If you’re buying a property with a well, especially a well that’s used for drinking water, it’s a good idea to have your water tested. The first and foremost test is for coliform bacteria and nitrates.

If there is a presence of coliform bacteria in the well water, it may indicate a possible contamination from human or animal wastes. In this case, a more specific test will be run to check for E.coli, and possible well disinfection will be necessary.

If nitrates are found, it’s an indication that your well may be exposed to fertilizers, septic systems, animal manure, or leaking sewer lines. Drinking large amounts of water with nitrates is particularly threatening to infants.

Additional Reasons For Water Testing

If you experience a change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water
If you find that you have a broken well cap and your well water is exposed to the outside elements
If there has been flooding in your area
The well has a history of bacterial contamination
The septic system has recently malfunctioned
Family members have recurrent gastrointestinal illness
An infant is living in the home

There are additional tests for water components that cause problems with plumbing, cause staining, or change water appearance, and odor. Some of these tests are for pH, hardness, iron, manganese, and sulfides.