLUTANT SOURCES
Or see WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
Suggested citation for this web page
WELL WATER TESTING STRATEGY at InspectApedia.com - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.
Green link shows where you are in this article series.
- WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT - home
- BACTERIA LEVEL INTERPRETATION
- BLEACH DISINFECTANT for DRINKING WATER
- BRASS & COPPER CORROSION WATER TESTS
- CHEATING ON WATER TESTS
- CHLORINE SOURCES in WATER
- CHLORAMINE TESTS, WATER
- CHLORAMINE WATER DISINFECTANT
- CHLORINE HAZARDS in WATER
- CHLORINE IMPACT on SEPTIC
- CHLORINE SOURCES in DRINKING WATER
- CHLORINE SOURCES in WASTEWATER
- CHLORINE TESTS, WATER
- CHLORINATION WELL SHOCKING PROCEDURE
- DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
- ENDOCRINE DISRUPTERS at BUILDINGS
- FAILED WATER TESTS - WHAT TO DO
- FAILED WATER TESTS - WHEN to RE-TEST
- GIARDIA in DRINKING WATER
- LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE - home
- PUBLIC MUNICIPAL WATER TESTS
- SEWAGE CONTAMINATION
- SWIMMING WATER TESTS
- WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
- WATER FILTERS, HOME USE
- WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
- WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR - home
- WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS - home
- WATER PURIFIERS
- WATER QUALITY TEST CHOICES & WATER TEST FEES
- WATER QUANTITY TEST: WELL FLOW TEST
- WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
- WATER STAINING CONTAMINANTS
- WATER TEST FEES
- WATER TEST PROCEDURE
- WATER TEST PROCEDURAL ERRORS
- WATER TESTING ADVICE
- WATER TESTING GUIDE
- WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
- WATER TEST INTERPRETATION
- WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES - home
- WATER WELL CONTAMINATION HAZARDS
- WATER WELL PROTECTION & RESTORATION
- WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS - home
- WELL & WELL WATER DEFINITIONS
- WELL ABANDONMENT PROCEDURE
- WELL CASING LEAK REPAIRS
- WELL CHLORINATION SHOCKING PROCEDURE
- WELL CLEARANCE DISTANCES
- WELL CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE
- WELL WATER CONTAMINATION: CAUSES, CURES - home
- FAQs below discusses field reports of problems & solutions for this topic
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- Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides:
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- Mark Cramer Inspection Services Mark Cramer, Tampa Florida, Mr. Cramer is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors and is a Florida home inspector and home inspection educator. Contact Mark Cramer at: 727-595-4211 mark@BestTampaInspector.com 11/06
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
- The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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