Q: I want to test my water, but how does it work?
A: After you have determined which kit will best meet your testing needs:
- You order a kit from one of the following locations
- Online at www.suburbantestinglabs.com
- Call us at 610-375-TEST
- We will send you a kit including sample bottles (courier service is available in some areas).
- Return samples using an overnight carrier.
- Our partner company, Suburban Testings Labs analyzes the samples and we send you the report.
Q: My water looks, smells and tastes great, why do I need a water test?
A: Because 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.
Q: The government tests the water and gave me a clean report. Why should I test it?
A: Because there are many ways that water can become contaminated between the treatment plant and your faucet. Water must be tested at the point of use.
Q: What should I test for? If there are so many risks, doesn’t it just make sense to get my water tested for EVERYTHING?
A: While it is certainly possible to test for everything, this approach is very impractical because it is 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, nitrate and lead. We provide packages that include these vital contaminants as well as other common indicators of contamination.
The best approach is to look at indicators of a problem, and then start with basic, GENERAL tests. If the basic tests come out fine, you’re done! If the basic tests show trouble, you can proceed from there and order a more specific test to pinpoint your problem.
Q: I have a private well, that was tested when it was installed, why should I test?
A: Because contaminants seep into groundwater and can affect your drinking supply and this can change without your awareness. Well water must be tested on a regular basis, and is recommended to be tested annually by the EPA.
Q: Doesn’t Mother Nature purify water on her own?
A: 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 as 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. The Great Lakes may have acquired as much as half of their pollutants from aerial sources.
Q: Why can’t I just buy a water filter? After all, it doesn’t hurt to be too careful!
A: Because there is NO ONE 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.
Q: I have a filter. How do I know if it’s working?
A: You don’t. It is 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.
Q: I can get a FREE water test from any company that sells filters, why should I PAY for a water test?
A: Because those companies are not in the water testing business, they are in the business of selling water filters. This creates a conflict of interest, and you may wind up spending money to treat a problem that doesn’t exist. It is best to use an independent, certified lab, and deal directly with that lab. This way, there is no conflict of interests. Suburban Water testing does not sell water treatment products, nor are they affiliated with anyone who does.
Q: I don’t live in a heavily polluted area, what could possibly contaminate my drinking water?
A: 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
Water can travel hundreds of miles in underground rivers or aquifers.
Q: How many types of contamination are there?
A: While there are many specific types of contamination, it can be sorted out into four broad categories: Different types of contamination require different solutions.
• Microbial Pollutants (Such as bacteria.)
• Inorganic Chemical Pollutants (IOCs) (Usually of mineral origin.)
• Organic Chemical Pollutants (Man made chemicals.)
• Radiological Pollutants (Radioactivity.)
Q: Why do environmentalists worry about finding a few parts per billion of some rare chemical?
A: 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?
Q: I don’t understand what a part per billion is. Can you clarify this?
A: Most of the chemical data that is reported for water is expressed as a concentration: a mass of chemical per unit volume of 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.
It is EXTREMELY MISLEADING to interpret these analogies to minimize the magnitude of the risks. Miniscule amounts of certain contaminants can poison water.
Q: I don’t have a science background, how will I manage to do a home test kit?
A: All of our kits simply involve collecting water samples. The directions are easy to understand and follow. The lab will do the rest.
Q: I’m not sure I’ll be able to understand my water report once I get one.
A: Our tests are designed to be easy to understand.
Q: My water doesn’t taste good, yet it tested out O.K. What does this mean?
A: There are two types of water problems: Primary problems — the dangerous sort of problem and Aesthetic problems — things that affect the 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.
Q: What do I do if I find out my water is unsafe?
A: Because there are many different types of problems each must be addressed separately. The general procedure you should follow is:
1. 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.)
2. Call your County or State Health Department for specific information and instructions on how to treat the problem.
3. Track down the SOURCE of the contamination.
4. Once you have addressed the problem, have FOLLOW UP TESTING done on a regular basis.
Q: I’m afraid that if I find a problem with my water from a company that isn’t in the filter business, I won’t be able to solve the problem.
A: Suburban Property Inspections, and our partner company, Suburban Testing Labs makes sure that you not only understand any problems that you find, but point you in the right direction regarding treatment. This gives you the best of both worlds, solid information and freedom of choice.
Contact us at 866-866-6700 or order a kit here.