When it comes to selling a home with well water, it’s important to ask is if the well is up to the task of providing enough quality water to meet the homeowner’s needs. Real estate agents should talk to the sellers and find out how old the well is, if there have been water supply issues in the past or if they’ve experienced a well or water pump failure recently. If the answer to any of these is yes, the home could have a low flow problem.
What is a water well “flow rate”?
The flow rate is a term well professional use when evaluating a well’s water supply and refers to the amount of water coming from the well. The flow rate measures the gallons per minute being pumped from the well. The average American household needs 100 to 120 gallons per person per day, and a flow rate of about 6 to 12 gallons per minute. This requirement may be higher if it serves a home housing a large family or there are large water demands.
The Water Well Board and the New Hampshire Water Well Association, a group of private professionals associated with the well water industry, both recommend a flow rate of 4 gallons per minute for a 4 hour period. That’s equivalent to 960 gallons of water flowing steadily for 4 hours. These groups agree these results show an adequate water supply for home use and a modest amount of outdoor use.
Some properties need a large amount of water for outdoor use as well, like for watering animals or large gardens. If that is the case, this amount may not be enough to meet the home’s needs, which is why well professionals may recommend a minimum flow rate of 5 gallons per minute or more.
Testing the water well flow rate
As the agent, you can do some quick calculations to see what the home’s flow rate should be before calling a professional. Count the number of water fixtures in your home, including showers, faucets, outdoor water spigots and water-using appliances like dishwashers and clothes washers. Calculate 1 gallon per minute for each appliance. That will show you the average gallons per minute needed for your home.
For example, a small home with one bathroom would have the following fixtures:
1 bathroom sink
1 clothes washing machine
1 refrigerator ice maker
1 kitchen sink
1 outdoor spigot
= 8 gallons per minute
Calling a well specialist in to do a flow test is the next step. Testing outside the home excludes other factors, such as bad plumbing, and can help you find the source of the low flow problem faster.
Low flow causes
There are many reasons for low flow. The well could be drying up, there could be a poorly placed well pump or clogged pipes. Skillings & Sons was called in to make this determination during a 2013 project featured on the PBS show This Old House. A 1935 home in Essex, Mass., was being remodeled for the homeowner’s parents when the well unexpectedly ran dry.
The flow test showed that water was flowing at 3 gallons per minute, below the 5 gallons per minute minimum for home use. Skillings checked the water depth and the pump depth to see if the pump was installed at the right level and found the difference between the water level and well pump did not leave much allowance for water use.
Skillings then pulled the water pipe from the well to look for other problems and found the lower levels of the pipe were caked in rust, indicating high levels of iron and the need for a filtration system. A drill bit was lowered into the existing well bore to clear the well of debris and sediment. A pump was installed deeper than the previous pump and a new flow test showed the well pumping 30 gallons per minute, more than enough to meet the home’s needs.
A flow test lets you know
When it comes to selling a home, knowing potential problems before the property goes on the market will help an agent sell the home more quickly. A simple flow test can reveal the general health of the well and can help pinpoint the source of water flow problems.
Would you like a representative from Skillings & Sons, Inc. to visit your real estate firm?
At our free lunch and learn you will learn about;
• FHA flow rate requirements
• How to find and spot a problem well
• Solving poor water pressure problems
• Eliminating bacteria, arsenic and radon