Closing on house tomorrow--new to well water issues

Jean PopowitzJune 24, 2010

Hi..we are purchasing a newly built home tomorrow. Our town has been on water restrictions for the city water--due to be off those restrictions in two years--at which time I must hook up to city water (pipes/connections already in place).

The home is approximately 4000 sq ft, 3.5 baths. There is a shallow well (I will find out exact # of ft.) Issues started arising this week when the landscaper was planning the lawn irrigations system and it was discovered that the well only produces 4 gpm. They switch the system to drip irrigation to only trees/shrubs. I'm okay with that.

Today I asked for the water analysis which the contractor will furnish tonight. In the meantime, he remarked that the iron is quite high and that I might want to consider a softener. I will find out which kind of iron it is. Naturally, I came over to the Garden Web forums to start doing some homework on systems and found that this is a very complicated issue. I would also like filtered drinking water because of reports of drugs in the water, but then, you don't get the health benefits of the good minerals? I do not like the slimy feel of the salt water softener at my current home.

So my first question is: is the amount of water the well is providing adequate or should I demand a deeper well (and not close on the house)?

I will post later with the water quality results.



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4 gpm is marginal I would't be satisfied with that.

I wouldn't sign anything until I saw the results of a comprehensive water test from a certified lab and reviewed the results with a certified water treatment professional. Without those tests and a competent review so you can get an idea of what water treatment will be required BEFORE you sign on the dotted line you may be getting hosed.

Your water qualityis important and will have a great deal of influence on whether you enjoy your home. Aside from the common water quality problems with municipal water, well water adds many variables like bacteria, nitrates, and varying amounts of iron and manganese and those conditions can change..

Iron that is quite high most likely will exceed the removal capabilities of a softener and require separate hardware to treat that problem.

Living on well water is more complicated than on a municipal system and may be more costly and will have a steep learning curve because you have the responsibility of making the water nice and SAFE.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 4:35PM
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Jean Popowitz

Hey...thanks for the quick reply! I'm hanging out reading other questions/answers posted and I appreciate the time you've taken to educate us newbies. and, for the record, I prefer Pat's "with" as well ;-) & don't get down to Philly nearly often enough anymore.

What # of gpm would be acceptable?

I will post lab results after he brings them over. The builder lives in town, and this is an in-town move for us. We have not listed our home yet, so we can afford the time to make this right.

What else should I be considering?


    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 4:47PM
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If you'll only be on the well for two years and then move to municipal water the money you will spend to treat the well water may go down the drain so to speak.

You need to know BEFORE you sign what you'll be spending to treat the well water and also what you may need to do to treat the city water in two years.

On GPM, aside from meeting the requirements of the appliances and fixtures in the home there are gpm requirements to adequately backwash (regenerate) the water softener.

Once we have the lab test results and know the # of people in the home we can size the softener and that will tell us the GPM required for regeneration.

Don't accept any other lab resulkts than from a CERTIFIED lab from the contractor.

I know he rush of a new home is intense BUT if you don't do your due diligence know you may pay big $$$ or take a big $$$ loss later.

BTW, that would be one WIT

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 5:08PM
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Water's pretty basic. Needs to be right. And if it's not right -- especially with a well -- making it right can be incredibly expensive. If it is expensive, you'll never justify it in two years. Be careful.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 5:39PM
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Jean Popowitz

okay....just got the report from AquaPro Tech Labs...NJ Certified

Iron 0.382 mg/l exceeding standard
pH 6.79
Calcium (hardness) 606 mg/l
manganese 0.032
Nitrate (total) 1350 ug/l

2009 our town: (off town website)
Iron 0 ppb
Manganese 0 ppb
Calcium 211 ppm
pH 7.46
Nitrate 1.93 ppm

The well is 400 ft deep with the static water at 20 ft down using a 6" pipe. The water pump can deliver 7 gpm but 4 gpm will keep the water level from going down.

Is this enough information?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:08PM
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Jean Popowitz

forgot to add that we are a family of three adults (sigh, yes, adult child moved back home) with 3.5 baths. one jetted tub.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:21PM
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The hardness results you posted indicate 35.4 gpg hardness.

Are you sure you're reading the lab results correctly? Using the results you posted a 3 cu ft softener would be indicated and that's a big one and would require 3.5 to 4 gpm to regenerate properly.

The report states "HARDNESS" at 606 mg/l (ppm) or does it say CALCIUM?

Makes a big difference. Call the lab and get clarification. Ask them for HARDNESS in GPG (grains per gallon) so there is no confusion.

You might want to get a lab in PA to do the test... you know those Jersey people ;)

City water not too bad at 12 gpg. A 1 cu ft softener would do nicely and costs lots less than a 3 cu ft unit.

If the NJ lab results are correct you'll be buying a really big softener that will be WAY to big when you switch to city water. The market for used water softeners is almost nonexistent so don't plan on recovering your investment on the 3 cu ft unit.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 6:40PM
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"The well is 400 ft deep with the static water at 20 ft down using a 6" pipe. The water pump can deliver 7 gpm but 4 gpm will keep the water level from going down. "

This sounds like a real cheap installation.

Water that will rise to within 20 feet of the surface gives you a lot of 'storage' in the well.

It would be more typical of a decent installation to put the pump further down the well and use the water above the pump as the reservoir (it is cheaper than having a tank at the surface).

If you put a pump at 100 feet down you would have about 80 feet of 'storage' above the pump.
You do not need to restrict short term demand to a level that will not drop the water level, but you need to make sure the pump is not allowed to run dry.

I know folks with wells 1,000 feet deep, and water that only rises to around 900 feet.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 7:11PM
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Jean Popowitz

hmmm, I think that the pump is in the basement. I'm sure the well is, as you say, a cheap installation, because we will be required to use the city water in two years when the restrictions are lifted. That part is expected. I even expected to need to install a water softening system but I thought that the well water would be similar to the town water and that one system would work for both. It didn't dawn on me that there wouldn't be enough water to run a softening system & that's what I'm hoping to find out!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 7:24PM
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You stick a big straw in the ground and get what water you get while the people across the road stick a straw in the ground and get what they get. Well water can be dramatically different at different depths and different locations nearby or farther down the road.

If the lab results are correct you'll be spending money on treating the well water that won't help you when you hook up to the city. The big softener you will need on the well will be far too big for the city water.

    Bookmark   June 24, 2010 at 7:39PM
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I agree with brickeyee, I think you have more water available than 4 gpm. If that is really all that you have you are going to want a storage tank. I had a 4 gpm well serving a 3 bathroom house with three adults, along with a landscaped yard and 200 fruit trees. The well could not keep up, but with a 10,000 gallon storage tank (required for fire protection anyway) I never ran out of water in 20 years that I lived there.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2010 at 10:35PM
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Jean Popowitz

I met with the Kinetico rep this evening who also performed some tests on our tap water. He found the pH to be 5.8, the hardness to be 31 grains and checked the iron which I forgot to write down, but it wasn't as bad as before. He told me the possible reason the iron wasn't as bad is because, for the first test the water hadn't been used past the pressure tank (the source) so the acidic water had been sitting in the well accumulating iron from the pipe.

He recommended the first & most important thing is to install a neutralizing filter which he recommends we rent for the two years until we switch to city water. Unfortunately that filter will actually add hardness so he wants to use the 2100s softener.

Finally, I want to add the K5 drinking water RO filter which will attach to the refrigerator ice maker and have a spigot at the sink.

Should we go ahead with this? Any comments will be appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 12:51AM
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For sure a PH of 5.8 needs to be treated and a rented acid neutralizer is the perfect solution.

Sounds like you found a thorough, knowledgeable, and professional dealer who has recommended a complete solution to your treatment problems now with a cost effective transition to your future needs.

Kinetico products are top quality. Kinetico is not the least expensive but you get what you pay for. I would pull the trigger and sit back and enjoy your water.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 9:53AM
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Jean Popowitz

it's all scheduled for Friday morning. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 10:15AM
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Let us know how it all works out.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 10:20AM
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I would not buy it. My sister had water that was hard and a water softener. It did not do the job, they couldn't do their laundry at home, their daughter was hospitalized with swollen glands from the sediment. It took them awhile to figure out it was the hard water. They finally moved to the city.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 10:04PM
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If the pump is not a submersible type in the well bore but on the surface, you can only lift less water less than 34 feet.

This whole setup appears to be a real dog, and you also need to keep in mind that delays in extending municipal water systems are not uncommon.

The "due to be off those restrictions in two years" can easily morph into a much longer time (everyone has well water, what's the rush?).

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 9:39AM
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Jean Popowitz

well, I misspoke about the pump. it is submersible and near the bottom of the well. I understand that there is a possibility that the restrictions will "morph" into a longer period. If the DEP does lift them on schedule, I'm sure the town will hook me up quickly. I am one of the very few in my town not on city water and the connections are already in place. Everyone HERE does not have well water. My rush is to have more flow and a more normal pH. Whatever, I'm just thankful that the system will be installed tomorrow as we are moving in, so I'm not hurting my appliances.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2010 at 10:02PM
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With the choice you made the only piece of equipment that you will not need at the time you changeover to city water is the acid neutralizer and you are renting that so if it takes longer to get on city water your extra cost is minimal.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2010 at 12:04AM
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I've dealt with pur2o and I found them to be very knowledgeable and professional.
They use a very unique ro system that not only remineralizes the water but it also ionizes it.
Price was very reasonable and great service, they came to test the water after the system was installed.
Very happy!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 8:38PM
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