Happy Drinking Water Week :)

Its Drinking Water Week!

We offer water tests for buyers and homeowners who use a well or a spring – The EPA says you should test for bacteria at least once a year!

We also offer well chlorinations if your water has bacteria, well inspections to make sure your well is up to code and protecting your water, and well repairs.

Get a water test and a well inspection together and get $35 off!

Serving the following WNC counties: Buncombe, Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, McDowell, Rutherford, Polk, Henderson, Transylvania, Haywood, Jackson, Swain, Macon, Burke – ALL FOR THE SAME PRICE! (no more trip fees!)

Call or email us today to get your services scheduled!

Don’t skip a well inspection just because the water works!

We get a lot more requests for septic inspections than we do well inspections but we find at least as many issues with wells. I think buyers and agents turn on the water in the house and go “oh there is water, the well must be fine” and that is Not Necessarily True.

We frequently find minor issues: sample ports and shutoff valves that don’t work or are broken, broken pressure gauges, unsealed wire holes, etc.

The bigger issue is that pressure systems can still produce water even if they are beginning to wear out.

Your pressure system should have a pressure gauge, a pressure switch, and a pressure tank. This system controls your pump – so if its not working right, it can run down your pump. Replacing the whole pressure system usually runs about $600-$1,000; but, replacing a pump usually starts at a few thousand and goes up based on well depth, if the electrical or piping needs replaced, etc.

A well inspection checks for signs that the pressure system is not working properly.

For more information on well inspections, please see our Well Inspections page.

Pictures – both from wells that were working. A corroded pressure switch and a pressure switch in good condition. (Note: this is an electrical component, so corrosion should be avoided.)

I’m getting a loan/refi – what kind of water test do I need

Please ask your mortgage broker to check with underwriting!

FHA, VA, USDA Loans for Buyers require a water test for a home on a well/spring.

Typically, they want Total Coliform, E. coli, Lead, Nitrates, Nitrites (what we call our “Lender Scan” ).  Rarely, they will go through with just a Total Coliform and E. coli (“Basic Bacteria”).  For Refinances, sometimes they require the Lender Scan and sometimes just the Basic Bacteria. If the mortgage broker says it has to “meet local requirements”, that is the Lender Scan.

If you are unsure (or the mortgage broker is vague), we recommend erring on the side of caution, and getting the Lender Scan (if you get the Basic Bacteria and underwriting kicks it back, it will add time and cost). 

If the well has to be treated for bacteria and retested, check with your underwriter if they will accept the first test and the new basic bacteria test or if they need the lender test completely redone (so that all 5 pass on one test) – some lenders will accept two tests, some won’t.

Water and Test tube
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

Septic Inspection: To Pump or Not to Pump

The state rules say we are required to tell our clients:

Client requesting this inspection has been advised that for a complete inspection to be performed the tank needs to be pumped.

And then give them the option to opt for a pump or to decline a pump.

Tanks should be pumped on a regular basis as part of the regular house maintenance. The general rule of thumb for a system that is being used appropriately and is functioning correctly is about every 3-5 years.

We recommend that buyers’ agents ask the list agent when the tank was last pumped (and for a receipt). If it has never been pumped or they don’t remember when it was pumped or it was more than 18 to 24 months ago, we *strongly* recommend pumping the tank during the inspection.

NOTE: Tank should NOT be pumped before inspection. Best practice is to have the company doing the inspection do the pump – that lets the inspector see how its working with stuff in it and then to see how it looks empty.

That being said there are pros and cons to pumping or not pumping and times when pumping may not be appropriate.

To Pump – Recommended Choice

Pros:

  • It gives the inspector the best view of the tank (see “Note” above).
  • You know when it was done.
We probably wouldn’t have been able to see this
if the tank was not pumped during the inspection.

Cons:

  • Adds to cost
  • The current homeowner should be doing it regularly as part of regular maintenance.
  • If you don’t buy the house, you’ve spent money on something that may or may not benefit you.

Not to Pump

Usually, this option is chosen if the tank has been pumped in the last 12 to 18 months (or if the buyer is leaning towards not buy the house).

Pros:

  • Less expensive up front. (See below)
  • May be easier to schedule.
  • Can ask the seller to pump it before closing or buyer can have it pumped after they are the owners

Cons:

  • If tank is overly full, the inspector may not be able to do a complete inspection (for instance: we may not be able to camera the lines or check tank condition).
    • If this is the case, we will do the report to the best of our ability and note that the tank needs to be pumped and note which items could not be inspected. (No discount or refund will be given.)
  • Could be extra costs if pumped later.
    • For example: our inspection includes digging up to 3ft deep for the lids. A stand alone pump includes digging up to about 1 ft deep for the lids and for 1 to 3 ft deep there is an extra charge.
This tank is too full – we can’t camera the line out and the contents are pretty thick so its going to limit the inspection of the tank condition.
Could probably inspect without pumping – we have
access for the camera and the contents are relatively clear – BUT we would probably not be able to see something like the first picture which is why Pumping during the inspection is highly recommended.

We often get asked “can’t we decided once the tank is open?” The simple answer is not always – if a septic inspection is ordered without a pump, the pump trucks may be booked on other jobs and not available.

Arranging access with the seller

If you are buying a house (or are a buyer’s agent) ordering services with us:

  • Please let us know if you have (or are) a buyer’s agent. Please let us know if you would like us to copy your agent on everything.
  • If it’s listed in Canopy MLS (Buncombe, Henderson, Haywood, Madison, etc) – we can use the showing service or get the list agent’s info for any questions, paperwork, access, etc that we need.
  • If it’s listed in with an agent in another MLS (Jackson, Swain, Macon, Mitchell, etc) or not in an MLS – please provide us with the list agent’s contact info for any questions, paperwork, access, etc that we need.
  • If it’s a For Sale By Owner, please let us know upfront and provide us with seller’s name, email, and phone numbers. We will contact them directly with any questions, paperwork, access info/permission, that we need.

In our experience, it has always been better for us to communicate with the listing side directly:

  • Scheduling & Access – we will of course keep our client (and their agent) updated about when it is scheduled for; but we have found it best for us to schedule in Showing Times or with the list agent/fsbo owner – that way the buyer/agent doesn’t have to go back and forth between us and the list agent with times and access info, nothing gets lost or missed in a game of “telephone”, and if something has to be rescheduled we can do so quickly and conveniently.
  • Questions – If we have questions about the property, systems, permits, etc, it is easier for us to communicate with the listing side directly since we know all the right questions to ask. (Of course, any questions or discussions about the services will be had with our client.)

What is radon? Why should we test for Radon?

According to the CDC: “Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas. It occurs naturally and is produced by the breakdown of uranium in soil, rock, and water.” and “Uranium is found in small amounts in most rocks and soil. It slowly breaks down to other products such as radium, which breaks down to radon.”

The EPA says “Radon is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers” (overall, its second only to smoking).

The particles released seep up from the ground and can seep into the house and get trapped, causing a build up of radon in the air which people then breathe in.

The EPA says “(January 13 2005) U.S. Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmona, issues a Health Advisory warning Americans about the health risk from exposure to radon in indoor air.  The Chief Physician urged Americans to test their homes to find out how much radon they might be breathing.  Dr. Carmona also stressed the need to remedy the problem as soon as possible when the radon level is 4pCi/L or more”

If the average level is more than 4pCi/L, a radon mitigation system should be installed.

Radon Testing