We are fortunate in that we don't usually have to worry about the quality of the drinking water in our homes. However, contamination can still occur from issues in and around your home, disasters, or the failure of treatment systems. You might not even be aware of it, since most of the common water contaminants found in our homes are colorless, tasteless, and odorless.
If you're looking to buy a new home, then that is a great time to test the quality of that home's water supply. Significant contamination may be a problem for the whole neighborhood, or it could be an issue with the home or the well itself — which might be expensive to correct. If the quality of the water is good, then you'll have peace of mind knowing that the water you're drinking is safe can clean.
Coliform Bacteria: This is the most important test to determine if the water is safe to drink. It detects contamination from sewage, surface water, and other sources that may contain disease-causing bacteria. Coliforms should never be present in drinking water. The test also includes the detection of E. coli.
Nitrate Nitrogen: More than 10 mg/L of Nitrates is dangerous to infants and pregnant women, causing a condition commonly known as "blue babies."
Lead: Lead is a toxic element and should not be present in drinking water at levels greater than 15 µg/L. Contamination from Lead solder is fairly common, and some older homes may even have lead pipes. Lead in paint is also a concern, especially in households where children are present.
Fluoride: Naturally occurring Fluoride is found in small amounts in almost all water samples. If your dentist is prescribing Fluoride for your children, she/he may want to know how much you already have in your well water.
Hardness: Hardness is not considered to be a health threat, but high levels may cause an unpleasant taste, lime deposits on plumbing fixtures, and difficulty in washing. Soaps and detergents do not lather well in hard water. Water softeners are available, but can add Sodium to the water.
Sodium: Sodium may be harmful to people with heart or kidney disorders. Patients with high blood pressure often must restrict their Sodium intake. There is no "normal" amount of Sodium in well water. Some wells may have less than 1 mg/L, while others may have 100's of mg/L or more.
Iron: Like hardness, Iron is not a health hazard, but can be a nuisance if high levels are present in water. Concentrations higher than 0.3 mg/L may cause staining and may cause a bitter taste to the water.
Manganese: The effects of Manganese are similar to those of Iron. Levels over 0.05 mg/L may cause problems.
See this document (Understanding You Well Results) for more information on what the numbers from your water test mean, at what levels you should be concerned, and what to do if the levels are too high.
ispy Home Inspection provides water quality testing in Minnesota including Duluth, Superior, Cloquet, Esko, Two Harbors, and surrounding areas. Not sure if that's you? Give me a call at (651) 592-6650 or send me an email.