My wife & I are looking at houses on the outskirts of the Seattle area. I
posted awhile back about septic systems, which many of these houses have &
which I had never experienced, & got some good feedback. Often, these same
houses have well water, which outside of those hand operated pumps in parks
etc., I haven't really had much contact with. I'm sure it varies from one
well to another, but in general, what's it like living with well water? You
hear horror stories about whole neighborhoods having their wells
contaminated from some long abandoned factory etc. Also about the water
having a bad taste sometimes, being exceptionally hard, so it's tough on
fixtures, clothes washed in it, your skin, and so on. I'm guessing there
are filtration systems you can install, as well as water softeners. Is
there generally a pump present? Any helpful observations appreciated!
He meant, Talk to your prospective neighbors.
On this issue, you probably won't have the problem I did. I went next
to the townhouse next door and asked the neighbor what the n'hood was
like. She said it was nice, there were no real problems. What she
left out is that she was the real problem, at least her dog which
barked from 11 to 11:15 at night, and from 6:45 to 7 in the morning,
preventing me from getting a full 8 hours sleep. It drove me crazy,
and they didn't like it much either but they didnt' get rid of it
until it started negative interacting with their new baby. Thank
goodness for that, or I'd be in a mental hospital now, or I would have
killed the dog. This doesn't seem relevant to you except to say that
people don't notice their own faults.
I would also say, Look at all the sinks for traces of deposits, and
take a drink from the faucet. not just the kitchen faucet which might
have some sort of filter (although you can look under the sink) but
the bathroom and laundry faucets. maybe it tastes ok because of
equipment they installed, but at least then the equipemnet is already
installed. Look in the basement to see what equipment is installed.
If I weren't sure, I might take a quart or two of water home, to taste
it at my leisure, or to compare with your current water, or to test it
in ways you can't do at someone else's house. Bring your own bottles.
I think I had a girlfriend who had little more than a pump, but the
first summer I knew her she said her well went dry, and for 6 weeks
she carted in water from work. Tap water, of course. Finally she got
tired of this and called someone to find out her pump was broken! And
the well was not dry. I think the house was only 2 to 5 years old.
The houses are fairly spread apart. I'm not sure one person's OK well would
translate into mine being OK. Plus as you suggest (and as did the well
driller), they may not know what they're talking about. And even if it
tastes fine, unless they have it tested, they may not know about other
I can really relate to that. I like dogs & have owned 3, none right now,
but I really, REALLY can't stand people who allow their dogs to bark. We
decided against one very promising house because on our 3 visits to the
property, the idiots next door were allowing their THREE dogs to bark
incessantly. Just not worth the aggravation.
Agreed about the stains in sinks, etc. But the house has been completely
redone, everything is new, including the sinks, so that's no help. So far
we have only seen the inside of the house at night. I'm planning to drive
up there tomorrow to get a look at the area in the daytime. The house is
currently vacant; I may take along a distilled water jug & grab a sample
from an outside tap. We do like this house, very nicely redone & just about
everything we're looking for. But the water thing is a pretty major issue.
On the other hand, where we live now, our our total water/sewer bill is
about $170 every 2 months. On one recent bill, ~$60 of this was water
service, ~$35 was storm & surface water service, & ~$80 was wastewater
service. Don't know how the storm & surface would be handled in a
septic/well area, but at least the water/wastewater savings would be there.
I wouldn't worry about it. If the water is hard, you soften it. If
it is gritty, you filter it. I wouldn't think either would be the
case in your area.
As far as taste goes, I would FAR rather have water with a touch of
mineral taste than the overly chlorinated municipal water in many
You'll save a bit but you'll have to contend with
1. Septic tanks need to be pumped (sludge removed) every few years
2. Neither septic tanks nor drain fields last forever
3. Pumps and pressure tanks don't last forever. If a pump goes bad -
or is hit by lighning - expect to spend at least $1500 to replace it.
4. If your power goes out you have no water save whatever small amount
happens to be in the pressure tank.
Well....let me get my sales pitch prepared...
The first thing I'd do if I were you - have it inspected by a
driller. I own a drilling company, but we don't do inspections right
now, so alas. Have it inspected should be able to tell you whether
or not the well is up to code - this is important because the local
Health Department will want to know that it is up to code before
approving any development activities you may pursue (guest house,
etc). Also, the person inspecting the well should provide you with a
document showing that it is up to code, if it is. Additionally, any
property you buy shoudl come with a water well report, unless the well
is extremely old (more than 25 years) - this would be equivalent to
the document an inspectio would provide you.
The big concern is whether or not the well has been properly sealed &
capped. When we drill wells, we drill a 10" hole to 18ft, & then set
a 6" steel casing inside of that. We pour a bentinite clay in to
create a seal (it swells on hydration & remains that way). Also, if
the well hasn't been capped & stayed capped - all sorts of creepy
crawlies have been down that thing.
The pumps are usually submersible - ie down the bore hole. I
wouldn't use anything else, except to draw from a holding tank
system. You should have the pump system inspected also. They are
normally 230v systems that can pump anywhere from 5 to 100+ gallons
per minute. Some pump less because the bore hole doesn't make as
much as the pump can actually pull - this is where you'd usually run
into a holding tank situation (except King Co. which usually requires
holding tanks on almost every house has a well - fire sprinklers &
Ultimately, I'd ask the real estate agent or the seller to provide
these documents - if you decide not to take it, it would be good for
them to have those documents for the next potential vic...buyer.
Anyway, that's a bit rambling - I have kids that are demanding to be
read to as I finish this....you can contact me at
email@example.com if there are more Q's.
On Mar 7, 8:16 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Oh, additionally....neighbors are generally unreliable....For some
reason, we consistently run into people on the drill site that say "my
well is only 50 feet deep". Then, as you drill into an acquifer at
250ft, they come back and say "my well is only 150 feet
deep".....which is great, but...rather inconsistent, no?
The Department of Ecology maintains a publicly available database of
water well reports at www.ecy.wa.gov
Ick, that's a tough area...If it's on the actual slope, especially
near the Issaquah Hobart Rd, it can be just nasty. Usually the wells
are around 100 feet deep, don't produce much, and I've heard of some
silt problems. The drilling's not fun either! We have a sort of
ongoing project on Tiger Mountain Rd - so far for a 4 lot subdivision,
we've put in a 600 foot well, a 100 foot well, and there was another
100 foot well on site - total yield between all three wells is roughly
4 gallons per minute after 4 hours of pumping....
Again, every well is different, so you have to have them inspected/
AM Test laboratories in Redmond is an actual water testing lab - they
don't sell treatment systems.
B&J Pump Service is up in that area....they are rather difficult to
get onto a site sometimes, but they can inspect the well for you.
A simple thing you can do is go over there and take a jug of water
from the faucet. Taste it in coffee, tea and straight. Those seem to
be the ones that bother me. Drop a sample off at a water treatment
company like Culligan and see what they try to sell you.
I was raised on city water but I have been on a well for 25 years now.
It is a maintenance issue you don't have with city water. I have 2
pumps, an aeriator tank, a softener and an RO, that also means 2 pump
pressure switches, 3 bladder tanks and 3 float switches that can go
bad. All of my equipment is inside so it does hold up better than
those folks who just have it out in the yard (26th parallel, water
doesn't freeze here)
A well is another thing that must be maintained. There's a pump, pumps
wear out. There's a pressurized holding tank, the bladder will eventually
develop a leak. There may be a foot valve. There may be a pump house. And it
goes on. So find out how old the well stuff is and plan on replacing it
every 20-30 yrs.
The water that comes from the well should be tested. Bacteria are a bad
sign. Water hardness can be a nuisance. These are fixable problems but may
be expensive to fix.
You can use water treatment systems to deal with hardness and some other
issues. But, those don't always manage industrial contaminants, or an issue
being dealt with now by a friend of mine: Farm chemicals, confirmed by two
independent testing labs. It's an ugly situation that's going to cost her
plenty to deal with. Take a good look around the area for the types of
activity which might generate contamination. And, be sure your purchase
offer is contingent not only on the usual home inspection, but also on the
results of two water tests, paid for with your money, and performed by two
unrelated companies. If you suspect you'll be living in the midst of a farm
chemical carnival, be sure to mention this to the companies that test the
There are old coal mines in that vacinity - but most are abandoned.
If the well was drilled with a proper surface seal, there's a clay
layer around 10 feet that will block any contaminants. Again,
testing the water will inform you - also, you should test the water
every year or two, along with shock treating the well with a chlorine
solution (1 bottle of regular nonscented chlorine bleach down the
well, let it pump through the whole water system by turning faucets
on. Then let it stay in the system for at least 12 hours before
flushing the chlorinated water out).
Other than the old coal mines, Issaquah area is...relatively highly
controlled as far as development & environment issues. There really
isn't any farming in that valley, nor do I think there was in the
recent past (logging & mining more likely).
As far as the maintenance issues - yes they exist.....Take that money
you're putting away to the utility company every month & put about 50%
into a maint. savings account - when the water system issues start to
pop they'll be expensive, but a new pump system, even the top of the
line system, shouldn't run more than $5k. I'd check to see when the
pump in their well was installed - again, they're only engineered for
7 to 10 years, but I've pulled them from wells still working after 50
years....so, it's really dependent on the design of the system.
We've been putting pumps in for 22 years, roughly 750 total, and we've
As far as the pressure issue - Franklin Electric has a MonoDrive pump
controller - it can be adapted to the single phase pump motor already
installed in the well, & it gives you constant city like water
pressure & adjustable pressure from 20 to 80 psi. Again, most of
these issues can be conquered, but that fellow's right about one thing
- it does come down to how much money you want to put into it.
Or, another option, replace the pressure switch with a higher ranged
one - Terry, you might try swapping yours out with a 40-60 switch , as
it sounds like you have a 30-50 switch.
God I talk a lot....
One fellow mention septic issues - not really a big one up on Tiger
Mtn - the first 5 feet of soils up there are generally hard pan,
cobbles, & sand, fairly well drained. Get the system pumped, don't
dump a huge amount of detergents down the septic lines, & just be
aware that septic systems run on a bacteria-waste-disposal system -
little creepy crawlies eat all your stuff up, that's why you don't
want to dump lots of detergents down the lines.
You have to be concerned with what's happened historically. Around here,
some wells were found to be contaminated with gasoline from an underground
storage tank that had never been dealt with properly by the previous owner
of a gas station that had been flattened 20 years earlier. Unfortunately,
the town official who signed off on the demolition permit was dead and
buried, or he would've been in a heap of trouble.
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