Collecting a Water Sample

How to Take a Water Sample

View this Youtube video created by University of Wisconsin Stevens Point to see how to properly take a water sample at home.

Here are the steps for choosing the right location for collecting a water sample.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin

Do you have a water treatment system?


  • Water softener (this will influence the hardness test)
  • Reverse Osmosis System (this will influence the nitrate test)
  • Sediment filter (this typically isn't a concern)
  • No - skip to Selecting a Faucet

Can you bypass your water treatment and collect a "raw"  sample?

  • Yes - skip to Selecting a Faucet
  • No - this is fine. Continue to collect a sample, but some analysis will reflect the "treated" water conditions. Note this on your lab paperwork.

Selecting a Faucet

In order to reduce your chances for a false bacteria result, the following should be considered.

1st Choice in Order of Importance

  • Non-swivel metal faucet
  • Non-swivel plastic faucet
  • Plastic swivel faucet
  • Swivel metal faucet      

*Collection from a garden hose is not recommended.

Possible Sources

  • Bathroom Faucet
  • Kitchen Faucet
  • Outside Faucet
  • Pressure Tank
  • Other

When Collecting a Sample

  • Sanitize the faucet head as outlined in the lab form. An alternative to heat consider vinegar, alcohol, bleach or similar bacteria killing products.
  • Establish a stead-water flow, do not adjust this flow rate and do not move the faucet head (if swivel) until after the sample is collected
  • Try not to contaminate the sample bottle-rim or cap. Have the sample bottle ready, after running the water for 5-minutes remove the cap-hold it in one hand, fill the bottle, and replace the cap tightly.