8 Best Home Water Test Kits of 2020

Best Home Water Test Kit
Image by Elnur Amikishiyev / Canva Photos

People have lots of different reasons for testing the water in their homes. Perhaps you’ve just moved into a new house. Or, if your water comes from a private well, you could be concerned about water hardness or possible contamination.

Maybe you’ve always been curious and want to finally confirm the quality of your water.

So now that you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time for a test, how do you choose? Whether you want to check the water in your pool or need an extensive report on the state of your drinking water — we’re here to present the best water testing home kits in every category.

Our Top Picks: Best Home Water Test Kits

Here are our favorite home water test kits of this year:

1. Safe Home Premium Water Test Kit

The best mail-in water test kit

Safe Home Premium Water Test Kit

Brand: Safe Home | Type: Mail-In Lab Test | Detects: 50+ Contaminants | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰💰💰

The Safe Home brand offers several different testing tiers — from a basic kit that tests for 15 contaminants, all the way up to an “Ultimate” that tests for over 200, with prices ranging from $100-$350.

For the best overall home water test kit, we chose their mid-range Premium Water Test Kit. It tests for 50 water-based contaminants, which should be sufficient for most people’s needs.

In addition to general home testing, our overall pick is also one of the best water test kits for drinking water. Identifying any potential contaminants that might be hazardous to your health is critical. This thorough test helps you identify what’s in the water you drink every day.

  • Easy-to-follow instructions
  • Free ‘n free return shipping and no extra fees
  • The amount of testing you get for the price is a great deal

  • Results could be easier to read & interpret
  • Lack of recommendations after overly-detailed results

2. Culligan Essential Water Test Kit

The best at-home water test kit

Culligan Essential Water Test Kit

Brand: Culligan | Type: At-Home Test | Detects: 10+ Contaminants | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰💰

If you’re looking for a fairly comprehensive, inexpensive, at-home test with quick results, the Culligan Essential Water Test Kit is a good bet. This mid-range price option tests for hardness, pH level, nitrites, nitrates, chlorine, copper, iron, and bacteria, as well as total dissolved solids (TDS).

Culligan has a website where you can learn more about water quality and testing and access to their Water Quality Report Guide and informational videos.

Because this kit tests for bacteria in addition to other contaminants, we also recommend this at-home water test kit as an option for testing well water.

  • Reusable electronic TDS meter
  • Surprisingly thorough for an at-home DIY testing kit
  • Much easier to use and interpret than other similar at-home water tests

  • Some deem the test too expensive
  • Not as comprehensive as mail-in lab tests

3. First Alert Home Drinking Water Test Kit

The best budget home water test kit

First Alert Home Drinking Water Test Kit

Brand: First Alert | Type: At-Home Test | Detects: 7 Contaminants | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰

While you can find slightly cheaper water test kits, the First Alert kit is more reputable and more accurate than some of the ultra-cheap options out there. It’s also more thorough, offering eight different tests for hardness, lead, chlorine, nitrate/nitrite, pesticides, and pH levels. The First Alert test also stands out in that it includes an E.Coli test as well.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy general assessment of your water, this budget kit is a great choice.

  • Easy to use, with clear directions
  • Offers quick peace of mind that water is safe
  • Test is a good starting point to determine if more detailed testing is necessary

  • Results sometimes hard to read
  • Too basic; not enough tests; no exact measurements

4. Tap Score Water Test for Wells and Springs

The best home water test kit for well water

Tap Score Water Test for Wells and Springs

Brand: Simple Lab | Type: Mail-In Lab Test | Detects: 51 to 182 Contaminants | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰💰💰💰

It is particularly important to test well water regularly. Unlike city water, you’re on the hook for monitoring the quality on your own. And since well water is more prone to bacteria and other contaminants, you don’t want to skimp on testing.

The Tap Score Water Test for Wells and Springs is available in three forms: Essential, Advanced, and Extensive. The Essential kit includes basic lab testing of general chemistry, heavy metals, minerals, silica, coliform, and E.coli. The advanced and extensive testing packages include even more tests such as:

  • tannins
  • radon
  • radioactive particles
  • heterotrophic bacteria
  • pesticides
  • plasticizers
  • other common industrial and agricultural contaminants

We like that you can get accurate testing at whatever level is appropriate for your situation.

  • Excellent customer service
  • Incredibly detailed, easy to understand, quick results
  • If harmful contaminants were found, users felt they were given helpful next steps and lots of information

  • On the expensive side
  • Takes time to get results

5. Tap Score Water Tests for Utility Customers

The best home water test kit for municipal (city) water

Tap Score Water Tests for Utility Customers

Brand: Simple Lab | Type: Mail-In Lab Test | Detects: 45 to 118 Contaminants | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰💰💰💰

Our pick for city water testing is from the same company as our well water pick: SimpleLab. What sets this company apart is that it doesn’t partner with water treatment companies, nor do they sell any water treatment products. Meaning their business model focuses on providing accurate water testing and extensive reporting.

The Tap Score water tests have superior reviews, but most impressive to people are the individualized reports and helpful recommendations. And while this is a mail-away test, most find their results return within a short time frame.

  • Easy to use, easy to read, well packaged
  • Access to scientific experts to further explain results
  • Report offers both a simple summary and more exhaustive details if you want to do a deeper dive

  • Possible reliability issues
  • Takes up to a week to get results

6. Health Metric Heavy Metals Test

The best home water test kit for lead

Health Metric Heavy Metals Test

Brand: Health Metric | Type: At-Home Test | Detects: 4 Contaminants | Usage: Multi-Use | Price: 💰

If you’re at all worried that you might have lead in your water, testing is a matter of great urgency. Of all the contaminants, lead is one of the most hazardous possibilities. Unfortunately, these days it’s increasingly common.

The Health Metric test is more sensitive than some others on the market, offering low-level detection, which is crucial when dealing with the possibility of heavy metals. Health Metric also provides more peace of mind than other home water testing kits for drinking water — because it tests for iron, copper and mercury, too.

  • Made in the USA
  • Easy to use, clear instructions
  • Fast, accurate results at a reasonable price

  • Some errors in packaging or test strip inclusion
  • Only one lead test, while doubles of other tests

7. JNW Direct Water Total Hardness Test Strips

The best hard water home test kit

JNW Direct Water Total Hardness Test Strips

Brand: JNW Direct | Type: At-Home Test | Detects: Hardness Level | Usage: Multi-Use | Price: 💰

Hard water has a higher concentration of minerals, especially calcium and magnesium. These minerals are naturally occurring, but hard water can create problems for plumbing and appliances. If you want to determine your water’s hardness, this affordable and well-reviewed test kit can give you a quick answer.

These test strips are also great to have on hand if you want to periodically check the performance of your water softener. The test even comes with an app that you can use to track your testing results, with recommendations and additional information about water hardness.

  • Color-coded results
  • Simple and clear instructions
  • Very inexpensive way to test if an expensive water softener is working correctly

  • Strips expire after a few months
  • Negative customer service experiences

8. Poolmaster Water Chemistry Case

The best pool water test kit

Poolmaster Water Chemistry Case

Brand: Poolmaster | Type: At-Home Test | Detects: Chemical Levels | Usage: Single Use | Price: 💰

There are a lot of pool water testing kits on the market; price and quality vary accordingly. We chose a test kit that checks all the boxes: affordable, accurate, easy to use, and simple to read.

  • Not having to visit the pool store
  • Results are easier to read than other brands
  • Pool is clean and clear after using this testing kit

  • Testing liquids expire
  • Reviewers with pools in hot climates found the tests to be less accurate

What to Look for in the Best Home Water Test Kits

Child Looking at the Best Home Water Test Kit
Image by Dominika Roseclay / Pexels

Identify Your Testing Urgency

There are a million good reasons to test your water, especially your drinking water. But there are a few urgent reasons to do so. Ask yourself:

  • Am I worried that there might be lead or other heavy metals in my water?
  • Does my drinking water come from an untested well?

If the answer to either of these questions is “yes,” then it’s essential you test your water right away. Our recommendations for lead testing and well water testing will steer you in the right direction. (If you’re looking for a less expensive test for well water, our pick for best at-home water test kit is also a good choice.)

If the answer to both is “no,” then you have some time to learn a little more about which specific test might be the best for your situation.

Types of Home Water Test Kits

There are two main categories of home water testing kits: a do-it-yourself, at-home version, or a kit where you send your water sample to a certified lab for professional testing. There’s a significant cost differential between these two types of kits. It can be pretty tempting to buy the cheapest kit and get your results instantly automatically.

If you’re mildly concerned (or even just curious) about your water quality, a simple, inexpensive testing kit may be all that you need. At-home kits give you a quick snapshot of what’s going on with your water and will call attention to any red flags that might require additional testing. Just know that these tests are not comprehensive, and even more importantly: they’re not highly accurate. There’s plenty of room for user error, and the cheaper test strips are prone to failure or rapid expiration.

If you worry that there could be more harmful contaminants lurking in your drinking water, or if it’s important to you to get accurate results, we recommend one of the higher quality mail-in lab tests. These professional labs are dedicated to testing individual water samples within EPA guidelines. They test to a much higher scientific standard, within much stricter parameters than anything you can hope to accomplish at home. A report from a lab-tested water sample is an investment in water quality. (It can also be handy to have on hand if you plan to sell your home.)

Which Test Is Right for You?

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is remarkably accurate when it comes to home water test kits. If you want to test for a specific contaminant, like chlorine or certain minerals, then an essential (and cheaper) DIY kit will be adequate for your needs. An at-home testing kit is also a great first step to narrow in on specific issues.

However, if you want to get a truly accurate and detailed picture of what, exactly, is in your water, we recommend purchasing a professionally-tested water sample kit.

Our Process

For this guide on home water test kits, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 30 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each test kit. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 8 home water test kits on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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