What does a well inspection include?
For people who live in rural areas or need water for irrigation, owning a well is essential for a reliable water supply. Since municipal water can be very expensive or inaccessible for many locations, wells are still popularly used by many households and industries in the present.
To ensure their safety and efficiency, wells need to be regularly inspected by professionals. This is why well inspection services are necessary.
What does a well inspection mean?
In essence, a well inspection can be viewed as the process of checking the overall condition of a well. Inspections are designed to be thorough as they are meant to check whether a well is safe to use and if its water is good to consume.
We use water everywhere – for drinking, preparing food, washing our clothes, showering, and more. Since we use it too much (and cannot basically survive without it), we should take extra care in making sure that we are using clean water for our daily needs.
Is it really necessary?
Absolutely. Whether you are a home seller, buyer, or owner, you can certainly benefit from ordering a well inspection service. For some cities, local health protocols recommend well inspections at least once a year.
People need to get a well inspection in situations where:
1. They recently constructed a well in their property
In many areas, it is required to have a newly constructed well to undergo an inspection before officially using it.
2. They can smell a weird odor in their well water
Bad odors and tastes are often a sign of contaminated water.
3. Their well was repaired or some parts were replaced
During maintenance work, there is a possibility that the supply has been compromised.
4. There is a loss of water capacity or pressure
There may be a faulty well part or the water may be below the necessary level.
5. There was a storm or calamity in the area
Contaminated water may have made its way towards your well water.
6. They are buying a property with a well
Buying a property with a compromised well may be expensive to fix.
7. They are selling a property with a well
Having an accurate well inspection report may result in a faster selling process.
Well inspections exist for a reason. Since it is the well owner’s job to take care of their own water supply, they must be prepared to make time for an inspection. This is to ensure that they are really maintaining their well properly.
We will always say this – wells can be easily contaminated. Responsible well owners should always take the necessary steps, or they may be the ones to suffer the repercussions of an unmaintained water supply.
Who does the inspections of wells?
We call the professionals who do the inspection of wells, “well inspectors.” They are the individuals who are knowledgeable when it comes to well water systems and have the training and experience in doing so.
In some cases, home inspectors can do the well inspections themselves. However, it will always be best to rely on someone that lives and breathes everything about the water system instead of a general contractor. For many states, well contractors that install wells offer well inspections as well. Since they specialize in this industry, you can expect them to have the necessary skills in order to give you a reliable report.
Things you can do before hiring a well inspector
Want some tips for a smoother and hassle-free well inspection? If you want to hire an inspector, knowing if they are the right person for the job can be a complicated process. Stop calling the first inspector you see on the internet and do the following instead:
· Ask if they are certified and licensed
In several states in the U.S., securing a certificate and license to operate the business may be necessary. Knowing whether the inspector is allowed to do well assessments or not is the first step that will allow you to determine if they are qualified to do the work on your property.
Since a well inspection is a very serious matter, being sure of the credentials of an inspection company is your right. After all, you would not want to receive an inaccurate report that may put you or your family in danger.
· Skim through their customer reviews
One of the best ways to determine how good an inspector is is by reading the reviews on their site. You can also ask your neighbors or acquaintance about their experience with the contractor. However, it is important to remember that not all reviews are accurate, and may portray the business in a different light.
· Ask them to give you an estimate
Knowing your budget before you order an inspection allows you to determine whether you can afford it. Most inspectors are happy to give you an estimate of the costs before doing the actual inspection. Also, make sure that you are aware of the inclusions, or you may end up paying extra for services that are not offered in their standard package.
What happens during a well inspection?
Well inspections can take a couple of hours to complete. During a well inspection, the inspector will thoroughly evaluate the condition of your well and determine whether it is safe and ready for use. Depending on the type of inspection you ordered, the expert may conduct more tests to arrive at a more reliable and accurate report.
What is included in a well inspection package?
The inspector will check each part and component of your well with great care. Standard well inspections usually include checking the following:
- Survey of the area
- Well hole and casing
- Grout inspection
- Well cap
- Well pump
- Electrical connections and wirings
- Valves and pressure gauge
- Control box
- Pressure tank
What to expect in an inspection
Survey of the area
One of the basic inclusions of a well inspection that must be met is a survey of the area. This step is necessary to make sure that the construction of the well is legal, sanitary, and meets the requirements of the local government.
During this stage, the inspector may go around the property to check potential sources of contaminants. If you live in an area that is near a latrine, pasture, or livestock, the expert will determine if the well follows the minimal set distance to avoid contamination. As an example, residential wells must be at least 100 feet away from a septic tank.
Aside from emphasizing minimum distances to structures, the inspector will also check for animal waste around the property and whether chemicals are being used.
Well hole and casing
Once the survey is complete, the inspector will then focus on the visual inspection of the well. The expert will take note of the type of well you have, which may be dug/bored or drilled. Dug or bored wells are usually shallow while drilled wells can be hundreds of feet deep.
The inspector will also start inspecting the construction of the well. He or she will determine whether the hole has been drilled properly or if there is a high chance of contamination due to poor excavation methods. The well’s casing or the pipe that protrudes from the ground should extend around 12 inches from the base and should never be buried.
The inspector will check the grout in order to make sure if the well is sanitary. This includes protecting the water supply from the contaminants and allows the structure to remain sturdy as years pass by. The expert will also make sure that the grout uses a mix recipe that follows the local code.
Grouting is the process of placing a sealant or sealing material such as neat cement to secure the constructed well. The sealant can be usually found in the space between the well casing and hole. Since contaminating the water can be more possible if the area is not properly grouted, inspecting it is crucial to determine the safety of the well.
The cap is the covering of your well placed on top of the casing. It functions as the outermost protection of the well and keeps the water supply safe from most debris and contaminants. Inspectors will check the cap and look for visible signs of damage such as cracks or chipping. Since pests and rodents may try to access the cap, it is also possible to see pest-related damage.
It is highly important for a well cap to have a vented screen. Since it helps keep the insects and debris away from the water supply, inspectors will always check its condition during the evaluation.
When it comes to a water well, the pump is an essential component in the entire system. A well pump functions by pushing the water from the well upwards for it to reach the home or the designated water system. If the pump is not working properly, it can be detrimental to the well’s smooth operation.
An inspector can easily spend a bit of time to make sure that your well’s pump is in a good condition. They will see what type of well pump you have, with the popular ones either being a jet or a submersible type. Jet pumps are usually best for shallow wells while deep wells often make use of a submersible pump.
During the inspection, the expert will check the performance of the pump motor. This includes the amp load, grounding, and line voltage.
Electrical connections and wirings
Some well water systems make use of heavier electrical connections and wirings for a more efficient use. During this step, the inspector will check the lines and see if it follows the local standards. This part of the inspection process may be overlooked but is still important to prevent malfunctions and poor well performance.
Depending on the type of system you have, the inspector will check the wirings using a variety of tools. The expert will then assess whether the connections are performing well and if there is a chance that they may be grounded. For wells that use solar power, the inspector will also check if the wattage matches the required output.
Valves and pressure gauge
Aside from the wirings, specific parts are also thoroughly checked to ensure the efficiency of the well. For example, the water check valve which keeps the pressure of the water in place is also included in the inspector’s checklist. He or she will check the pressure rating of the check valve and see if it matches the needs of the system. In the situation where the valve does not meet the required size to match the pump’s flow, the expert will recommend changing the existing valve or sizing up or down.
The well’s pressure gauge which usually attaches to the pressure switch will also be given the inspector’s attention. Since it is necessary to check the pressure of the tank, measures are taken to ensure that it is in good condition.
During the well inspection, the inspector will also check the condition of the well’s control box. The control box’s main function is to regulate and cycle the pump’s pressure switch - which is also essential to maintain good water pressure. In a way, this component acts as the well water system’s brain.
To prevent grounding, short circuits, and overloads, the inspector will use tools such as a multimeter to see if the control box is working properly. After all, if the control box is faulty, the entire operation of the system will be affected. In this step, your inspector may ask you to turn off your well’s circuit breaker.
Of course, the visual inspection will not be complete if the well’s pressure tank is not included in the expert’s checklist. A functional pressure tank does its job by compressing the air from the well and storing water until the owner makes use of the existing supply. If the pressure tank is not working properly, it is possible for the well’s pump to decline in a rapid manner.
Inspectors take the job of checking the pressure tank very seriously. Since it can result to damage in the well pump which can be expensive to replace, it is a priority for the tank to be reliable and efficient.
The costs of a professional well inspection
Planning to get the service of a professional well inspector? In this case, prepare your budget, as most inspections may cost around 300 to 500 dollars. Of course, the exact amount you need to pay will ultimately lie in the rates of the inspector you will hire. If you include the following services that may not be included in their standard package, you will need to pay more.
Some well inspectors may focus on the visual aspect of your water supply. This means that they will assess your well’s condition and each of its parts and components extensively. If the inspector considers the water testing to be outside of their standard inspection, you should expect to pay 100 to 300 dollars extra.
The reason why inspectors have to charge separately for water testing is that not all of them have the equipment to do so. Once they get a sample of your well water, they will need to do the tests in a laboratory. Because of this, it is understandable that some inspectors do not include testing in their usual offer. Also, some well owners may not need or want to test their water or prefer to get a test kit instead.
Septic system inspection
For home buyers, it would be best to include septic inspections on your package. This is because it will be more expensive to do so separately, plus, most well inspectors are also certified and trained to do a septic system inspection. By bundling these services, you can save a bit of money you can use for other important things or in some cases, to repair some parts of your well.
Packages that include both well and septic inspection costs around 400 to 700 dollars on average.