When should I order a Well Inspection? What is included?

Should I order a well inspection?

Well inspections are recommended for all homes with well water (or Springs if there is a pressure system equipment present).

Well inspections are separate from water testing (both are highly recommended).  Water testing evaluates the quality of water while the well inspection evaluates the components of the system.

Why evaluate the well components? 

Well components like pumps and pressure tanks can be expensive to replace/repair and if they fail the home can be without water for several days.  A well inspection can help anticipate expensive repair/replacement items, and prevent issues like water contamination and disruption of service.

Main Components of the well system:

Most of the well systems in our area are drilled wells.

  • pump is required to transport the water from the well to the house.  Most of the pumps in our area are submersible and are located toward the bottom of the well.  Typically pumps work with other components like a pressure tank and pressure switch (although there are other systems).
  • pressure tank is designed to hold and maintain steady water/pressure so that the pump is not overworked and there is good working pressure in the home (not too high or too low).
  • pressure switch is a small device that turns on the pump (and fills the pressure tank) when the pressure is low (typically between 30 and 40 psi) and turns on the pump when the pressure is high (typically between 50 and 60 psi).  This is called the ‘cut-on’ and ‘cut-off settings’ because the pressure switch ‘cuts’ the pump on and off.  Typical settings are ‘30/50’ and ‘40/60’.  All systems should have a 20 psi difference between the ‘cut-on’ and ‘cut-off’ settings.  (City water pressure is typically higher and set to 80psi)

How long do the components last? 

Typically the service life of the pump, pressure tank and related equipment is between 8-12 years.  If the equipment is near 12 years or older the buyer should budget for replacing the components within a few years.

What do we look for during a well inspection?

  • Wellhead – We visually inspect the grading and clearances at the wellhead looking for sources of contamination.  The enclosure around the wellhead should be intact and well insulated to prevent pest infestation and freezing/bursting pipes.  The wellhead should be in good condition, 12” above grade, readily accessible and be properly sealed to prevent contamination.
  • Pressure System Equipment- We look for leaks, electrical issues, corrosion, and age of equipment.  We verify the proper pressure of the tank (the bladders can fail over time) and proper cut-on and cut-off settings.
  • Proper Flow – Using a state of the art flow meter we verify the max flow rate and then steady flow rate over a 125 gallon draw test.  A graph is provided in the report.  We want to verify that the system can provide at least 3gpm for older homes and 5gpm for newer homes for a typical family.
  • Well Recovery/Yield: We use a state of the art well sounder to take readings of the water level as we draw approximately 125 gallons from the well.  We then allow a recovery period to see how quickly the well recovers after drawing water (wells also recover during the flow test but they usually don’t recover as quickly as water is depleted)  The purpose is to determine if the well has good volume or good recovery.  A properly designed well system should either have good static water volume or good recovery (neither is not good, both is not necessary, typically it is either one or the other).  Recovery is how quickly the well can replenish itself after drawing water.  Static water volume is approximately how much water is available for use at any time.  Well systems with good static water volume don’t need a fast recovery and vice versa.  A graph is provided with the report (unless there are limitations to performing the test).  The graph will indicate how the well performs during the test.

Result  The report includes pictures and in some cases diagrams and video.  The purpose of the report is to help educate the buyer about their system, anticipate costs and possible issues, and in some cases to provide documentation for negotiating.

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