Last week we started reviewing water testing and how important it is for both your home and you. Water testing helps maintain your health, prevent plumbing headaches, and keep your well functioning properly. This week, we will continue discussing water testing. Read on to learn all about when you should test your well as well as the potential contaminants well owners may encounter.

The When

Homeowners need to get their well tested on a regular basis, at least annually, if not more. Most experts recommend that owners do water testing in the spring. Spring is the most convenient time to test because you can test well function alongside water testing.

If homeowners notice a change in their water, that is a good sign that testing needs to happen. Any shift in taste, color, and odor, may indicate some issues with the well source.

Additionally, test your water if there have been issues with well water in the area. Whether the state reported an issue, or your neighbor has expressed concern, it is always smart to double check. Wells often share water sources, so a problem in one well means that everyone will have issues.

Finally, get water testing done if there are natural disasters or extreme weather in your area. Heavy rains and flooding typically leads to large issues with water flow and quality.

Types Of Contaminants Found In Residential Wells

Contaminants are the bad things that get into water that make humans sick, ruin well, and cause problems with plumbing.


Nitrates in water frequently make people sick. In fact, when they are ingested in a high volume, they are actually poisonous. Nitrate poisoning leads to serious health issues, especially in infants and older adults. All wells should be tested for nitrate exposure. However, the shallower the well, the higher risk for nitrate issues. Nitrates originate from many sources.

  • Leaks from private septic systems.
  • Animal waste that was left uncleaned.
  • Flooding sewers due to heavy rainfall.
  • Storm water runoff.
  • Agricultural runoff.
  • Decaying plant matter.
  • Fertilizers, particularly industrial fertilizers.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Volatile organic compounds, also known as VOCs, are chemicals that come from industry runoff and fuel. There are many different VOCs, and different varieties of VOCs impact different regions in the country. When well experts conduct water testing, they communicate with local health and environmental agencies.  This communication ensures that everyone is testing for the proper compounds. Common VOCs consist of benzene, carbon tetrachloride, toluene, trichloroethylene, and MTBE.

Other Contaminants

Nitrates and volatile organic compounds are some of the most common contaminants. However, there are many other contaminants that water testing checks for. The most common category for these is heavy metals.

  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Mercury
  • Radium
  • Atrazine
  • Pesticides & fertilizers