Well water newbie!

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Hello all,
I just moved into a rental house in central Michigan that has a well. As I am in the military and only going to be there three years, I want to make sure that the water we are drinking is OK.
The 50' well was built in late 2005. They did a test for fecal contamination then, but no other analysis. (I stopped by the local health department, and they gave me a test kit I send in to a lab. This process costs $26).
The setup: The landlord has the well pumping into a pressure tank, then through a gas hot water heater (for the hot water), otherwise straight through the pipes and out the faucets.
So there is no filtration or chlorination or anything. Out of the ground to our cups. The landlord says that that is how he has always drank it. (!)
I am worried that this will 1) affect my pregnant wife and our child, 2) clog the internals of the clothes washer, 3) clog our clothes washer, etc, etc.
Other stuff: My wife does not like the "feel" of soft water. The house does not have water going to the refrigerator, nor does it have a dishwasher.
So, here is what i was thinking: 1) Cut into the piping going to the pressure tank. 2) Put flexible piping to a filter "bank" consisting of three high- flow filters in series (30 micron, then 10 micron, then .5 micron). These are about $75/each at Menards. Change these out every 6 months.
3) Put a reverse osmosis unit under the sink for drinking water.
Since the landlord is not paying for any of this, I am looking to get the most bang for my buck during this part of my tour. I was also thinking about looking to see if Culligan or somebody had a rental program for water treatment equipment.
Any advice or suggestions to help appreciated!
V/R
NavyGuy
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On May 9, 6:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

1. Wait for the test results to see if there is a problem. 2. Rent or buy a professionally installed filter system. Don't try to re-invent the wheel.
Harry K
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Yep, millions of homes have been doing that since the invention of indoor plumbing. People have been drinking from pump wells like that for a century or two before that even, and from dug wells for thousands of years. I gather you're a city boy?

Only way it will affect them is if ther is contamination. Only a test can tell you if that is the case. As stated, millions of homes are just like that, but there are contaminated wills also.

After while you get to like natural soft water. Takes a little getting used to, but she if felling full cleanliness for the first time instead of minerals left over.

IMO, overkill unless testing proves otherwise. A sedimet filter will trap any if there is any. Try one filter first at 10 micron. If ther is a lot of sediment, it will show up in a couple of days, maybe less. RO is good if you have problems with your drinking water, but I'd certainly find out if there are problems before spending money on a solution. I have water that has poor taste. A charcoal filter on the cold water at the kitchen fixes it for us. If had good well water, I'd not bother with the charcoal. Some wells do suck up sediment though so that is worth investigating. Start with one and see what it catches.
You also mention a 6 month filter change interval. Since you seem to be the worry kind of a guy, I'll give you something to think about. Those filters in the bank you want will trap stuff. When the water is not running, the water is sitting on the gunk you trapped. Just sitting there possibly breeding bacteria. I'd certainly change them more frequently.
Meantime, good luck with the new family and the Navy.
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On Wed, 09 May 2007 18:30:34 -0700, cpocpo wrote:

Wait for the test results?
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

Sure there is filtration--the water in your well has likely filtered through a lot of earth before it ended up in your well. Get tests done, and if they find a problem, fix it. If they don't find a problem, then sit back and enjoy your cheap (cost of electricity for the pump) water.
There are some things to worry about with a well and a pregnant wife and child, though, not related to water quality. If you have a power failure, your water is limited to what is in the tank at the time. This can make extended power outages quite a bit harder to endure than in locations on city water. If your area is one where you might have several hours or days without power during winter storms, a generator might be a good investment, unless you have some friends or relatives in the area you could go stay with.
--
--Tim Smith

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even if water tests fine you might get bottled delivered water for drinking with a pregnant wife and child.
people who drank well water for a lifetime get immune to lots of nasties that can make others violently ill.
worse well water can get contminated by all sorts of sources at any time. microback the local lab says today nearly no water passes the test for contamination all the time.
cheapest easiest solution is probably bottled water for drinking and cooking
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On Wed, 09 May 2007 20:13:46 -0700, Tim Smith

There are benefits of having a pregnant wife at the same time the power goes out. If you run out of water, hopefully your wife's water will break at the same time.
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What Edwin said.
On 9 May 2007 18:30:34 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

But if you do do something, he has given you permission to do it, right? Your lease probably says you can't make changes without written permission, so if I were you, I'd get written permission, per the lease. And frankly even if there is no lease or this clause isn't in the lease, the default is that your not allowed to make changes to the ll's property, without permission. So get it in writing.

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote in

[snip]
Well, bottled water can take care of drinking/cooking needs. Repair or replacement of clothes washer after 3 yr stay may be cheaper than filters or R/O unit. A few years ago I had to make the choice between fancy R/O unit and bottled water. Much cheaper to buy bottled water and dealing with the 5 gallon bottles wasn't that bad.
OTOH, sometimes well water is much better than municipal water. It just depends on where you are. In my current home I don't drink the water unless it's been through a charcoal filter because of the chlorine odor. On the positive side, the chlorine does seem to keep any bugs from growing in the charcoal filter. Don't put a charcoal filter on well water unless you know for certain that there are no bugs (BTDT, got the t-shirt and replaced the leaking expansion tank to eliminate the contamination source).
In general there is no reason to go overboard just 'cause the water comes from a private well rather than a municipal well or reservoir. If the test report comes back clean and there is nothing obviously wrong like a septic leach field near the wellhead then relax and enjoy the clean water.
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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net says...

[snip]
++++++++ Have it tested for nitrates IMMEDIATELY! ++++++++
Nitrate contamination (from fertilizer runoff) has been linked to a significant risk of miscarriage. Until the nitrate test comes back clean, your wife drinks bottled water. Make coffee with bottled water. Cook with bottled water. Get the picture?

It would be a good idea to have it tested for lead, and anything else the county health department can think of.
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cpo,
As others have said this is a common way to obtain drinking water. Wait until you have the test results before you make any plans. And remember that you should not cut into your landlord's plumbing without his permission. This may cause problems for you.
Dave M.
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[snip]
[snip]
[snip]
1. Even if you want to obsess on water treatment you don't need a whole-house treatment. There's no need to use filtered water for toilets, lawns and such. (When we lived in Hong Kong every home had two water systems -- potable water to the sinks, untreated for sanitary purposes.) Even if the tests show some undesireable minerals you only need to take care of the water you ingest. So the suggestions for using bottled water work -- for under $200 you can get a dispenser that handles a five gallon jug and puts out both hot and cold water, at the BORGs and probably out of the Navy Exchange. (We've put one of them out on our deck so we don't have to go inside for coffee or a cold drink.)
2. You can also install a filter on your main faucet in the kitchen to give you filtered water if you prefer to go to that expense. We did that when first arriving in Hong Kong, but after 6 months decided it was too much hassle and got rid of it.
3. In our experience, when we bought in Florida we had our well tested, then found that the previous owner's installed filters and water softener were actually creating odors and taste problems. The water was of higher quality before it went into the treatment area. All of our household water now comes untreated (except for a simple filter) from the well, and we draw our lawn/garden irrigation water from the adjacent lake.
4. Water chemistry and treatment can be tricky and probably not a DIY project. If you decide to go ahead with a whole-house project, suggest you have a local professional do the work -- Regards --
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I don't see the need to install a whole series of filters when there is no evidence of anything needing to be filtered out. I'd get a thorough test of the water done. If that shows no problems, then I wouldn't do anything.
Sounds like you're just freaked out by the idea of well water. As others have stated, there are tens of millions of folks in the US drinking water from a private well. And having municipal water doesn't necessarily mean it too can't have problems. There are folks who got sick and died from contaminated municipal well water.
Here in a NJ community a few years back, one municipal well was found to be contaminated with organic chemicals leaching from a toxic waste site. Under EPA supervision, they installed a scrubber, then continued to use that water as part of the municipal supply. Now, I don;t know about you, but that wouldn't make me feel too comfortable.
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All,
I appreciate the suggestions and sentiments from everyone! A few more questions and explanations:
1. Any modifications to the piping were going to be with the full knowledge and written permission of the landlord. I didn't mean to imply that I was literally just going to start hacking into the piping.
2. People here say unfiltered well water wrecks havoc on white clothing, particulary military uniforms. I do not see a disadvantage of particulate/ sediment filtering. With no whole house filtration, you wind up with "floaties" in your stomach, toilet, washer, faucet aerators, water heater, dishwasher (if I had one)...why would someone intentionally subject him/herself with this?? For the price of a few filters, you get drastically reduced floaties. Even one filter would be better than none...right?? Otherwise, you are just using your home machines and your stomach as filters...
3. Have also heard that water softeners remove the calcium/ magnesium scale (good), but also alter the pH of the water so it corrodes hot water heater components. Do softeners damage hot water heaters?
4. The health department has a graduated scale for the tests they perform. $12 for coliforms, $14 for combination flouride, chloride, hardness, nitrate, nitrite, sulfate, sodium, and iron; $16 for arsenic, $20 for lead, manganese, copper , and zinc; $16 for lead, $90 for organic solvents. The norm is $26 for the combo and the coliforms.
5. Somebody mentioned about a septic tank. There is a septic hill about 150 feet from the well.
6. I like that about the backup generator for the pump in case the power goes out. I was thinking about just buying some standby gallons of bottled water, but the generator sounds good, too.
7. I have a call into the Culligan guy to get their rental rates.
Thanks again for the discussion. There seems to be a defined line between those who say "well water'll be alright" and the others who say, "You can't survive without a softener and filters!" I just have to figure out which side of the fence to jump to, or whether I am going to be a straddler.
V/R
NavyGuy
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On May 10, 3:07 pm, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

The only disadvantage is paying for filtering, if it's not necessary or doesn't remove whatever it is that is the problem, assuming a problem even exists. Before I worried about whether to get a filter and is so, what kind, I'd get the water tested. The biggest problem with washing clothes that I am aware of is with water that is hard. But I thought you indicated your water was very soft?
With no whole house filtration,

Yes, if the water does have particulates that need to be filtered out. But I'd guess the majority of well systems in the USA don't have or need any filtering system. I see new homes being built here in NJ all the time with no filtering systems.

Given your level of concern, I would think there is no question you would want the whole works. I mean, if you're worried about particulates, I would think you'd be even more worried about organic solvents and arsenic.

The answer is, it depends. Some well water is perfectly fine, tastes good and is every bit as safe as the spring water that gets bottled and sold for $2. Other well water may have a problem, like being too hard or having iron in it. I'd get the water tested, and then unless there is some specific reason it needs to be filtered or treated, I'd just use it as is, especially in a rental property.
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Indeed. Most "bottled spring water" is straight well water (with periodic testing).
--
Chris Lewis,

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote: [...]

That's not correct, or at least only partially correct.
What's hell on white clothing is iron in the water. If you don't have iron, you don't need to worry about your whites. Draw a quart of water out of the tap into a mason jar, and let it stand on the counter overnight. If it's noticeably red or brown in the morning, you have an iron problem. If it's still clear, you don't.
Particulate and sediment filters do not remove dissolved iron, BTW. You need an iron filter for that.

And I'm wondering why would anybody be worried about this. Well water isn't autmatically full of "floaties", and if you don't have particulates or sediment in your well water, you don't need a particulate or sediment filter.

Assuming you have a significant amount of them to begin with, which you may not.

This really isn't nearly as much of an issue as you think it is.

No. In fact, water heaters are *much* better off using soft water than hard, because the scale and sediment buildup is so much less.

Without question, do the combo and coliform. With one child in the family and another on the way, spend the extra twenty bucks on the Pb-Mn-Cu-Zn test too.
The organic solvent test you can probably skip unless there's reason to suspect that they might be present.

No worries. That's plenty far enough away.

Yep. Good idea.
You might want to crosspost your questions to misc.rural too.
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Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Assuming you have "floaties". Some wells do, but most don't. Perhaps y9our recion is more prone to things like that, but your well may be entirely different than your next door neighbor, depending on the aquifer you hit. Don't rely on generalizations, be sure. I'd put one sedimint filter in the line though. In periods of low rain, thus low water table, it is possibel your pump will such up some sand.

No, the lack of mineral buildup will extend the life. Most any industrial boiler will have a softener along with other chemical tretament.

When a well is dug, there is a required test to be sure the water is safe. You'd want to do that test at a minimum. Given your converns, get a few other test done too. Lead for sure with a pregnant wife.

There are codes to comply with so you don't contaminate the well with your sewage. Rare, but it could happen.

If you are going to be there for 3 years, it may be cheaper to buy yoru own, and not from Culligan. Plenty of good independant dealers exist with good pricing. Check before your final decision.

At least straddle for a few months until you get test results.
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[snip] I do not see a disadvantage

[snip]
Comment -- don't expect your Culligan man to give you an unbiased report on what you need (as opposed to what you want --). Also, most water softener systems do add sodium to the drinking water, not necessarily a good thing.
Also, check with your extension service for assistance -- there is a good book that Florida extension services have that provide a lot of information about wells, septic tanks, etc. (Unfortunately, I can't find my copy and don't remember the name --). In fact, I suspect you'll have greater issues with your septic system than with the well.
You can be "sold" a lot of things you don't need, and I've noticed several companies that feed on those fears to the homeowner's financial disadvantage. As others have recommended, I'd definitely wait until your test results are back, and make sure you have a good understanding of the relevance of items in the report. Regards --
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On May 9, 6:30 pm, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:
<snip>

<snip>
If the water is soft you are very lucky. If your wife doesn't like the water because it is soft, there is little you can do about it. All the filters and treatment equipment on the market take stuff out of the water, none that I know of add minerals back in.
Harry K
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