Check the well quality!
Don’t buy a home without having the well tested first. The well is on the list of things you should inspect when purchasing a home. There are a few tests that can be conducted, the most obvious of which is one for water safety and purity.
A water sample will be taken from the tap at the home and then sent to a qualified water testing lab to get a clear idea of what it contains. You will receive a report from the lab that details the water results.
The lab will typically show you what the water contains along with what the passing limit is for each element.
You will want to have a water professional that is familiar with the area look over the results to help you understand them, as water conditions can vary quite a bit in different areas.
Standard water tests will typically check for such things as PH, hardness, alkalinity, and turbidity. Standard mineral testing will often include things like iron, calcium, manganese, copper, fluoride, Chloride and others. Coliform bacteria is also typically checked in most well tests, especially in rural areas.
It is also highly recommended that you check for VOC’s as well. Volatile organic compounds are the real bad stuff you don’t want in your water. Examples of VOCs include gasoline compounds such as MtBE and benzene.
One thing you should be keenly aware of is the need to test for radon in water. In many places, radon is not on the list of elements that are automatically checked. However, real estate agents should understand this and advise their clients of the need to check for radon.
If you are buying a home with a well make sure you ask the person conducting the test to have the lab screen for radon as well.
If you find that the test has determined high radon levels in the water, it can be fixed easily enough. It is, however, not cheap. The average cost to remove radon in water is $5000-$6000.
Check the well quantity!
In most locations, it is required that the well produces 3-5 gallons per minute. Generally, a 3-gallon minimum is required for older homes and new homes 5 gallons per minute. You can also have the flow rate and the yield of the well tested by professionals with the right equipment.
A professional well inspection will do just that. Just because a well has clean, safe drinking water does not mean that it contains enough water to meet the needs of your household.
There are a couple of methods to check on the amount of water in the well. The first is water storage capacity. A traditional 6-inch diameter drilled well can store 1.5 gallons of water per foot. If you can find out the depth of the well, the level of the water and pump depth, you’ll be able to determine the water storage capacity.
When checking on a well’s water supply, the first test done is most often a flow rate test. The flow refers to the amount of water coming from the well, and the flow rate measures the gallons per minute being dispersed. The average home needs 100 to 120 gallons per person per day and a flow rate of about 6 to 12 gallons per minute. The requirement could be more if a large family is creating more water demand.
Before you buy, it is important to know that the well will generate enough water, both flow rate, and overall capacity, to meet the needs of your home for the long-haul. Otherwise, you will find yourself needing to drill another well – or wait for the well to refill, which can take a long time.
Well inspections will reveal all of these critical data points worth knowing.