It’s funny (not “ha-ha, but peculiar) that in other states, homes with wells are typically located in rural areas, like on farms or ranches. Here in Billings you may find a home in a densely populated area that isn’t on city services – meaning it relies on a septic system and a well.
City services give homeowners a sense of security when it comes to water – it will always be there when you turn on the tap and it meets certain safety standards.
This isn’t to say that a well can’t provide the same sense of security, only that buying a home with a well involves a few more steps than buying a home on city services in Billings.
Test the waters before you jump in
And, no, I’m not talking about the temperature here. And, in some cases, testing the well’s water for contaminants is mandatory. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in fact, won’t provide FHA mortgage insurance on a home without test results.
But, that’s not the only reason to consider testing and to plan on a continued regime of testing throughout the time you own the home:
A MSU Extension Water Quality study found nearly 40% of the water they tested contained coliform bacteria.
Now, coliform bacteria aren’t necessarily a reason to freak out – we all have it in our bodies. But, when it’s in your water, it means there’s a possibility that the water has fecal pollution. I know, right?
That same study found high nitrate levels in 1 of every 20 water samples.
Nitrate in well water may originate from groundwater that is contaminated by sewage disposal systems, parks, golf courses, lawns and livestock facilities, according to the EPA. It is especially dangerous for pregnant women, nursing mothers, infants and older Americans.
There are other contaminants that end up in Billings well water and testing for each one would be hugely expensive. So, the MSU Extension has tips for you on how to determine which pollutants to test for.
The first is to examine the water that comes out of the tap. If it’s frothy, foamy, contains black flakes or it’s off colored, you may need to test for manganese and iron. Then there are smell tests and stain tests (depending on what substances the water stains), and symptoms you may be having, such as gastrointestinal disturbances. Find the list online, here.
Billings is home to three certified drinking water labs and you can learn more about them, here.
The experts at MSU suggest you have the water tested every year or sooner if you notice a change in the quality, after maintenance work is performed on the well, if everyone in the home is feeling ill or if anyone in the home becomes pregnant and/or gives birth.
Quantity comes second to quality
If all is well on the testing front, check the water flow into that home you have your eye on. It’s important to get a handle on whether or not the well will supply enough water to meet your family’s needs.
The test for this is known as water flow and yield testing and it will let you know how much water is in the well, how much it holds, how long it will last and the well’s recovery rate.
In other words, “How much water, in gallons or liters, can we draw out of the well before we run out, and how fast can we take it out?” are the questions potential homebuyers should ask when a home has a private well, according to InspectAPedia.
Contact us if you need to know more. We’re happy to point you to additional information about buying a home with a private well in Billings.