Testing the Water – Well Water, that is
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If you’re looking at an older home to buy, especially if it is in a rural area, there is a chance that the water supply is coming from a well located on the property. While the well system may have been updated (hopefully) since the house was built, it’s wise to have a water system professional check to see if it needs to be cleaned or replaced. It would also be advisable to have the water tested by an accredited lab which will show if there are any problems such as unhealthy bacteria, an abundance of natural chemicals and minerals or pesticides and other contaminants that could have seeped into the ground from nearby farms or plants.
What to Look for
Use our Home Inspection Checklist for Historic Houses when you do your first serious walk-through. While you're checking out the kitchen and bathrooms, run the water and flush the toilets. Note:
- Does the water smell like rotten eggs?
- Does it have a fishy or metallic taste?
- Is the water cloudy?
- Turn on the faucets and flush the toilet – is the water pressure weak or slow?
- Do the faucets sputters when turned on?
- Do the pipes groan?
- Are the toilets, tubs or sinks stained red, brown, blue, green or yellow?
Hopefully the seller has been on top of maintaining their well system but don't be shy – ask for their last inspection report.
Get a Professional Inspection
A professional water well system contractor can determine how old the system is and if it should be cleaned. If old or too dirty, they might recommend replacing it instead. Go to Wellowner.org to find a certified contractor near you.
Have the Water Tested by a Water Quality Lab
Chances are, the professional contractor will test the water as part of the inspection. If not, you can find a list of certified laboratories in your area on the EPA website or contact your county’s health department for more information.
A Well System Requires Maintenance
It is the homeowner's responsibility to keep the water system clean and safe – it operates off the grid. Wells should be tested annually at a professional lab. It's not costly and well-worth the peace of mind. To make sure the water is as pure as possible, have a whole house or well purification system installed. They run between $400 – $900. and are available to filter the water based on the results from the test. A good system will filter out all the bad contaminants keeping the water safe to use at all times.
Before you sign on the dotted line, have a professional well system contractor evaluate the well and test the water.