If you have a private well you may have gotten used to a funny smell or hard water stains. But those problems might be caused by some nasty contaminants making your water less safe to drink.

If your home’s water is supplied by a private well, you, and only you, are responsible for the water’s quality and any water treatment. Because that responsibility falls to you and not a city, it’s important that you at least test your water to determine what your water needs.

Essentially, water that is in the ground is brought into your home and is used for almost everything you do: drinking, cooking, cleaning and bathing. How water is used in the home often determines how the water is treated.

Working water is used for washing, bathing and cleaning and is frequently treated with a water softener or filtration system. It makes up 99 percent of the water used in the home.

Drinking water is used for drinking and cooking, and is normally treated with a reverse osmosis system or a water filter.

But unless you install a water treatment system, nothing is between you and any water problems your well may have.

There are a number of contaminants and minerals that can affect your water quality and its safety.

One of the most common problems people have with their water, in both private well and municipal systems, is hard water. Hard water contains dissolved calcium, magnesium and, in many cases, iron. Often, homeowners don’t realize they have hard water or the constant and expensive harm it causes.

There are telltale signs, but many put the blame on inadequate cleaners and detergents and poor performing appliances. Or they resign themselves to the fact that these problems are simply a way of life.

Dry skin and hair, bathtub ring, spots on glass and silverware, dull, dingy clothing, disappointing performance and a shortened life expectancy of water-using appliances are all problems frequently caused by hard water.

You might find scale buildup on fixtures. Scale is the white, chalky, hard buildup that can build up on anything your water touches. It’s unsightly, and reduces the life and efficiency of fixtures, appliances and other items around your home. If you have scale buildup you may have to replace those items earlier than normal.

Staining caused by iron, manganese, or hard water can ruin clothing, sinks, tubs, toilets, water-using appliances, even tableware. Rusty-orange, blue-green, pink or brown stains are difficult to clean, if not impossible. This may require you to replacement of stained items or ruined appliances.

Tastes and odors make drinking your water difficult and can affect the smell and tastes of food and drinks made with water. They can also make showering or bathing less than pleasant. This rotten egg stink may be caused by a gas called hydrogen sulfide.

Contaminants in you water can be anything from bacteria and viruses to dissolved solids, even pharmaceuticals. These can affect the taste, smell and healthful benefits of drinking water.

Lastly, cloudy Water can be caused by dissolved solids, tannins, sand, and other things that affect its clarity. Your water may just look unsightly, or it could clog or damage water-using appliances and fixtures.

If you’re having any of these problems, you might want to consider an in-home water analysis to determine what is causing the issue with your well water.