Thursday, March 25, 2010

Is your well Well?

Many homes in the rural communities have a well. When you are buying a home with a well and you schedule a home inspection it is a good idea to test the well. There are several things to test in a well. You want to know the volume of water that the well can generate, or the flow rate. You want to know the depth, and recharge rate, and the most important one is quality of the water. When clients call for an inspection they are focused on the house. Many buyers don't give the well much thought. They say things like..." I want a structural, mechanical, and heating inspection...and oh yeah, the house has a well, whatever you do with that".
Well there is quite a lot that we do with that! First, we check out the entire system from the well casing, the cap, the pressure tank and pressure switch, the piping, the filter if there is one, and the manifold that leads up to the house. We open the cap on the well and check the wires to the pump, and we inspect for bugs. We look to see if the well is too close to the septic, or any other contaminates. We look down the casing to see if the water is visible, and then we run the water. ( not that seeing the water really means anything)

Now comes the water testing. We ask the clients what level of water testing they want to do. Very often they do not really want to do more than the minimum requirements of the Bank. "Its too damn expensive ", they say. The Banks often have a minimum that they require for financing. This is a potability test. The potability test is a minimum test to determine if the water is fit to consume. This test is around $100.00. Potability checks for Fecal Coliform and Ecoli bacterias, Lead and Nitrates. Not too bad, but not very informative either.
Listen people! a Well is a hole in the ground that you will be drinking from! Wouldn't you like to know whats in this hole? Would you drink from a puddle in the parking lot that you park your nice car in? I think not, and I wouldn't blame you. So why would you drink from a well that you have not tested? You are either feeling lucky, or have Free company paid medical insurance!

Last week I inspected a house in the western part of the state. I asked the buyers if they wanted to test, and I explained that the test is important for their health and financial well being. Its true!. Have you priced water treatment systems lately? College is cheaper! So the buyer elected to test for the full menu. $300.00. The lab results came back with Acetone and Toluene. How did that get in there? Well I will tell you. The seller is a nice handy guy. He Paints and fixes his own cars, in his garage, then when he's done, he cleans out his spray equipment and dumps the chemicals in the ground behind the Garage. Imagine that! Well, when we reported the lab results, he about croaked, his face turned white and he confessed. Much to his credit, he was an Honest guy. Notice the Capital " H" in Honest? That's because he confessed. I'm not so sure I would have. The handy old guy asked how the Acetone and Toluene could travel so far in the ground as to get to his well 125 feet away? NATURE!!!!! It happens. Kinda why they say don't dump chemicals in the ground! Now I had to tell him that his neighbors may have some in their wells too. Now I think he really is gonna croak!

The cure here will be costly to say the least. Estimates will range from 4 to 6 thousand dollars, and that's if lawyers are not involved. The water will have to be tested at least a few more times, and that's not going to be cheap either, but the lesson here is.......The buyer tested!!!! and guess who is NOT going to have to pay for all of this mess? Yup, the buyer. Hows that $300.00 test sound now? Kinda like an insurance policy? You better believe it!!

Oh, almost forgot.....A buyer in Scituate.....he tested too. Found Tetrachloroethene in his well. Seem that a well repair person dropped the tin can of PVC glue into the well casing and figured the can was closed so...what the hell...leave it there. The can was open!!!!

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