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A well water test kit is a piece of equipment that tells you the chemistry of the water from your well. Water quality testing procedures are paramount if you are working with well water, and they help you to ensure your business is healthy, safe, and fully compliant. But how do you use your kit?
Steps for using your well water test kit
There are many different testing kits available, but there are similarities between the way most kits are used. Follow these steps as you deploy your kit.
Organize your testing equipment
It is likely that your well water test kit will contain a number of different testing sets. These sets will be designed to test for various contaminants within your well water. This will commonly include:
- Bacteria, in particular coliform bacteria
- Pesticides such as atrazine and simazine
- Nitrates and nitrites
The test kit may include other testing sets that analyze:
- pH levels
- Water hardness levels
To ensure the integrity of your results, separate all these different parts of the well water test kit and label them accordingly. This is especially important, as there are so many different tests involved in a well water analysis project. You know precisely where your problem areas are so you can put them right.
Take a water sample
You will need a sample of your well water in order to begin the test. It may be necessary to take a sample of the water from within the well itself in order to get the most accurate results. This will tell you what contaminants are found in the body of the well, as well as give you information on different aspects of water in the body of the well itself.
Taking a sample from elsewhere in the system — such as a sample of water that has traveled through the pipework and into a faucet — may give you a different result. This is because the water may be picking up contaminants from elsewhere in the system, and any contamination may not be an indication of a problem with the water in the well itself. It may be useful to conduct this analysis alongside the well water test, as it will give you a better indication of the situation across the full water system.
Utilize the test strip
In many cases, you will analyze your well water using a testing strip. Different tests vary. But, in general, you will need to insert the testing strip into the water sample and leave it there for a specified amount of time. This may be several minutes, but it is important to check the specific details for the test kit you are using.
After you have removed the test strip from the water sample, you may have to leave the strip for a further period to allow the results to develop. Some tests may take only a few minutes or up to half an hour to develop, after which time you will be able to begin recording your results. However, other tests may take longer to develop. Make sure you know how much processing time each test needs and how long it will take for results to develop. This is why the organization discussed in step one is so crucial to the process.
Match test strip to color chart
Test strips are generally designed to change color when they are exposed to a specific contaminant. Some test strips will have a presence/absence indicator, which means they will change from color A to color B to indicate whether or not a contaminant is present.
Other strips will be more nuanced and will change shade and hue according to how much of a specific contaminant is present. For example — an iron test strip. There is likely to be some iron present in your water, and this is nothing to worry about. What you do need to be aware of is how much iron there is, and whether or not this level constitutes a dangerous amount. Compare the color on the test strip with the color chart included in your kit to get an idea of how much iron is in the water. You’ll also need to reference federal health guidelines and regulations to ensure that the well is fully compliant and safe.
Repeat steps two, three, and four for all test strips
If an individual staff member or a small team is carrying out the testing, it is best to test for one contaminant at a time. With so many different aspects to test for, this is the best strategy for avoiding contamination or confusion. Once the first test is carried out, you will need to take a new water sample and repeat the testing process. Continue this procedure until you have results for all of your tests.
Other types of well water testing
Testing strip kits are just one example of the well water tests available to you. Another example may involve adding a solution to the well water sample and examining the color change. For instance, adding phenolphthalein to the well water will give you an indication of the pH level of your sample.
In other cases, you may need to send the water sample to a laboratory off-site to give you the results you need. This will typically be more expensive and will take longer than a self-test kit, but it may give you a more accurate picture of your well water chemistry. You may want to use a well water test kit to screen your well water, but then send a sample to a laboratory to double-check a positive result, or to get a second opinion on what might be contaminating your supply.
Quick and convenient water quality testing
Provided it is used correctly, the well water quality testing kit will give you valuable data on the health of your system and the chemistry of the water you are working with. Remember to be methodical during testing to avoid any cross-contamination, and to use laboratory testing as a fail-safe if you are unsure about the results you have received.