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The Real Estate Cupboard A.D.M. # 104 The Cupboard Archives

by: Steve Hubbard
Certified Buyer's Representative
September 25, 2007

Water!!! One of the most important, most taken for granted and least thought about features of home life – indeed, living – is water. This is true of course for renters as well as home owners. Just turn on the tap and
water comes out is just about all the attention we give to this essential aspect of life.

What I think is interesting is that when people rent the space in which they live, they never check the quality of the water they drink, cook and clean with, and people who buy homes always check before buying. I have no idea why this is true but for the most part it is.

In either case, one’s water can be contaminated with bacteria – coli forms – of which e coil is one variety. E coli is animal feces and therefore important to check for whether renting or buying. One interesting thing about water quality is that it is can change from time to time without notice which means that even a good water test is good only for the time it was taken. It does not mean that one’s water quality will always be good. You should know that the quality of the water coming out of the ground from a well in a private system is highly unpredictable unless treated in some way.

This is true even after what is known as shocking the well. Shocking a well and one’s plumbing is the first thing one does when a test comes back bad – that the water contains bacteria. It is done by pouring some bleach – typically a gallon or so of bleach in a 5 gallon bucket of water down the well. All water outlets in the house are then run until chlorine is detected at every outlet. The chlorine is left in the system for a day or so and then flushed out. Once no chlorine is detected a sample is taken to the lab. If the results show no bacteria, all you can know is that there was no bacteria in the water at the time the test was taken.

To be relatively, say, 98 or 99% sure one’s water is bacteria free; one must do one of two things: Install a chlorination system or an ultraviolet light system. A chlorination system feeds a predetermined amount of chlorine into one’s water as it is used. It is a system that must be monitored and maintained regularly and therefore not as popular in our area as an ultraviolet, known also as a UV, system which is simply a system in which water runs through a tube containing an ultraviolet light. This light kills just about all bacteria of any kind in the water. There should be as part of the system a sediment filter which clears the water of sand prior to its going past the bulb. The better and more sophisticated systems have alarms on them that go off whenever there is a problem with the system or will just shut off the flow of water if bacteria is detected.

Despite the volatile and unpredictable nature of water coming from a private well, I have found that most well water tests just fine and that water coming from private wells is probably pretty good most, if not all, of the time. But there is no guarantee.

If I were to treat water, I would use an ultraviolet system not only because it is a simpler system to install and maintain but also because it does not involve adding chemicals to your water.


Steve Hubbard owns and operates Steve Hubbard Real Estate Services. He welcomes questions and comments.
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