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It's hard to get trustworthy advice when it comes to your drinking water, so we made Tips for Taps to help answer your questions.
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The Best Water Testing Kits of 2020

By Alisen Boada

Getting accurate, lab-certified water testing for your home is easier than you think.

Whether you're looking into buying a new home, planting a garden, or expecting your first child using the right water testing kit ensures your water is safe and gives you personalized information for finding the best treatment options, if needed. When it comes to finding the best water testing kit, you want to make sure it’s testing for the right contaminants for your unique situation—with no gimmicks or frills trying to get you to buy sponsored water treatments.

This list will help you find the water test that's right for your specific needs:

  • Home Buyers
  • Private Wells Owners
  • Home Loans
  • Homesteaders
  • Radiation
  • Rainwater Harvesting
  • Renters
  • Expecting Parents
  • Budgets-friendly Options
  • Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs
  • Vegetable Gardens
  • Schools

  • Best Water Testing Kit for Home Buyers

    Recommendation: Advanced City Water Test

    Getting the most thorough testing possible is the safest move for avoiding longer-term water issues in a new home. Local water quality information can only tell you what’s in a city’s water supply before it reaches the house. But, plumbing can also be a source of water contamination—especially lead. 

  • Houses built before the 1986 ban on lead plumbing are more likely to contain lead pipes and solder. 
  • Fixtures and faucets purchased before 1997 can contain up to 8% lead.
  • PVC pipes made before 1977 can leach cancer-causing vinyl chloride
  • You can get the full picture on the baseline water quality of your potential home with the Advanced City Water Test. This test kit covers any metals, minerals, and chemical compounds that can damage your plumbing over time or cause long-term health effects. 

    Best Water Testing Kit for Private Wells

    Recommendation: Groundwater Testing Collection

    Annual testing for bacteria and nitrates is a highly recommended practice for all private well owners. Additional testing is strongly encouraged by most state governments because groundwater is exposed to a range of natural and human-made hazards including microbes, organic compounds, inorganic contaminants, and radiological particles

    Because the EPA and local health agencies do not regulate or monitor private well water, it’s the owner’s responsibility to test their well’s water quality and maintain any treatment systems to keep their water safe.

    Some contaminants should be tested for more often than others, and we have award-winning test kits for every occasion.

    Annual Well Testing

    Recommendation: Essential Well Water Test

    The Essential Well Water Test is an affordable option for yearly, certified lab testing that includes basic chemistry; heavy metals, nitrates and other inorganics; and coliform bacteria.

    It’s often also a good idea to test for other local pollutant risks near your property—like contaminants from agriculture, industrial sites, and septic leakage. To check for these contaminants (or after any sudden changes in your water quality) we suggest upgrading to the Advanced Well Water Test.

    Well Testing Every 3-5 Years

    Recommendation: Advanced Well Water Test 

    The Advanced Well Water Test kit tests for basic chemistry, metals and other inorganics, coliform, and E. coli bacteria, plus volatile organic compounds  (VOCs)—particularly those common to land-use risks like oil and gas related spills and solvents, as well as some pesticides. 

    Well Testing Every 5-10 Years

    Recommendation: Extended Well Water Test

    Get a deeper dive into the water quality of your well with the Extended Well Water Test—including everything in the Advanced Well Water test plus more esoteric contaminants like radionuclides and an expanded panel of industrial chemicals (semi-volatile organics, plastics, pesticides, and more). 

    Best Water Testing Kit for Home Loan Requirements

    Recommendation: Certified Home Loan Water Test

    If your state or home loan provider requires testing your private well before selling, purchasing a new home, refinancing, or otherwise requiring a mortgage, this is likely the kit for you. 

    This popular, certified home water testing package includes all laboratory analysis required by VA, FHA and USDA Minimum Property Requirements.

    Note: we do suggest that you confirm with your county or loan officer in case there are any additional sample handling or specific local certifications required.

    Best Water Testing Kit for Homesteaders

    Recommendation: Advanced Well Water Test 

    Water supplies that come from sources like natural springs or surface water are more prone to a range of contamination than groundwater from a drilled well. Most springs used for drinking water need a continuous disinfection system to make sure that the water is safe. Accurate testing can pinpoint the most cost effective treatment options for your home and check that these systems are working to keep your drinking water safe. 

    The Advanced Well Water Test  can help you find the optimal treatments and filters for your homestead’s alternative water. This kit checks for all the general water chemistry, metals, non-metal inorganics, volatile organics, and coliform bacteria.

    If your homestead is supplied by groundwater from a drilled well, see the Best Water Testing Kit for Private Wells section above.

    Best Water Testing Kit for Radiation

    Recommendation: Radiological Testing Collection

    Some drinking water sourced from groundwater may contain radon—a radioactive gas—or other radionuclides of uranium or radium. If you live in an area with high uranium levels, radon levels, or other sources of radionuclides in the water then we suggest at least an occasional water test to check these risk levels are low. Our Radiological Testing Collection offers a suite of kits for various types of radioactive elements. 

    Tap Score Water Testing

    Best Water Testing Kit for Rainwater

    Recommendation: Rainwater Testing Collection

    Rainwater can be a sustainable alternative water source with proper testing and maintenance. Frequent monitoring is crucial because rainwater is susceptible to contaminants like metals, pesticides, bacteria, viruses, and parasites. 

    States that promote rainwater harvesting, like Texas, advise testing quarterly if the water is used for drinking—especially for bacteria, metals, and pesticides. Our Rainwater Testing Collection offers a variety of great choices for regularly monitoring the safety of your rainwater for safe drinking levels.

    Best Water Testing Kit for Renters

    Recommendation: Essential City Water Test

    If you live in a home or apartment connected to a municipal water system, you—or your landlord—should receive an annual summary of contaminants reported by your water utility. Our Essential City Water Test is a great tool for comparing this information against the water quality actually coming out of the taps in your home or apartment. These differences can be especially significant in older buildings where the plumbing might be introducing contamination.

    Disinfection Byproducts

    Recommendation: Advanced City Water Test

    If you are concerned about your local utility’s use of chlorine—and resulting disinfection byproducts like trihalomethanes (THMs)—the Advanced City Water Test can help monitor these contaminants in your tap water. 

    If you have received a notice about haloacetic acids (HAA5) in your local water supply, upgrade to our Extended City Water Test.

    Private Wells

    Recommendation: Essential Well Water Test

    Renters should thoroughly review rental agreements to make sure the responsibilities are outlined for who should be monitoring and testing the well. If you are in charge of your rental’s annual well testing, read more about the Best Water Testing Kit for Private Wells above. 

     

    Best Water Testing Kit for Expecting Parents

    Testing your water is an important step for preparing your home to give your baby a healthy start. Babies drink more water for their size than older children and adults, and their growing bodies have a hard time getting rid of toxic substances. Clean and safe drinking water is also critical for keeping parents healthy because some contaminants can be passed to the baby during pregnancy. Choosing the most accurate test depends on where your water is coming from.

    City Water Supplies

    Recommendation: Advanced City Water Test

    If your drinking water comes from a public water system, our Advanced City Water Test can help ensure the plumbing in your home isn’t adding lead, plastic chemicals, and other pollutants to your water—especially in the taps you use for drinking or preparing formula.

    Private Wells

    Recommendation: Advanced Well Water Test 

    If your drinking water comes private well, our Advanced Well Water Test covers everything that can be harmful to your baby's health and development—including coliform bacteria, nitrate, arsenic, lead, and manganese.

    For expecting parents on a budget, our at-home DIY test kits for nitrate-related bacteria are an easy, affordable option if your home is near agriculture. We also have an in-lab, high-resolution nitrates test.

    Best Water Testing Kit on a Budget

    Recommendation: Essential City Water Test or Essential Well Water Test

    Our Essential Test Kits for both city and well water are great budget-friendly options for checking in on your baseline water quality. These cost less than $150 and include shipping BOTH ways.

    The Essential City Water Test kits cover our minimum recommended safety standards for utility-supplied drinking water and comes with a detailed Tap Score Report of the heavy metals and physical properties of your household tap water. The Essential Well Water Kit is designed to target the most harmful and common contaminants found in groundwater

    Both Essential water testing kits include analysis for lead, copper, arsenic, hardness, and much more. 

    If You Only Need to Test For One Contaminant

    Recommendation: DIY Self-Testing Add-Ons, options from our Specialized Testing Collection, or request a custom quote on our contact page.

    We offer affordable laboratory testing options for virtually all contaminants. If you’re on a budget and need a very specific contaminant only, then reach out to our team and they can provide a scaled-down custom quote. Otherwise, Tap Score’s self-testing kits are affordable and easy to perform at home if you only need to test for one particular microbial contaminant. We offer bacterial self testing kits for:

  • Coliform Bacteria
  • Iron-related Bacteria
  • Sulfate-reducing Bacteria
  • Slime-forming Bacteria
  • Chlorine Test Strips
  • Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S) Gas Test Strips
  • Nitrate-related Bacteria
  • Best Water Testing Kit for Pools, Spas, and Hot Tubs

    Recommendation: Extended Well Water Test

    Even if you test your pool or spa at home on a regular basis, it's a good idea to have your pool professionally tested to make sure all aspects of your water are properly balanced.

    If your pool water is sourced from a private well, it may contain more minerals and metals like copper and iron. And if your city has hard water, you may have high calcium levels. These contaminants can make it more difficult to maintain the proper chemical balance in your pool, and they can stain or damage pool surfaces overtime if left unnoticed.

    For a comprehensive test, we suggest the Extended Well Water Test–which will cover an array of metals and minerals, as well as volatile organic compounds (including chlorine and  chloramine related byproducts), as well as pesticides and radioactive particles. 

    While the Extended Well Test is the “gold standard” for pool and spa testing, if you are looking for a smaller, less expensive panel the Advanced Well Water Test or Essential Well Water Test may also be suitable options. 

    Best Water Testing Kit for Vegetable Gardens

    Recommendation: Essential City Water Test or Essential Well Water Test

    Just like water carries the vital elements throughout a plant, it also may carry contaminants that lurk in the water supply. These contaminants range from biological (microbes) to chemical (heavy metals). Increasing evidence not only suggests that contaminated water causes nutritional imbalance within plants, but a link to increased foodborne illnesses from microbes, parasites, and viruses in humans. The concern is greatest in leafy vegetables that tend to be eaten without cooking.

    Additionally, certain general properties of water, like sodium adsorption ratio, can negatively impact soil and plant. Depending on your source water, either of our Essential tests will cover many contaminants and physical properties that may affect the health of your vegetable garden. 

    Soil Testing

    Recommendation: Soil Testing Collection 

    SimpleLab doesn’t just test water. As a one-stop-shop for environmental testing, SimpleLab’s Soil Testing Collection can also help you maximize your garden’s fullest potential. 

    The Advanced Soil Test gives you an analysis of your soil's texture, carbon-nitrogen ratio, cation exchange capacity, as well as heavy metal and essential nutrient concentration. Each soil test includes university-driven lab testing, quantified test results, and personalized soil health reporting and advice.

    Best Water Testing Kit for Schools

    Recommendation: Essential City Water Test

    Children in our public schools are at risk—and not just in Flint, Michigan.

    Since the beginning of the EPA’s regulations on lead, schools have been a blind spot for testing even though no amount of lead is safe for children. Faucet fixtures and on-premise plumbing is not systematically monitored in schools and daycares in most states, despite being a primary pathway for lead entering children’s drinking water. Schools that test water in multiple taps, rather than just one, are also more likely to find elevated lead levels. 

    The EPA is currently working to update its testing guidelines for lead and copper, but in the meantime our Essential City Water Test can provide certified laboratory testing for lead, copper, and a multitude of other metals, minerals, and general chemistry.

    Though testing will go a long way in alerting schools to lead exposure, additional policies are still needed to keep students safe. 

    SimpleLab’s  Lead In School Water Project is the first web-based application to rank and track every US state in terms of school-related lead exposure, testing, and policy. The project’s goal is to provide a free public resource for parents, facility managers, and regulators to monitor the latest data on their school’s waterborne lead concentrations.

    Click here to see how your state performed!

    Not Sure Which Water Test You Need? Ask Us!

    Earlier this year, New York Times’ Wirecutter named our Advanced City Water Test the “best water quality test kit for your home.” 

    When compared with other highly-rated kits, SimpleLab’s Tap Score tests not only offer accurate results for over 1000 different contaminants and parameters, but also include:

  • An easy-to-understand report that clearly explains everything tested and detected in your water
  • Explanations of all potential health risks
  • Unbiased recommendations you can put into action for treating your water 
  • Online support from professionally certified engineers and PhDs
  • View an example Tap Score Report. 

    We have tests available for almost any contaminant situation you might find yourself in—from slimy fixtures and mysterious smells to failing appliances and water-related illnesses. If you want to know more about your water quality, we’re the best one-stop shop. 

    There are literally infinite things to test for and we have many esoteric contaminant testing options on our Specialized Testing Collection page. 

    Our mission is to help empower you with information to safely treat at the tap and enjoy the health benefits of clean drinking water in your home. If you’re not sure where to start or are having trouble defining your water quality woes, the Tap Score team is here to help you!

    Contact Tap Score

    Sources and References

    The Best Water Quality Test Kit for Your Home

    Use of Lead Free Pipes, Fittings, Fixtures, Solder and Flux for Drinking Water | US EPA

    Advanced City Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Independent Lab Water Testing For Home And Business

    Identify Lead-Free Faucets

    Plumbing & Pipes

    Microorganisms: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly | SimpleLab Tap Score

    How Dangerous Are Pesticides in Water? | SimpleLab Tap Score

    7 Heavy Metals Everyone Should Test For | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Is My Water Radioactive? | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Essential Well Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    How To Spot Well Water Contamination | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Tap Score Advanced Well Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Extended Well Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Certified Home Loan Water Test (VA, FHA, more)

    Understanding the VA's Minimum Property Requirements

    Radiological Testing Collection | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Spring Development and Protection

    How Do You Fix Radon in Water? | SimpleLab

    Uranium Contamination and Drinking Water | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Rainwater Testing Collection | SimpleLab Tap Score 

    Rainwater Collection | Private Water Systems | Drinking Water | Healthy Water

    The Texas Manual on Rainwater Harvesting

    Disinfection Byproducts: The Adverse Effects of Water Chlorination

    Review: Trihalomethanes In Tap Water | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Do Water Filters Remove Haloacetic Acids? | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Extended City Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Is Drinking Water Safe For My Baby? | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Safe Drinking Water For Your Baby - EH

    Is Plastic Piping Safe? | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Nitrate-related Bacteria | SimpleLab Tap Score

    High-Resolution Nitrate Water Test | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Sodium Adsorption Ratio, Irrigation, and Soil Health | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Example Tap Score Report 

    Self Testing Add-Ons | SimpleLab Tap Score

    Targeted Testing Packages | SimpleLab

    Is Your Water Safe For Plants: Learn About Water Quality In Gardens

    Recommended Levels of Some Components of Irrigation Water

    Foodborne Germs and Illnesses

    Lead - Infographic

    Soil Testing Packages | SimpleLab Tap Score

    For Most US Students, Lead Testing Isn't Required for Their School's Water

    Will the EPA’s Updated Lead and Copper Rule Make School Drinking Water Safer?

    Lead in Schools Report Card

    It's hard to get trustworthy advice when it comes to your drinking water, so we made Tips for Taps to help answer your questions. Order a Tap Score Water Test and receive personalized support from professional engineers and scientists by phone, email and chat.

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