How To Interpret Water Test Results

How To Interpret Water Test Results

November 11, 2022

All homeowners who rely on wells for their residential water supply should sign up for regular testing. But do you know what those test results are saying?

If you are using well water for the first time, you may not be familiar yet with the details that will be provided. Continue with this article so you can learn how to interpret water results.

Well Water Test Results Explained

Upon opening your well water test results, you will likely see entries for different contaminants, units, and the corresponding results for each one of them. Let’s discuss each of those contaminants individually and determine if the results you received warrant concern or not.

Total Coliform Bacteria

First off, you will likely see the number of total coliform bacteria in your well water. The presence of coliform bacteria in your well water hints at the possibility that disease-causing bacteria may also be hanging around in there.

With regards to total coliform bacteria, the test results should indicate that no trace of it was found in your well water. You should either retest your water or work to clean it up if the results reveal the presence of coliform bacteria.

Calcium and Manganese

We’re combining calcium and manganese here because they are responsible for creating hard water. Hard water can be beneficial from a nutritional standpoint, but some homeowners would rather not deal with the residue it leaves behind.

If you want only soft water, then your water’s CaCO3 level should be no greater than 100 mg/l. Those who wish to benefit from hard water should want to see results that are closer to 150 mg/l.


The chloride levels indicated in the test results should tell you if fertilizer or animal waste is leaking into your water supply.

The tricky aspect of evaluating chloride levels is that we intentionally introduce it into our water first as chlorine. That means you’ll find a good amount of it in the water.

Chloride levels under 250 mg/l should be fine. However, chloride should not be that high if you are not treating your well water. If you don’t treat your well water with chlorine, the result should read something closer to 10 mg/l.

pH Level

The pH level of your well water matters because it gives you an idea of how potentially corrosive it is. Corrosive water can affect your plumbing. You may have to replace your pipes earlier than expected if you have corrosive water.

You want to see the pH level of your well water to be somewhere in the range of 7 to 8.5. Well water that registers a pH level between 6 and 9 should still be okay, but it poses a greater threat to your plumbing.

Once you see that the pH level is either lower than 6 or higher than 9, you should take immediate action. Treating the water or making your well deeper can help resolve the issue related to your water’s pH level.

Your well water test results give you valuable insight into the current condition of your water supply. Use those results to determine if you need to do something about your current well setup.

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