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!

Why should I test my well water? We haven’t noticed any problems.

Homeowners should test their well water on a regular basis.  Well (and especially spring water) can change over time, even suddenly.  It can be effected by environmental factors such as weather, age/condition of well/spring components, and sometimes it just changes for no discernable reason.

Total Coliform and E. coli can get into wells/springs and build up slowly over time. For people whose immune systems work properly, their body will build up a resistance to the bacteria.

But if someone comes in from city water, or if someone has immune system issues, it can make them sick as their immune system does not know how to fight it. (See section on Total Coliform for more information).

Many buyers want to test it as part of their “Due Diligence” so they can be aware of any issues or because they need to for the mortgage.  Often homeowners will need to test when they refinance.

Drinking Water - toddler with bottle of water
Photo by Tatiana Twinslol on Pexels.com

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

Water Test: Total Coliform and e. Coli

Total Coliform is a family of bacteria and E. coli is a specific type of Coliform.

They are considered “indicator bacteria”.  The EPA says if you have any Total Coliform and/or E. coli (“one or more colony forming units) that the water should be treated.  Therefore, the test we use (which is also used by the NC State Lab of Public Health) is an absent/present test. If it is present, the water should be treated.

Total Coliform and E. coli can get into wells/springs and build up slowly over time. For people whose immune systems work properly, their body will build up a resistance to the bacteria.

But if someone comes in from city water, or if someone has immune system issues, it can make them sick as their immune system does not know how to fight it.

There are many items that can cause a test to be positive: wells that have been sitting unused tend to be positive; weather can affect it (especially lots of rain); issues with the well like a crack in the casing or an open vent hole); and sometimes it just happens.

bacteria

Water Test on a Spring

A spring is water coming straight up through dirt and is usually surface water.  It is exposed to insects, animals, dirt, weather, runoff, etc.  Springs are almost always going to test positive for bacteria.  Depending on the way the spring is set up it can be chlorinated, but it is more likely to come back than a standard well (and more likely to come back sooner).  The other option is a UV Light (which are typically more expensive to install and must be serviced every year).

If the spring is the water source for the house, there is no difference in the collection procedures. Otherwise the following apply:

  • The spring must be on property you own or are looking to  buy.
  • There must be a collection point where we can easily fill up a water bottle. You can email or text us a photo if you are unsure.
  • The collection point must be safely and easily accessible (ie, not down a bank, or in a thorn thicket, or in poison ivy, etc).
  • The collection point must be near the road/driveway/parking area (no more than a 5-10 min walk – not a hike/climb).
Spring fed water system

Do I need to be there for the water test?

If the house is for sale with an agent, we will arrange access with the agent (we have the same lockbox access agents have) and no one needs to be there.

Buyers and buyers agents do not need to attend. There is nothing to see during the collection – we will be there 15 to 30 minutes to fill up the bottles and all the testing happens at our lab.

If the house is not for sale with an agent, we can take it from an outside spigot as long as it works and is accessible, otherwise we will need access to the inside of the house. If there is a lockbox, hidden key, door code, etc to provide access no one would need to be there.

Photo by Kelly L on Pexels.com

Testing Water from Steams, Creeks, Ponds, Lakes, other natural bodies of water

These are open and exposed to insects, animals, dirt, weather, runoff, etc so their water is constantly changing and are almost always going to test positive for bacteria.  Streams and creeks are even more variable since they are constantly flowing.  There is also no way to treat them. Therefore, we do not usually recommend testing them.

If you do decided to have a natural body of water tested, the following apply:

  • There must be a collection point where we can easily fill up a water bottle. You can email or text us a photo if you are unsure.
  • The collection point must be on property you own or are looking to buy.
  • The collection point must be safely and easily accessible (ie, not down a bank, or in a thorn thicket, or in poison ivy, etc).
  • The collection point must be near the road/driveway/parking area (no more than a 5-10 min walk – not a hike/climb).
Stream
Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

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.)

Where do you collect the sample for the water test?

(For Springs not connected to a house, creeks, etc, see the question for that item.)

Our default location for collection is somewhere in or on the house- an outside hose spigot, kitchen sink, bathroom sink or tub, etc.  This is where most lenders want it collected from, this is where the EPA recommends to collect it, and this is where most people want it tested because this is the water they are using everyday. (It is referred to as “a point of consumption”.)

Exception: When we do a chlorination, we collect at the well head, as it falls under well license activity.

If you want us to collect it from a different location, like before a filter or at the well head, please let us know upfront.

If you are concerned that there is a problem with your water, we recommend testing at the house first. If it passes, no reason for additional testing. If it does not pass, then maybe test at the well head to see if the issue is the water at the well or something in the pipes.

We often hear: “But x company told us you had to collect it at ….”.   Different companies have different goals.  Well contractors usually collect at the well head as their license law only cover the well, not the house. Plumbers usually collect at the house as their license law covers the house, but doesn’t cover the well.  Filtration companies want to sell you a product or service.  We collect where lenders want and where the EPA recommends.

Kids using water in kitchen sink