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Well Testing FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Well

Testing

Do you own or rent a home with water supplied by a well? Do you know the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing the water in your well at least once per year?

At Hague Quality Water of Maryland (Hague) we take well testing seriously. For over 25 years, we have been helping Maryland well owners deliver the best water to their homes. To assist well owners, we compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions regarding well testing. Read on to find out more and schedule a test today!

Well testing and clean water

Why should I test my well water?

The EPA recommends well testing for bacteria and nitrates, as well as total dissolved solids and pH levels. High levels of bacteria and/or nitrates in your water can lead to health issues. While the total dissolved solids and pH levels do not put your health at risk, they can affect the overall function of the well and connected water filtration systems. Testing regularly is not only an insurance for your personal health; it can save you money over time with a system that runs smoothly.

How often do I need to test my well water?

The EPA recommends annual testing of well water. If you notice changes in odor, taste or other qualities, then conduct a well water test as soon as possible.

How much does it cost?

The cost of a test varies by location and the type of test needed. Contact a water treatment expert for advice on the recommended test(s) for your area. Once you decide on your well testing needs, a certified testing lab can provide a cost.

What should I test for?

Well water testing services may include testing for the following contaminants – Bacteria, Total Coliform, E.coli, pH, Turbidity, Iron, Lead, Nitrate, Radium, Arsenic, Cadmium and salt-water intrusion. The type of test may vary within a small radius. A water treatment specialist can advise you on the test(s) needed for your area.

Do I need to become an expert on water contaminants?

Well water testing may sound overwhelming. You do not need to be an expert when it comes to well maintenance and water testing. Leave it to the experts. Select a water test provider certified to work in your state. Many times, the installer of your filtration system maintains partnerships with testing labs and assists with annual tests.

If you REALLY want to learn a little more, here is a breakdown of the most common contaminants.

Coliform bacteria
A type of bacteria found in feces. By themselves, they are not always harmful but they are associated with other disease-causing bacteria. In some cases, more specific tests for fecal contamination, such as E.coli, may be used.

Nitrate
Nitrogen-oxygen compounds commonly found in fertilizers. When ingested or absorbed into the bloodstream, they can interfere with the blood’s ability to carry oxygen, especially in children. Common sources of nitrate to well water are fertilizers, septic systems, animal manure, and leaking sewer lines. Nitrate also occurs naturally from the breakdown of nitrogen compounds in soil and rocks.

Naturally occurring contaminants
Your state may recommend or require testing for certain contaminants specific to your locality. Arsenic and radium are two examples of water-quality concerns in certain areas.

Is there a testing requirement for buying/selling a home?

The housing industry and banking community require water testing as part of a real estate transaction. Water testing is required for buying/selling and refinancing. The type of home loan typically dictates the required water test(s).

• Conventional Loan – Bacteria and a Chemical Analysis*
• VA Loan – Lead, Bacteria and a Chemical Analysis*
• FHA Loan – Lead, Bacteria and a Chemical Analysis*

*A Chemical Analysis provides information on pH, clarity, turbidity, iron, nitrate, nitrite, and sand.

Who should test my well?

Home test kits are available and provide specific instructions for water sampling and testing. It is important to handle samples carefully to achieve the best results.

While home test kits may provide an indication of contaminants, we recommend follow up with a professional water test provider. A state certified testing provider will give you the most accurate results. To comply with real estate transaction requirements, use a state certified testing provider.

How do I interpret test results?

Your results will indicate areas above and/or below the national standards for water outlined by the EPA. The EPA maintains a resource for the national health standards. This list provides specific information about drinking water contaminants.

Consult with a water treatment expert for an explanation about the contaminants and their role in the health of your water.

What is the Next Step?

If you experience problems with your well water, contact your local water treatment company for a well water test. A trusted water treatment professional can correctly assess your problems and determine how to correct them.

Even more, the National Ground Water Association provides a website with up-to-date tools and resources.

Download A Quick-Guide for Well Owners.