The water you drink may look clean, but do you know what's in it?
Water testing and inspection is an important part of the home inspection process, especially if the water is supplied by a well. The inspector carefully takes water samples from the home and the samples are analyzed at a certified lab.
Many people receive their water from private ground water wells. EPA regulations that protect public drinking water systems do not apply to privately owned wells. As a result, owners of private wells are responsible for ensuring their water is safe from contaminants. When rain falls, much of it is absorbed into the ground. Water not used by vegetation moves downward through pores and spaces in the rock until it reaches a dense layer of rock. The water trapped below the ground in the pores and spaces above the dense rock barrier is called ground water, and this is the water we get when we drill wells. Another common term for ground water is “aquifer” or “ground water aquifer.” All private wells use ground water.
Ground water pollution can be caused by seepage from landfills, failed septic tanks, underground fuel tanks, fertilizers and pesticides, and runoff from urban areas. If polluted ground water is consumed, it could cause illness.
The safety and effectiveness of a well depends greatly on its location. It is important to maintain safe distances between private ground water wells and possible sources of contamination.

Possible sources of contamination and minimum distances from wells include:

  • Septic Tanks, 50 feet from well
  • Livestock yards, Silos, Septic Leach Fields, 50 feet from well
  • Petroleum Tanks, Liquid-Tight Manure Storage and Fertilizer Storage and Handling, 100 feet from well
  • Manure Stacks, 250 feet from well
It is recommended that you have tests performed to determine if the water is safe to drink, even if the house is served by a public water supply. By federal law any government or private company which provides water to at least 25 people on a regular basis must comply with certain testing requirements. Assuming the required level of testing occurs, that means the water at it’s point of distribution is of reasonable quality. However, there are a number of things that can happen between that distribution point and your faucet tap. Some of these things include: Cracked or broken distribution pipes. In many cities and towns the water pipes could be several decades old, in some communities the pipes could be over a century old. Ground water can enter cracked or broken pipes bringing any number of contaminants with it. In some cases there are faulty flow control valves which can allow other customer’s water to back flow into your water supply.

A clean, safe and reliable water supply is critical. Our firm provides professional well and spring water sampling and testing for a variety of potential contaminates, as follows:

Water Quality

We make sure the water meets Oregon Home Sales Requirements for most lenders. Standard water testing includes:

  • Total Coliform/E.Coli
  • Arsenic
  • Nitrate Testing

Water Quantity

We attach a hose and meter to an outside spigot of the home and restrict it to five gallons per minute over a two-hour period, attempting to achieve the pumping of 600 gallons to determine if there is an adequate water source. Four hour tests are also available to meet most lending requirements.

Total Coliforms

Coliform bacteria are microbes found in the digestive systems of warm-blooded animals, in soil, on plants, and in surface water. These microbes typically do not make you sick; however, because microbes that do cause disease are hard to test for in the water, “total coliforms” are tested instead. If the total coliform count is high, then it is very possible that harmful germs like viruses, bacteria, and parasites might also be found in the water.

Fecal Coliforms/Escherichia coli (El coli)

Fecal coliform bacteria are a specific kind of total coliform. The feces (or stool) and digestive systems of humans and warm-blooded animals contain millions of fecal coliforms. E. coli is part of the fecal coliform group and may be tested for by itself. Fecal coliforms and E. coli are usually harmless. However, a positive test may mean that feces and harmful germs have found their way into your water system. These harmful germs can cause diarrhea, dysentery, and hepatitis. It is important not to confuse the test for the common and usually harmless WQI E. coli with a test for the more dangerous germ E. coli.


Nitrate is naturally found in many types of food. However, high levels of nitrate in drinking water can make people sick. Nitrate in your well water can come from animal waste, private septic systems, wastewater, flooded sewers, polluted storm water runoff, fertilizers, agricultural runoff, and decaying plants. The presence of nitrate in well water also depends on the geology of the land around your well. A nitrate test is recommended for all wells. If the nitrate level in your water is higher than the EPA standards, you should look for other sources of water or ways to treat your water.

Arsenic Water

This is part of the basic water quality testing