The Importance of Private Well Water Testing
Why should I test my well water?
Testing your private well’s water quality on a regular basis is an important part of maintaining a safe and reliable source. It’s even more important when you’re buying a home. So important in fact, if you are utilizing and FHA/VA/USDA loan, each loan product has their own set of rules and most require testing to EPA standards for basic criteria.
The test results will allow the seller to properly address the specific problems of a water supply, if needed. This will help ensure that the water source is being properly protected from potential contamination, and that appropriate treatment is properly selected. The quality of a water source may change over time, even suddenly. Changes can go unnoticed as the water may look, smell, and taste the same.
Regular testing is important to:
- identify existing problems
- ensure water is suitable for the intended use, especially if used for drinking by humans and animals
- track changes over time
- determine the effectiveness of treatment systems
Is my water safe to drink?
The only way to tell if your drinking water is safe is by having it tested at a certified laboratory. Harmful bacteria, parasites, and viruses are invisible to the naked eye, so water which looks and tastes good may not necessarily be safe to drink. These microbes can exist in surface and groundwater supplies, and can cause immediate sickness in humans if not properly treated.
Certain chemical contaminants that are sometimes found in a water source can cause long term health problems that take years to develop. Frequent water testing will identify unsafe water and ensure that the treatment system is treating the water to a satisfactory level.
What test should I have done?
We perform an FHA basic panel as the standard for all well water testing. It’s required for FHA/VA/USDA loan products that the lab be certified to perform the specific test(s). Make sure you inquire with your inspector to verify the lab they use is properly certified. Many are not. Basic water potability typically includes tests for coliform bacteria, nitrates, pH, sodium, chloride, fluoride, sulphate, iron, manganese, total dissolved solids, and hardness.
- Coliform bacteria – Indicate the presence of microorganisms in the water that are potentially harmful to human health.
- Nitrate – A common contaminant found mainly in groundwater. High nitrate concentrations can be particularly dangerous for babies under six months, since nitrate interferes with the ability of blood to carry oxygen.
- Ions – Ions such as sodium, chloride, sulphate, iron, and manganese can impart objectionable taste or odor to water.
- Sulfate – Excessive amounts of sulfate can have a laxative effect or cause gastrointestinal irritation.
- Fluoride – Fluoride is an essential micro-nutrient, but excessive amounts can cause dental problems.
- Total dissolved solids – Represents the amount of inorganic substances (i.e. sodium, chloride, sulphate) that are dissolved in the water. High total dissolved solids (TDS) can reduce the palatability of water.