WELL, WELL. SO YOU'RE THINKING OF MOVING INTO A HOUSE WITH A WELL. HERE'S WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW.
There is so much appeal to owning a home in the country, removed from the hustle and hassle of urban living. But if a rural location is on your bucket list—whether you’re buying or thinking of buying—there are a few things you should know. A major difference between life in the city and the country is that the household water in your rural home is likely to source from a private well rather than a municipal facility. Well water differs significantly from city water in smell, look, and taste, and it may also mean unpleasant effects on laundry, housecleaning and bathing.
Well water in the United States is generally safe for use and consumption; indeed, 15 million homes utilize well water. But, as a resident, you should be aware that are steps you can take to minimize safety and health risks on the way to providing quality household water for you and your family.
Owning a home with a well means that the safety and the water that comes therefrom is your responsibility. That water almost always needs some filtration and softening to make it desirable for cleaning, cooking, and drinking. Here’s information you need to know:
ONE) Water in Your Well Comes Directly from the Ground.
It’s untreated. Drillers probe all the way to the aquifer, an underground reservoir in permeable rock, and the resultant product feeds to a pump system that you’ve had installed to bring the water into your home. Finding drinkable water isn’t difficult, but what starts as rainwater moves through soil, where it can encounter a multitude of contaminants on the way. Your well water contains much more than just the basic H2O.
TWO) [From the EPA: How A Private Residence Accesses An Aquifer]:
Well Water USUALLY Starts out Hard.
Water is a most efficient solvent, and groundwater dissolves organic matter, including minerals in the soil and rock holdings beneath the surface of the Earth, minerals like calcium and magnesium. This combination in a private well will probably need a water softener system—which should be installed if your home lacks access to a city water supply. Purchasing an existing home? You may be in luck, as it may already gave a water softener, but that system may require updating to ensure efficient operation.
A FREE quality analysis can identify any problems that might need to be fixed.
You can discover more about how water softeners work by consulting our blog.
THREE) Well Water Can Cause Staining. And It Can Smell Bad.
One of the first things you’re likely to discover in your new/old rural home are the stains disfiguring fixtures and in toilets, tubs, and sinks. Lime scale from water hardness is likely the culprit, though the most vexing stains often owe to a content of high iron. While iron is mostly a nuisance, its presence is not a safety issue, though its orange stains are unattractive, and difficult to remove. The only way to get rid of them permanently is by installing filtration systems that focus specifically on iron.
The Evolve Series Air Filter Systems supplied by Water-Right oxidize dissipated iron in order that it might be removed from your water. An additional benefit: this equipment also rids water of sulfur, a regular culprit of well water, infamous for causing your water to reek with a rotten-egg aroma.
Often, special water treatment media like Crystal-Right can reduce sulfur odor and remove iron, softening water simultaneously, and reducing the amount of treatment systems your home requires. A local water treatment expert can evaluate your specific needs and advise you on a system that’s right for you. And he or she can help you discover other reasons why your water might smell.
FOUR) Well Water Can Become Contaminated.
Many well water problems owe merely to aesthetics, but they may portend more serious problems. Groundwater in private wells is generally less likely to contain contaminants, but that doesn’t mean your well water is home free.
Natural contaminants like arsenic, radon, and uranium can dissolve in groundwater as it navigates rock and soil. Nationally, levels vary according to region, but your local water treatment expert can assist you in seeing the risks endemic to your part of the country.
Feel free to check out our Regional Water Roadmap and articles in the Regional Water Problems series to research typical concerns:
• Water quality problems in the Northeast
• Water quality problems in the Great Lakes states
• Water quality problems in the Midwest/Plains
• Water quality problems in the Southeast
• Water quality problems in Mountain states
• Water quality problems on the West Coast
One of the most prevalent and problematic health and safety issues owes to contamination from agricultural runoff, and septic tanks too close to a private well are also a concern. Additionally, nitrates at elevated levels can mean health risks to young children, and women who are pregnant.
The EPA warns further about the likely impact of well water contaminants.
The optimal way to get peace of mind about potential well water contaminants is to have a reverse osmosis (R.O.) drinking water system installed in your home. This special form of water filtration greatly reduces trace elements, heavy metals, and bacteria, and it produces great-tasting water right from the kitchen sink for drinking and cooking! Discover more about the benefits of reverse osmosis water and how an R.O. system works.
FIVE) Well Water Must Be Tested At Least Once A Year.
Well water’s quality changes constantly. The best way to protect your family is to have your well tested. While not required by the government, it’s a vital step to keep your family safe. The EPA recommends testing your well once a year at the absolute minimum for E. coli and coliform bacteria. You should also test your water for radon and arsenic, and minerals like iron, manganese, nitrate levels, and any volatile organic compounds to ensure your home’s water is safe.
Should you notice a change in water quality, (appearance, odor, taste, etc.) it’s a good idea to have your well tested, even if it hasn’t been a year since the last test.
At-home, out-of-the-box tests are available for you to purchase and perform yourself. When using this approach, it is important to read what exactly the kit is testing for, as not all tests are created equal.
All Water-Right, Evolve, and WaterCare professionals have access to our state-certified Clean Water Testing laboratory. They can collect samples from your well, send them to our lab, and provide you with reports on water quality. When Clean Water Testing Professionals examine your water, you gain the peace of mind knowing your water is professionally tested by a state-certified lab. You’ll also enjoy the added convenience and confidence that comes from reviewing results with a professional water treatment expert.
BUYING A HOME WITH A PRIVATE WELL
When you know area water concerns, you can take proactive measure towards protecting your well. Finding out if there are known water issues in the area and if there are any contamination concerns due to runoff from agriculture or nearby industrial activity can help you, also.
Before you move into a house with a well, study up on the well’s history, condition, and capacity by asking the current owner for a maintenance log. This will help you identify what has been done to the well in the past, how much it holds, and its flow rate; see if it will meet your household’s needs. It’s also a good idea to ask what the home’s seller is currently doing to treat the water.
Study specific signs of problems with private wells and continue to educate yourself.
Groundwater quality changes frequently and differs greatly. Your home may have noticeably different water problems than those of your neighbor, and that’s why the advice of a trusted, local water treatment expert can be so valuable.
Having a private well shouldn’t discourage you from moving into that dream house in the country. All you need is the right partner to help assure that your home’s water quality is right for your family’s needs.
Every Water-Right dealer is equipped to help you with your problem water needs. No matter the issue, Water-Right’s network of experts can come to your home and provide a water quality analysis, helping you identify solutions to your problems that leave you with the right water for life.