The quality of groundwater is changeable and difficult to judge. Because of this, it’s hard to know how contaminated your water may be without testing it, using a home kit or professional service.
That said, there are a few things you can do to work out the chances of your well harboring unwanted chemicals and microorganisms:
Talk to the previous owner
If you’re buying a property on a private well, make sure to have a conversation with the previous owner about water quality, pressure, and maintenance. You should be supplied with the results of the most recent well water test.
Visit your neighbors
Wells located in close together can vary significantly in terms of depth, pressure, and contamination. Despite this, it’s worth finding out if your neighbors experience any common issues with their water supplies. Visiting multiple neighbors will help you to build a picture of of local groundwater.
Survey your local environment
Weather patterns and flooding
Frequent heavy rain causes runoff, which can carry pollution into shallow wells and the surrounding soil. When an area floods, wells may need restorative treatment to remove microorganism contamination.
Well depth and location
Generally speaking, shallower wells are more susceptible to contamination from the surface, as well as those located nearer waste disposal units or the use of chemicals. An orange scum on the surface of water indicates an overload of iron.
Farming, factories, and fracking
The most common visible sources of groundwater contamination are large-scale industrial activities such as non-organic farming, manufacturing, and fossil fuel extraction. If you live in an area with lots of commercial or industrial activity, you must test your well.
The only way to know what kind of filtering you need for sure is to test your well water
Don’t commission water filter brands or salesmen to test your water.
They won’t give you false results, but they do have an incentive to sell you a filter! An impartial provider like The Home Depot is a better option.
Instead, you can test your well water yourself, using a home test kit.
Home testing kits are less detailed than professional services, but they should give you a reliable indication of any major contaminants. Home kits are sold online and in hardware stores.
Or, send a sample to an independent lab.
Local state-certified labs can also provide you with a detailed analysis of your water. By sending off a sample, you’ll receive a breakdown of exactly what’s contained within your supply, as well as an official certification for your well water.
For a full look at well water testing, here’s our guide on How to Test Well Water >