buying a property with a well

02.9.21 | Buying

Buying a Property With a Well? Here’s What to Know.

Are you thinking about buying a home or cottage with a well? If so, you’re not alone. About a quarter of Canadians depend on groundwater—and using it regularly can be completely safe. Of course, urban buyers may have some reservations, and that’s understandable. Fortunately, by knowing the basics, you can forgo the hassles and rely happily on water that comes straight from a well!

If you’re thinking about buying a property with a well, here’s what you should know…

What is a well?

In the simplest terms, a well is a hole that provides access to ground water. There are a few different types, but drilled wells are by far the most common. These structures are capable of accessing deep aquifers (natural underground water storage areas), and they can be easily sealed (which is essential to prevent contamination).

There are a few primary components of a well. These include the pump (which sucks water from the ground), the casing (the main body of the well), the cap (a cover that forms a water-tight seal), the screen (which helps strain out contaminants), and the pressure tank (which turns the pump on and off as needed). While soil and rock can help filter ground water, it will be the components of your well that ensure it’s safe.

Ongoing maintenance

Wondering what ongoing maintenance will look like if you buy a property with a well? Here’s what it entails.

First of all, you’ll want to test your water for bacteria and nitrate on an ongoing basis. Ontario’s Public Health Laboratory will do this for free. To check for minerals, you can obtain a testing package from the Ontario Ground Water Association. In general, well owners should also keep an eye out for changes in their water, including its colour, taste, and odour.

The single biggest thing you can do to maintain the safety of your well is avoiding the introduction of contaminants. From fertilizers and pesticides to motor oil and paint, it should all stay as far away as possible. A poorly-maintained septic system can also lead to contamination, so make sure yours is pumped regularly if you have one.

You should also watch for signs of wear and tear to ensure that all the components of your well are doing their job. Has it become noisy? Is the pump always running? Does the cover still seal properly? If you need to hire a professional to repair or upgrade your well, be aware that (under Ontario legislation) they must be a licensed well contractor or technician.

Before you buy

If you’re okay with taking on the basic maintenance associated with a well, the next step is knowing how it will impact your property purchase. If you’ll be obtaining a mortgage, your lender will require a test proving that your water is bacteria-free. The results must be submitted to your lawyer before closing.

If your test indicates that there are contaminants present, your agent can help you try to reach an agreement with the seller through negotiations. In many cases, they may be willing to install a water-treatment system for you. That could mean attachments for your indoor taps, or something more extensive that will filter all of the water going into your home or cottage. You also want to make sure your well produces enough water for your every day activities. A GPM (Gallons per minute) test will help indicate the amount of water your well produces, and how quickly your well recovers water back to its usual amount. This is a simple test that can be done by a water specialist.

Lastly, the current owner of the property you’re planning to buy should be able to provide records. From their well’s completion date to the materials used in its construction, you’ll want to have as much information as possible.

Caring for a home or cottage with a well may seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. By doing your homework and making sure you test your water (both before your purchase and on an ongoing basis), you can ensure that your transition is safe and smooth!

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