In New England, it is not uncommon for a home to draw its water from a private well. Depending on the state and town you live in, well water may actually be the prevalent method for providing water to homes in your community. According to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, 46 percent of state residents draw water from a private well. Compare this to the national average of 15 percent, and it’s clear that people in the business of selling homes must know their stuff when it comes to private water wells.
Common Water Well Problems
Licensed real estate agents understand the difference between bedrock and shallow wells, but may not know the most common risks associated with each type of well, depending on their location in the state. 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.
What to Look for When Viewing a Home with a Well
Whether you are representing the seller or buyer, knowing how to spot potential well water problems can prevent headaches when it comes time to close. Sellers must 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.
Here are some things to look for:
Age of the home/age of the well: Old homes don’t necessarily mean old well. Shallow wells in older homes may not provide the amount of water needed to service the home, may have been built using old methods, and may be susceptible to contamination or failure. Because of this, many owners of older homes either opt, or are forced, to replace their old wells. If the buyers you represent fall in love with an 1820 farm house, make sure you get the details on the age of the well.
Drainage issues: Wet basements and water-logged yards can negatively affect the value of a home, and they may even cause problems with the home’s water supply. 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, consider testing the water.
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.
Well water testing: Testing 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.
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