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Is It a Bad Idea to Pay Almost $400 for a Water Test Kit? I Don’t Think So.

Now I can make a truly informed choice about my drinking water thanks to this comprehensive, EPA-certified lab test.
Mark Wolfe Avatar
Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit vials, bottles, and freezer pack on countertop
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

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Safe drinking water is one of the cornerstones of a healthy home that should not be taken for granted. Municipal water utilities serve most homes in America with reliably safe water. In compliance with quality standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), they perform frequent water tests to ensure that water is safe to drink when it leaves the filtration plant.

However, aging or leaky fixtures within city water distribution systems and household plumbing may allow the water to become contaminated before it reaches the faucet. And when it comes to private well water, pollutants can enter the groundwater from long distances over an extended period without the owner’s knowledge.

With a water test kit, you can be reassured of your home’s good water quality or uncover threats to your health and safety. I recently tested some of the best water test kits, including DIY options and sampling kits for professional laboratory testing. Although the do-it-yourself kits did a good job of monitoring the basics, my top overall choice was the Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit. It delivered the highest level of detail and precision of all the kits I tested, and the test results included lots of information that I could use to take action.

In this review I’ll share my experience using the kit and why I think every homeowner or renter would be wise to make this investment.

Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit: At a Glance

Newly opened Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Rating: 9.3/10

PROS

  • Kit includes materials and instructions for sampling and a prepaid return shipping label
  • Water samples are tested in an EPA-certified laboratory for precise, reliable results
  • Comprehensive testing for 200 water-quality parameters
  • Results are available electronically within 7 to 10 business days
  • Also includes one DIY bacteria test, access to E-learning center, and options for water treatment

CONS

  • Some of the technical language in the results may be difficult to understand
  • Not all known pollutants are included in the lab test, including glyphosate, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), among others

Get the Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit at Amazon for $379.95.

What is the Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit?

There are plenty of times when a comprehensive water test could be helpful, such as when moving into a new home, after a flood or other natural disaster, before or after nearby land development, or when monitoring the effects of nearby agricultural or industrial operations. The Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit allows you to submit water samples for testing in an EPA-certified lab and receive detailed results in less than 2 weeks. It is well suited for testing water from almost anywhere, including utilities, wells, springs, cisterns, and other sources.

The kit comes with a set of vessels that you fill with drinking water and ship to the lab. The lab tests for 200 different parameters, including 12 physical properties, 7 inorganics, 31 metals, 20 semi-volatile organic compounds, and 130 volatile organic compounds. Unlike dip strips and other at-home tests, this kit offers the accuracy to confirm if water exceeds the federal maximum contaminant levels established by the EPA for drinking water.

The test results, which are emailed to you within 7 to 10 business days after arrival at the lab, include the precise numeric values and condition-of-safety information for each reported contaminant. One of the most common drinking water safety concerns is the presence of biological contaminants like E. coli and other coliform bacteria. This kit comes with a DIY test for bacteria in water that is completed at home by the purchaser.

Man filling vial from Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

How does the Safe Home water test kit work?

The Safe Home water sampling process could not be made simpler. Users must first register their kit on the Safe Home website to initiate the process. Then it’s a simple matter of filling the sample containers, packing them in the padded box, and affixing the included prepaid shipping label. Then the user drops off the package at a UPS Store and watches for the email with results. My results arrived in 9 days.

There is no secret to taking quality samples, and you have options depending on your specific goals. For those who are most interested in the water source, the instructions recommend letting the water run for 5 minutes before collecting samples. If you’re more interested in what your plumbing is doing to the water, it’s recommended to take samples first thing in the morning after the water has rested in the pipes for at least 6 hours. The most critical component is consistency, which means taking all samples at the same time from the same source.

What does the Safe Home water test kit test for?

The Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit checks for 200 water-quality parameters. Some of these are measurements of physical characteristics, such as pH, alkalinity, hardness, total dissolved solids, and turbidity. Others are microscopic particles of naturally occurring elements that are present in the local bedrock, such as iron, calcium, magnesium, and others. It also checks for heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, nickel, and zinc.

What sets this kit apart from DIY tests and many lab tests is its ability to check for a huge range of environmental pollutants associated with industrial, agricultural, and automotive activity. These volatile organic compounds (VOCs) include THMs (disinfectant byproducts), solvents, and various petrochemicals. They may be directly introduced into wastewater; evaporate from the point of use until precipitation brings them back to earth; or could result from the runoff of farm fields, parking lots, and roadways that makes its way to lakes, streams, and rivers. Once they are in the water supply, they become a health concern. This kit checks for 150 volatile and semi-volatile organic compounds known to accumulate in water.

Packed and labeled vials of water for Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit
Photo: Debbie Wolfe for Bob Vila

Are the results from the Safe Home water test Kit reliable?

I always considered my tap water “average” in most respects. In the mornings there is sometimes a chlorine smell, but the rest of the time it tastes and smells fine. I get a little bit of limescale buildup on the garden hose connector if I leave it on the hose all summer, but nothing extraordinary. Still, I was happy to receive water test results that essentially said the water is fine. But how do I know I can trust those results?

The test results are quantified with specific numeric values, unlike color-coded test strips that indicate a numeric range and are subject to degradation. When the results arrived, any unsafe level would have been clearly indicated. The included materials also offered solutions for any quality issues that I might encounter. The lab that tested the samples is certified by the EPA. It is also an active member institution of both the American Water Works Association and the National Rural Water Association. The scientists working there have more than 150 years of combined experience testing drinking water. So, yes, the kit, the lab, and the scientists are reliable and trustworthy.

Is the Safe Home water test kit worth the money?

As a one-time expense, the nearly $400 price tag for this kit may seem a bit high, especially if you’re shopping for DIY tests with only a handful of parameters. However, the per-parameter price is actually in line with those DIY kits. DIY test strips with 15 or 17 parameters average about $30, or $2 per parameter, which is roughly the same as this 200-parameter kit priced at just under $400. And, as noted earlier, the level of precision from this lab test is light-years beyond the rough estimates provided by dip strips. That is why I recommend the Safe Home lab test to establish a baseline of information and dip strips for frequent monitoring.

Should you buy the Safe Home water test kit? 

The Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit is easy to use and provides extremely detailed results within about 2 weeks. In addition to measuring the physical properties of the water, it checks for a wide range of common environmental pollutants. Such a detailed drinking-water test can offer peace of mind when it confirms that you have clean, safe drinking water—or it can reveal an issue that is best dealt with sooner rather than later. Either way, it’s a useful tool. I would recommend it to anyone who has never done a thorough water test, and for those who live nearby potential sources of water pollution.

Get the Safe Home Ultimate Drinking Water Test Kit at Amazon for $379.95.

Meet the Tester

Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscaping industry. For more than 20 years he mowed, edged, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated, and renovated beautiful landscapes. Now he tests and writes reviews about the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn-care products, and other outdoor-living goods.

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Mark Wolfe

Staff Writer

Mark Wolfe is a second-career freelance writer based in Georgia and has an extensive background in the horticulture industry. Since 2020, he has contributed numerous gardening and home improvement articles to BobVila.com, along with a variety of consumer product reviews.

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