Are you buying a home with a private water well?
These 25 questions can help you to learn your responsibilities and keep your water system operating and safe!
Over 21 million homes in the U.S. rely on a private water well as their source for drinking water. A modern well can provide naturally filtered, cool, pure water. A properly installed and maintained water well can provide years of safe, affordable drinking water for you and your family.
If you're the new owner of a home with a water well and you've never had one before, it's your responsibility to maintain you wells health and functionality. While the EPA regulates public water systems, private wells are completely the responsibility of the well owner. Annual testing is recommended, including an inspection of your water system and components. You should have as much background information on your well as possible including prior test results, the original drilling report and any other information on your system.
Here are 25 questions you should answer if you're a new homeowner (or even if you've owned a well before!) who purchased a home with a private well.
1. According to your original well log, is your well a drilled well? If it's not drilled, what was the original method of construction and is it up to your communities current standards and codes?
2. According to your well log, when was your well drilled, how long has it been in service?
3. How deep is your well? This can also be found in your well log or can be determined through inspection by a well water professional.
4. Were you given well records when you purchased the home?
5. Do you have an original well log, prior and current water testing results, and maintenance records?
6. According to your maintenance records, how often has the well been inspected in the past?
It's important to have a record of all service, testing and preventative maintenance performed on your well.
7. According to your maintenance records, how often was water quality testing performed on your well? The EPA recommends annual testing for contaminants including fecal coliform levels, nitrates/nitrates, and chlorides. Speak with your well water professional to determine if other tests are necessary. If you notice any change in the color, odor, or flavor of your water, have it tested.
About Your Physical Water Well and its location:
8. Where is the physical location of your well on your property?
9. Is the soil around your well head burmed or raised to prevent pudding and to divert run-off? Contamination often occurs from the wellhead. Run-off can enter the well and bring contaminants with it.
10. Are there any holes, or voids in the soil around your wellhead which could allow run-off to enter your wellhead?
11. Is your wellhead visible and above ground?
12. Are there any permanent structures (sheds, pump houses) located within 10-feet of the wellhead? It's important to have access to your wellhead if it needs work. Structures located less than 10 feet from the wellhead may be in violation of your local building or health codes. Check with your local government.
13. Does your well location meet the minimum distance standards from any contamination sources as outlined by state and local regulations?
14. According to your well records, are there any abandoned wells located on your property?
Information on Your Water Well Components:
15. Is the lining of your well casing 12 or more inches above ground level? In flood-prone areas, it's important to place your well casing one to two feet about the highest recorded flood level. Above ground, flooding can enter and seriously contaminate your ground water source.
16. Upon visible inspection, are there any visible holes or cracks in the well casing?
17. Does your well casing depth meet state and local codes? This information should be in your well log. If not, speak with your local well water professional.
18. Is your well cap vermin-proof, watertight and secured to the well casing?
Water System Components Within Your Home:
19. Is there any visible corrosion at the pump fittings and/or your pressure tank?
20. Have you tested your pressure tank? Your pressure tank should be periodically tested for pump cut-in pressure, cut-out pressure, and the pressure differential.
21. How long does it take for your pump to go from the low limit to the high limit with no water turned on or running in the house?
22. Does your home have any point-of-use or point-of-entry water treatment systems? If your home includes a water treatment system, it requires periodic maintenance include changing filters, recharging chemicals or replacing UV light. Make sure any information about your treatment system is recorded in your maintenance log.
23. Have you recently tested your well for contaminants including bacteria, nitrate/nitrite, lead, arsenic, radon, VOCs or any other contaminants?
Well Yield/Flow Information:
24. What are the gallons per minute flow capacity of your well? This can be determined by water flow testing. Your well water professional can help you to determine the appropriate flow rate for your home and family.
25. Is further testing required to evaluate your well yield? Yield can decrease over time due to some factors including natural events like drought lowering water tables, or clogging of fissures. There are options available that can increase flow. If you have any questions about increasing well yields, ask your water professional.
Asking the right questions and understanding the health of your water system is important. With proper maintenance and testing, a private water well can be an excellent, affordable source of pure, clean drinking water for many years. If you have any questions about your water well, the documentation your should maintain, or any other information you may need, feel free to give us a call! At Skillings and Sons, we're experts protecting and maintaining the water supply and systems of our Massachusetts and New Hampshire clients. We're always happy to help!