Water Testing FAQ's
We try to anticipate questions you might have about Water and Water Testing in homes and provide the answers here. If you would like to request additional information please Contact Us.
1. My water looks, smells and tastes great, why do I need a water test?
It's quite possible to be drinking contaminated water [for years] without knowing it. Often the most harmful contaminants have no obvious odors, colors or tastes.
2. The government tests the water and gave me a clean report - should I test?
There are many ways that water can become contaminated between the treatment plant and your faucet, for peace of mind, you could test at the point of use. With that, very rarely do we test community/public water supplies, as they are mandated by the EPA. If you have concerns about your public/community water supply, you should obtain a copy of the areas Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). This is an annual water quality report which every community water supplier must provide to its customers by July 1 of every year.
3. If there are so many risks, doesn't it make sense to test my water for EVERYTHING? What contaminants should I test my well water for?
While it is certainly possible to test for everything, this approach is very impractical because it's an expensive and time-consuming process. (Imagine going to the doctor and having him test you for EVERYTHING imaginable rather than assessing your symptoms, history and lifestyle.)
The EPA recommends that everyone test for coliform bacteria, arsenic, nitrate and lead. Further, your type of financing may determine the MINIMUM water test parameters you need - FHA & VA for example require specific water test parameters. Otherwise, Maida Services offers water test packages that include these vital contaminants as well as others frequently found and expensive to fix.
4. I have a private well that was tested when it was installed, why should I test?
Without your awareness, contaminants can seep into groundwater and can affect your drinking supply. If you own your home you should test your well water on a regular basis. If you bought new construction and are relying on the builders water test results, be advised the builder may not have tested the most comprehensive parameters.
See NH Fact Sheet: http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/dwgb/documents/dwgb-2-1.pdf
See MA Fact Sheet: http://www.mass.gov/eea/docs/dep/water/laws/i-thru-z/prwellgd.pdf (pages 66-69)
5. Doesn't "Mother Nature" purify water on her own?
To some extant - yes. As rain trickles through the ground, it does become cleaner. Wetlands also help remove impurities. Unfortunately, wetlands are being diminished. Gas stations, shopping malls, grazing, mining, oil exploration, forestry; all impair nature's ability to purify water. Some large sources of water have become reservoirs for pollution. This occurs as sediments in rivers and lakes retain toxic chemicals from years gone by, and, they absorb new chemicals being dumped. Large bodies of water can absorb pollution from the air when particulate matter in rain and snow is deposited in them.
6. Why can't I just buy a water filter?
There is NO SINGULAR filter that will correct EVERY water problem. For example, you can filter out minerals and still have bacteria. In fact, a cheap filter can become so loaded with bacteria in a few weeks that what comes out of it may be worse than what came in. If your water needs treatment, it must be treated for your specific problem.
7. I have a filter. How do I know if it's working?
It's almost impossible to say before installing the system and sending the filtered water to a testing company for verification. Variations of water condition can affect the performance of a filter. Maintenance issues within your filter can also change its effectiveness. The only way to know if your filter is working is to have your water tested on an ongoing basis.
8. I can get a FREE water test from any company that sells filters, why should I PAY for a water test?
Those companies are not in the water testing business, they are in the business of selling water filters. This creates a conflict of interests, and you may wind up spending money to treat a problem that doesn't exist. It is best to use an independent company, such as Maida Services. Our water tests are analyzed by a certified water testing laboratory.
9. I don't live in a heavily polluted area, what could possibly contaminate my drinking water?
There are many potential causes of water contamination. Here are just a few things that could be near you:
- Gas Stations
- Industrial Facilities
- Old Cemeteries
- Farm fields
- Improper disposal of paints, motor oils, etc. on private land
- Recreational use of the public water supply
- Lead pipes in the home
- Septic Systems
- Acid Rain
- Decaying Matter or other natural contamination
- and more...
Water can travel hundreds of miles in underground rivers or aquifers.
10. How many types of contamination are there?
While there are many specific types of contamination, it can be sorted out into four broad categories:
- Microbial Pollutants (Such as bacteria and e-coli)
- Inorganic Chemical Pollutants (IOCs) (Usually of mineral origin)
- Organic Chemical Pollutants (Man made chemicals such as VOC's and Pesticides)
- Radiological Pollutants (Radioactivity)
Different types of contamination require different solutions.
11. Why do environmentalists worry about finding a few parts per billion of some rare chemical?
They worry because tiny amounts of certain contaminants may slowly cause cancer or other diseases over a lifetime. Often water with a low level of contamination may have no adverse affect on healthy adults, but it can cause SEVERE symptoms in babies, children, the elderly, or people with compromised immune systems. Why risk irreversible damage when it is so easy to test your water?
12. I don't understand what a part per billion is. Can you clarify this?
Most of the chemical data that is reported for water is expressed as a concentration; a mass of chemical per unit volume of water. It is EXTREMELY MISLEADING to interpret these analogies to minimize the magnitude of the risks. Minuscule amounts of certain contaminants can poison water.
In VERY basic conceptual terms:
One-Part-Per-Million can be thought of as -- one inch in 16 miles or one cent in $10,000.
One-Part-Per-Billion can be thought of as -- one silver dollar in a roll of silver dollars stretching from Detroit to Salt Lake City, or one second of time in 32 years.
13. My water doesn't taste good, yet it tested out O.K. What does this mean?
There are two types of water standards: Primary standards - which are related to health issues; and Secondary standards - which are aesthetic and may affect things like taste, look or smell of the water. Strange as it may seem, you could have an aesthetic problem (such as detectable chlorine) which may not pose an actual health risk.
14. What do I do if I find out my water is unsafe?
If there are multiple problems, each problem should be addressed separately. The general procedure you should follow is:
- Switch to bottled water for consumption until you have the problem solved. (Consumption isn't just drinking; it's cooking, washing produce, making ice cubes, water for pets, etc.)
- Call your County or State Health Department for specific information and instructions on how to treat the problem.
- Track down the SOURCE of the contamination.
- Once you have addressed the problem, have follow up testing done on a regular basis.
15. What if I find a problem with my water from a company that isn't in the filter business, will I be able to solve the problem?
We'll do our best to make sure that you understand any problems, and, we're happy to discuss available water treatment solutions or technologies available without endorsing any particular brands. This gives you the best of both worlds - solid information and freedom of choice.