When making that all-important decision of buying a home, check if there is a water well and/or septic system on the property. Homeowners must ensure that their well water is safe to drink, and that their septic systems are properly maintained. A malfunctioning well or septic system can pose a health risk to your family and your neighbours, and can be expensive to repair or replace. It is therefore very important to conduct a detailed inspection of both the well and septic systems prior to purchasing a home.
If the well is active, have both the water and the condition of the well inspected by one of Hunter Plumbing’s licensed well technicians before making the purchase. Our team of licensed professionals can thoroughly inspect, service and decommission your well to ensure you and your family are protected from bacteria and other contaminants that could enter your well.
Here are a few things we look at when we perform a well inspection:
- Well Record – Obtain a copy of the well record from the Ministry of Environment or the current homeowner. This will tell you the location of the well, date of well drilling, depth and diameter of well, static water level, pumping water level, recommended pumping rate and recommended pump setting.
- Location – A well should be located at least 15m or 50ft. from any source of contamination if the casing is watertight to a depth of 6m, otherwise, the separation distance should be at least 30m or 100ft. Sources of contamination can include septic system, manure storages, fuel storages, agricultural fields, and roads (salt runoff). Wells should also be located at least 15m or 50ft. from a body of water.
- Well Cap – The cap should be at least 0.3m or 12″ above the ground. The well cap and seal should be securely in place and watertight. This applies to both the well cap on drilled wells as well as the well cover on dug wells.
- Well Casing – There should be no visible cracks or settling of the well casing and the ground should slope away from the it.
- Drainage – Surface water should drain away from the well and water should not pool around the well casing.
- Well Pump – The well pump and distribution piping should all be in good working order.
- Abandoned Wells – All abandoned wells on the property must be decommissioned (plugged permanently) by a licensed well contractor to avoid contamination of the underground aquifer.
- Inside the Home – Check for sand or grit in the faucet strainer which may indicate a corroded well screen. Verify that the pressure tank reads 40-60 psi. Ensure that the check valve (or foot valve) is able to sustain the system pressure by drawing no water for 30 minutes to an hour and monitoring the pressure. The pressure should not drop and the pump should not start up during this dormant period.
We can also test the quality of your water for hardness, iron, sulphur and pH levels. Even if there is water treatment in the home, how can you be sure it is working properly? A water test will help determine if any levels are higher than the accepted concentrations, and how much it would cost for new/upgraded water treatment if need be.
If the septic system is active, have the condition of the septic tank & leaching bed inspected by one of Hunter Plumbing’s licensed septic system installers before making the purchase. A septic system should last anywhere from 20 to 25 years, and could cost upwards of $30,000 to replace, so it is important to get it inspected before you purchase your new home.
Here are a few things we look at when we perform a septic system inspection:
- Compare the size of the tank and the expected water use, observe the general condition of the tank including the baffles, partition wall, look for cracks and leaks. A steel tank is likely corroded and in need of replacement.
- Observe the water levels in the tank (too high suggests a clogged leaching bed while too low suggests a leaking tank).
- Have the septic tank pumped out by a septic pumping company (normally the homeowner pays for this when selling their home).
- Observe the connections to the house and the leaching bed, look for direct discharge of surface drainage into the tank.
- Clean the effluent filter by rinsing with an outdoor hose.
- Check for effluent on the surface, odours, lush growth, soggy field/saturate soil.
- Check for obstructions to the leaching bed (pavement over the bed or trees over the bed).
- Verify that surface drainage is directed away from the leaching bed (ie. – downspouts are not saturating the leaching bed).
- Dig test pits in the tile lines for signs of ponding water and slime growth.
- Inspect all mechanical equipment (pumps, aerators and alarms) to ensure they are in good working order.
- Check for leaking faucets and run-on toilets which can flood a septic system. Slow moving drains and sewer gas smells from flowing drains can also indicate a failing system.
- Verify the plumbing to ensure it meets current building code or health department standards.
- Inspect the sewer vent stack for damage or blockage.
A proper well and septic system inspection performed by Hunter Plumbing & Heating’s team of licensed professionals will ensure you are aware of any issues before you purchase your home so there are no surprises down the road! Call us today for a free quote on a well and septic system inspection. We can provide on-site written reports as well as letters and quotes on work that we recommend completing before you make the biggest purchase of your life.