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Water Testing Kits vs. Culligan Water Testing

Culligan expert performing water quality test
Culligan expert performing water quality test

Water Testing Kits vs. Culligan Water Testing


When you turn on the tap, do you know what’s really coming out of the faucet? You might think it’s only water — but the truth is that even clear, odorless water could contain minerals that cause water hardness or, worse, contaminants that could contribute to long-term health issues.* 

So, how can you get a better handle on your home’s water quality?

For many people, the answer is water testing. Although you can turn to a water test kit, these DIY solutions might not have the comprehensive answers you need. The good news is that there are other ways to check your water for contaminants, hardness and more. Let’s find out more about water testing and test kits.

Pros and Cons of Water Testing Kits

Before we take a closer look at DIY water testing kits, it’s important to know one thing: Any water test is better than no water test. Even the simplest test strip or kit will give you more information than you had before — that way, you don’t have to rely solely on guesswork.

water testing kits pros and cons

What Are DIY Water Testing Kits?

A drinking-water test kit is an at-home option for finding information to address some of your water quality questions. They usually include test strips or other tools for gathering and checking your water sample.

There are a number of choices when it comes to DIY water testing kits; each typically specializes in detecting a few common contaminants in your home’s water. You might have seen a variety of water-quality test kits in stores, and while these options range in price based on what they test for and the number of impurities they can identify, you can expect to pay anywhere from about $10 to $40 for one.

What Does a Water Test Kit Look For?

In most cases, these off-the-shelf kits will detect impurities such as:

  • Chlorine
  • Nitrates
  • pH
  • Alkalinity
  • Heavy metals like iron
  • Bacteria
  • Some pesticides

Be sure to read carefully what your selected test identifies, as results will vary based on the make and model of the kit you’re looking at. Test results usually come back within seconds; you may have to spend some time deciphering the results.

How Do You Use a Water Test Kit?

Each test kit should come with instructions to test for various contaminants separately, along with the materials you’ll need to perform that specific test. Regardless of the test you’re starting with, you should let water run from the faucet for 10-20 seconds before collecting it to use for your tests.

Pros and Cons

While DIY test kits might not provide all the answers you’re looking for, they can be a starting point. After all, they’re fast and convenient, which makes them one potentially worthwhile way to get started on your water q-ality journey.

However, like most things in life, these DIY test kits aren’t perfect. For example, while they come with instructions, you may still wonder if you’re performing the test correctly and whether you can trust the results you see. You’ll also have to read and decipher those results on your own, which can be a challenge if you’ve never performed a water test before and don’t have extensive background knowledge on water issues in your area Finally, you’ll be on your own to determine what your next steps should be.

Luckily, there’s another option: professional water testing.

How Culligan Water® Testing Is Different

A Culligan water test can be an ideal alternative to paying for a DIY water test. Let’s learn more:

How Much Does It Cost?

You could pay up to $40 for a drinking water test kit that doesn’t do the work for you, but a local Culligan Water expert will conduct a basic test on your tap water for free. You’ll also have greater confidence knowing a certified professional has conducted your test and gathered accurate results.

How Does It Work?

Here’s what to expect at your Culligan water test:

  • Questions: Don’t worry — you don’t have to be a water quality expert. Your local Culligan Water expert will want only to know what water-quality concerns you have and whether you have noticed issues like unpleasant tastes and odors or symptoms of problems like hard water..
  • Access: Next, your local expert will need access to unfiltered water. Often, a water sample from your kitchen sink works perfectly — but if you already have a filtration solution, we’ll need access to the point where water first enters your home.
  • Analysis: While the test is being completed, your local expert might ask additional questions about the number of people in your household, your water usage and any current water treatments. The goal is to find out how much you’re spending and how your approach could be made easier and more effective.
  • Results: Our experts walk you through every detail of your water test results so that you understand exactly what you’re looking at and what everything means. If additional concerns are identified, they may recommend one of our IL EPA-certified laboratory water tests, which can check for different contaminants, such as lead, copper and bacteria.

What Does It Look For?

Home water test kits come with significant limitations, including the number of contaminants they’re able to identify. A Culligan test will identify a wide range of issues, generally including total hardness levels, chlorine, total dissolved solids (TDS) and pH levels. Remember, you’ll also have the option to send a water sample to our lab for more-advanced testing if initial water results indicate that step would be worthwhile—but if that’s the case, your local Culligan expert will explain that process and next steps based on lab test results. 

After Your Culligan Water Test

In addition to the convenience and peace of mind of having a professional water test performed, a Culligan water test means that you’ll be one step ahead if your results indicate a potential problem. You’ll have a professional water treatment expert on hand to talk about your home’s results and provide recommendations for addressing any identified issues. That’s one thing you can’t expect from a DIY drinking water test kit: If you choose an out-of-the-box solution, you’ll have to determine the next steps on your own.

Here are a few solutions your local expert might recommend:

Whole-Home Water Filtration Systems

A whole-home water filtration solution is designed to treat all of the water you use for drinking, bathing, cleaning and beyond. These systems are designed to address specific issues that may have shown up in your water test results, including elevated levels of chlorine, iron and sulfur. By reducing the presence of these irritating but generally innocuous contaminants, you can address some of your biggest water quality concerns — like rotten-egg or chlorine odors, metallic tastes and more. 

Drinking Water Filtration Systems

Drinking water filtration solutions are generally installed under your kitchen sink, which means their main focus is the water you cook with and drink. These systems can address a broad range of water issues, including TDS, lead, mercury and more. They usually work through a process called reverse osmosis, which addresses problems that might not be touched by simpler systems such as water pitcher filters.

Water Softeners

If your water test results indicate high hardness levels, your local expert will likely recommend a water softening solution. Water softeners work by targeting and reducing the minerals that cause hardness, including magnesium and calcium. That’s good news, because hard water can be a drag on your comfort in your home and on your bottom line, contributing to dry skin, brittle hair and spotty dishes and leaving you spending more on detergents and cleaners.

Your Culligan expert will help you choose the water softening system that’s right for you. They’ll consider the amount of water you use, the functions you’re looking for and more. They can also show you how a water softener complements other water-quality solutions, such as whole-home or drinking-water filtration systems.

The Value of Water Testing

Water testing essentially is putting your home’s water quality under a microscope. It gives you important information about what’s present in your tap water, from issues you may already see or smell to potential contaminants you may not have thought about. 

Why Is Water Testing So Important?

Tap water in the U.S. and Canada is generally safe to drink, thanks to rigorous public health standards laid out in, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Water Drinking Act, originally passed in 1974  and the Guidelines for Canadian Drinking Water Quality — not to mention the consistent improvement of water systems and the development of standards for building wells.

However, federal regulations and standards don’t apply to private wells, and even treated city water can come into contact with many substances on its way to your tap. Depending on your water source, you might be drinking chlorine, contaminants leached from your home’s plumbing, minerals from natural sources and more. At the same time, not all contaminants are regulated by public health organizations.

That’s why water testing is so important: It can help provide data you need to make informed decisions about your water quality.

Should Everyone Have a Water Test?

If you use city water, you get the benefits of a treated water supply. That treatment often involves chemicals such as chlorine. Although chlorinated water is generally safe to drink, it might carry lingering unpleasant tastes and odors–almost like you’re drinking pool water. In addition, municipal water treatment can’t address anything that happens as water travels to your house, which means that certain issues (such as copper contamination from your pipes) remain unaddressed. That means city water users should have water tests.

What about well-water users? Well-water testing, too, is important because this water source isn’t managed or treated by a municipality, which means that well-water users might be dealing with different contaminants. For example, while well-water users likely won’t have to worry about chlorine, they may have issues with arsenic, lead, nitrates and other contaminants.

Simply put, everyone should have a water test.

How Often Should You Have a Water Test?

It’s generally recommended to have a water test performed at least once a year, with additional testing conducted in certain circumstances, such as after a natural disaster has occurred or if there has been a chemical spill or other event near your home. It’s also smart to test before and after you install any home water treatment system such as a filter or softener — that way, you’ll be able to confirm improvements in your water quality.

Find Your Ideal Water Testing Solution

If you’re looking for a speedy but comprehensive option for learning more about your water quality, don’t reach for an out-of-the-box water test kit. While these kits may seem convenient, they don’t offer the support you need to interpret their results — and they make you do all the work.

Luckily, Culligan water tests are different. They cost 100% less than a DIY test kit because they’re free — and better yet, they come with the know-how of a local water expert who will explain your results and provide guidance on next steps.

Are you ready to get accurate results without lifting a finger? Schedule your free, in-home water test and consultation to get started.


*Contaminants may not be present in your water.

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