Water Testing for Your Safety

You expect the water in your home to be safe for your family and your needs. From every aspect of water; bathing, drinking, preparing family meals, you need to know your water is safe. If your water supply contains harmful contaminants, you need to know so you can take steps to eliminate the problem.

Compass Property Inspections offers a thorough water testing, helping you feel safe when selling or buying a home. Whether selling or buying, this can help you properly move forward.

Thorough Water Testing

Our inspector takes samples from your home and a certified testing lab completes the analysis.  The water may be subject to a number of different contaminants, depending on a home’s water source.

City Source Water Testing

  • Basic profile test – This test panel includes results for coliform E.coli bacteria, chlorine, chloride, fluoride, nitrite-N, nitrate-N, pH, odor, color, turbidity, calcium, magnesium, total hardness, iron, manganese, sodium, sulfate, and copper.
  • Lead – The lead in a home’s water supply may be due to plumbing or water lines. Because it’s odorless, colorless, and tasteless, testing is the only way to detect lead. Exposure may cause physical and developmental problems.

Well Water Testing

  • Basic profile
  • Lead
  • Arsenic – High arsenic levels in a well water supply can be a result of drilling a well through bedrock. Arsenic is a known carcinogen with no smell or taste. Testing is the only way to determine its presence.
  • Uranium –  Deep bedrock wells are susceptible to contamination by naturally occurring uranium. Uranium can cause kidney damage and testing is the only way to determine if well water is uranium free.
  • Radon – Radon is a radioactive gas which occurs naturally in local soil and rock. It’s a known contributing factor to lung cancer. As its colorless, odorless, and tasteless, testing is the only way to confirm radon in a water supply.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds – VOCs in water may contain carbon, hydrogen, and other elements. You may notice an odor in the air as they vaporize. VOCs may cause a wide range of adverse health effects.

The Importance of Water Testing

A harmful contaminant is typically not detected by tasting, smelling, or looking at your water. That’s why testing is so important. If the home you’re planning to sell or buy has a water potability issue, testing gives you the information you need to take corrective action.

Compass Property Inspections provides water testing as an elective service to homeowners and potential home buyers. We can perform the test during your sellers or buyers home inspection.



Water Analysis Interpretive Guide

Coliform bacteria are not disease-producing organisms themselves but are used as an indicator of disease-producing organisms. When coliform bacteria are present, there is an increased probability that the source water may have been contaminated by surface water or fecal material and may also contain disease-producing organisms.  Chlorination is the best method for eliminating bacteria from the water, but if possible, the source of contamination should be located and treated so the problem does not recur.

Water color may be caused by dissolved organic material from decaying vegetation and/or certain inorganic material such as iron or manganese.  While color is generally not a problem from a health standpoint, its presence is aesthetically unpleasing and suggests that the water may need appropriate treatment.

Odor in water can be caused by foreign matter such as organic compounds, inorganic salts or dissolved gases.  These materials may come from domestic, agricultural or natural sources.  The action level (AL) has been set according to aesthetic values but acceptable waters should be free of any objectionable odor.

Turbidity is the presence of suspended material such as clay, silt, plankton, finely divided organic material and other inorganic materials.  Turbidities in excess of 5 units are detectable in a glass of water and are usually objectionable for aesthetic reasons.  The most common method of lowering turbidity is with a filter system.

Sulfate in drinking water has no beneficial effects. The desirable limit is 250 mg/L. At higher concentrations sulfate may have a laxative effect and cause taste deterioration.

An elevated nitrate nitrogen level may be an indication that agricultural fertilizer or waste disposal is polluting the water.  The maximum level of 10 mg/L has been established to prevent a disease called methemoglobinemia “blue baby disease” in infants.  Reverse osmosis and ion exchange resins can remove nitrates.

pH is a measure of the acid or alkaline content of water.  Water with a low pH (acidic) is corrosive to plumbing and may cause leaching of toxic metals such as lead from pipes and fixtures.  Soda ash can be added to the feed water to effectively raise the pH.

The maximum level for chloride was established primarily as an aesthetic standard. The concentration at which the average person can detect a salty taste from chloride in drinking water is 250 mg/L.  A very high chloride level can lead to corrosion of pipes and heating equipment and is usually associated with an elevated sodium level.  Sewage contamination, run-off from road salting or an improperly maintained water softener may cause elevated chloride.

For healthy persons, the sodium content of water is relatively unimportant because the intake of sodium from other drinks and foods is so much greater.  Persons following a low sodium diet because of hypertension, kidney, or cardiovascular disease should be concerned with an elevated level of sodium.  The usual low sodium diet allows 20 mg/L in the drinking water.  Elevated sodium levels are likely to be seen with the use of a water softener.  Other possible causes are run-off from road salting or sewage contamination.

Iron levels above 0.3 mg/L can discolor fixtures and laundry and may impart a metallic taste to the water.  Iron is frequently present in water because of the large amounts present in soil.  Corrosive water will also pick up iron from pipes.  Common methods for removing iron from the water are aeration or chlorination of the water followed by filtration.

Manganese at levels greater than .05 mg/L may produce brownish black stains in laundry and on fixtures and impart an objectionable odor and taste.  It is usually found along with iron in soil with a high mineral content.  Oxidation followed by a greensand filter is a common method of manganese removal.

Copper in small amounts is not considered detrimental to health, but will impart an undesirable taste to drinking water.  For this reason, the recommended limit is set at 1.3 mg/L.  High levels are usually due to low pH and low hardness in the water.

Calcium and magnesium salts are the major cause of hardness in water supplies.  Although not detrimental to health, hard water retards the cleaning action of soaps and detergents.  When hard water is heated it will deposit a hard scale on heating coils and cooking utensils with a consequent waste of fuel.  A water softening system is the most common method of lowering the hardness in water.  The following is a scale on which to compare your water hardness; [0-75] low/soft, [76-150] moderate, [151-250] hard, [over 250] very hard.