How do I take a water sample?

The object of the test is to make sure the well is bacteria free.  Coli-form is a common bacteria which is easier to test for than some other harmful types of bacteria.

  1. Make sure you have completely purged the system of any Chlorine.  Please refer to FAQ 1 for complete details.  If the lab detects any chlorine, they will not test your sample.  Purging the chlorine from the system can take anywhere from two to six hours (and possibly more).  The key piece of advice here is do not take a sample if you smell any chlorine.
  2. Make sure your water conditioner and reverse osmosis system are bypassed.
  3. Be sure there is no screen (sometimes referred to as aerator) in the faucet from which you are taking a sample.
  4. Use a lighter to heat up the faucet spout for 5-10 seconds.  Obviously avoid this step if you have a plastic faucet, or simply use a different faucet.  Heating up the faucet may kill bacteria that was possibly living in the faucet area.
  5. After heating up the faucet, run cold water at half for at lease 30 minutes.  Do not touch the faucet while it is running, any changes might get bacteria from the valve into the water stream.
  6. Collect water in a bottle.  To avoid contaminating the sample, do not breathe directly in the bottle, and do no not touch the lip or the inside of the cap.
  7. Keep the sample refrigerated in a small cooler for an added measure and get it tested promptly.  Do not give the bacteria time to grow.
  8. If you have taken in more than one sample, ask the lab if they will give you a bacteria count so you can tell if you are making progress or not.
  9. It is not unusual to have to chlorinate the well once or twice after it is drilled.  We chlorinate the well when we drill it, but often the plumbing is not completed at that time so the plumbing lines have not been disinfected at all.
  10. Running the water for an extended period of time is probably one of the best things you can do, particularly if the house is new or has not been occupied for some time.  Make sure to run enough locations so the pump runs continuously rather than cycling of and off.

Austin Clark

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