About 15% of American households rely on wells for their private water source. Each of these households requires periodic well inspections, a service that costs anywhere from $200-500, on average. A well inspection is a thorough evaluation of the property’s system to confirm it’s functioning properly and meets safety standards. As a home inspector, you can serve a niche of homeowners with wells on their properties by offering well inspections.
What’s Included in a Well Inspection?
A thorough residential well inspection is crucial when it comes to maintaining a safe and reliable water supply for your home. The inspection typically includes key components like the location, tags, depth, well structure, wellhead, flow rate and capacity, and pump condition. Here’s a breakdown of what it involves:
The inspector notes the well’s proximity to potential contamination sources like septic systems, underground oil tanks, manure stacks, and livestock yards. This is done to confirm that the well meets safety regulations and standards.
Depth Verification and Tag Documentation
The inspector notes the well’s depth and documents identification tags for the pump and well.
The inspection starts with a visual assessment of the well’s exterior components and the grading around the well. This includes checking the condition of the wellhead, insulation, casing, and surface structures for any signs of wear, damage, or corrosion. A fully sealed and intact well prevents potential contaminants from entering the water supply. Proper grading and drainage around a well are crucial to prevent water accumulation and ensure effective runoff.
Flow Rate and Capacity Measurement
Assessing the well’s flow rate and capacity is vital to determine whether it adequately meets the household’s water needs. This measurement helps evaluate the well’s performance and its ability to supply enough water.
Pump and Pressure System Inspection
Inspectors thoroughly examine the well’s pump system and its components like the pressure tank, pressure switch, and electrical connections.
Documentation and Recommendations
After the inspection, the homeowner receives a comprehensive report outlining the findings of the inspection, any issues detected, and recommendations for maintenance and repairs.
A well inspection is necessary to maintain a safe and dependable water supply for your household. Regular assessments help identify issues early, ensuring your well works efficiently and provides an ample water supply.
Credentials Needed to Offer a Well Inspection as a Home Inspector
The training and credentials required to offer well inspections as a home inspector vary from state to state. However, most states require home inspectors to complete a state-approved training course and pass a state-administered exam. Some states also require a home inspector license.
In addition to the general home inspection training and credentials, there are additional certifications available to well inspectors. The Certified Well Inspector (CWI) credential is offered by the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI). To become a CWI, home inspectors must complete InterNACHI’s Well and Septic System Inspection Field Training course.
What Else is Required for a Home Inspector to Complete a Well Inspection?
Understanding Well Systems
Familiarity with the components of a well system is essential. Inspectors should know about different types of wells, pumps, pressure tanks, and associated equipment and how these parts function together.
Develop a standardized inspection process that covers the following key aspects: examining the overall condition of the well, checking for proper installation, evaluating pressure and flow rates, and identifying issues and risks.
Equipment and Tools
A well inspection requires pressure gauges, electrical testers, and other relevant tools needed for a comprehensive assessment.
The inspector needs a clear and detailed reporting method to document the findings, highlight any problems or concerns, and provide recommendations for maintenance or repairs.
Insurance and Compliance
Insure your business for well inspections and verify compliance with all legal and industry requirements.
Benefits Home Inspectors Gain by Offering a Well Inspection Service
Increase Revenue Potential
Home inspectors can boost their revenue by performing well inspections. By providing this additional service that costs a few hundred dollars, inspectors tap into a recurring market not reliant on real estate transactions. All homeowners with a well on their property should get a well inspection every year, giving the inspector a consistent stream of business.
Home inspectors can create recurring revenue by catering to this niche market. This approach also positions them as comprehensive experts in property evaluations, broadening their reputation and credibility within the industry.
Gain Client Confidence
Providing well inspections as a home inspector boosts client confidence by delivering a more comprehensive range of inspection services. Well inspections help inspectors give clients a holistic assessment of their property, instilling confidence in the inspector’s expertise.
Home inspectors have a unique opportunity to gain more referrals and expand their businesses by offering well inspections. Satisfied clients impressed by the well inspection are more likely to refer the inspector’s services to friends, family, and colleagues. By offering this niche service, you’re positioned as the go-to inspector for property owners with wells, leading to increased referrals and business growth.
A Valuable Addition to Your Service Offerings
Offering well inspections as a home inspector is a strategic move that extends beyond meeting immediate client needs. Providing this additional service signifies a commitment to comprehensive property evaluations and opens doors to an evergreen market demand.
Understanding the Health and Safety Risks of Well Water
While well water can be a reliable and cost-effective water source for many households, it’s essential to know about the potential health and safety risks. Unlike municipal water supplies that undergo regulated treatment and testing, homeowners with a well must take responsibility for monitoring the water quality.
Therefore, if you’re going to offer well inspections, it goes hand-in-hand to offer water testing as another ancillary service. Here are some key considerations regarding health and safety risks associated with well water:
One of the primary risks associated with well water is contamination. Wells can be susceptible to various contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, nitrates, pesticides, heavy metals, and other pollutants. Sources of contamination can stem from nearby septic systems, agricultural activities, industrial operations, and geological formations.
Contaminated well water can lead to waterborne illnesses. Bacteria like E. coli, coliforms, and other pathogens can cause gastrointestinal issues, including diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Additionally, certain contaminants may have long-term health implications.
Chemical and Mineral Exposure
Besides biological contaminants, well water may contain elevated levels of certain minerals (like arsenic, lead, or fluoride), chemicals (such as pesticides or industrial pollutants), and radon gas. Prolonged exposure to these substances through drinking or everyday use can have adverse health effects, especially on vulnerable populations like pregnant women, infants, and the elderly.
Maintenance and Environmental Changes
Regular maintenance and proper well construction are vital for preventing contamination. Environmental changes, such as heavy rainfall, flooding, or nearby construction, can affect the well’s integrity, potentially allowing contaminants to enter the water supply.
Pairing Water Testing with a Well Inspection
Because wells are susceptible to contamination risks and well water is not monitored by a regulatory body, it is up to the homeowner to ensure that the water is safe to drink and use. The inspector collects water samples and sends them to a lab to screen for bacteria and contaminants and check pH levels and mineral content.
Most realtors will advise homebuyers to order water testing with a well inspection when there is a well on the property. By offering water testing in addition to well inspections, you’ll provide a comprehensive assessment of the home’s water supply system.
Disclaimers to Keep in Mind
No inspector can guarantee a well water system’s overall condition or future performance. As these systems are located underground, assessing their complete status without extracting the pump may not be feasible. Additionally, evaluating the system’s condition during periods of inactivity, such as when a house is vacant, may affect the accuracy of the assessment.
Due to the inherent nature of well water systems, it’s impossible to predict all system failures. Inspectors who offer well inspections should disclose this information to their clients to set realistic expectations and protect themselves from liability.
By delving into well inspections, inspectors establish themselves as professionals dedicated to safeguarding the crucial components of a property’s water supply system. The benefits of offering well inspections are multifold—enhanced client satisfaction, increased revenue, and a competitive edge in an evolving market.