Why should I test my water?

There are many reasons why you might want to test your water. You may have a specific concern, such as a change in taste or odor, or there may have been a recent environmental incident. In addition, many banks now require water testing for home loans if there is a well on the property. Whatever the reason, Environmental Testing & Research Laboratories can administer the appropriate test for your specific needs.

How often should I test my water?

We suggest regular analysis of your water to keep informed of your water condition. Most experts on well water suggest annual testing to ensure it hasn’t changed. And while public water is usually safe at its source, old water distribution systems and plumbing systems can contaminate your water. Regular testing ensures top quality water. For your first test (and again after about a year), we recommend our Comprehensive Scan.

How do I know which test to choose?

Our Comprehensive Scan detects commonly found contaminants, and is usually sufficient when there are no concerns, but depending on your particular concerns, you may want to administer another test. Visit our Health or Environmental Tests, or our Other Tests page for a full description. If you have any questions, please contact us to speak with one of our lab experts.

Where should I take my water sample? 

Samples are best taken from the area from which people drink the most water-usually the kitchen. Remove any mixers or purifiers from the tap you plan to use, leave the aerator if that’s all there is and let cold water run for about 5 minutes to flush standing water in the pipes.

What kind of container should I use for my water sample?

Use a sterile glass or plastic bottle, or a glass vial (to test for VOC’s). Fill the container slowly to eliminate air bubbles (air bubbles that occur after the container is closed do not affect sample), and use caution not to contaminate the inside of the container or the lid. Secure the lid tightly, and deliver by hand, or by overnight or second-day mail. We advise that you contact us for sterile sample bottles, we will have them shipped to you immediately an order is placed.

How much water do I need?

We will send you the appropriate container for your specific test(s). About 125 ml (4-5 oz.) of water is adequate for most tests. VOC’s (as in the Comprehensive Scan) requires at least 40 ml (1.5 oz.). Analyzing Pesticides and Herbicides or the Health Scan requires at least one liter. For the Environmental Scan, we will require all the above plus an additional liter of water in a plastic container.

Before taking a water sample, do I need to disinfect the faucet? 

Many people wipe the faucet with alcohol or run a lit match around the end of it. These are common procedures to kill any bacteria that may be present, but if you fill your containers correctly, there is no need to do either of these.

Should I run the water prior to taking a water sample?

Running your water for 5 minutes is adequate for a house that is currently being lived in under normal circumstances. For homes that have been unoccupied for several weeks or longer, run the water for several hours. If you’re concerned about running your well dry, contact the well installer or a plumber for assistance.

I’m taking a sample from a new well. What should I do?

This is normally done by the well driller or well pump installer. If you decide to do it yourself, you should plan on taking several samples to ensure quality water. It often takes several days of pumping to remove the silt and residue from drilling. Perform the Comprehensive Scan, and keep pumping until you obtain the desired water quality.

How do I get my sample to ETR Labs?

You can hand deliver your sample to our lab, or send it to us via overnight or second day delivery. In special cases, overnight or same day delivery may be required. By ordering from this web site, we will send you containers in a postage prepaid box for shipment back to us.

Do I need to keep my water sample cold during shipment?

Only in special cases is cold shipping advisable. Check with the lab if you have a concern in this area.
How long does it take to get my results?

Some single parameter testing can take as little as one day to complete. Our Basic Scan, Standard Scan and Comprehensive Scan all are typically sent out within two business days.  The Health Scan, Environmental Scan, Advanced Environmental Health Scan can take up to 5 business day.  Samples arriving after 12 noon will like be processed as if they arrived the next morning.

We are delighted to let you know how long it will take to perform the testing you have requested.  Because we process every sample at as fast as possible, there is not means of accelerating that process.

How do I view my report?

We can e-mail or fax your report, the original is always mailed.

When will my report be mailed?

Your report will be mailed on the business day following the day it is prepared.

Why does my hot water smell like rotten eggs (sulfur)?

This complaint is most often caused by microorganisms growing in your hot water tank. That can happen when the temperature of your hot water is low or the organisms are coming from the incoming water. In these cases, we suggest the Health Scan.

Why does my hot and cold water smell like rotten eggs (sulfur)?

It is our experience that the most cost effective way to approach this is to test the water to our Health Scan. This odor is typically caused by micro-organisms. The Health Scan identifies organisms which may be a health concern and cause of the odor.

Why does my water smell swampy?

We find that microorganisms are typically the cause for odors. We suggest the Health Scan for this concern.

My bank wants me to test my water. What analysis should I do?

Our Comprehensive Scan will provide the results your bank needs.

Why do I have orange or red/brown stains on my dishwasher, toilet and other plumbing fixtures?

The culprit(s) could be various naturally occurring elements. We suggest the Comprehensive Scan for these concerns.

Why do I have blue green stains on my tub, toilet and other plumbing fixtures?

The culprit(s) could be various naturally occurring elements. We suggest the Comprehensive Scan for these concerns.

Why do I have a white powdery substance on my ice cubes and/or ice maker?

The culprit(s) could be various naturally occurring elements. We suggest the Comprehensive Scan for these concerns.

Why does my laundry have black or gray stains?

The culprit(s) could be various naturally occurring elements. We suggest the Comprehensive Scan for these concerns.

I’m concerned about septic leaking into my well. What analysis do I need to do?

We will test for Total Coliform, Fecal/E. coli, Nitrate, Nitrite, Ammonia and Volatile Organic Compounds. The Standard, Comprehensive, and Health Scans covers all of these.

What is Hardness or Hard water and how does it affect my drinking water?

Hardness is a term used to measure the presence of calcium and/or magnesium in water along with other elements. Hard water is not dangerous, but can cause white spots on glasses washed in your dishwasher, poor soap suds and plumbing deposits, which will eventually restrict water flow. We suggest our Comprehensive Scan for these concerns.