Just becomes water comes out of a faucet, that doesn’t make it clean. Here’s how to identify unsafe drinking water and protect your health.

The Signs of Unsafe Drinking Water

Identifying unsafe drinking water is easy. For instance, you’ll have slimy hands after washing with soap and water. Then there’s the color — it’s yellow, orange or brown. Yuck!

Water tinged with green or blue colors could have levels of copper, so watch out for it. In addition, if water smells like bleach, it could have excess chlorine.

And if water smells like bad eggs, it could have hydrogen sulfide.

To stay safe, request a water quality report from your local water system. Known as a consumer confidence report, it lists any known contaminants. This report is also found online through the Environmental Protection Agency website.

Want to take the do-it-yourself route? You can purchase a water testing kit at most home improvement stores for under $20.

What to Do About Unsafe Water

The safest decision you could make is to purchase some kind of water filtration system. Here are some of the most common types on the market:

  • Use a Water Filter Pitcher
    • Here’s how it works: Drinking water is poured into a reservoir and drips through a filter into the pitcher
    • Most pitchers will remove chlorine and elements that leave a bad taste, but few remove lead.
    • Best of all? No installation is required!
  • Faucet-Mounted Water Filter
    • This filter replaces the aerator on a faucet and it provides more water than pitchers
    • It allows you to switch from filtered water to plain tap water, and installation is easy
  • Under-Sink-Mounted Water Filter
    • Mounts under the sink and attaches to the cold-water pipe with a separate water dispenser next to the sink
    • It requires moderate plumbing skills to set up and takes up space in the cabinet, but it can handle a large volume of water
  • Icemaker water filter
    • Attaches to the water line for the icemaker and reduces contaminants and sediment in ice and improves taste
  • Whole House Water Filter
    • Filters all the water as it comes into the house

Solutions for Unsafe Drinking Water

Here are some short-term solutions for dealing with unclean drinking water:

  • Follow boil notices, which are regularly announced on the news and on your water system’s social media channels.
    • These direct you to boil any water before using it to kill harmful bacteria.
    • While this is a good precaution, depending on the contaminants, this may not do the trick.
  • Bottled water
    • Purchasing bottled water is a surefire way to have clean drinking water, but it’s better for the short term because it can be pricey

Watch the video above to find out more.

Further Reading

Editorial Contributors
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Danny Lipford


Danny Lipford is a home improvement expert and television personality who started his remodeling business, Lipford Construction, at the age of 21 in Mobile, Alabama. He gained national recognition as the host of the nationally syndicated television show, Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford, which started as a small cable show in Mobile. Danny's expertise in home improvement has also led him to be a contributor to popular magazines and websites and the go-to source for advice on everything related to the home. He has made over 200 national television appearances and served as the home improvement expert for CBS's The Early Show and The Weather Channel for over a decade. Danny is also the founder of 3 Echoes Content Studio, TodaysHomeowner.com, and Checking In With Chelsea, a décor and lifestyle blog.

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