Understand what you will be testing for. The quality of water depends primarily on the concentration of bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and the water's pH. Chlorine aids in disinfecting; nitrates leached from fertilizers are harmful to infants; calcium and magnesium (“hardness”) can cause scale buildup in pipes; and water with very high pH levels (acidic water) can corrode fixtures.
Purchase a home water quality test kit. There are many manufacturers of these kits, but they all function similarly. They will contain test strips that you will expose to water, causing them to change color based on the water's mineral content. You will then match the strip's color to a color chart.
Look for a test kit that contains different strips for bacteria, lead, pesticides, nitrites/nitrates, chlorine, hardness, and pH.
If a kit contains only a single kind of strip, it will likely be for testing pH only.
Read the directions. In your test kit, there will be some directions. These will explain exactly how long each type of strip should be exposed to water, as well as what temperature the water should be. These directions can vary from test kit to test kit, so even if you have done this before, it is crucial to read and follow the instructions.
Expose each strip to water. Follow the guidelines in your test kit to expose each strip to water. Typically, you will start by filling a glass with room temperature water. Then, you will dip the strip into the water and keep it submerged for about 5 seconds, moving it back and forth gently.
Remove the strip from the water. Pull the strip out of the glass and shake off any excess water. Wait for the strip to slowly change color, as you compare it to the color chart included with the testing kit.
Determine the quality of your water. Compare each strip's color to the color chart to determine the level of each substance in your water. The color chart will designate different concentration levels as either acceptable or hazardous.
If you register a hazardous result for any mineral, bacteria, or for pH, perform the test again to make sure that the result is not due to human error.
If the test shows a hazardous result a second time, contact your local municipality.