As a seasoned water-treatment professional with over three decades in the trade, I have long understood the paramount importance of water testing. In fact, I firmly believe that, within the water industry, every service van and retail salesperson should be equipped with a comprehensive water test kit. Why? Because water testing isn’t just a routine task; it’s a cornerstone of our profession that ensures optimal performance, customer satisfaction, and long-term success. Everything begins with the water analysis.

Wholesalers in the water-treatment industry are relied upon quite often to help size or troubleshoot water-treatment systems. Among the first questions we will ask in either situation are “What’s the water analysis? Can you send me a copy?”

Often, we are met with “Oh, it’s city water.” Fortunately, we have websites where we can access water analyses for municipal supplies, but there is nothing better than an analysis on water straight from the tap. On well water systems, properly sizing or troubleshooting without pertinent information is just about impossible. “The neighbor has an iron filter and a 48,000-grain water softener” is not the correct way to size a system.

Testing before Diagnosing

Just as detectives investigate to solve problems and doctors perform tests before diagnosing an ailment, water-treatment professionals should utilize their test kits to investigate water-quality issues. The results of these water analyses provide the information needed to make a diagnosis and offer a suitable remedy. It’s a meticulous process that underscores the importance of precision and expertise in our field.

For the typical residential water treatment service technician or salesperson, a standard water test kit should include, at the bare minimum, the capability to test for hardness, iron, pH, total dissolved solids (TDS), and chlorine levels. These parameters are fundamental in understanding the quality of water and identifying any potential issues that may compromise its suitability for household applications.

However, possessing the right testing equipment is only half the battle. Equally crucial is ensuring that your crew is adequately trained to utilize these tools effectively and to successfully explain the results to the customer. Investing in ongoing training programs not only enhances the proficiency of your team but also reinforces your dedication to delivering exceptional service.

Conducting tests on every visit to a site is nonnegotiable. Water quality can change, so it should be checked every time. Another good tip is to make sure you check the hot and cold water. By analyzing both, you can gain valuable insight into the immediate and past water quality. The cold water is coming through the treatment system right now. The hot water was drawn into the tank earlier in the day or maybe last night while the equipment was in the backwash cycle. This proactive approach not only demonstrates professionalism but also enables you to address any emerging concerns promptly.

Water analysis isn’t just a routine; it’s a representation of your commitment to excellence. It’s about ensuring that every drop of water meets the highest standards of quality and safety. That’s why conducting tests before and after water-treatment equipment installation is imperative. By doing so, you can assess the effectiveness of your solution and fine-tune your strategies accordingly. This also provides customers with peace of mind. They can see the results of their purchase and know that their investment is worth the money they spent.

In-Home vs. Laboratory Testing

The in-home water test is where everything begins. However, certain situations demand a level of detail and accuracy beyond a field test kit’s capabilities. While initial tests provide a starting point, many scenarios demand the precision of a certified laboratory analysis for an accurate diagnosis. Reasons to rely on a laboratory test include elevated TDS, well water systems, hidden threats, and the indispensable need for enhanced professionalism. The reliability and accuracy of a laboratory analysis should never be overlooked.

A comprehensive laboratory water analysis is not just a step above routine testing; it’s often the best route to take, especially when routine tests indicate elevated TDS levels. While routine testing kits cover a wide range of parameters, there are certain contaminants that may go undetected without the precision of laboratory analysis. Elevated TDS levels are often indicative of the presence of such contaminants, which could pose risks to both health and infrastructure.

For instance, n well water systems, where water sources can be more susceptible to contamination from various sources, a laboratory-certified water analysis becomes imperative. Such analyses provide a detailed breakdown of water composition, detecting contaminants that may otherwise remain unnoticed. The goal is not just to identify the problem but to uncover its root cause and implement effective solutions.

Municipal supplies can have hidden threats just like well water—think of Flint, Michigan. Laboratory analyses offer a level of accuracy and sophistication that cannot be matched by field testing kits. In addition, laboratories can test for more contaminants than a field test kit can. By delving deep into water chemistry, lab analyses reveal hidden threats (for example, nitrates, lead, or arsenic), enabling water-treatment professionals to tailor their solutions precisely to the needs of their clients.

The comprehensive water analysis is not merely about technicalities; it’s about building trust and confidence with customers. When clients receive detailed water reports from a certified laboratory, they are given tangible, unbiased evidence of the issue and the effectiveness of the solutions being implemented. It’s a transparent demonstration of the value of their investment, assuring them that their water-quality concerns are being addressed with the utmost care and expertise.

In essence, laboratory water analysis is not just a tool; it’s a cornerstone of trust and reliability in the water-treatment industry. By leveraging the capabilities of certified laboratories, water-treatment professionals can ensure that every aspect of water quality is thoroughly examined and addressed, fostering stronger relationships with clients and safeguarding public health and safety.

Whether you’re on a sales call, following up, or conducting a routine service visit, initiating with a water analysis sets the tone for productive engagement. It demonstrates your commitment to data-driven decision-making and ensures that your recommendations are tailored to the specific needs of the client.

Water testing isn’t just a task; it’s a responsibility—one that we, as an industry, cannot afford to overlook. By integrating a comprehensive water analysis into our standard procedures, we not only uphold the highest standards of professionalism but also ensure the longevity and efficacy of our water-treatment solutions. So let’s equip our service vans, empower our teams, and embark on a journey toward a future in which every drop of water is a testament to our unwavering commitment to excellence.

About the author

Charlie Jenkins is the Midwest regional sales manager for Nelsen Corporation. Jenkins began his career in 1990 and has more than three decades of experience in various roles in water treatment. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at (330) 786-6285.

About the company

Nelsen Corporation was established over 65 years ago and has grown into a leading distributor of residential and commercial water-treatment systems and components, drinking-water products, and well water systems. Headquartered in Medina, Ohio, Nelsen custom-builds every water conditioner to your exact specifications. Visit Nelsen’s website at or call (800) 362-9686.


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