What NH Real Estate Agents Need to Know About Water Quality

Real estate agents selling residential homes need to know that not all water wells are created equal. Depending on the age of the home’s well, the type of well and the geology surrounding the property, water quality can vary greatly from one home to another. There are no state regulations requiring water quality tests of private wells, but if the potential buyer – and the buyer’s agent – are savvy, they are going to ask about the quality of the well water.

Common water quality problems

New Hampshire is lucky to have an abundant supply of clean water in the bedrock from which homes can draw. The majority of wells in New Hampshire and about 90 percent in Southern New Hampshire are bedrock wells.Bedrock wells are drilled into rock formations deep underground, tapping the cracks in the rock that carry water. When water flows through rock, it has a purifying effect, but it also means the water picks up minerals that can affect taste and cause building up on home plumbing and appliances.

Hard water problems

Hard water is caused by dissolved minerals in the water, such as calcium or magnesium. It is one of the most common water quality problems for homes with bedrock wells. When these dissolved minerals pass through a home’s plumbing system, they leave deposits on pipes, appliances, and dishes. Hard water also reduces the sudsing and cleaning ability of soaps and creates a residue on bathtubs and clothes. It does not pose a health risk, but it can affect taste and will damage appliances and water fixtures over time.

Arsenic in well water

There is about a one in five chance a bedrock well in New Hampshire contains at least a small amount of naturally occurring arsenic. The EPA has set a goal of zero arsenic in U.S. drinking water because of the negative health effects from long-term exposure. Drinking water with arsenic over a long period can lead to some different cancers and other chronic ailments, such as cardiovascular or neurological disorders.

Radon water contamination

Real estate agents in New England are familiar with the risks of radon, as it is often something a home inspector will test for during the sale of a home. Radon can enter a home through cracks in the foundation, but it can also enter the home through the water system. It is found in almost all well water in New Hampshire and is released as a gas while the water is running, like during showers and washing dishes. Radon gas can accumulate in the home and increase the risk of disease, particularly lung cancer, but it also poses a health risk when consumed in water.

Iron and manganese

These are two minerals commonly found in private well water which can stain laundry, clogs plumbing and leave an oily sheen on the surface of your water. Up until recently, these minerals were more of a nuisance than a health risk, but new research shows that high exposure to the mineral may lead to cognitive problems.

Bacteria in well water

Agents may find there are older or rural homes that are serviced with a shallow well, also known as a dug well. While these wells are less likely to have the same water quality issues as bedrock wells, like hard water or radon, they are susceptible to other contaminants, including bacteria. Poor well construction, problems with the surrounding soil and recent repairs to the well can all cause bacteria contamination. Multiple tests over an extended period must be done to properly determine the cause of bacteria in a well, and if it is a chronic problem.

Water testing

The only way to ascertain the quality of a home water supply is to have it tested. Skillings & Sons has some water testing packages that agents, home sellers, and home buyers can use to learn if there are any contaminants in the water supply. Our testing packages are analyzed by only state-certified labs, and when the results come in, we will take the time to help you make sense of the results.