Learn the facts and questions to ask when selling residential real estate that uses a water well for its water supply. Learn more.
20% of New Englanders, rely on private water wells for their drinking water. Here is what real estate agents should know about listings with a water well.
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.
Knowing what to look for when considering buying a home with a well water supply can make accessing for and purchasing a house with a water well easier.
New Hampshire has well water regulations that must be adhered to by law and guidelines that Real Estate Agents need to know. Learn more.
If Your Real Estate Agency Would Like Skillings & Sons To come to Your Location To discuss Water Wells and Water Quality, Call Us at 1 (800) 441-6281 To Schedule a Time. We'll Even Bring Lunch!
Using well water for home use goes without much thought for many people in New England. But for first-time homebuyers and those used to living along public water and sewer lines, buying a home with a well can be intimidating. Understanding the benefits and challenges of the different types of residential wells can help real estate agents provide homebuyers with the information they need and put minds at ease.
Types of wells
Homes draw water from one of two types of wells: bedrock and shallow. Knowing what type of well a home has will help a real estate agents and homeowner determine what kind of problems could arise over the course of their ownership.
Most of the wells in New Hampshire are bedrock wells, also known as artesian wells. These wells are drilled deep into the ground and draw from water that flows through fractures in the bedrock. From 2000 to 2010, an average of 4,350 bedrock wells were drilled in New Hampshire each year.
Bedrock wells have very few incidents of bacterial contamination, but are more susceptible to naturally occurring contaminants, like radon, arsenic or hardness. Bedrock wells can also be more expensive to drill and run because of their depth.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services recently issues an alert, recommending homeowners with private wells get their water tested. A U.S. Geological Survey revealed that up to 80,000 residents in Hillsborough, Rockingham, and Strafford counties alone may have unhealthy levels of one or more toxic metals in their drinking water. These are naturally occurring contaminants, such as arsenic, that are harmful at certain levels. Arsenic is known to cause cancer of the skin, lung, bladder, liver, and kidneys, and other serious diseases. Parents should be especially careful of naturally occurring water contaminants, since some have shown to cause cognitive problems in children.
The NH DES recommends homeowners, even those with water softeners, get their water tested every 3 to 5 years.
Wells that are less than 50-feet deep and are constructed above the bedrock are called dug wells. They are also referred to as shallow wells, wash wells or gravel wells. Drilling an effective dug well depends on the soil type – they are often surrounded by sandy gravel.
The good news is that shallow wells are less likely to experience naturally occurring contamination from radon or arsenic. The bad news is they are more susceptible to bacteria contamination. Shallow wells can also experience iron, manganese and taste and odor problems.
Since shallow wells take water from the highest water table, they are sensitive to activities that take place on the ground above. Improperly applying fertilizer or pesticides, inappropriate disposal of motor oil, solvents, and other harmful substances, or living close to an industrial area could all put your well at risk.
Testing and treating private well water
Testing water for contaminants is easy for new homeowners and many well water treatment options are relatively affordable and easy to maintain. The state laboratory can test for 13 water quality factors, such as bacteria and radon. It takes about three weeks to process in the summer and two weeks the rest of the year. Skillings & Sons can advise homeowners on how to take the samples, the containers to use and other questions they have.
Skillings & Sons can also discuss water treatment options with homeowners if contaminants are found and recommend maintenance and testing schedules to make sure the system they choose is working effectively for years to come. Finding the proper treatment options to remove the specific contaminants is important, so real estate agents should recommend hiring a professional water system expert when making this important decision.
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
Water well education for real estate agents on well drilling, water treatment, radon remediation, FHA flow rate requirements and well services.
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