Scary Home Features Explained: Should I Buy a House With Well Water?
When you are thinking of buying a new home, there are many details to consider: Financing, the condition of the home, schools in the area and the quality of the neighborhood, property taxes, insurance, whether all of your furniture will fit. And the water. You will drink, shower, clean, flush, brush and wash with the water in your new home every day.
So, what do you need to think about if that prospective home operates on a private well?
The majority of homes today have a municipal water source that is regulated by government and Environmental Protection Agency health standards. In these cases, the homeowner has little need to be overly involved in the health and safety of their water.
But that changes a bit when your home has its own water source. And some prospective homeowners may not be comfortable making that shift from a home with a municipal water supply to one with its own private water source.
If your prospective home has well water, you are not alone. According to the EPA, 15 percent of Americans rely on individually owned and operated sources of drinking water. Here are some tips derived from the EPA for managing a home with a private well:
Research common water problems in your area
If you are moving to a completely new area, it is a good idea to reach out to your local water expert for information on local water problems. The EPA website is also a good resource for local water problems. This way, you will be proactive in preserving the taste and safety of your drinking water.
Find out your state’s well water regulations and recommendations
States vary on policies and regulations for private well water owners. Check with your local water expert or local health department for your state’s policies or guidelines on water testing. In some states, like Colorado, you may need to obtain a permit for your private well. In other states, like New Jersey, it is required by law for a seller to perform a water test and disclose results to potential buyers.
Get the water tested by a trusted local professional
Local water professionals can do an in-home water test for certain contaminants, but some recommended well water tests require a full lab analysis. Your local water professional can help guide you through the most appropriate testing for your home.
Have test results interpreted by someone who knows local water conditions
Make sure your local water expert clearly explains the results of your water test, especially if you are new to well water.
Learn your options if your water does contain contaminants
Many contaminants in well water can easily be reduced with water softeners, drinking water filters or other water treatment systems. If your water does contain a contaminant, reach out to a local water expert who will be able to determine the best option for you in your area.
Set up a regular water testing schedule for your home
The EPA recommends private well water tests once a year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids and pH levels. The EPA also recommends an extra well water test every two to three years for tannins, hardness, chloride and copper. Potential contamination can occur naturally, or as a result of human activity.
Keep a record of your water tests and any problems that occur
It is a good idea to keep water test results on file. This will allow you to reference them to help identify when a problem began and determine a potential cause. This will also help answer questions from prospective buyers if you ever sell the home.
If you are planning on moving to a home with well water, finding a water expert to help you is one of the easiest and best things you can do to ensure your water is healthy and safe. When choosing a water expert, make sure they are Water Quality Association-certified, work in your area and understand local water problems.
Check with your local health department, your neighbors or search for your local water treatment company for suggestions on water experts in your area. Becoming educated in well water safety will be beneficial to the maintenance and longevity of your new home!
Jim Stewart is the Director of Commercial & Industrial Sales and Dealer Support for Culligan. He has 25 years of Culligan experience that includes the residential, commercial and industrial markets.