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Test the Well

By Stuart Lieberman, Esq
International Real Estate Digest

Your new home will obtain its drinking water from one of two sources. Either a public water supply or a private, on site well.

If the water comes from a public water supply company, the water is periodically tested and presumably safe. Presumably safe, but not always safe.

If the drinking water comes from an on site well, don't buy the home until you know that the water is safe.

Sounds obvious, right? But not everyone takes this precaution. And once you purchase the home, the dirty well becomes your problem. Which means that you want address this problem before the sale, not after the sale.

What could be wrong with the water? There are endless possibilities. Well water comes from underground streams that can be contaminated from any number of sources.

Is the well deep or shallow? While most applicable laws now require the installation of deep wells to tap from the generally more protected water sources, there are many older shallow wells that are still out there.

I have seen wells under 30 feet deep that are still being used today. Many newly built wells are several times as deep.

Wells in rural areas may be polluted from pesticides and animal waste. Pesticides can cause illness if consumed over a long period. And animal waste can make people immediately ill.

Wells in more industrial areas, even areas that once were industrial, may be contaminated with solvents and other cancer causing chemicals.

Wells near gasoline stations with leaking tanks may have gasoline contamination. This may include lead, which causes brain damage, and MTBE, which is suspected of causing cancer.

Some homes have both wells and septic systems. If the septic system is failing, the contamination can find its way into the well water. In turn that can make people very ill.

Also, some wells don't produce enough water. Especially wells in mountainous areas and areas prone to draught.

What should you do? Make sure the well is safe before you purchase. Find out if the well ever produced dirty water and if so, what was done.

Also make sure the well is sufficiently deep and meets contemporary well drilling standards.

Bad water problems do not have to kill a deal. Sometimes wells can be filtered. Other times, new, often deeper wells can be drilled.

Whatever the cure, it must be determined before the sale not after the sale. Water is a big deal. You want to ensure that your new home produces plenty of healthy drinking water.

These are seldom deal killers. But these issues must be addressed before your purchase.