Understanding Your Water Source

Properties obtain water from one of two sources: Public treatment facilities or a private well source. When dealing with a private well source, it is important to understand the dynamics of how the system functions and whether it will provide adequate and potable (sustainable for human consumption) water to the home.

Generally, this is a multi-step process. First, we recommend taking an initial water sample for analysis by our state-certified lab partners. This will give you a better understanding of the chemical composition and make-up of the water being supplied to the house. You’ll want to make sure there are no elevated levels of organic compounds, naturally occurring contaminants or other types of harmful bacteria. There are various levels of testing options we can walk you through that we recommend based on the conditions at your home. Some mortgage loans require water quality analysis be performed on private wells prior to purchase and we can also guide you on which type of analysis will satisfy these requirements.

Quantity or Flow Analysis

The next step involved in understanding the functionality of your private well is determining if it will supply adequate amounts of water to satisfy your specific needs. Available water supply is a function of both the recovery rate and the storage volume of the well. These two factors contribute to the actual capacity of the supply, particularly if the well recovery rate is low. A standard 6-inch diameter drilled well can store 1 ½ gallons of water per foot of well depth. The actual volume of water in storage will depend on the water level in the well and the pump sitting depth.

We recommend that a minimum water supply capacity for domestic internal household use should be capable of supplying at least 1200 gallons of water within a 4 hour period with no significant change in flow. When a private well is present on a property, a large percentage of potential home buyers order a well flow analysis. Most are satisfied with the 2 hour test as you can gather relatively the same material data over a typical “home inspection” time period.

Some homeowners find when they occupy a home with a private well, that the supply of water is less than desirable. People are often confused why the previous home owners did not report an issue or disclose water supply problems in the past. This is due to the fact that not all families put the same demand on the well or call for the same amount of usage. A 5-person family with 3 children and two washing machines will naturally have a much greater demand for water than a 2 person family with no children. Water supply capacities with less than ideal amounts can be considered a hardship by some homeowners.

The good news is that well systems are generally straight forward and improving or correcting a poorly performing or recovering well is not very confusing work for the many qualified companies in New England who specialize in practice. The bad news is this work can become costly with the full scope of the project unknown where drilling deeper can be required.

Please let us know if you have questions or would like more information about the well flow tests available.