How to Take a Water Sample for Testing a Well

Even water that appears clear can contain traces of contaminants. Private well owners are responsible for testing their well water periodically to make sure their water is safe and uncontaminated. Instructions for testing can vary based on the particular test and the testing laboratory you use, so follow your particular lab's instructions carefully. Here is the general procedure for taking a water sample for testing well water.

Step 1

Get a water sampling kit from a certified water-testing laboratory. Water testing services are often offered by universities and county public health departments or extension offices. Don't use your own bottles for the sample. Most labs will only accept samples submitted in their own bottles.

Step 2

Remove the aerator and any other attachments or filtration devices from your faucet and, if possible, the screen. Don't use a faucet that is leaking.

Step 3

Disinfect the end of the spout to avoid contaminating the water sample. Use an alcohol swab or 10 percent bleach solution to clean the tap fully.

Step 4

Turn on the cold water and let it run for three or four minutes to clear the standing water from the system.

Step 5

Take the lid off the sample bottle without setting the lid down, rinsing out the bottle, or touching either the inside of the lid or the opening of the bottle.

Step 6

Fill the bottle to the line indicated, if there is one, and replace the cap.

Step 7

Return the sample to the lab within its designated time frame, usually 24 to 48 hours. Store the sample in the fridge in the meantime and transport it in a cooler or ship it in an insulated package. Your test lab may supply you with an insulated container for this purpose.


  • Handle your sample very carefully and follow all lab instructions as samples are very easy to contaminate.