16 Things You Need to Know before Buying a Home with a Well

Here are 16 questions to ask before buying a home with a well
Photo Copyright : Pornphen Kijcharoenwong / 123rf.com

In today’s day and age, it’s easy to take for granted how important clean water is to daily life. From brewing your Monday morning coffee to your end-of-the-week stress relief bubble bath, water plays a major role in our health and wellness.

Now, you’re ready to invest in your first home or retire to that country cottage you’ve dreamed of. You know how big you want the home to be. You have your down payment ready. And you’re comfortable with the steps you need to take to purchase the home of your dreams. But the home you want has a well, and you don’t know what to do.

We get it. For “city slickers” who have always lived within municipal water systems, buying a home with a well system can feel daunting. However, if you understand how wells work, if you ask the right questions about the house you’re purchasing, and if you know how to treat your well once in the home, we know you’ll be fine.

No need to search your couch for shiny pennies to wish for good luck. We believe in you! And to help, here are 16 questions to ask before buying a home with a well.

What is the state of the well?

Not all home wells are created equal. Most homes have drilled wells, but depending on your location and the age of the home, you may come across homes with dug or bored wells. No well is foolproof, but drilled wells are more reliable and less prone to contamination. When inquiring about homes with wells, start by learning more about the type, age, and condition of the well.

1. Does the home have a drilled well, and if so, when was it drilled? The average lifespan for a well is 30–50 years.

2. How deep is the well? Drilled wells typically go down 100 feet or more.

3. What is the flow rate of the water? 3–5 gallons per minute is standard.

4. What is the overall capacity of the well? This is especially important if many people are living in the house. The typical household requires 100–120 gallons of water per person per day.

5. How is the groundwater in the area? Groundwater is shared. Consult the EPA or your local water expert about widespread groundwater issues in your area. (Or ask your REALTORⓇ!)

6. How much land comes with the property? Homes with wells bringing water in have septics to treat waste going out. In worst case scenarios, you don’t want your waste contaminating your water. If you have at least an acre of property, it’s more likely that the septic and well will be at least 100 feet apart to prevent contamination. Additional acreage also ensures that you’ll be able to find a spot to drill another well should you ever need one.

7. Are there any abandoned wells on your property?

What’s the state of the rest of the water system?

Your well is connected to a pump, a pressure tank, and a series of pipes that bring the water from deep in the ground into your home. It’s just as important that all these pieces are in working order.

8. How old are the pump and pressure tank? As an average, well pumps last around 10 years. When purchasing a house with older equipment, keep in mind that you may need to budget for replacements sooner than later.

9. When was the last time the pressure tank was tested? Periodically, the pressure tank should be tested for pump cut-in pressure, cut-out pressure, and the pressure differential. You should also know how long it takes to go from the low limit to the high limit with no water running in the house.

10. Is there any visible corrosion on the pressure tank or at the pump fittings?

11. Is the wellcap on level ground or (even better) uphill? Both natural and artificial contaminants will flow downhill and pool in low-lying areas. Make sure there are no holes around your wellhead and that it sits well above any spots where runoff is likely to happen.

12. Does your well casing depth meet state and local codes? Does your casing sit 12 inches above ground (or more in flood-prone areas)? Are there any visible holes or cracks in the casing? Is the well cap vermin-proof? These are all questions you don’t want to find out the hard way.

How is the water?

When it comes to shared groundwater, even well-kept well water systems can experience issues or contamination. As a homeowner, it’s important to check the quality of your well water regularly. As a home buyer, it’s important to know that regulations for testing vary by state and municipality. You should take it upon yourself to make sure the well has been tested before your purchase is finalized.

13. Is the home currently occupied? Sometimes, leaving a well unused for weeks or months leaves it more prone to bacterial contamination.

14. When was the last time the water was tested? And will you be receiving logs of that maintenance?

15. What’s in this water? A local professional can help you test for water quality issues and interpret those results for you. Make sure your water quality test covers the following:

  • Water safety and purity
  • Presence of minerals
  • PH, hardness, alkalinity, turbidity
  • Coliform bacteria
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Radon

Some minerals and impurities are easy to live with, like iron in the water. Other issues like hardness and bacteria can be treated effectively. But keep in mind that treating radon in your water can run you into the thousands.

16. How will I need to adapt to my new well? Even in healthy systems, well water is bound to look and smell different than city water. While that won’t affect your health, it may change what soaps and detergents you choose. You may also want to invest in additional filtration or treatment systems.

Are you ready to make your home buying wish come true?

Running a home on well water may feel complicated. But don’t forget—you’re not in this alone! Your REALTORⓇ can coach you through these questions and more.

Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about buying homes and land in Western North Carolina. Ask for the complementary Beverly-Hanks Buyer’s Guide that walks you through the home buying process, from planning your home search to what to bring on Closing Day.

19 Responses to “16 Things You Need to Know before Buying a Home with a Well”

  1. Thank you for this information.
    I’ve had questions about having a well, and had always hesitated to buy land that required the installation of one.
    It appears that drilling is the best way to
    install a well. Might you have an article
    you can share on installation methods including what to do and what not to do?
    Lastly, how can I find a reliable installer, and what might the cost range be?

  2. Thanks for helping me learn more about home wells. I didn’t know that the pressure tank of the well needs to be tested to figure out how long it could take to go from a low limit to the high limit. I’m kind of interested to learn if the tank needs to be tested every month or even less frequently than that.

  3. As you mentioned, it is a good idea to check the amount of pressure coming out of the well. We are looking to purchase a home and as it is not connected to the city water, it has a well. I will have to ask these questions before we buy to make sure everything is up to date.

  4. My cousin has been thinking about getting a home with a well, and he wants to make sure that it has the right pump to work better. Getting the right kind of pump could allow the system to work more productively. I’ll be sure to tell him about how he should understand where the water comes from, and test its quality to see if it has the right safety and purity.

  5. Thanks for explaining that well pumps will typically only last about 10 years. I think it would be great to pay less in water bills, so I will start looking for a well installation service. Then, I can just keep their information for 10 years down the road when I need to replace the pump.

    • Aihua Sun

      Thank you so much for explaining! Would you please provide the information on where can find water well professional personnel to help check the well? Because I plan to buy a house with a well.

  6. It really helped when you said asking about a house’s water well condition is a must before moving in. My fiance and I will be moving in a few weeks, and we’re still between some house options. We want to make sure that the one we choose is in perfect condition, and reading your article helped us realized we haven’t asked about their water system. We appreciate your advice about checking the age and type of a house’s well to prevent future problems.

  7. Thanks for explaining that not all wells are created equal. My parents are thinking of getting a well for their new home. I’ll tell them to hire a water well drilling expert so they can guarantee to have a good well.

  8. It was good to learn that well pumps have a lifespan of around 10 years and it is important to have them replaced if they are old. My husband and I just moved into a home that has a water well and the previous owner informed us that the well pump was about 9 years old. We will have to look into finding a reliable well and pump service to get a pump that can replace the current one.

  9. Frank Santana

    I’m a electrician and have installed sump pump’s on different jobs , so is replacing a well pump something I can do or is this a specialty that should be left for the well company’s.

  10. Thanks for pointing out how well pumps have a lifespan of 10 or so years. My husband and I moved into a house a couple of years ago that already had a water well. The well pump was almost 10 years old when we moved in, so we’ll have to get a new one installed professionally in the next few weeks.

End of blog post Beverly-Hanks logo


Back to News

Leave a Reply