Friday, January 15, 2021

Real Estate: Testing, service essential elements of safe drinking water

By Kam Berry

As we all navigate new ways of life and stay extra focused on our health and wellbeing, the water we are using to clean, bath and consume has taken on additional importance. For homes on private water wells, annual service and testing is an essential part of having clean and safe drinking water.

This has never been more important than now! With more of our community working from home, learning from home, and cooking at home, well water safety is extra important. The average household uses 100 gallons per person, per day! Short term health and long-term health are both affected by poor water quality. When it comes to purchasing or selling a home, water testing, and recent service are also important for a safe and properly functioning water system. 

From a service perspective, things like a water softener out of salt or a reverse osmosis system past service probably aren’t going to cause long term damage to the equipment, but they definitely can allow harmful contaminates to enter your drinking water system. The harmful contaminates in well water are usually the ones you can’t see, taste or feel, making them even more dangerous! Most water systems need to be serviced on an annual basis, and water softeners typically need salt to be added on a monthly basis. 

Water testing is an important part of making sure we are drinking, cooking and bathing with safe water. Annual water testing is recommended by the National Groundwater Association, and I encourage homeowners to consider annual tests. 

More importantly, consider getting your water tested if you notice any changes in aesthetic quality or quantity. Local laboratories have enacted COVID-19 safety precautions for in person drop-off, and you can pick up or drop off test kits at the local Windham UPS store.

Winter maintenance for a well system is also very important and knowing where your well is located is highly important, since many wells are out of sight once the snow falls. A small reflective stake can help, or even a photo to reference if we have to dig to find it in the snow. It sounds funny, but I have gone around many yards with a metal detector and shovel! Well pumps have an estimated lifespan of 15 to 20 years, but that lifespan can be cut way short if a defective pressure tank, defective pump or wiring issue to the pump appears. When a pump fails, pump replacement involves accessing the well, typically with a truck using a special tool to pull the pump out of the well and wind up the pipe and wire. Difficulty locating the well makes the process take longer than required.

According to the National Groundwater Association, well water testing should be done on an annual basis. The importance of water testing has become more evident in recent years, and it is great for the health of the community. We have seen many cases of elevated radon, uranium, and arsenic in local areas through well testing, but these contaminates have likely been present for years. A frequent question we are asked is regarding any obligation to treat the water if a test fails, and there is no obligation if the test is done for personal information.

When it comes to purchasing a home with a well system, it is important to consider all of the aspects. Is the well location known? Is the pump at the age where failure is imminent, or showing high amp draw? With regards to water testing, it is very important to make sure the water passes an independent lab test, since even innocent enough issues like a low PH can corrode piping and cause leaks.

If you are listing your home with one of our great local real estate agents, there are things that can be done to avoid surprises in the transaction. Many local well contractors also provide well inspection services, which is a great tool if buying a home with a well. <

Kam Berry is the owner and operator of Berry Water Solutions, Inc. Call him for all of your water system needs at 207-383-5153 or visit

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