According to statistics provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), approximately fifteen percent of the population obtains water for their homes from private water wells. These homes are primarily located in rural areas where population numbers are not great enough to support the costs involved in building and maintaining a municipal water system.
While most rural homeowners are accustomed to the responsibilities of owning their own water well, home buyers who are purchasing their first rural home often have concerns. If you are one of these concerned home buyers, the following tips can help you become more comfortable in your new role as the owner and maintenance supervisor of your own private water well.
Assess Nearby Properties for Potential Water Quality Issues
The first step in ensuring that the home you ultimately purchase will provide your family with safe water to drink throughout your ownership is to do a primary assessment of other properties in the immediate area. Since aquifers that feed private wells are similar to huge, underground lakes and rivers, scores of wells within the same general area are likely sourcing water from the same one.
Visible contamination issues that exist in the area, such as old landfills, auto salvage businesses, large livestock operations, and some types of manufacturing operations may allow foreign substances, such as oil, solvents, or large amounts of animal waste to soak into the soil around their business. If these substances soak through the layers of soil and get into the aquifer, the water supplying all the wells in the area can become contaminated. If possible, choose to purchase a home with a location that does not currently have properties nearby that could become a threat to your water supply at some point in the future.
Obtain Information About the Private Water Well Before Purchasing
Once prospective buyers feel confident that there are no immediate contamination issues in the area of the home they want to purchase, the next step is to find out as much detailed information about the water well on the property they want to buy, including:
- Age of the well, well pump, piping, and pressure tank
- Contact information for the well drilling contractor who installed the well and components
- Depth of the well and the certification number of the well
- Past repair issues and how they were handled, including contact information for the contractor making the repairs
Additionally, prospective buyers should be aware that some homes have shared wells, with formal or informal agreements to handle the cost of electricity and repairs. While shared well agreements can work, they can also become a problem, if the other party to the agreement fails to do their share.
Before considering the purchase of a home with a shared well, buyers should insist that the seller obtain a legal, written agreement with any other homeowners currently using the well and have their own attorney approve of the wording.
Insist on Purchase Offer Contingencies to Inspect the Well
Effectively utilizing the inspection contingency in a real estate purchase offer is the best way to be sure that the home you decide to buy will be able to provide pure, healthy water for your household. When making the offer, prospective purchasers should work closely with their real estate professional to make sure that their offer includes specific wording making it fully contingent upon the results of a professional well inspection and water test.
Taking this action will allow the buyer to renegotiate the terms of any purchase agreement that is reached or withdraw their offer, should the well inspection or water test show serious water quality or availability issues.
Learning as much as possible about private water wells before buying a home served by one is always the best plan. Prospective home buyers can call on Camps Well & Pump for expert answers to their questions and general insight about water quality throughout the area.