Water Testing Methods: Analysing Water Using ION Concentration Testers

What To Know About Mold Swabs and Air Quality Testing

Air Quality Testing

Air sampling tests the concentration of mold spores in your home’s air.  Samples are taken from the air and are later examined under a microscope.

Air tests can tell you if you have a mold problem even if you cannot find the mold growth. However the amount of mold spores in the air can change drastically in a small amount of time, giving varying results at different times.

Mold Swabs /Surface Samples

Surface testing takes samples from household surfaces to find the amount of mold growth and spores deposited around the home. Samples are collected by swabbing.  The sample is then examined in a laboratory.

Like with air testing the results can vary because mold growth and spores aren’t spread evenly across surfaces in the home and can change over time. Unlike air testing though, surface tests can’t identify the exact concentration of mold spores in the air.

Why You Should Test for Mold

The main reasons for having mold testing performed in your home are:

  • You notice signs of mold such as a mold smell or mold symptoms
  • To identify the species of mold in your home
  • To help you find where mold is growing-
  • To test indoor air quality by measuring the amount of spores in the air
  • To test if mold in your home has been fully removed

Identifying Mold Species

Another reason for mold testing is if you want to find out what kind of species of mold is in your home. This is important for toxic molds since extra caution needs to be taken to safely remove toxic mold from the home. Two well-known toxic molds are Stachybotrys (often called toxic black mold) and Aspergillus. If you see mold which looks like a toxic species or if you are suffering toxic symptoms then you should have it tested before you try to remove it. The only way to identify the species of a mold colony for certain is to have a mold professional look at a sample of it under the microscope.

 

What Happens in a Full Mold Inspection?

If you suspect you have a mold problem, you can also bring in professionals for a mold inspection. Mold inspectors can search for mold in hard-to-reach areas of your home. They can search:

  • Walls and Wall Cavities
  • Foundation Walls and Crawl Spaces
  • Air Conditioning Systems and Heating Vents
  • Attic Spaces and Chimneys

A visual mold inspection can give you incredibly thorough answers about any fungal infestation in your property. Some mold inspectors will even perform an air quality test to increase their understanding of your situation. Mold inspections are your most expensive option for mold testing, but they can provide you with the most comprehensive answers.

 

How to Test Air Quality in The Home

There are many factors that can affect the air quality in your home. For the health and safety of all, it’s necessary to have the air quality in your home tested. The rule of thumb is the higher the indoor air contaminant concentration, the higher the health risks. The air pollutants in your home can come from harmful gases in the air or from mold growths. Mold and mildew can grow anyplace — on furniture, building material, wet carpet, inside the heating and cooling systems, as well as a host of other places. These mold spores can be very harmful. Harmful gases can be even more dangerous. The two most prevalent gases in homes are radon and carbon monoxide [source: Colorado State University]. Here are some ways to test the air we breath.

  • Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous, colorless and odorless gas that is generated from incomplete combustion of fuel in household devices, such as stoves, furnaces, water heaters and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide can get into your lungs and inhibit the transport of oxygen through the body. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can result in death. The only way to detect the presence of carbon monoxide is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. This works like a smoke detector, sounding an alarm when the carbon monoxide level rises.
  • Radon Radon is also a colorless and odorless gas that rises naturally from the soil and enters the home through dirt floors, cracks in the basement floor and walls, and drainage systems. It is thought to be a major cause of lung cancer. The only way to test for radon is to purchase a radon detection kit.
  • Biological Pollutants Mold, mildew, viruses, bacteria and pollen are all considered biological pollutants. Mold and mildew grow in damp conditions resulting from high humidity, water-pipe leaks and constant condensation. Visual inspection and odor are the only ways to detect biological pollutants. When mold and mildew are found, you must clean the area thoroughly with ammonia, or some similar cleanser, to kill off the spores

 

How Easy Is It to Use a Home Testing Kit?

Most testing kits follow a similar process that is quick and easy to follow. In most cases, you will just need to take these steps:

  • After opening your testing kit, you will follow the directions for collecting air or surface samples from around your home. The kit will have all of the materials that you will need to collect your samples.
  • Take your samples and package them in your mailing envelope that comes included in your kit, and send them to the laboratory. The testing fees will be included in the price of the kit.
  • You will usually receive the results of your samples in 7 to 10 days after the testing is completed. This package will include a detailed report of the findings of the tests as well as specific suggestions on how you can improve these problems that they have detected. If you have further questions about the results, a contact number or email address is often included with the results.

As you can see, this combination of materials will give you all of the tools you will need in order to make your house a healthier place.

 

Combustion air pollutants

Second-Hand Smoke

Secondhand smoke – From anything that burns tobacco, as well as what a smoker exhales. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 compounds, and at least 40 of those are carcinogens. Besides the risk of lung cancer for anyone breathing it, secondhand smoke increases the risk of respiratory infections, especially in infants and children. For kids or anyone with asthma, it can be particularly harmful.

Detection is easy enough. Tobacco smoke is easily seen and smelled. It seeps into fabrics, hair, and furniture. The yellow residue can cling to windows and mirrors.

Prevention is fairly simple. Don’t smoke in your house or allow anyone else to smoke inside. If you live in an apartment complex or other situation where a neighbor’s smoke comes in your home, you’ll need to find ways to seal up air leaks. Investing in a good air purifier placed near the source of entry is another solution.

Carbon monoxide – This gas, in high concentrations, can cause unconsciousness or death. Low concentrations lead to headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, weakness, and confusion. It’s so dangerous because it’s colorless and odorless.

CO is emitted mostly by things that burn fossil fuels: stoves, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, gas-powered generators, cars, etc. Prevention lies in keeping flues and chimneys clear of blockages and never running gas-powered vehicles or machines indoors. However, some indoor gas appliances can malfunction and emit dangerous levels of CO.

The Many Uses Of A Drinking Water Testing

How to test water quality? Chemical tests for limited budgets

Thanks to modern chemistry, we can detect thousands of chemicals in water, even at extremely low concentrations.  The ever-growing list of tests that are available can feel overwhelming, and the vast majority of methods require state-of-the art lab facilities. Fortunately, we don’t need to test for everything! A much smaller and more practical set of tests can provide a good sense of chemical water quality for monitoring purposes.  The good news is that there are low-tech versions of these tests for situations when budgets are limited.

Test strips – These are small, single-use strips that change color to indicate the concentration of a specific chemical. Depending on the particular test, the user “activates” the paper or plastic strip by dipping it into the water sample and swishing it around, or by holding the strip in a stream of water. After waiting for a short time, the user compares the test strip color with a color chart to read the concentration of the chemical. These kits are extremely simple, but they are less accurate than other methods, especially if users don’t follow the instructions.

Color disk kits – Color disk test kits are available for a wide range of chemical tests.  In a typical set-up, the user adds a powder packet or a few drops of a liquid reagent to a water sample in a reusable plastic tube.  The user then places the sample tube in a small plastic viewing box.  This viewing box contains a plastic disk with a color gradient printed on it.  The user rotates the color disk to find the part that best matches the color of the sample, and then reads the concentration of the chemical from the disk.  Color disk kits typically have multiple steps and often include prescribed wait times, so they’re a little more complicated and costly, but generally more accurate.

Hand-held digital instruments – Lightweight and portable digital meters, colorimeters, and photometers are available for water testing.  They provide the most accurate results of these three testing methods, but they are also more expensive and delicate than the previous options.  These instruments require batteries and calibration.  While digital instruments are helpful to field technicians and are an essential part of any continuous or remote monitoring network, they are unlikely to be suitable for “citizen science” or crowdsourced water quality testing.

hemical water quality parameters

Having identified various test formats, the next question is: What do we test for?  UNICEF recommends prioritizing fluoride, arsenic, and nitrate for chemical monitoring.  In areas where the earth is naturally rich in minerals that contain fluorine and arsenic, levels in well water can be high enough that chronic exposure is dangerous to human health

 

Which Water Test Kit?

Multi-pack options

We offer a range of multi-packs, the kits vary in content, please see the table below for details. These simple, affordable one-of-a-kind kits test are ideal to screen water samples for many different elements. These can include up to 12 of the most common and potentially hazardous contaminants found in drinking water e.g Bacteria, Lead, Pesticides, Nitrates, Nitrites, Chlorine, pH and Hardness. Fast & accurate results are available on the spot.

The type of water testing kit, which is required, depends on what water should be tested and if there is any suspected contamination (also see Unusual colours, smells and taste of your water). All of the kits below are suitable for fresh & potable water, this includes water from taps, springs, aquariums, lakes, ponds, streams, wells, boreholes, puddles and leaks as well as water stored in tanks

Water Test Kits for a single contaminant

Enables users to identify levels or precence of a single contaminant in drinking water with instant results

Digital Water Test Kits for single & multiple tests

These easy-to-use photometers do not need calibrating and have a manufacturers warranty of 2 years

Further Free Resources:

Got a question about water testing? Try our complete list of Free Water Testing Resources.

 

Best Water Test Kit

There are lots of different brands to choose from. How do they compare with each other? Do homeowners’ water testing results match up with those from a professional lab? Which is the best home water test kit?

I had the same questions. So I decided to get my hands on some and try some water testing myself. Keep reading to find out how I conducted my experiment, and what I found out.

How I Tested the Water Test Kits

The water at my house comes from a 185 foot deep drilled well. It’s cold and clear and tastes fantastic. But taste alone doesn’t tell you the true state of your water quality.

When my husband and I bought the house a few years ago, we were told that our well water quality was fine. But we never had any water testing done ourselves. It was always in the back of my mind that I really should get it checked, just to be sure.

So, I finally stopped thinking about it and ordered six different water test kits from Amazon. I decided to go with kits that are well known and that are affordable for most people.

 

How to Test Your Tap Water

How safe is your tap water? Finding out can take some time, effort, and money, but it’s worth doing.

Most people on municipal water who pay their own bill should receive an annual water quality report called a CCR, or Consumer Confidence Report. If you don’t receive yours, call your local water supplier. And if you rent, contact your landlord.

If you’re on well water, you won’t get a CCR, so you should get your water tested. That’s also a good idea if your home was built before lead-free pipes were mandated in 1986: Even if your CCR says that the municipality’s water is free of lead, it can leach into your water from the pipes in or leading to your house.

Many kits are available for do-it-yourself tap testing, but it’s not always clear what they test for or how accurate they are. The EPA recommends using a certified lab. Find one on the EPA’s website. Testing typically costs $20 to $150; your community might provide test kits free of charge

For multiple or high levels of contaminants, reverse osmosis filters are often best. They can remove lead, arsenic, bacteria, and other contaminants. But they take up a lot of space (typically under your sink), require additional plumbing, and often go through several gallons of water for every gallon of filtered water. They’re pricey, too, some costing $1,000 or more. You might also have to pay a professional to periodically service the system.

 

The Best Water Quality Test Kit for Your Home

If you’re worried about your home’s water quality—as many Americans justifiably are, in the wake of water scares in Flint, Michigan, and Newark, New Jersey—a home water quality test can ease your fears. After 50 hours of reporting, and after testing 11 different home water quality test kits, we’ve found that the SimpleWater Tap Score Advanced City Water Test is the best water quality test kit for your home. It measures a wide range of more than 100 potential contaminants and delivers the results in an easy-to-read, richly detailed report. If you’re worried only about lead, we recommend the much cheaper Safe Home Do-It-Yourself Lead in Drinking Water Test Kit.

The SimpleWater Tap Score Advanced City Water Test is a send-away kit: You take samples of your water, put them into a handful of bottles, and ship them off (using an included mailing label) to a certified laboratory. There, your water is tested for more than 100 compounds, including metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic; volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like chloroform; bacteria; and industrial and agricultural compounds like pesticides and nitrates. Tap Score is not the only highly accurate send-away kit, but no other kit we tested delivered nearly as useful a report. Tap Score not only tells you, in plain language, exactly which compounds are in your water (and the amount) but also explains their potential health risks and suggests ways of addressing any concerns. Tap Score also offers unmatched online support. You can chat with a representative, and if your questions go beyond their knowledge, the questions are passed on to experts, who follow up with a detailed email. All of this makes Tap Score by far the most user-friendly and informative home water quality test kit we found.

If for some reason you are unable to use Tap Score, we recommend two runners-up: the WaterCheck CityCheck Deluxe and the Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit. Like Tap Score, these are send-away kits; you put samples into bottles and ship them to a certified lab. We found that the testing was just as accurate as Tap Score’s (and, in fact, National Testing Laboratories, which makes the CityCheck Deluxe kit, is among the more than 60 labs Tap Score partners with). But both of these kits are more expensive than Tap Score, and their reports aren’t as easy to understand. The reports are still much more readable than those of some other send-away kits: They’re color-coded, so you can quickly see contaminant levels of concern. But they lack Tap Score’s clear explanations, actionable advice, and robust online support. The CityCheck kit also lacks an included mailing label, so you’ll have to take a trip to the post office or another shipper.

Our budget pick, the Safe Home Do-It-Yourself Lead in Drinking Water Test Kit, doesn’t have to be sent away—you can get the results at home yourself. It tests only for lead, but if that’s your sole concern, this DIY test is a great option. The Safe Home Do-It-Yourself kit is widely available, inexpensive, and fast (the test takes a total of 10 minutes and less than 30 seconds of active work). And it delivers a clear positive or negative result: Your lead levels are either below the EPA standard or above it. You simply dip a strip of test paper into a sample of your water, and the presence or absence of a blue line tells you whether you have a lead problem. If you don’t, you’ll have peace of mind. If you do, you’ll know it’s time to enlist a professional plumber or an environmental service to help you find and address the source of the problem.

We do not recommend any of the more-comprehensive DIY test kits that are available. We tested six of them and found that the tests were so rushed and the results so subjective (you’re asked to match the color of your test sample to a chart by eye, with only seconds to do so) that we didn’t trust our ability to interpret them. If you want a complete picture of what’s in your water, we strongly recommend that you go with one of the send-away kits and let a professional lab do the testing.

What To Do During Mold Remediation Procedures

How to choose the right mold remediation company

Check your phone book or the web for a local mold remediation company.

Refer to the 3 critical questions to ask every mold company before they enter your home.

Call a company on the list and ask them each of the 3 critical questions.

I hope this guide has helped you regain control of your home. If you use us for your mold project, we’d be thrilled, but more importantly I hope this guide will lead you to a clean and healthy home

 

How To Choose A Mold Remediation Company

Discovering a thriving mold colony in your home presents a host of complex, potentially expensive problems – none of which should be addressed by any less than certified professionals. You may wonder how your property became infested in the first place and just how extensively the spores may have spread and multiplied beyond the first spot of growth you see. Likewise, it’s understandable to fret the potential health risks that accompany a mold invasion and just how costly remediation can become when compared to the estimated dollar amount of damage mold can do to your property.

The best mold remediation companies in any market will address your infestation in as thorough and timely a manner as possible while clearly answering any questions you may have and minimizing costs to the greatest degree possible. As with the process of comparison-shopping contractors for any professional service, you owe it to yourself to ask a battery of probing questions and gather several estimates before making a choice.

How experienced are the employees who will be working in my home?

First off, rule out any and every contractor with no proof of up-to-date insurance. Yes, they may have the edge in price, but the risks in the event of a catastrophe are not remotely worth it.

How familiar are your employees with the inherent environmental hazards of mold?

A quality mold remediator doesn’t have to be a medical expert or experienced health practitioner to grasp indoor water damage’s potential toxic risks. Your contractor should concisely explain the difference between symptoms of a minor mold allergy and a serious toxic reaction and what makes mycotoxins potentially lethal, especially to individuals with compromised immune systems.

What safety precautions do you take before, during and after mold remediation

To avoid cross-contamination, the contractor should lay down plastic sheeting and additional protection at all containment site entrances. Only HEPA-filtered negative air machines (NAMs) should be used during mold remediation, all of them exhausted outside the home. Scratch off any contractor who attempts to negate or minimize the importance of containment measures to avoiding the creation of additional hazards during the project.

 

MOLD REMEDIATION COMPANIES

Mold remediation companies provide a number of services necessary to deal with the problematic growth of mold in the home – mold inspection, mold removal, repair of household damage due to mold. Some mold removal companies are certified in mold remediation, though certification is not required of mold remediation contractors so that’s something you want to inquire about when selecting a company to take care of your mold problem.

Why Hire Someone?

Some people decide to just handle their mold problems on their own, and in some cases that might work out fine. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends not attempting to clean up a mold problem on your own if the mold covers more than ten square feet. The thing is, even though you may only notice a few square feet of bathroom tile affected by mold, mold spores spread easily through the air and mold can hide in many places, including your heating vents and air ducts. You probably won’t see it there yourself, but certified mold remediation contractors know how to track it down and take care of it.

Choosing Among All the Different Mold Remediation Companies

Unless you live in a very small town, you probably have several mold remediation companies from which to choose. Don’t just settle for the one with the biggest ad in your local yellow pages. You can call your local Department of Health for suggestions, or check with the Better Business Bureau. The important thing is to make sure you choose a company that will do the job right.

What to Expect

Most mold remediation companies offer a free inspection and assessment, during which they will examine your home for mold, tell you about the extent of your mold problem, advise you about the best way to resolve your mold problem and let you know what they will charge to handle the problem for you. Request that a certified mold remediation specialist perform the inspection. You can consult with more than one company if you like before deciding which one to hire.

When You Need to Consult a Professional

We recommend all homeowners consult a professional before beginning the process of mold remediation, and since most mold remediation professionals offer free consultations, that’s easy enough to do. In some instances, though, it’s particularly important to speak with a professional before you proceed. You may need to hire a professional, but even if you hope to do the work yourself,

 

How to Find a Trusted Mold Remediation Professional

When you discover mold is growing in your residential or commercial property, immediate action is important. The presence of mold can not only ruin the materials it is growing on, but mold can also cause individuals exposed to it to suffer from health problems, such as allergic reactions and other symptoms.

Mold growth is triggered when mold spores, which are naturally present, encounter a food source and a moisture source. This is also why mold growth is so common in the aftermath of water damage. If the water source that triggered the mold growth is not properly addressed, then the mold will continue to grow, and the damage will get worse

In cases where there is minimal mold growth, home remedies might be sufficient. Some people may choose to clean mold up themselves, too, as a way to save money. But home remedies should not be relied on, especially if you just want to save money.

Look into the Services’ Specifics

When you come across a mold removal company you might be interested in hiring, take a further look at what their services entail. The company should provide complete services that include initial inspection, containment, mold cleaning and removal, and final inspection.

The inspections are important, because the initial one allows the technicians to create a proper mold removal plan, and the final one ensures the mold has been completely removed. Meanwhile, the testing should be conducted by an outside source to ensure impartiality, and the cleaning should be conducted using safe, nontoxic cleaning products. Mold on its own can already be toxic, so you do not want the cleaning work to introduce further toxins into your environment.

 

PRACTICAL TIPS FOR CHOOSING A MOLD REMEDIATION CONTRACTOR

Roof leaks or high indoor humidity leads to excessive moisture which can cause a lot of damage to your properties. Undetected water damage in a home can lead to dangerous mold problems and cause many health issues. Attempting to resolve the mold issue yourself can cause the mold to spread quickly to other parts of your home

Mold removal is a complex process that needs extensive training, experience, and specialized tools so you should not just hire any mold remediation contractor that comes your way. Making sure they are worth your money is essential.

Make sure you’re dealing with professionals

You need to know you’re dealing with professionals. You can ask the remediation contractors to evaluate the affected area in your home. The manner they present themselves and how they answer your questions will tell you a lot. Look out for confident answers based on ensuring your health not just a price quote. Find out if they conduct air testing before and after remediation. Get the remediation contractors to explain the type of mold testing they do. If they do not conduct air testing, look elsewhere.

Make sure they are licensed and insured

Insurance is necessary for remediation contractors because it provides coverage in case of an accident. A license, on the other hand, says that the contractors are recognized and permitted to operate in your area. One thing that comes with being licensed is belonging to an association that emphasizes standards. This means licensed remediation contractors are equipped with the best standards available to rid your home of molds. Always choose contractors who are properly insured and licensed.

Check for free mold assessment

It is a popular practice for remediation contractors to provide an evaluation of your home at no cost. You can then take the opportunity to evaluate their professionalism. If a remediation contractor cannot provide a comprehensive assessment, you should not put them in charge of your project.