Small test tubes, white lab coats, and a sterile atmosphere. Do you have such a picture in your head when you hear “water test”? Analysis in the laboratory is the most reliable way to test water. Even if there are now numerous do-it-yourself tests, these cannot replace a laboratory by a long way.


Reliable water analyzes from the laboratory

The main reason to have a water test done in the laboratory is probably reliability. A laboratory has professional equipment, trained staff and modern analysis methods. Self-tests cannot keep up with that. There are also some parameters that can only be precisely determined in the laboratory. This includes mercury, for example, but even with bacteria, an accurate assessment of the situation is only possible with a laboratory test. Some self-tests show whether there are Coli bacteria or Legionella in the water, for example, but they cannot determine the number of bacteria. In order to be able to make a meaningful assessment of the health risk, a laboratory test is required after such a test.

In principle there are two ways of implementation. Either you take the sample yourself, or an employee of the test institute will come over to you. Sampling by the institute is more likely to occur when checking house wells. Such analyzes are in no way inferior to studies by large water supply companies in terms of quality. But even if you take the sample yourself, you can count on exact results – at least as long as you follow the instructions.

A great advantage of a laboratory test is that you get a consumer-friendly description of the results. In contrast to this, the color scale or color changes are often difficult to interpret in self-tests. You will not be left alone either: If you have any questions, there is a hotline or an email address that you can contact. So you will definitely understand your test result.


Indispensable: it is essential to have the water from the house well tested in the laboratory

A tenth of the population supplies themselves with water from a domestic well. Of course, this has many advantages, but it also entails a certain responsibility – you are solely responsible for checking the water quality. The recommendation is to have your own well examined extensively at least once a year. Impurities are not necessarily noticeable. Studies have found that almost half of home wells are of no drinking water quality. Only those who conscientiously have the water examined in the laboratory can play it safe. After all, bacteria, foreign substances and impurities have no place in drinking water!


Quality has its price

If you want a comprehensive analysis of your tap water, you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket. At least if you compare the prices with those of self-tests. The prices for laboratory analyzes start at around 50 euros. If you want a comprehensive analysis of your water, you should expect at least 150 euros. In addition, there may be postage fees for transporting the water sample to the laboratory.

Once the sample has arrived in the laboratory, it is important to be patient. It will take a few weeks before you get an evaluation. With a self-test, however, you will see a result after a few minutes. Nevertheless, the laboratory test is also subject to possible inaccuracies – for example if something goes wrong during transport. Fluctuations are much less likely than with self-tests.


Laboratory tests for legal matters

Lead in drinking water – a horror idea. According to Aqua Quality Austria (AQA), more than 20% of the water samples exceeded the limit values for lead and nickel. There are still a lot of lead pipes, especially in Vienna, and they are generally a big problem in old buildings. A legal question arises here. In principle, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that apartments do not pose a health risk. In Germany, pipes have to be replaced if they exceed a limit value. If you want to prove this with a water test, only laboratory tests will be accepted. But be sure to pay attention to the information on the seller’s website! Some explicitly state that their tests cannot be used in legal matters.

In Austria the legal situation is not so clear. In 2004, it was decided in one case that it is reasonable for the tenant to let the water run off for a minute in order to reduce the lead concentration. A new lead limit could tip that. Whether the landlord has to replace pipes is therefore not legally specified. But if you want to give it a try and put pressure on your landlord, be sure to carry out a laboratory test! You won’t get very far with a self-test.

What are legionella?

Legionella are bacteria that in principle always occur in water. They can also be found in streams and lakes. Usually, however, they occur in such a small number of germs that they pose no danger. They multiply well in warm water between 25 and 45 ° C. Temperatures that we often use for washing and showering. Legionella can no longer multiply below 20 ° C or above 60 ° C.


Why are Legionella dangerous?

Legionella are not transmitted from person to person. Drinking polluted water is not dangerous, nor does it come into contact with the skin. It becomes dangerous when Legionella is inhaled. A typical place of infection is therefore the shower. The pathogens are also present in the fine water vapor; when inhaled, they reach the lungs. If they get stuck there, they can cause serious diseases. Legionella are particularly dangerous for people with a weakened immune system, such as babies, children and the elderly. Legionella also pose an increased risk for chronic lung diseases or smokers.


Which diseases do Legionella cause?

Legionella are responsible for two different diseases. Anyone who comes into contact with the bacteria does not necessarily have to get sick – there are often no symptoms or those affected only perceive a mild cold. In any case, sick people are not contagious because the bacteria cannot be transmitted from person to person.

Legionnaires’ disease or Legionella pneumonia

Legionnaires’ disease is a form of pneumonia. The first symptoms appear two to ten days after coming into contact with the pathogen. Severe cough, chills, fever over 40 ° C, chest pain and headache and a feeling of severe illness are typical signs. If the disease is treated correctly, the chances of recovery are good; if treated incorrectly, it is difficult. The big challenge with Legionnaires’ disease is to make the correct diagnosis.

Because the symptoms are easily mistaken for ordinary pneumonia, Legionnaires’ disease is difficult to diagnose. Officially, the disease occurred 218 times in Austria in 2017. The AGES (Austrian Agency for Food Safety) assumes more than 1,000 cases per year in Austria. If this estimate is correct, Legionnaires’ disease will be misdiagnosed 80 percent of the time. Of the officially ill, between 4 and 14 percent die annually; there are no estimates of the number of unreported cases.

There are definitely good chances of recovery. If you experience symptoms and you suspect Legionella, inform your doctor immediately. Legionella can be detected quickly and easily and nothing stands in the way of a cure.

Pontiac fever

Pontiac fever is the more common disease caused by Legionella. It is not as severe as Legionnaires’ disease. Those affected usually complain of flu-like symptoms such as fever, general malaise, and headaches and body aches. Pneumonia does not occur, however. The incubation period is relatively short and averages one to two days.

The illness is often mistaken for summer flu because the symptoms are very similar. A high number of unreported cases is also assumed for this disease – by no means all cases are diagnosed or documented. The Pontiac fever does not have to be treated, it usually heals on its own within a week.

Deaths related to Pontiac fever are not reported.

If you suspect that you have Legionella, it is imperative that you consult a doctor. The information on our website is not intended for self-diagnosis and can in no way replace an examination by a doctor!


Where is there a risk of being infected with Legionella?

Wherever water is heated. There is therefore a risk of infection both in public facilities and in private households. Showers, public sanitary facilities, schools, hospitals, air conditioning systems and cooling towers are particularly affected. The bacteria get into the air via fine water droplets and can be easily inhaled.  In principle, drinking water contaminated with Legionella is not dangerous. However, it can easily “get into the wrong tube” and the pathogens can find their way into the lungs.

Optimal conditions for the spread of Legionella can be found in showers and whirlpools. The temperature here is just right for the bacteria and they are easily inhaled via the finely atomized water vapor. Even if water stays in the pipes for a long time, a perfect breeding ground develops. For example, if you haven’t turned on the shower for two weeks because you were on vacation, you can expect a higher bacterial load in the water. The solution: Simply let the water run off for a few minutes and ventilate the room well.

But not only the location is decisive for a possible infection. People with weakened immune systems, chronic lung diseases and smokers are more at risk of becoming infected. Men are also two to three times more likely to be affected than women. But why this is not described.


How can I find out if there is Legionella in the water?

Water is the best controlled food. It has to meet strict requirements before it is given to consumers. Errors on the part of the water supplier cannot be ruled out, but in most cases contamination can be traced back to your own domestic installations. A water test can be used to find out whether legionella are dangerous in the water. That is because of how many colony-forming units can be found in it. A certain number of Legionella can be found in all bodies of water, including nature.

A legionella water test must be carried out in the laboratory. The test institute will send you a sterile container into which you can easily fill water at home. Send the sample to the laboratory by post and after a certain processing time – usually around two weeks – you will receive your result. Taking a test is a particularly good idea if there are toddlers and babies in the household. Since their immune system is not yet fully developed, the little ones are particularly susceptible to Legionella.

If problems with Legionella arise from the waterworks or the public supply network, all consumers must be informed accordingly.


How do I react correctly when Legionella is in the water?

Legionella die from a water temperature of 60 ° C. Heat therefore offers reliable protection against bacteria. In the event of an infestation, check whether the hot water in your home is set to over 60 ° C. The temperature should not drop below 55 ° C at any point in the entire pipe system.

You can also use thermal disinfection. That means nothing else than that you rinse all hot water draw-off points with at least 70 ° C hot water. Make sure that you can heat up your hot water system appropriately and allow the hot water to run off on all taps and shower heads for at least three minutes. In this way, the legionella are reliably inactivated or killed. If you have any concerns about the implementation, an installer will be happy to help.

So-called legionella circuits were common for a long time. The water was regularly heated automatically at a certain point in time. The effectiveness of this method is disputed, as it describes a habituation effect. If you regularly expose the legionella to hot water in this way, they become heat-resistant.

Thermal disinfection is the most common method, but there are other ways too. One possibility is to flush the whole system with chlorine. This process must be carried out by qualified personnel and endangers the quality of the drinking water for a certain period of time. But disinfection with chlorine is also very effective. It is also possible to disinfect with UV light. There are also separate devices that are specially designed for hot water. This method works without chemicals, but still disinfects sustainably.

In public areas – such as the showers in a dormitory – you cannot act yourself. However, operators must comply with certain hygiene regulations and take measures in the event of increased Legionella contamination.


What are the regulations regarding Legionella?

In Austria there is a “Legionella Norm” which is correctly called “ÖNORM B 5019”. This specifies regulations for the heating of drinking water in hospitals and health resorts, nursing homes, bathing establishments and accommodation establishments. When operating hot water systems for individual residential units or single-family houses, these regulations do not have to be observed. These special regulations apply to central systems because the risk is significantly higher. The standard contains numerous specifications on the materials and construction methods to be used, maintenance, operating temperature and much more. Systems that are not seen as central are not covered by the ÖNORM. This includes, for example, the water in dental treatment equipment.

Regardless of this, it is legally stipulated that drinking water must not endanger human health. Water with an increased Legionella load must therefore not be released into the distribution network.

In Germany, according to the Drinking Water Ordinance, all large systems and public buildings as well as systems for commercial purposes must regularly take water samples. In the event of a certain Legionella concentration, this must be reported to the health department and appropriate measures must be taken. There is no obligation to inspect one- and two-family houses.

In your private life, you should take good care of your water-carrying devices. Air conditioners, humidifiers, whirlpools and other equipment that work with warm water can quickly become dangerous. In any case, observe the manufacturer’s instructions regarding maintenance and care. If in doubt, do not hesitate to carry out a legionella test.


How can I prevent Legionella?

The most important and easiest way is to always heat the hot water to 60 ° C. In summer, the hot water system is often operated at lower temperatures. This may be useful for reasons of energy saving, but not a good idea with regard to Legionella. It is not for nothing that increased levels of Legionella are usually recorded in summer.

Bacteria always need a suitable breeding ground. If you have limescale issues in your home, these build up quickly. Decalcify the faucets and shower heads regularly to take away the breeding ground for bacteria. Stale water is also a good breeding ground. Here the bacteria can multiply well. Therefore, you should absolutely avoid dead strands in your pipe system and allow the water to drain off rarely used pipes regularly. Tap water after a long absence is an underestimated danger. For example, if you have been on vacation for two weeks and nobody has turned on the water in the meantime, you should flush the pipes thoroughly. The shower in particular has the potential to be dangerous. Simply turn on the water as hot as possible for a few minutes, open the window and leave the room. If you haven’t been home for just a few days, it’s a good idea to drain the water thoroughly. Stale water can also harbor other dangers – such as an increased concentration of lead.

The key is to properly maintain the entire hot water system. This includes various aspects from maintaining air conditioning systems to replacing water filters. Make sure to change the shower hose at regular intervals. Inside, a tough mixture of biofilm and limescale deposits can form, in which Legionella really feel comfortable. The installation of a decalcifying system also has a preventive effect, as this reduces the breeding ground for bacteria.

Basic test: a good start

Most test institutes offer a basic test, which usually examines the most important physical and chemical parameters. These include values such as water hardness, minerals and heavy metals. Typically, calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, hydrogen carbonate, aluminum, iron, lead, nickel and many more are examined. Such a test is primarily designed to give the broadest possible overview of the water quality. So if you want to get a general assessment of the situation, this test is ideal. Or you want to check a suspicion of a specific contamination. Even if you suspect that heavy metals could be released into the water through the pipes or fittings, a basic test is usually the right choice.

Baby water test: for the health of the little ones

Children are very sensitive to foreign substances in the water. Contaminants that are not a problem for adults can quickly cause discomfort in babies and children. Baby water tests cover certain parameters to which our little ones are particularly sensitive. Ideal if you want to use tap water for baby food. Important test parameters include the total hardness, calcium, magnesium, chloride, manganese, sodium, lead or copper. Bacterial loads are usually not covered by these tests.

Bacteria test: help with unwanted microorganisms

You can’t see bacteria in the water, you can’t taste it or smell it. In return, their effects can be all the more severe. A bacterial test usually includes E. coli and coliform bacteria and examines the germ count at 22 and 37 degrees Celsius. 22 degrees Celsius corresponds to the optimum for many water and soil bacteria, 37 degrees the optimum for many intestinal bacteria. An additional test is usually necessary for the detection of Legionella. Legionella is not dangerous when you drink it, but when you breathe it in. So this becomes problematic when showering, for example. The bacteria can cause severe pneumonia.

Testing home wells: essential for self-catering

Those who supply themselves with water are also responsible for the quality. 10 percent of Austrian households get their tap water from their own well. Many of them have been used for generations. However, some owners do not give much thought to the water quality. Special well tests cover all the important parameters for water quality and examine specifically those foreign substances that frequently occur in well water. The recommendation is to examine house wells once or twice a year. This is especially important when children drink the water.

Tests for (almost) all needs

The tests already presented cover many problem situations, but sometimes completely different parameters are also interesting. Nobody wants drugs, uranium or nitrogen in their drinking water. That is why special tests are offered for this. Often the pipes are to blame for poor water quality. If you suspect an increased lead, nickel or copper concentration, a pipeline test can help. Many test institutes also make it possible to test only one specific value. So if you really only want an analysis for a certain parameter, you can save money.

Hard water  certainly has advantages. It tastes good and contains important minerals. At the same time, however, it is harmful to household appliances and leaves unsightly limescale stains in the bathroom and kitchen. Regardless of whether you value hard water or not – the exact degree of hardness  there are advantages to knowing. This is the only way to correctly set appliances such as the dishwasher or coffee machine. Aquarium owners cannot avoid constant monitoring if their protégés are to be well. The hardness also plays a role in the detergent dosage. And at the latest, when you decide to install a water softener, you need to know the exact degree of hardness.

We will introduce you to the various options for an endurance test. This will help you choose the right test for your needs.


Online water tests

Various online water tests provide an initial rough guideline for water hardness. Just enter your zip code and retrieve the numbers from the database. Please note, however, that some of the information is based on projections and is therefore subject to certain fluctuations.


Check with the water supplier

In principle, the water supplier is  legally obliged to inform the customer of the water hardness. As a home owner, you will find the corresponding value on the water bill. Normally, the information can also be found on the homepage, or you can give the water company a quick call. By law, only the hardness range (soft to hard) must be specified. Usually, however, the exact numbers are shown. Note, however, that this information can vary. In times of bottlenecks or if there is contamination, other sources can be used, so that the degree of hardness sometimes fluctuates significantly.


Water hardness test strips

Test strips are an easy way to determine the hardness of the water yourself. They are available in pharmacies, drug stores, pet stores, hardware stores or online. It’s easy to use. You hold the strip briefly in a vessel with water, then wipe off the excess liquid and wait until the strip changes color. The degree of hardness can then be read from the discoloration. Different levels are offered. Rough subdivisions – for example in the range of 5 ° German hardness each – are useful if you only want to know the degree of hardness approximately. About perfectly adequate for the correct dosage of detergent.

In many areas, however, the degree of hardness must be known exactly. Some test strips give too imprecise results. Especially with cheap test strips it can happen that the evaluation is not entirely clear.


Drop test – test it yourself in the mini laboratory

The degree of hardness can be determined more precisely with a test solution. The chemical principle of titration is used. No chemical knowledge is required for this, just a steady hand and a careful approach. You fill your water into the container provided and slowly drop the test solution into it with the pipette. At first the water turns red, after a few drops it turns green. The number of drops that you need until the water turns green corresponds to the water hardness in degrees of German hardness.

The lime content in the water depends on the calcium and magnesium content. In the drop test, the titration solution can neutralize these minerals. The more of the solution is needed, the harder the water. Drop tests are usually very accurate when used correctly. So you can get a result almost as precise as that of a laboratory.


Comprehensive water check – if you want to know exactly

Would you like to put your water through its paces? Then off to the laboratory! An extensive water test  In addition to water hardness, it also provides information about the pH value, contamination and bacterial load. This is the easiest and safest way to accurately map your water quality. Compared to the test strips or drop tests, you have to dig deeper into your pocket, but you will get a comprehensive and reliable result.

If you are considering a water softener  you should have the hardness checked carefully beforehand. In this case, an endurance test from the laboratory is likely the best choice. Opt for an ion exchange system  you must also continuously check the degree of hardness. This is the only way to set up and operate the device correctly.

Water is cool, clear, colorless and odorless. It must not contain any foreign substances in concentrations that are hazardous to health and must not make you sick even with lifelong consumption. So much for the legal requirements  of our drinking water. However, many consumers are not aware that they are basically responsible for the water quality themselves. The respective water suppliers must of course provide drinking water of the right quality, but cannot guarantee how it will come out of the tap at home. The last few meters, i.e. the water pipes in the house, are decisive.

You don’t see the danger. Heavy metals lurk in pipes that can be released. Lead, copper and nickel are serious hazards. Particular care should be taken with pregnant women, babies and small children. Bacteria can also breed in pipes and get into the water in increased numbers. Particular caution is required with domestic wells. Many well owners do not know the exact composition of the water. In many cases, however, the quality is hardly sufficient.


This is what water tests offer you to test yourself

If you are not sure whether the water quality is right, you may be looking for a water test online. Many offer the opportunity to test water yourself. That sounds tempting – you get a result quickly and you can usually get out of it cheaper than a laboratory test.

Various parameters can be tested with it. Basically, sets for testing the water itself usually cover water hardness, pH, lead, nitrate, nitrite and pesticides. Bacteria tests are also available, but these only show whether bacteria are present and not in what number. If you don’t want a set, you will also find tests for individual parameters.

Most tests work with test strips that just have to be dipped into the water. The result can be read off after a short waiting period. Other tests use the chemical principle of titration. That might sound complicated, but all you need is a steady hand. These are drip tests, you just have to slowly drop a solution into your water with a pipette. The water changes color. The number of drops required before discoloration can then be easily transferred to the concentration of the tested substance. This method is very popular in tests for water hardness.

Care should be taken when choosing a self-test. Many tests are designed for aquariums – the gradations and measured values on the test strips are of course intended for fish. You should take a close look at the respective test to see how useful this is.


Advantages and disadvantages of self-tests

The best argument for a self-test is probably the cost. Test sets can sometimes be found on the Internet for as little as 5 euros. A professional laboratory test is of course a lot more expensive, but its quality is also in a completely different league. Nevertheless, a self-performed water test can provide good clues for possible problems. You can then get to the bottom of the result with a laboratory test.

The major disadvantage of self-tests is their accuracy. This is very controversial, especially because many mistakes can happen. If, for example, the vessel is slightly soiled, this can seriously falsify the results. A laboratory can test this much more precisely with the appropriate equipment. The interpretation of the results is not always easy either. Consumers report, for example, that the gradations of the color ranges cannot be clearly distinguished. It is then difficult to correctly evaluate the result of test strips.


Conclusion: Either cheap or reliable

Checking the water quality is particularly important when there are children in the household or when they are supplied by a domestic well. A self-test is more of a rough estimate – so don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t work out well. But if you want to be on the safe side, spend a little more money and have your water tested in the laboratory.

Maybe you suspect a contamination, maybe you’re not sure whether your baby is allowed to drink tap water, or maybe you just want to check your home well. There are many reasons for a water test. Mostly, health aspects are in the foreground. This is why you will find the most important parameters for water health at a glance here. If a substance is harmless to health, that does not mean that it cannot cause other problems. For example, a high iron content discolors the water. For many substances, of course, the statement “the amount makes the poison” also applies, specific health concerns should be clarified with a doctor in any case.

1. Aluminum

Humans consume around 5 milligrams of aluminum every day. The light metal is harmless in small quantities; in higher doses it can cause health problems. Research suggests that aluminum is responsible for neuronal damage or Alzheimer’s disease.


2. ammonium

Ammonium in the water is a sign of uncleaned wastewater. The substance is formed when protein or urea react with bacteria. Ammonium can damage kidneys and forms the nerve toxin ammonia at a high pH value.


3. lead

In old houses, cables are often still made of lead. If this dissolves in the water, it can lead to serious health problems. Lead is especially dangerous for children, it leads to developmental disorders, high blood pressure and stomach pain. The only remedy is usually new water pipes.


4. Calcium

Calcium is an important element for the human body, it builds bones and teeth. In the water it ensures good taste but also unpleasant lime stains in the household. For health reasons, there is no benefit in removing calcium from drinking water  to remove.


5. chloride

Chlorides are salts. They can either get into drinking water through sewage or through contact with salty rocks. People should consume around two to five grams of chloride a day, an overdose can result in high blood pressure.


6. Chromium

Water does not react with chromium. However, chromium compounds can get into drinking water from industrial wastewater. Depending on the exact chemical composition, chromium can on the one hand be an important trace element, on the other hand it can be highly toxic.


7. fluoride

Fluoride is found in most toothpastes and is healthy for your teeth. As a rule, it should only occur in small quantities in drinking water. A toxic effect of fluoride is well known, how serious this is, but is controversial: In some countries drinking water is even fortified with fluoride.


8. E. coli

Probably the best known germs that can occur in our water: E. coli bacteria. Infection with the intestinal pathogens usually manifests itself as nausea, vomiting or fever. E.coli bacteria enter drinking water through faecal contamination and can damage the intestines, bloodstream and kidneys.


9. Iron

Iron is very important in the human body: it binds oxygen in the blood and transports it from the lungs to other organs. An iron deficiency can be responsible for symptoms such as tiredness or headaches. Iron has no negative consequences in healthy people and is rarely overdosed.

10. Enterococci

Like E. coli bacteria, enterococci are a sign of fecal contamination. They spread particularly well when water stands for a long time. Enterococci can cause urinary tract infections or peritonitis in humans.


11. Potassium

Humans consume around one to six grams of potassium every day. This is mainly deposited in muscles, red blood cells and in the brain. Potassium protects the heart and blood vessels. It is an essential element, especially for nerve functions. Potassium dissolved in water is not dangerous.


12. Copper

Copper usually comes into our drinking water from copper pipes. The element is essential for humans, but overdose may cause poisoning. This can quickly lead to gastrointestinal diseases, especially in children, as their metabolism is not yet working so well.


13. Legionella

Legionella are bacteria. They multiply especially in long standing or warm water. Drinking legionella is harmless, but they become problematic when showering. If the bacteria are inhaled via water vapor, they enter the lungs and can cause severe pneumonia.


14. Lithium

The light metal lithium is seen as a mood-enhancer: a study found that the suicide rate is lower in regions with a high lithium content in drinking water. The element is not essential for the body. It is not a problem when dissolved in water, the majority is immediately excreted by the body.


15. Magnesium

Magnesium is especially important for bones and muscles. Similar to calcium, it is also responsible for the transmission of stimuli, muscle function and the formation of proteins and DNA. Magnesium has no harmful effects on human health. However, a deficiency can lead to sluggishness and fatigue.


16. Manganese

Manganese is also essential for humans. The body needs it primarily for enzymes; it is stored in the liver, kidneys and other organs. Both deficiency symptoms and overdoses are extremely rare. However, water with a high manganese content should not be used for baby food.


17. Sodium

Sodium is essential for nerve function in the body. It is not dangerous in water, it is usually overdosed in the form of table salt. On average, we ingest thirty times the amount we need through our food every day. The consequences of this can be increased blood pressure, hardening of the arteries or a tendency towards inflammation.


18. nitrate

Nitrates are nitrogen salts and find their way into our drinking water through fertilizers. Nitrogen is essential for humans as well as for animals and plants because it drives protein production. In adults, an overdose is very unlikely; in babies, even small amounts can lead to dangerous blue rash.


19. Nickel

Nickel can get into drinking water via chrome-plated fittings, and it also occurs naturally in small quantities. Harmful health consequences are rare. However, some people are allergic to nickel, and in the worst case scenario, dermatitis can develop.


20. Phosphorus

The mineral phosphorus is essential for the body; we usually take it in in the form of phosphates. These are salts that are found in foods such as milk or meat. Symptoms of deficiency are not known, an overdose is harmless. In children, however, this can cause hyperactivity.


21. pH

The pH value of a liquid indicates whether it is an alkali or an acid. Drinking water has a pH of around 7.0 and is therefore neutral. Water with a value below 7.0 is acidic; values above that are found in basic liquids. Acidic water can be problematic in house installations: as it is more “aggressive”, it dissolves heavy metals more easily from pipes and fittings.


22. Sulphate

Sulphate is often referred to as a “digestive aid” because it promotes the flow of bile and thus digestion. Deficiency can lead to brittle nails, skin problems and indigestion. However, too much sulphate in the water is bad for pipes, as it wears them out and in the worst case, the pipe can even burst.


23. Uranium

Radioactive and highly toxic: Uranium rightly does not have a good reputation. The heavy metal causes lasting damage to blood, bones and kidneys. It is particularly dangerous for babies and toddlers, as their bodies are particularly difficult to deal with. Uranium enters the water either through rocks containing uranium or fertilizers.


24. Water hardness

The total water hardness is made up of the two hardness components calcium and magnesium. Hard water  is therefore healthy for the body and it also tastes good. Hard water is a problem in house installations. There it leads to stubborn limescale deposits and unsightly stains.


25. zinc

Zinc is an important trace element for the human body. It is needed for enzymes, DNA and the hormone insulin. Since the body can only absorb part of the zinc in food, zinc-containing water is considered very healthy. Overdosing is rare. It manifests itself in nausea, dizziness, fever and diarrhea.

Water is more than H20. Essential minerals are in our drinking water  solved and make it our most important food. The concentration of substances such as calcium, magnesium, sodium or potassium is constantly monitored and says a lot about the quality of the water. The respective water suppliers are responsible for controls.  But no matter how conscientiously they go about their work and only circulate perfect water, they cannot guarantee that the water will flow out of the tap in the best quality.


Why should I test my water?

Ultimately, the consumers themselves are responsible for the water quality at home. Substances such as lead, iron, copper, nickel or zinc can get into the water through house pipes and fittings. If water stands for a long time, the risk of germs increases. That sounds worrying, and rightly so. This can quickly lead to problems, especially in babies, children, pregnant women or people with a weakened immune system.

Impurities do not necessarily have to be noticed. Drinking water can look, smell and taste normal and still be heavily contaminated. If the water changes color, smells bad or no longer tastes good, there is of course an urgent need for action. In both cases, however, the problem must first be identified. A water test shows whether water is as safe as it looks or where the cause of contamination is.


What options are there to test drinking water?

If you want to test your water, you have various options. You can carry out a rough assessment yourself, and send your water to the laboratory for a comprehensive scientific analysis.

Test it yourself

The name says it all: you can carry out self-tests yourself at home. In pharmacies and drugstores, for example, there are test strips for measuring the total hardness or the pH value. Test sets for substances such as lead, nitrate, nitrite or pesticides are available online. However, the accuracy of these tests is debatable. Bacteria in the water can also be determined with the help of self-tests, but the result only shows whether bacteria are present and not in what number.

Experts see this only as a quick estimate. A laboratory analysis cannot replace self-tests.

Have it tested

Laboratory tests deliver the highest possible accuracy. As a rule, this is done by pouring water into a sample bottle and sending it to the laboratory. Both chemical guide values and physical parameters are tested, and precise statements can be made about the presence of bacteria and the number of germs. The evaluation comes after a few days by post or email. In addition to the exact values, many institutes also provide a consumer-friendly interpretation of the results.

Special case water hardness test

You have probably struggled with limescale deposits in the household. The decisive factor here is the hardness of the water. To be able to take targeted action against limescale, you should know the hardness of your water.


How do I find the right water test?

Not all water tests are the same. Different tests cover different parameters. First, get an overview of the most important key figures. Laboratory tests are usually already put together in such a way that they are suitable for a specific problem situation. If you have any suspicions about what might be wrong with your water, this is probably the best way to get out.

Well-known test institutes usually offer a basic test in the first place. This includes the most important test categories and is suitable for most situations. If babies or small children live in the household, a baby water test makes sense. This takes into account the needs of your children. You can also determine the occurrence of bacteria with your own test. Own well tests are usually offered for home well owners. In this way, the quality of the well water is examined in detail.


What measures do I take to react to my result?

Correct interpretation is at least as important as careful analysis. Water hardness is a major problem in many Austrian households. With a water softener, you save yourself the hassle of descaling and cleaning. Lime in the water is responsible for good taste – that’s why there are already processes that do not change the taste.

Heavy metals are often due to the materials used in the home. Old leads made of lead or copper should be replaced urgently. If the unwanted substances do not come from the pipes, filter systems help. There are different procedures depending on your needs. Other unwanted substances such as salts are also removed from the water, but healthy minerals are often lost at the same time. In the event of a bacterial infestation, the water must be sterilized; in such cases, it is often advisable to boil the water. Of course, this only helps in the short term. If it is not a one-off infestation, you should thoroughly flush and disinfect the entire system.