Purchasing a home can be tough enough, but if you’re unfamiliar with well water systems, buying a home that draws water from a well can be even more intimidating. Like everything with home ownership, managing a water well system is easy if you learn the basics and have a reliable professional to call on when there are problems.
Here are some important things to look for when buying a home with a water well:
Know the common water well problems
Do you know the difference between a bedrock and shallow well? Or what hard water is? There are a number of common water well problems that often arise, depending on where your home is located. Bedrock wells, also known as artesian wells, draw water from cracks in the bedrock deep underground and are more likely to draw water that contains dissolved minerals and metals. Hard water is the most common problem with bedrock well water, but other issues, such as arsenic and radon contamination can cause problems for homeowners. Roughly 90 percent of all new wells in New Hampshire are bedrock wells.
Shallow wells, or dug wells, draw groundwater into the home and are far more susceptible to bacterial contamination than bedrock wells. Shallow wells may also be at risk for contamination from pesticides and other contaminants that flow into groundwater from nearby farms, highways or industrial sites. Fortunately, shallow wells are less likely to have issues with hard water or other mineral and metal contaminants.
Some obvious signs of water well problems
Spotting potential well water problems in a home you're considering buying can help prevent headaches when it comes time to buy. State law in New Hampshire requires sellers to disclose information about both the water supply system and the septic system, including the date of the most recent water test and if the test showed any water quality problems. Although some mortgage companies may require it, water tests are not required by state law in New Hampshire. This means the most recent water test disclosed could have been done many years ago.
Keep an eye out for crusting on water fixtures, which could indicate untreated hard water. Also take a look at the water system components both inside and outside the home. If there is obvious damage, corrosion and leaking, chances are there are other unaddressed problems as well. Here are some other issues to consider:
Age of the home/age of the well: Old homes don’t necessarily mean old well. But if the home has a well older than 30 years old, it could mean the well is at the end of its life. Make sure closely inspect the well system and water quality before buying.
Drainage issues: Wet and poorly drained soil can cause problems with home septic system and cause groundwater contamination. If the home uses water from a dug well and the ground on the property has poor drainage, make sure to test the water for bacteria and other contaminants.
Location and soil type: Is the home located in an area known for high levels of radon in bedrock well water? Is the dug well located downhill from a possible contamination source? New
Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has extensive documentation regarding soil types and risks to well water. The agency will also send out water alerts, like it did in June 2014, urging homeowners with well water to test for contaminants, such as arsenic.
A water test is the only proven way to know if well water is contaminated or not. To ensure reliable results, testing should be done by a reputable lab. Skillings & Sons offers advice and assistance with water testing. Our experienced staff can help homeowners collect samples correctly, interpret results and offer advice on home water treatment systems if contaminants are found.