What to Know about Homes with Well Water
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While most households in the US have access to city utilities, homeowners in more rural areas often get their water from a private well. In fact, about 13% of Americans live on a property with a well. Moving to a home with a well for the first time can be a big change at first, but as long as you take proper precautions before using tap water and keep your well in good condition, it should be fairly easy to incorporate well water into your daily life.
(Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical or legal advice and is only for informational purposes. If you think you have asbestos in your home, it is best to consult a professional.)
What is well water?
Unlike homes with water supplied by their city, homes with wells get their water straight from the ground. A well is a large hole in the ground that operates using a pump to channel water to homes in the area. Because well water is not filtered the same way city water is, it often looks, tastes, and smells different from city water and usually requires the homeowner to treat it in some way before it is consumed.
What are the pros of well water?
Unlike city water, well water doesn’t come with any monthly bill payments, meaning that the only money you’ll need to spend is whatever is required for the well’s upkeep.
While city water often comes from runoff or surface water, wells provide water from deep underground. As a result, this water tends to be fresher and richer in healthful nutrients.
It’s good for emergencies
There is a nearly unlimited supply of well water, which means that natural disasters affecting nearby cities’ ability to provide water to homes will usually not have any impact on wells.
What are the cons of well water?
It can look, smell, and taste unpleasant
Well water is often high in iron and sulfur. This doesn’t make it unsafe to drink or bathe in, but it may be inconvenient. Iron can cause water to taste metallic and take on a brownish color that leads to stains on items like sinks, baths, and toilets. Sulfur can give water a foul odor, like that of rotten eggs. Fortunately, there are plenty of products available to purchase that enable you to remove iron from your water and lessen the smell of sulfur.
While many of the minerals found in well water are beneficial for your health, high calcium and magnesium levels create what is known as hard water. Hard water may lead to buildup in plumbing, and when mixed with soap, it often leaves soap scum on dishes. Installing a water softener if your home does not have one already helps to prevent these problems.
It may become contaminated
Sometimes dangerous substances find their way from the earth into well water. Contaminants like uranium, radon, arsenic, bacteria like E. coli, and lead are all dangerous to consume, and lead also poses a threat of damaging pipes. Filtering well water is essential for reducing the risk of contamination.
How is well water tested?
In order to stay protected from both minor inconveniences and threats to your safety, the EPA recommends that all households with well water have it tested at least once a year. While DIY test kits are available, it is more reliable to have a professional come to your home and test your water. A typical test involves an inspection usually lasting between 1.5 and 2 hours, after which the inspector takes samples of your water to send to a state certified lab. You will typically get your results back a few days later. This process costs an average of $300-$500.
What kind of upkeep does a well require?
In addition to having well water tested regularly, there are a few important actions that help keep wells in proper working order. Be sure to keep any materials that are hazardous for human consumption—such as paint, pesticides, fertilizer, and motor oil—far enough away from your well that there is no risk of them contaminating the water. You should also be extra careful when mowing the lawn around the well to avoid damaging the casing. Most importantly of all, be vigilant of any noticeable changes to your water or to the well itself, as they may be signs that the well needs repair. If you notice anything concerning, schedule a test right away even if it has not been a full year since your last one.
What are the most common repairs wells need?
Even with proper care, a well does not last forever, and the pump will sometimes need to be repaired or replaced. The parts most commonly in need of repair and their average costs including service according to HomeAdvisor are:
- Pressure switch – $120–$175
- Foot valve – $150–$300
- Motor start capacitor – $100–$150
Replacing the entire pump usually costs between $1,000 and $2,500. As a general rule, if the cost of a repair is more than half of the cost of replacement, it’s wisest to replace the pump, as there will likely be more repairs needed in the future that would make replacement less expensive in the long run.
Looking to sell a home with a well?
AMI buys homes of all types in all conditions, and even if your well is not currently functional, we can take the property off your hands. Contact us