WATER QUALITYCommon Problems a Water Test Can Detect in Tap Water

May 3, 2022

A water test can find contaminants in your home tap water. If you taste, smell or see something, the water quality of your public water might be easy to see. A water test, some of which are fast at-home tests, can find common problems in tap water or well water. With specific information, you can take the next steps to improve or find a different answer for your water.

In-Home Water Tests

An in-home water test lets you test your water supply and see the test results all in a few minutes. It’s important to know what each type of test or brand tests for so you’re not wasting time, wasting money or getting results which do you no good.


The majority of public water facilities use chlorine to decontaminate water. It’s used because of the chemical’s easy availability, cost, ease of use, and effectiveness at killing germs. The toxicity of chlorine makes it an effective chemical that can destroy bacteria, germs, and microorganisms in a supply of water.
While chlorine is usually secure, high chlorine levels can harm the taste and smell of water. Chlorine may reach with natural compounds currently existing in the water, producing dangerous sanitation byproducts. Research studies reveal a few of these chlorine by-products can cause stillbirths, genetic handicaps, a higher risk of kidney and liver cancer cells, and nerve problems with the heart, kidneys, and liver.
A water test can detect the chlorine level in your water, so you can take actions to reduce it if required.

Hard Water

Another issue a water test can be used to find is hard water. Hard water is water with dissolved magnesium or calcium in it. High levels of these minerals can leave white, chalky scum around your fixtures and plumbing. Hard water can also be an issue in showers, in the kitchen with cleaning dishes and with laundry.

Acidity or Alkaline

Water Test Can Detect in Tap Water
In-home water tests can find the pH level in your home’s water.

In-home water tests can find the pH level in your home’s water. A pH level less than 7 is acidic water. Over 7 is alkaline water.

Water which is too acidic can corrode and damage plumbing and water fixtures. The corroding metal creates more deposits or, eventually, leaks.

Alkaline water carries more minerals and impurities which can go all the way through your tap, or be left in your pipes or appliances and cause issues over time. Alkaline water can cause deposits or buildups similar to what hard water does. This can create scaly messes on dishes. It can clog up water heaters or showerheads. Very high pH levels in water makes it taste bitter.


There are tests for iron in water, which is especially useful for well water users. While there’s no evidence consuming iron in water is bad for health, it can cause havoc in your home. No one wants an iron odor or metallic taste in drinking water. Iron will leave odors and stains on clothing, dishes and water fixtures.

High levels of iron will likely lead to iron bacteria. Iron bacteria is a red, brown or yellow stain or sludge in tubs, sinks or toilets. If you’re seeing it, it’s quite likely worse, to the point of clogs, inside pipes and drains.

Hydrogen Sulfide

If your water smells like rotten eggs, it’s probably sulfur or hydrogen sulfide. It’s possible you’ll think it’s a dead animal, or literally bad food sitting in a garbage can or the disposal, but you might find it’s this chemical gas. Hydrogen sulfide occurs mostly in groundwater or well water. Sulfur bacteria is a reaction inside a tank, mainly a water heater, with soil, rock, minerals or another pollutant or contaminant. You can test water for hydrogen sulfide.


Total dissolved solids is a measurement for totaling all substances in water other than pure water molecules. It can be anything organic or inorganic which has become dissolved in water.

A high TDS level makes it unsafe to drink. Symptoms of consuming water with elevated TDS levels are widely varied since what’s making the TDS high can be virtually anything, in any amount and from any source. Many feelings of illness, nausea, breathing difficulty, rashes, allergic reactions, vomiting, dizziness, organ damage, nerve system disorders, immunity reactions, cancer and newborn disabilities are some symptoms of water with high TDS.

Lab Tests for Water

In-home water tests work for finding many contaminants. Some other substances need more advanced lab tests. For these tests, you send a water sample to a lab, then get the results back in a few days to about two weeks.


Lead was the primary material for plumbing pipes and parts centuries ago and up through most of the 20th century. Now, we know much more about the dangers of lead and anything to do with water or food.

Lead can get into water by leaching out of old pipes and plumbing. You can’t taste, smell or see lead in water. A test is the only way to detect it and there’s no in-home, fast test for lead.

Once exposed to lead, there are many health problems. Young children and elderly people are more susceptible. Any level of lead exposure can cause serious development problems in children and infants. It can harm physical and mental development. Other symptoms are hyperactivity, organ disorders, fatigue, headaches and digestive problems.


Copper can, through nature or through man-made reasons, leach into water. It can be present in tap or well water. Old homes may have copper plumbing, which can also put copper into water in high levels. Copper leaves blue-green stains on fixtures. It tastes metallic and bitter. Nonetheless, the best way to know if there’s copper in your water supply is with a test.


Arsenic is a very toxic contaminant and it’s been found in water supplies. It has no taste or odor, so you need a test to detect it. If ingested, there may be short- and long-term effects. Symptoms include internal pain, diarrhea, nausea, skin problems, numbness, blindness and long-term chronic health problems.


South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. HALO systems solve hard water problems, give your family clear, great-tasting water and are totally maintenance free. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.