There are pros and cons of having your own well on your property rather than utilizing a public water system. One benefit is that you don’t have to pay a monthly fee for water usage, but a downside is that well water usually isn’t usually monitored as closely as a public water supply. Fortunately, regular well water testing will ensure that your water is safe to drink. Here’s what you need to know about the importance of water testing as part of good well maintenance.

Sources of Contamination in Water

Drinking water from public systems often contains chemicals from the purification process that well water may not contain. Well water is naturally filtered through aquifers, but that means that it can pick up other contaminants that are removed through a public water treatment process. Common sources of contamination in well water include nitrates or nitrites from fertilizer or processes that easily contaminate the soil. In some cases, the makeup of the soil itself may result in higher concentrations of contaminants that make their way into the water.

Types of Contaminants

While you’re unlikely to have high levels of chlorine or fluoride from the natural aquifer filtration, there are other contaminants that you should have your water tested for. Bacteria, viruses, arsenic, copper, nitrate, nitrite, and uranium are all potential contaminants that may be found in your well water. Radon is another potential concern and occurs when the rocks in the soil contain radioactive elements that break down and release radon. Volatile organic compounds from fossil fuels can also make their way into your water, so it’s important to have comprehensive testing done to identify any problems.


Types of Testing

A basic water test will typically identify problems that would harm your home’s infrastructure, so it mainly checks for levels of minerals that would cause hard water problems or chemicals that could damage the plumbing. A higher-level test will identify elements that would be harmful to health, so when you’re checking out different types of water tests, be sure to find one that tests for bacteria, volatile organic compounds, chemicals, arsenic, radon, and other harmful contaminants.

When to Test Water

If you’re purchasing a new home with a well, you should definitely have the water tested before you purchase the home. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also recommends checking the well every spring not only for mechanical issues but for contaminants that may have entered the aquifer because of spring runoff. Tests for bacteria, nitrite, and nitrate should be done yearly. A more thorough test that checks for hardness, arsenic, copper, chloride, VOC, and radon should be done every three to five years.

Recommended Test Frequency

There are some situations when it’s a good idea to test more frequently than once every year. Any use of hazardous chemicals or heavy industrial land use nearby may necessitate more frequent well testing. Additionally, well repairs or construction can make the well more susceptible to contamination, so you should test the water after any well problems or repairs. If you suddenly notice that the water tastes or looks different or if water quality seems reduced (especially after a major storm), it’s a good idea to have it tested. If a water quality test or well inspection reveals contaminants in your well, you can install systems that will treat all the water coming into your home. Well chlorination kits or UV light purification systems will make your water safe once again. To have your water tested, contact Environmental Testing and Research Laboratories, Inc., today.