What Is A Well Inspection? Is The Well Pump And Pressure Tank Included?
What Other Well Parts Are Tested And Evaluated?
When Do I Need To Do A Well Inspection?
As well experts, we are frequently asked to complete “well inspections” for homeowners and home buyers in connection with real estate transactions. Frequently however, the requestors (buyers or realtors) are not sure of what they want. And needs change depending on with whom you talk.
We wanted to offer some guidance for all who want peace of mind that this vital home system is essentially in good working order. Well Guardian currently performs well inspections in all Mid-Atlantic states; and we are expanding our service area in early 2017.
WHAT WELL PARTS ARE COVERED IN A WELL INSPECTION?
At Well Guardian Corp, our definition of well inspection is a thorough evaluation of the entire well system. It starts with the operation of the submersible pump and water recharging into the well (down in the well/hole). It continues by evaluating all of the parts through to the pressure tank (located in the basement). What parts are there to evaluate, you ask? What’s down in that hole, and underground, hidden from view?
Major parts include:
- The well (hole) and casing
- Well cap
- Submersible Pump or Jet Pump
- Electrical Wire
- Check valves
- Pitless Adapter
- Flexible pipe and rigid piping
- Control Box
- Pressure Gauge
- Pressure Tank
And this is only a partial list. There are dozens of parts to be tested, that deliver water to the faucet, shower, kitchen and laundry. Having no water at any of these spots is a sign of serious well system failure.
HISTORY OF A SPECIFIC WATER WELL
So the best way to test all well parts and well components is to require them to work, and measure their performance during our minimum 60 – 90 minute test period. Using the well permit number and/or address, we first pursue the age of the well, the depth and initial yield. This provides baseline information to contrast to current findings, since water wells change over time, with both undetected changes in water quality and well yield. This initial report, when available, provides no assurance that there are no current well problems or concerns.
ANY WELL PROBLEMS?
We can detect well water problems by measuring the volume of well water pumped, and the rate at which the submersible pump or jet pump works (see our blog post on well pumps to determine the type of pump that you have). We test the pump performance over a length of time, to determine if all other electrical components and fittings work optimally. Since all are electric water pumps, we may test the Amps and Ohms drawn by the pump for consistency, again to ensure optimal system performance. This focus on the well pump is because the well pump cost is one of the most common and high-cost routine repairs.
We also measure the time intervals and pressure points at which time the pressure tank is signaling the submersible pump to deliver more water, and when the well pump stops producing water as signaled. The performance of the pressure tank can impact the life of the well pump, and vice versa. Frequently, the wear and tear of one will reduce the life of the other. Again, and without an inspection, this too will not normally be detected by the homeowner.
We also log the known current equipment for brand, size, age and condition as is possible from visual inspection.
DOES THE WELL PUMP WORK?
The results of the inspection and related testing is a measurement of current yield of the well, calculated derivatively through the measurement of water pumped over time. Equipment and other parts that are nearing end-of-life are identified, as results indicate, and as possible. With all parts functioning, and the well pump and well system production of water of at least 300 gallons, the test will provide a good indication of the satisfactory operation of all needed well water parts. Well Guardian Corp promptly delivers a completed 2 page report of our findings with all data as indicated.
There are currently no requirements for well owners to complete any inspections during their period of home ownership. We recommend home inspections every 2-3 years, with a water potability test, since conditions and equipment changes over time.
WHAT DO WELL REGULATIONS SAY?
Regulations in our service area vary widely with regard to both completion of the well, and at the time of real estate transactions. Some areas require no well inspection and testing at all when a real estate transaction occurs. But we believe that a complete and professional well inspection is money “well-invested” to know that one of largest consumer purchases – a home – and one of the most expensive home systems – the well pump and related well system parts – are in good working order.(*)
Much like any person’s annual physical, well components can fail soon after an inspection, based on undetected conditions including normal wear and tear. These system parts rarely provide any imminent warning of failure, and these parts, including jet pumps and submersible pumps, are rarely if ever covered by homeowners insurance or home warranty firms (not included in the basic warranty). So even with a satisfactory well inspection, a WelGard® Protection Plan – the oldest and most comprehensive well warranty – is the only means by which to achieve peace of mind for homeowners.
Call WelGard® Protection representatives for any questions or additional concerns about well ownership or well testing.
(*)Please note that in Baltimore County Maryland, the regulations specify that during the required inspection, the well pump is to be continuously run for a minimum of 3 hours, with the further requirement that if the well yield is below 4 gallons per minute (GPM), the test is to be extended to a minimum of 6 hours. However, a well yield is generally considered adequate if the well produces 1 GPM on a consistent basis.