A house with a well could offer great-tasting water with no water bills. It could also be a source of natural minerals that can offer health benefits. But a home with a well could have some downsides too.
If you buy a house with a well, you must take some precautions. Well inspections are your way of ensuring the purity of the water is good enough to drink.
When purchasing a property with a private water source, a well inspector should be consulted first. Having a well inspection will ensure you have plenty of excellent water.
Let’s have a look at everything you need to know about buying a home with well water.
What are well inspections?
Typically, a well inspection is not conducted by a general home inspector. It will be outside the cost of a home inspection.
A professional well inspector will carry out a well inspection. They will test the well’s quality and amount of available water. This inspection is necessary to ensure the water source to your home doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals that could harm your health.
The inspection will ensure the well meets the state requirements and that there isn’t damage to the well’s construction. Drilling a new well could cost $10,000 or more, so you want to ensure the well in a home you are looking to buy isn’t seriously damaged.
When are well inspections needed?
You should consider bringing in well inspectors when buying a home that isn’t connected to public water utilities. This means typically homes in more rural locations. If the home has a well, you will be responsible for ensuring the water is safe.
If you get the well inspected before you buy the home, you could discover serious problems that will make you change your mind. There could be expensive repairs required to make the water safe to drink, and while you could renegotiate the price with the seller, you might not want to.
You will want to live in a home where you can trust the water is safe for you and your family. This is one good reason not to avoid a well inspection.
After buying the home, you might also want to have an annual inspection of the well for your peace of mind. Before you buy, some research into groundwater quality in the area is also advisable. Checking with the EPA or asking neighbors could reveal some water issues.
Well inspections become especially crucial when buying abandoned properties and other homes that have not been lived in for an extended period of time.
What tests are conducted during a well inspection?
Two main tests are used in a well inspection: water safety and quantity.
Testing the purity of the water is obviously a paramount concern and involves taking a sample of water from the home. This will be sent for testing to detail the PH levels, clarity, hardness, and reveal the minerals in the water. One of the advantages of well water is the minerals present, with nutritional and health benefits.
Tests should also check if there are VOCs in the water. You don’t want to find these human-created chemicals in your water source. There could potentially be gasoline compounds like benzene, or chloroform, chemicals that are toxic and carcinogenic.
The amount of water available from the well needs to be enough for your family’s needs. To find out how much water is available, the well inspector will measure the size of the well and the flow rate it produces.
A home typically needs between 100 and 120 gallons per person daily. This means a flow rate of between 6 and 12 gallons each minute to provide enough water to the home.
The water inspector should also check the pressure tank. This tank ensures instant access to water from the well and regulates the pressure. They will check for signs that the tank needs to be replaced, like leaks, rust, or other problems that could contaminate the water or stop the supply.
How much does a well-inspection cost?
The amount you will be charged by the well inspector can vary depending on what is required and your location. The inspector might charge a travel fee, and there could also be lab costs. Average well inspections cost between $300 and $500.
If you are using a well, inspecting your septic tank is also vital. You don’t want your septic tank to malfunction when taking water from a nearby well. Septic system inspections are more expensive generally, costing between $400 and $900.
Like a standard home inspection, it is well worth the cost for something as essential as checking your water.
The bottom line
Though there isn’t usually a requirement to get a well inspection when you buy a home, it is a sensible precaution to ensure your water supply is safe. An inspection will inform you of the condition of the well, so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise after you have purchased the home.
It is vital to have a well inspection contingency in your offer to purchase. If you find there are contaminants in the well, you will have the option of terminating the sale and getting your earnest money returned. Ask your real estate agent for an excellent recommendation for a well inspector.
Bill Gassett is a nationally recognized real estate leader who has been helping people buy and sell MetroWest Massachusetts real estate for the past 35 years.