Water sampling/testing questions...

Until recently, I have not had much call for water sampling/testing. I have contemplated performing this service, and decided to wait until Joes’ course (or similar) came to my area, as I am focusing on other areas of my business. Joes’ course has not yet happened.

Today, I received an e-mail from a client for whom I inspected a home last week. He will be closing on the home in about 10 days. He would like a water test performed as soon as the home closes. He is not sure what he wants it tested for, he just wants it tested for all the *usual *things.

So, my question, *what are all the usual things? *Those of you that normally do sampling/testing, what are you testing for? What Lab are you using (if not local) and what are your fee’s (please do not include any travel/fuel fee’s) I have searched this MB, read through multiple Labs’ web-sites, as well as local County and State sites. Most of what I find, discusses what tests are available, but do not suggest what is actually necessary.

The home is: 2003 built
Copper Service and Supply
Municipal Water
Growing rural town of 15,000 surrounded by farmland, lakes, etc…

Thank you in advance for your assistance,

Jeff good luck on this one. Water test can be very involved. If they simply want to test for water hardness that’s pretty easy. However if they want to test for chemicals then there are many test that can be performed. It can become very costly. Get with Scott on this one he knows alot about it.

I have A local mortgage co. that use’s me to for water testing, well and septic inspections. All that is required in southern Mi. is A test for Bacterial/potability, and Nitrate screening. I have this done at A local lab. They charge $30. I charge $90 for water testing.
The best place to start is your local health dept.They can tell you what is required in your neck of the woods.
Good luck.

He doesn’t trust the water company?

Not necessarily. Anything can occur once the water leaves the municipal supply point. What about conditions in the homes system, WH, etc… Has the previous owner messed with anything? The home has a softner system, that at the time of inspection, was out of salt. Poor homeownership. He has a small child, and plans on many more babies. He’s just protecting his family from the unknown.

what are you going to test for? chlorinated water typically precludes bacteria testing. Is lead a concern? Are nitrates a concern? Beyond those 3 tests, where do you go?

Is the water softener connected to all cold water sources? Was it bypassed because it was out of salt? The salt “recharges” the resin bed, it does not condition the water. And sometimes the resin bed occasionally “pukes” and the water will take on a fishy smell and odd taste.

An RO filter for drinking water would be cheaper than a bunch of extraneous testing in my opinion.

Good questions all. That is the primary reason why I have posted here. To get a discussion going, since there is very little I found on this MB (search feature) relating to water testing. I was not planning on training in this subject until later this year, but have been thrust into it, by more and more clients asking for this service.

If the house is on municiple water supply, there are times where water mains can have leaks that will leach in chemicals and bacteria. I recommend that anyone with health concerns such as immunosupressed diseases or pregnancy have the water supply tested. The clorinated water will kill off most of the bacteria, but not all of it. Also, if any minerals or chemicals are being picked up along transit from the pumping or treatment facility, they can cause problems. There are tests that the home owner can order from Underwirters Labortaries that will test for almost anything under the sun if they want to spend the money for the tests. If you want to get a good education about what water quality is all about, I suggest you take a course from the Water Quality Association. They are mainly geared towards providing education to water treatment salesmen and manufactures, hoewver they have a lot of valuable information that you could use as an inspector. There are plenty of publication on water quality that break things down on a very simplistic level from various government agencies. I have a couple of publication on my website if you want to download them.

If you want to talk more on the subject, call me in the evenings after 7:00 EST and I will be happy to share whatever information I have. My contact information is on my website.

:DThanks Scott, much appreciated.:smiley:

The typical “FHA test” (for those getting a FHA loan, this is what they want sometimes): lead, nitrate, nitrite, bacteria. I charge $150 for that (the lab charges me $78) and 90 if all they want is bacteria. Email me if you want a protocol for how to take the samples. Find a lab certified by your state’s environmental dept (call the state enviro/health dept. for a list).

If the house is across the street from a gas station, or has buried underground storage tanks, and on a well, you should have the water tested for VOCs (volatile organic chemicals). The labs charge extra for the and you should consult with a lab on those prices. (I’ve never had a client that wanted this done.)

I completely trust the tests done by the local water companies. They have to comply with EPA requirements and must test and make the test results public multiple times per year. It’s a sham to charge a customer to take a sample from a municipal water system in my opinion.

For anyone wanting more information or training on wells and water quality, please contact me.

Our Certified Well Sampler course takes on all of these questions and concerns head-on, including existing and emerging EPA protocols or sampling, what can go wrong with water, and criteria for trying to coach your client in deciding which tests to run.

The course is also available on CD

I’m teaching it in Canada this weekend.

Joe, why would it be a sham? Is there not a lot that can happen between the source and the user? Does it not take time and money to pay for the lab test? What about liability? Not disputing or trying to give you a hard time, just asking? Thanks, Ken


Interesting point regarding VOCs. In our county, the health departmnt has mandated well testing for every home sale where a well is present. The testing for VOCs is automatically included in every certification. What the health departmnt is seeing is a level of VOCs in many, many wells where the well is located up to 5 miles from a gasoline station.

There are many tests which can be run, depending on any number of curcumstances and observations made by the inspector.

These include HPC, hydrocarbons, VOCs, nitrates/nitrites, metals, herbicides/pesticides… the sky’s the limit.

I always recommend doing an EDR Neighborhood Environmental Report with any well sampling to look if any leaking storage tanks have been reported in the area. What is nice is when you get the property address and run a sample report, you can see before the client says they want the report. You can tell them that you have heard that there are leaking tanks in the area and if they decline, EDR has a waiver saying they declined the report. It is a very nice add on to my well sampling packages.

Thanks for everyone’s input. I spoke with my client last night, and he decided to contact his local Environmental Health Dept. and get a copy of their Annual Water Report. He is also going to pickup a DIY kit from Lowes. (Warned him of possible inaccuracy with these kits). If there is anything that triggers any discomfort for him or his wife, they will contact me for professional testing.

Thanks again everyone, great stuff. Anyone else please continue to add to this discussion. This is one area lacking on this MB.


“The water supply is private and provided by a well, which is the sole responsibility of the homeowner. The source of the water could be from a local spring or a more substantial aquifer, which are dependent upon rainfall. For this reason, neither the supply nor the quality of the water can be guaranteed. Also, you should be aware that local and regional standards of adequate flow vary considerably, but are entirely dependent upon the yield of the well and are best determined by a specialist.”