Well Water Test Results

flyingtim01March 15, 2012

My fiancee and I are closing on a new (102 year old) house next week. After having the well tested during the inspection, it was found to have E coli as well as coliform bacteria present. We explored some other options with the seller, and agreed to have them install a UV filter and chlorinate the well and entire system. We had the well tested again after the filter was installed and the system was chlorinated, and no further bacteria was found.

However, I'm curious as to the other results of the water test, as far as what we can expect from our water when we move in. Here are the results:

Ph - 6.8 SU

Turbidity - .55 NTU

Color - 10 CU

Odor - 0 TON

Fluoride - ND

Chloride - 33 mg/L

Nitrite Nitrogen - ND

Nitrate Nitrogen - 3.0 mg/L

Sulfate - 34 mg/l

Calcium - 34 mg/L

Magnesium - 4 mg/L

Hardness - 103 mg/L

Sodium - 19.3 mg/L

Copper - .15 mg/L

Iron - .40 mg.L

Manganese - ND

According to this test, only the Iron is on the high side, their 'limit' is 0.3 mg/L. Is that enough a high enough iron content to stain clothing and cause problems with a hot water heater, or warrant the need for a water softener?

We haven't yet moved in, so I can't say if the water is clear, and red particles settle to the bottom, or if it comes out and is immediately red or yellow tinged, I'm just curious if someone can look at these results and let me know what we should be expecting. Thanks!

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No TDS test? PH is a touch low. Hardness may shorten the service life of the UV light. A correctly sized softener would resolve the hardness and the iron.

How much time elapsed from the introduction of the UV and shocking the well till the second water test? If it was tested just a day or so later problems may return.

Living on a well is more complicated and more maintenance intensive than living on a water system cause you want the water to be nice and the water has to be SAFE. You should do scheduled water tests to make sure the bacteria problem is being resolved... less expensive than a trip to the ER.

You will want to resolve the water treatment before you move in or close on the house especially if the water treatment is on the seller's dime. If the seller is paying for the water treatment does the warranty transfer to you as the new home owner?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 4:17PM
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Those results were from the first test, which was on our dime. This was the same test that revealed bacteria. Once the seller installed the UV filter and chlorinated the well and house, they had a second test done (their dime) that was only for the presence of bacteria. The work that the well company did to the house does indeed transfer to us, but that was only the installation of the UV filter, the inspection of the well itself, the chlorination, and the installation of a new pressure tank, which was the extent of the seller's responsibilities.

Thanks for the info lurker...so can I assume the amount of iron in this water will stain our laundry? In a house full of old appliances, the washing machine looks brand new, which makes me wonder if the tub was rusty on the old one.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 4:32PM
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I wouldn't occupy a house till I had the results of a comprehensive water test done by a certified independent lab showing the absence of bacteria and nitrates in my hands.

Any other properties of the water a buyer might/may deem unacceptable (hardness, iron, PH, manganese, etc) would be corrected by the buyer unless negotiated with the seller.

Shocking a well may be a temporary resolution. Bacteria can return after time. Repeated shocking of a well treats the symptom, may not be a permanent solution, and is not recommended.

A UV light is a solution for bacteria, provided it is properly maintained and is operating properly. A UV light has a shorter service life on hard water.

A correctly sized softener would resolve the hardness and the iron.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 4:52PM
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Hi Tim,
Living with a well has certainly been an experience for us. We also ended up with a septic tank too! Fortunately our house came with a water softener.

Our copper plumbing had all been stolen (house was unoccupied for 1.5 yrs) so we couldn't do a water test without replacing the pipes prior to closing - and the bank who owned the house wouldn't have done anything regardless of what the tests said, so I guess it didn't matter.

Once we got the plumbing restored, our results for Iron were .022, but that's with a water softener. I don't know what it is without, but I can tell you that we can tell when we're low on salt in the softener - the toilets all start getting rusty where the water sits.

I'd try to get the owners to throw in a water softener, if you can :)

Can you tell me about your UV light? We had coliform, but not ecoli, so shocked the well but didn't have it re-tested. I've always thought it was a good idea to get a UV light, but never had time to look into it yet.

Best of luck to you!

    Bookmark   March 27, 2012 at 1:03PM
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Hi library girl,

We closed on the house on Thursday, so we haven't had a lot of experience with the water. However, I can tell you this. With no softener (just the UV filter and a new pressure/holding tank) the water is pretty darn good, from my point of view. The dishwasher in the house is older than me, I'm fairly certain, and there aren't any signs of rust on the inside. The glasses come out a bit cloudy though, but I can live with that. We've run a load of laundry and the whites didn't come out dingy, so I was pleased with that. Also, it doesn't taste half bad, either. I prefer the taste of harder water (I suppose its the higher mineral content) over softer water anyhow. The hot water does smell a little irony out of the tap, and we haven't tried to cook with it yet. I'm suspecting the hot water is a little off (in part, at least) to the water heater nearing the end of its useful life and never having the anode rod changed.

Our UV filter is a Trojan, but that is all that I remember. I'll get you some info on oursIt was recommended to us because we have an older dug well with a cement casing and cement cap. Its not exactly weather tight, and the well company that inspected it said that the casing was in good shape and they didn't see any cracks. However, an earthworm may end up in there and there is your coliform. The seller paid for it, but it wasn't terribly expensive, and the bulb usually lasts about a year. As lurker said above, the hard water is a little harder on it and will probably shorten its life some. In our case, I was worried about the well being re-contaminated after it was chlorinated, as its a shallow well operating mostly off ground water, so at the very least, I wanted to take the possibility of bacteria out of the equation. We're still going to have our water tested regularly, but the UV filter provides us a good amount of peace of mind.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 8:43AM
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What part of the county are you located in? Did you do the coli/ecoli test or was it completed prior to the purchase? I do water testing for a living. There are many more things that need to be tested for than what you provided, metals, VOC's, pesticides, herbicides, etc.

Were the results you posted taken from a water sample prior to any treatment application or after it? Considering how low your hardness is, I would think that it isn't a raw water sample(which is what you want).

Chlorination. Well chlorination is typically only a short term solution, long term solutions are in house chlorination systems. Pellet droppers at the well cap are 'frowned upon'. When was the well chlorinated, and have you had it retested? Retesting is critical. I would also recommend getting a raw water sample analyzied. Also, well water needs to be tested on a yearly basis. When you are on a private well you are essientially your own municipality that provides water to your family and people that come into your house.

If you have any questions or need any information, feel free to contact me at justin@homewaterlabs.com.

Here is a link that might be useful: Home Water Labs, LLC

    Bookmark   March 29, 2012 at 1:01PM
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