Inspection Services Inc. is a well inspection company that was started to meet the growing need of homeowners (particularly during realty transactions) to test, treat, and report on the condition of a water well. With ever-growing concerns over water (contamination and shortages), more people are asking for information about their water sources, in particular before they purchase a new home.
Role of a Well Inspector
The job of a Well Inspector is to evaluate the health of the well and pump system, at the time of the inspection, and give appropriate recommendations for remediation, if needed. This goes well beyond the role of the Home Inspector. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) requires that anyone (other than the home-owner) be certified as either a Well Driller (CWD) or Pump Installer (CPI), if they are to do work in a water well (or to even take the well cap off the well). This includes chlorination of the well.
Flow Test Misconceptions
There is often misconception about well production and water test results. In reference to well production – there is a major difference between being able to run the well for a specific period of time, versus evaluating how quickly the well recovers from being pumped. A well could pass a 2 hour flow test and then be completely out of water – this would not be picked up by a home inspection flow test. A Well Inspector, who is certified as either a CWD or CPI, uses tools to measure the recharge of the well versus actual pumping rate, then evaluates the entire picture – taking into account storage in the well (or house) and recharge.
My experiences working at a well drilling company have given me interesting insight into actual pump test concerns. As an example, one home owner, in an attempt to cover the fact that the well was dry, filled the drilled well with the dug well water. In a home inspection, the well would have passed, and the buyer would have been stuck with a dry well – fortunately for the buyer in this situation, the owner did this after the well failed the home inspection flow test. An inappropriate intervention was obvious during the well inspection and a new well was drilled for the buyer. It later came out about filling the drilled well with the dug well.
On the opposite side of the well spectrum, there are areas in the state that are extremely difficult to get high recharge rates – for instance, Charlton. There have been situations when the buyer asks for a requirement that is inappropriate for the area. The role of the Well Inspector, in this situation, is to educate the buyer about well expectations – as having the owner drill a new well for them may not yield better results. It is very important that all buyers have a flow requirement established that will meet their minimum daily water requirement before a flow test is done. In these situations, the buyer can then decide whether they are willing to consider water restriction methods, or if this is not in their plans.
Situations also arise regarding water testing and water treatment. I have come across some real “science experiments”. Education on these can be very useful to either convince a buyer that they can handle the maintenance or help them in deciding to walk away from the purchase. Pre and post water treatment sampling is available to determine whether the treatment is working appropriately, at the time of the inspection.
Water testing can be confusing. Most inspectors only collect a PASS/FAIL bacteria sample. A failed sample is a failed sample – this is understood, but it is important to obtain a coliform count with a failed sample as there is a difference between a failed sample with a count of 2 and a failed sample with a count of 200. Some testing labs will not even do a count unless it is asked for. It is policy for me that a water sample never be taken without a coliform count (in the event it fails) as this information sheds light on how to better treat the well. If you have ever been in the situation where a sample failed and you were instructed on chlorinating the well, just to have it fail again, you can appreciate how frustrating a bacteria sample can be. There are many factors that affect how well liquid and pelleted chlorine work in killing bacteria in the well. The most important is the pH of the water. Chlorine disinfection is regulated by the pH, when the pH is greater than 6.5, the ability of the chlorine to kill bacteria drops significantly. The solution has been to try again with more chlorine. Unfortunately, many areas in upstate NY have normal to higher pH levels (7.0 or greater – some greater than 10). Additionally, when you add chlorine, the pH goes even higher. Once the pH is greater than 8.5, there is minimal disinfection and significantly more oxidative property to the chlorine – this means that it attacks properties in the well water, like iron, and the casing of the well. It is my policy to only use Sterilene for disinfection purposes. It is not affected by pH and is excellent at killing bacteria. Use of Sterilene decreases the likelihood of needing a second chlorination. (For more info on Steriline, please visit the Services and Resources pages).
If I could portray anything to you, as the potential customer, it would be the following:
1) Know your well before you sell! If you are the seller, be sure that a bacteria sample is taken before a buyer is involved and the well is properly disinfected, if needed. Also, have a flow test done if you have EVER had an issue with running out of water, drop in pressure for periods of time, or have had sediment in the water.
2) Have a flow test requirement if you are a buyer and be sure that the flow test includes recharge of the well – as stated above, there is a difference between being able to pump a well for 2 hours and being able to pump it again for 2 hours after the test is complete. Refer to the services page for suggestions on appropriate water usage.
It is the goal of Inspection Services, Inc. to help customers to better understand the most valuable resource of their home and help transactions to go more smoothly. We are a family-owned, local company, based out of the Greenfield area. I am certified as CWD and CPI through the National Groundwater Association (NGWA) and am a member of the Empire State Water Well Drillers Association (ESWWDA). I am registered with NYSDEC to do work within the water well and I have a Masters of Science.
Call today to schedule an appointment! It would be our pleasure to help you, and remember, “It’s More Than Just Water” – NGWA.
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Serving the Albany Capital District, Saratoga Region and surrounding counties: Saratoga and surrounding counties area: Fulton, Montgomery, Hamilton, Warren, Washington, Rennselaer, Albany, and Schenectady including Greenfield, Corinth, Glens Falls, Queensbury, Lake George, Ticonderoga, Warrensburg, Eagle Bay, Piseco, Remsen, Herkimer, Canajoharie, Schoharie, Berne, Delmar, Ravena, Johnstown, Amsterdam, Schenectady, Albany, Hoosick, Stillwater, Troy, Rexford, Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, Greenwich, Argyle, and more.
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P.O. Box 143, Middle Grove, NY 12850
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