Should You Buy an Old House With a Well?

Idyllic countryside stone house with water well at sunset.

Buyers usually consider houses with wells because the property itself is valuable, and not necessarily for the well itself. If you are looking to buy outside of the municipal bounds of a water system, you are likely looking for a degree of privacy and seclusion. But that said, wells are not always for the faint of heart. You will need to test the water, treat the water from time to time, keep up with more equipment, and generally maintain your water more than you would in the city.

Unique Plumbing Needs of Wells

Old houses with wells rely on groundwater accessed through private plumbing systems, which differ significantly from city water systems. These systems include not just the well itself, but also a pump, pressure tank, and potentially a water treatment system. One important aspect of well plumbing is ensuring the pump is powerful enough to deliver water with adequate pressure for household use. If your toilet starts to get backed up or your showers lack enough pressure, you might be in trouble.

The age of the house can complicate matters. Older plumbing may not only be less efficient but could also be made from materials now considered hazardous, like lead or galvanized pipes. Moreover, the EPA reports that well systems, especially in older installations, are prone to various contaminants such as radon, nitrates, and microorganisms which can pose health risks if not properly managed. You will need to hire someone to test your water, treat your water, and perhaps even replace pipes. A Marietta, GA plumbing company will be able to help you with this, but keep the costs in mind.

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Are There Benefits To Owning a Well?

Despite these challenges, there are significant benefits to owning a well. The most apparent is the reduction in water bills. The U.S. Geological Survey notes that well owners are responsible only for the electricity costs associated with pumping the water, which can be significantly lower than paying for municipal water supply.

Furthermore, well water often bypasses the need for chlorine treatment and can be softer on your skin and clothes due to the absence of added chemicals commonly found in municipal water. This natural filtration often results in better tasting and potentially healthier water, assuming the well is free from contamination.

Smart Home Automation for Wells

Integrating smart home technology can improve the management and efficiency of a home well system. Smart pressure tanks and pumps can adjust the water pressure based on real-time usage data, which not only ensures consistent water flow but also extends the life of your plumbing by reducing wear and tear from high pressure.

Smart sensors can be installed to monitor water quality and alert homeowners to any safety issues, such as changes in pH levels or the presence of harmful contaminants. Companies like PumpSpy and Wellntel offer smart well technologies that track water usage and monitor system performance, sending notifications directly to your phone to help catch problems before they become emergencies.

Ironically, it’s usually remote homes that have wells, and it’s those homes that don’t always have the fastest internet (necessary for a smart home integration). For instance, you may need to get an internet provider in Marble Falls, TX who can get you enough Mbps before you can connect smart-well features and benefit from them in your home. With satellite and radio internet technology available though, you should be fine.

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Importance of Testing and Treating Well Water

Testing and treating well water is crucial for ensuring safety. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends regular water testing, at least annually, for common contaminants like bacteria, nitrates/nitrites, and other local concerns which might be specific to the area due to agricultural or industrial activities.

If contaminants are found, treating the water becomes necessary. Treatment options vary based on the specific contaminants but can include ultraviolet purification, reverse osmosis, or carbon filters which are effective against a range of issues from pathogens to chemical pollutants. Regular maintenance, such as disinfecting the well and cleaning the screens and filters, is also essential to keep the system functioning effectively and safely.

How To Properly Assess The Home and Well

Before purchasing an old house with a well, potential buyers should conduct thorough inspections and water quality tests. It’s advisable to hire professionals who can assess the condition of the plumbing, test the water, and estimate any necessary upgrades or repairs. This can prevent surprises after purchase and provide a clear picture of the ongoing maintenance the well will require.

Additionally, prospective homeowners should familiarize themselves with state and local regulations regarding well ownership, which can vary widely and may impact both usage and maintenance requirements.

In Conclusion: A Well is Fine, But You Need To Move Cautiously

Buying an old house with a well is a significant decision that comes with unique challenges and benefits. While the independence and potential cost savings are appealing, the responsibilities of maintaining a safe and efficient water system cannot be underestimated. By understanding the plumbing needs, integrating smart technology, and committing to regular testing and maintenance, homeowners can ensure that their well provides a safe, reliable water source. Ultimately, the decision to buy a property with a well should be made with a full understanding of these factors to ensure the benefits align with the buyer’s lifestyle and commitment to upkeep.

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