For many Americans, getting a loan insured by the Federal Housing Administration is the best way for them to finance their home. But with these insured loans come some requirements, especially where it comes to home wells, sewer, and septic systems.
On the FHA government loan website, you will find plenty of information about financing and regulations, but figuring out whether the house you want to buy will pass government inspection is not easily found. While we can’t speak to the entire inspection process, we can provide basic information that can help you figure out whether the home you want to buy will pass muster.
Although this doesn’t have to do with home water systems directly, poor water drainage can affect shallow wells and basements where water system components live. Inspectors will want to see that the property provides enough drainage so that standing water is not an issue. If there is standing water on the property or a lack of drainage apparatus in the home, such as gutters, that can be a red flag for an inspector.
Water Contamination and Treatment
Leaks from a home septic system can affect some wells and contaminate the soils surrounding your home. The area around the septic system will be inspected for contamination that could be harmful to the new homeowners. Contaminants from a defective sewer system may show up in standing water, can have a bad odor or be evident in distressed vegetation or discolored soil on the property. If the home has underground storage tanks, those will be inspected as well.
FHA requires wells be at least 10 feet from the property line, 50 feet from the home’s septic tank and at least 100 feet from the septic tank’s drain field. The appraiser may also test for chlorination in the water. If the well is not in use, it must be filled with at least 20 feet of concrete and capped.
In New Hampshire, the state keeps a record of well construction. These records are available online in the Department of Environmental Services database. This site can give you more information about problems with the property’s well and details of when it was constructed before the inspection.
Testing the Well's Flow Rate
Having enough water in the well to supply the home for an extended period is a critical factor homeowner should consider. FHA inspectors will first run some the fixtures to determine flow is consistent throughout the house. Significant drops in water pressure from one part of the house to another, or over time, can indicate a problem.
The inspector will also conduct a pump test that measures the well’s flow rate to determine if the water supply is adequate. The flow refers to the amount of water coming from the well. The flow rate measures the gallons per minute coming from the well. Flow rate is tested when a well is initially drilled and can be tested again to determine if there are problems with the well. To pass inspection, older wells must pump 3 to 5 gallons per minute. If the well is new, it must pump water at a rate of 5 gallons per minute
Skillings & Sons recommends that all new homeowners have their wells tested to ensure it is functioning properly and that the water quality is up to standard. If there is a water-related problem on the site, these evaluations will usually find it.