Author Topic: Well Water  (Read 2874 times)

azu612

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Well Water
« on: March 25, 2017, 08:11:59 AM »
What are the pros and cons of buying a house with well water vs. town water?  Are there more hassles to deal with?

Blindsquirrel

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2017, 02:17:19 PM »
   Well water is free vs paying for town water. (town water often comes with paying a large numbers of loafers in the city water department). Well water is more variable in quality, it can have more iron, more sulfur compounds, microbes etc and you need to have electricity on to run the pump. Quality of water depends on where you live.  Have to maintain the pump/pressure accumulator system (they are very reliable but everything breaks at some point.)You can install DIY purification systems to fix most any problems with well water. Also, many county health departments require that they test well water every year or two for 20-?? dollars a pop.  Town water expenses can vary enormously, the burb we used to live in we paid $350-400 or so a quarter for water (lots of loafers on the payroll) and now we are on a rural co-op that runs $22-24 a month. Just some things to think about.

Spork

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2017, 02:40:33 PM »
Well water pros:
* "free" ... if the well is already there.  But costly to drill.

cons:
* water doesn't run when the power is out.  And if you want to run it with a generator, well pumps may bump the size of the generator you are buying.  It's a good idea to have some water set aside for emergencies.
* You *CAN* run a well dry.  I don't mean dry forever... but it if you leave a hose running, you can run it dry.  As water filters from surrounding areas, it will refill.
* some of them just taste bad due to mineral content.  You can get used to almost anything... but your guests won't be used to it.  Some get a bad taste once a year when it warms up and can be treated with a little bit of bleach.

OthalaFehu

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2017, 02:48:10 PM »
well water has a lot more startup cost, well drilling and such, but way cheaper on-going costs, electric for pump only.

One thing is too check is if the water is hard/soft. hard water won't lather soap and you may need a softner, a softner makes you feel slimy and I personally HATE it.

if your water has too much iron is can stain clothes redish.

city water in good quality but you pay for it every quarter.

I like my well water, so I am happy with it.

azu612

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2017, 04:26:00 PM »
It's already drilled.  It's just a suburb that's kind of rural and most of the homes have well water.  This is the norm for that town.  I'm just kind of debating to see if it's worth looking there or to stick with places with city water.

lovesasa

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #5 on: March 29, 2017, 10:17:20 PM »
I would recommend poking around the area to find somewhat about average well reliability. This won't tell you everything, though. My grandparents have had solid water supply from their well since 1972, but some neighbors further down the valley are on attempt #4 at drilling for a well. I would find out how long the well has been in place, have there been any issues, etc.

Also related, we had a big flood in 2013 that compromised the water quality for a lot of local wells. Try to find out if there is any other similar history in the area.

Other than that... Free water is great. We're lucky, our well is good quality. If you're on septic as well you have to be careful what products you use and to monitor your water usage. I agree with what was said above about needing a backup generator and also some stored water (that you switch out every few months) in case of a power outage. We also have a hand pump for backup, but that's old school...

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2017, 03:23:53 PM »
I've lived 3 places with well water, and have known plenty of other people with them.  The main issue I have is I've never experienced well water that smelled/tasted as good as good municipal water.  I don't mean mineral content, I like mineral taste in water.  But more an off flavor/smell issue like sulfur (yes we tried to correct it, it's just how the well was).

The other issue is I've never seen a well that didn't require a water softener, so the ongoing costs of well water are definitely not free, as you'll most likely have to buy salt for the softener on an ongoing basis.

disclaimer: all my experience with well water was in the same geographical region (within 30 miles of each other), so ymmv.  Maybe other areas have yummy well water.

FernFree

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2017, 03:32:34 PM »
I would be concerned if you're in an area with any fracking activity.  They push their wastewater with "proprietary secret" chemicals back into the ground so can be contaminating the ground water and the usual water tests might not find whatever they put in there.

ketchup

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2017, 03:35:14 PM »
My grandma's well water in Connecticut (in-town, but lowish population density) has no smell, tastes fine, and is generally great.  She drinks bottled water because she's paranoid, but I drink the tap water whenever I'm there with no issue.

My rental house in suburban Illinois has well water and it smells like sulfur and tastes like death.  I tried to get a sulfur filter for it, but the water pressure would have been too low to support that.  I drank about half a sip once five years ago, and will never again.  If I still lived there, I'd still be buying bottled water (and I'm a pretty staunchly anti-bottled-water kind of guy).  I tested the water and it's not unsafe, just unpleasant.

It varies.

neo von retorch

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2017, 03:48:59 PM »
My first house (now a rental) has a well.

Expensive issues I've had:
  • Pressure relief valve got stuck, spraying water everywhere for several hours
  • Water began to smell very strongly like sulfur - ended up having to replace entire filtration system

Maintenance:
  • Monthly salt refill ($5)
  • 18 month UV bulb refill ($60-150)
  • 4 month chlorine shock ($5, 3+ hours)

Given my experience, for the theoretical cost savings, I do not think it's worth the additional maintenance, repairs, and increased risk of water damage.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2017, 06:47:42 AM »
I lived for 15 years in a house with well water. The house was already old when we bought it and we never did any maintenance on the well. When we sold it, we noticed that the water pressure had become a bit lower than it was originally.

When we just moved in, we had the water tested and all values were OK, except that is was a little high iron values. I also had another test for radon once.

But we also had a big issue once. One summer holiday I had turned off the electricity of the pump and left it so for a few weeks. When we came back, the water stank. We then flushed bathtub after bathtub with water and that made it stink a bit less. We also started cooking the water and ordered a new test. It turned out that the water contained intestinal bacteria, som that could only survive for a few days. I don't know where this came from, because we lived on a steep hill with no houses above us. Maybe it came from our own septic tank on the other side of the house?

We than ordered a filter (working with light) that can be fitted into a kitchen cupboard. This way we only filtered the drinking water, but not all the other water. This worked well. When selling the house we mentioned the filter in the kitchen and the lower water pressure and mentioned that communal water was somewhere in the road near the house.

All in all we only paid for 3 water tests and the water filter. If you are renting out this house, your renters might want to see a recent test report.
e
Check out how the sewage is in that street and if they have septics or closed tanks, check if they can't leak into your well. My old neighbours used to have a very leaky septic. Luckily they lived downhill from my house. Or just consider a form for filter immediately.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2017, 08:26:52 AM »
I wouldn't worry about fracking as while there have been some mistakes, most fears are way overblown. That said, having your water go out when your power goes out would be pretty dang inconvenient.

When house searching, I eliminated anything without municipal water and sewer. Very worth it for the reliability and safety.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #12 on: March 31, 2017, 09:32:21 AM »
I wouldn't worry about fracking as while there have been some mistakes, most fears are way overblown. That said, having your water go out when your power goes out would be pretty dang inconvenient.

When house searching, I eliminated anything without municipal water and sewer. Very worth it for the reliability and safety.

When we bought our house with well, we knew that the neighbours had communal water. That was our backup.

lovesasa

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2017, 11:01:46 AM »
I wouldn't worry about fracking as while there have been some mistakes, most fears are way overblown. That said, having your water go out when your power goes out would be pretty dang inconvenient.

I generally agree with this. There are safety measures in place to make sure the fracking water does not flow into the water table in normal circumstances.

However, if there are abnormal circumstances you may have issues. During the Colorado Flood of 2013, we received as much rain in a week as we normally receive in a year. This was too much for the safety systems to handle, and a lot of fracking (and other business runoff) ran into the water table. I'd have to look it up, but if you're looking at property in Colorado I would consider getting your water tested. It depends on where you are. Our property is in the foothills, significantly uphill from where most of the fracking and other chemical overflows happened, so we're not too concerned. If you were down in the flatlands closer to the fracking fields, you might want to consider it as a risk. 4 years later? Not sure how much the risk has dissipated.

This is why I would suggest asking around in the local community about any recent issues you should be aware of. Locals will know things that you wouldn't know to ask about.

Generally if the locals trust the well water, I would guess that you're probably fine.

skp

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2017, 04:41:07 PM »
I've had well water for 35 years.  These costs are approximate. Say $10,000 to drill the well  We've had to replace the well pump once. ($1,000?)   We've gone through 2 water softener systems. ($5000) There is the ongoing cost of salt ($10/ month x 35 years = $2500 (however, they have new saltless systems)., It took me a while to get use to it but I actually love my water softener, no rings in the bathtub and you use much less soap which is a cost savings. We also had sulpher, so we had to add a charcoal filter to filter it out to the water after it went through the softening system.  The charcoal filter needs replaced every 10 years. ($1500)   So Guessing approximately 25000 over 35 years= 70/ month for well water.   

I have no choice.  It's well water or no water.

MishMash

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2017, 06:18:12 PM »
Parents had well water, town officials took bribes to allow illegal dumping in a local landfill, well water polluted, no one knew until the childhood cancer cluster popped up.  Lets just say that a lot of people, largely children and including my sister, died, a lot of people got sued, no one went to jail and a 10 year legal battle ensued.  If you have well water, please please please test it every year.  Town water, by law has to be tested yearly in our area.  I still test it every other year or so privately. 

lovesasa

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2017, 10:52:43 PM »
I've had well water for 35 years.  These costs are approximate. Say $10,000 to drill the well  We've had to replace the well pump once. ($1,000?)   We've gone through 2 water softener systems. ($5000) There is the ongoing cost of salt ($10/ month x 35 years = $2500 (however, they have new saltless systems)., It took me a while to get use to it but I actually love my water softener, no rings in the bathtub and you use much less soap which is a cost savings. We also had sulpher, so we had to add a charcoal filter to filter it out to the water after it went through the softening system.  The charcoal filter needs replaced every 10 years. ($1500)   So Guessing approximately 25000 over 35 years= 70/ month for well water.   

I have no choice.  It's well water or no water.

This sounds about right. I estimated about $50 a month average cost for maintaining our well system. Obviously you can go long phases without paying anything, and then you might have a couple of major expenses all at once.

The well on our property was drilled in 1974 and we're coming up on year 10 of the most recent pump replacement. My mom thinks it will need a replacement soon, but based on your experience maybe not? We also need to replace the old wiring system down to the pump as apparently it was put on top of rock when it was laid. I'm still not clear as to why this is an issue as it's been working fine for 40+ years, but two different well inspectors have said the same thing without knowledge of the other one so I guess it needs to be done.

We're very lucky that our well has always provided. We don't have any sulphur taste, rings in the tub, or any other issues with hard water, so as far as I know we don't have a water softener system. My cousin lived in the next valley over during high school and claims to have had white spots on his teeth from the minerals in the well water there.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2017, 10:54:42 PM by lovesasa »

TrMama

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #17 on: April 03, 2017, 04:49:24 PM »
I've had well water for 35 years.  These costs are approximate. Say $10,000 to drill the well  We've had to replace the well pump once. ($1,000?)   We've gone through 2 water softener systems. ($5000) There is the ongoing cost of salt ($10/ month x 35 years = $2500 (however, they have new saltless systems)., It took me a while to get use to it but I actually love my water softener, no rings in the bathtub and you use much less soap which is a cost savings. We also had sulpher, so we had to add a charcoal filter to filter it out to the water after it went through the softening system.  The charcoal filter needs replaced every 10 years. ($1500)   So Guessing approximately 25000 over 35 years= 70/ month for well water.   

I have no choice.  It's well water or no water.

This is close to our experience too. People who say well water is free have clearly never had their pump die the week of Christmas. Getting it replaced was certainly not free. Labour alone was $100/hour.

For a rental property, I'd strongly prefer city water. You'll have fewer maintenance hassles.

Dicey

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Re: Well Water
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2017, 02:28:00 PM »
My sister lives on five acres with well water and separate irrigation water. When my BIL needed a kidney transplant, she was the donor. (Their awesome story is in my journal.)

Before the transplant could happen, they had to upgrade to a very sophisticated water filtration system. Their water tasted fine before, now it tastes really good. The new system wasn't all that expensive, and isn't overly costly to maintain.

My point is that if you are worried, you can upgrade the well water filtration system to something very high performing for a fairly reasonable cost.

Of course, make any offer contingent on results of well water testing and don't overpay for the house, but don't avoid it just because it has a well. Also, plan on keeping an EF in case anything does happen.