Residential sales contracts often contain clauses to make the sale contingent on one or more inspections that are satisfactory to the buyer. If the home for sale is reliant on a well for its water supply, an inspection of the water system is possibly the most important inspection to be performed.
The home you are interested in buying might have no access to a public water supply. If a well is the only source of water, the true market value hinges on the integrity of the water supply. The dual purpose of a well inspection is to ensure that the water system is functioning properly and that the quality of water is acceptable.
Water system equipment
Although most newer wells contain submersible pumps, there are other well systems that utilize above ground pumps. An older well with a pump above ground may be perfectly capable of providing all the water a residence needs. Most of the components of a well water system need to be replaced eventually, so estimating their remaining useful life is important.
Some water tanks and above ground pumps have dates stamped on them indicating when they were manufactured. The home seller may be able to provide information about the age of a pump submersed in a drilled well. The various components can be replaced if necessary, but a more important consideration is the drinkability of the water itself.
The water table feeding water into a well is potentially affected by various elements in the surrounding area. If the home is older, an inspector is likely to look around the house for any type of buried fuel tank. A house with a water well may also be connected to a septic tank. If so, a separate line of inspection is necessary to ensure that the septic system is operating as designed.
Before you sign the closing statements on a home with a well, a water analysis performed in a laboratory is essential. Water can be tested for the presence of excessive levels of bacteria, metals, or chemicals. If a serious issue is discovered with water quality, you might prefer to just completely withdraw from the contract.
Problems discovered up front in accordance with a contingency clause are likely to provide you with the option of modifying the sale terms. If there is an operational issue with system components, you have a basis on which to request financial concessions from the seller. Contact a home inspector for more advice on water-well inspections.