Having a private well can come with many benefits — mineral-rich water, fewer chemicals, a better taste, and lower utility bills are just a few of the reasons having a well for home water is a great option. Wells come with more additional maintenance and testing than municipal water, however. Not to worry, though. In this article, we’ll walk through how to inspect your well, what that will look like, and what information you’ll gain from a well inspection so you can sip your refreshing well water confidently.
Do you need a well water inspection?
Testing your well water yearly, as recommended by the EPA, is important because there can be unseen changes in the environment around your well that can impact your water quality and safety. There are several different aspects of a well water inspection that can be conducted, depending on the specific needs and concerns of the homeowner.
Some common elements of a well water inspection may include:
- Testing the water for bacteria and other contaminants
- Checking the well casing and seals for structural integrity
- Evaluating the condition and operation of the pump and other mechanical components
- Examining the wellhead and surrounding area for potential sources of contamination
- Assessing the overall condition and operation of the well system
If you have any concerns about the quality or safety of the water from your well, or if you have not had a well water inspection in a while, it is a good idea to consider scheduling one. A well water inspection can help you identify any potential issues and ensure that you have safe, clean water for your home.
Don’t be intimidated if you’ve never dealt with a well before. Despite their depths, wells are actually fairly simple systems once you understand the basics. Well inspections cover two main areas — the water and the system that pulls the water out of the ground and delivers it to your home.
What is included in a well inspection?
A well inspection typically includes an evaluation of the well and its components to ensure that they are functioning properly and that the water from the well is safe to drink and use. Water quality and flow rate are the main concerns with regard to a well inspection, and there are a few areas that inspectors will be keeping a close eye on when they come out to test your water and inspect your well.
Coliform bacteria – Coliform bacteria is a vast group of bacteria found in the intestinal tract of all warm-blooded animals. While most coliform bacteria will not cause harm or make you sick, some types, like E.coli, can cause potentially serious illnesses.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – Unlike coliform bacteria, VOCs are harmful across the board. These compounds are not something you want in your water, which makes it even more important to test regularly. VOCs come from industrial and petrochemical products that can contaminate water sources for miles. What VOCs might be present in your area depends mainly on the nearest industries.
Here are some of the elements that may be included in a well inspection:
- Testing the water for bacteria and other contaminants: This is typically done by collecting a water sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis. The results of the test will indicate if the water contains any harmful contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, or chemical pollutants.
- Checking the well casing and seals: The well casing is the pipe that encloses the well and keeps the water from contaminating the surrounding soil. The seals around the well casing help to prevent contaminants from entering the well. A well inspection will include a check of the well casing and seals to ensure that they are in good condition and not leaking.
- Evaluating the pump and other mechanical components: The pump is responsible for moving the water from the well to the house. A well inspection will include a check of the pump and other mechanical components, such as the pressure tank, to ensure that they are functioning properly.
- Examining the wellhead and surrounding area: The wellhead is the structure that sits above the well and contains the valve and other components that control the flow of water. A well inspection will include a check of the wellhead and the surrounding area to ensure that there are no potential sources of contamination, such as leaking septic systems or hazardous chemicals.
- Assessing the overall condition and operation of the well system: A well inspection will include an evaluation of the overall condition and operation of the well system to ensure that it is functioning properly and that there are no issues that need to be addressed. This may include a check of the plumbing and water treatment equipment, as well as an assessment of the well’s water flow rate and pressure.
How much does a well inspection cost?
The cost of inspecting a well and testing water quality is a large spectrum, ranging from $20-$730+, depending on what you want to test for and where you are. Below are the variables contributing to the cost of testing across the US.
- Location – In some remote areas, you might find that to get an inspector to come out, you’ll need to pay them for travel time and costs. This rate will vary depending on where you live and the time it takes to get there.
- What you’re testing for – Basic testing for water quality is inexpensive, with the actual test coming in at $20 and up. You’ll need to pay for the expert’s time to come and take the sample, but the test isn’t costly.
- Water quality testing vs. well inspection – You can have your water quality tested for several things without having a well inspector come out in person. While these tests are less costly, you don’t benefit from having your well and its systems checked by a pro in person.
- Additional costs – If you suspect that you should test your well water for more obscure toxins, there can be additional charges. Tests that screen for flame retardants, plasticizers, tannins, and pesticides, for example, are a more extensive procedure and are more expensive than the basic testing packages.
Testing well water and having your well inspected might seem like a complicated endeavor. However, if you find the right professional in your area, they’ll be able to guide you through the process and give you easy-to-interpret results with clear action items. Do your due diligence and plan for the cost of testing your water and having your well inspected yearly — worst case, you pay someone to tell you that it’s all in perfect condition and working order. Alternatively, you save yourself and your family from drinking potentially harmful water.