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Private Water Supplies and Selling Your Home

Posted on 12/13/2017 by Steve Robbins

Private Water Supplies and Selling Your Home

Do you test your drinking water every year for bacteria? If you answer “no”, you are in the majority. However, the Vermont Department of Health recommends doing just that!

Drinking water
For clarification, this recommendation applies to private water supplies. If you benefit of a public or municipal water source or belong to a condominium association, the water is regularly tested by the operator of that “public” water system.

If your home is served by a private water source or a shared well with a neighbor, no one is going to make you test it. But if you plan to sell your property, it is a good idea to do it in advance.  This is why:
As licensed professionals, we are charged with educating the buying public as to the Department of Health’s recommendation to test water. This comes in the form of providing a pamphlet to every buyer before entering into a Purchase Contract titled “Testing Drinking Water from Private Water Supplies”.


This 2- page brochure instructs prospective buyers to follow a water testing schedule for:
•    Total coliform bacteria every year
•    Inorganic chemicals every five years
•    Gross alpha radiation screen every five years

The brochure provides contact information for the Health Department and certified water laboratories providing testing services. The piece also describes specific chemicals of concern.
With this urging, most buyers do take a water sample under the property inspection phase and test for bacteria at minimum.
If bacteria are present, the purchaser will surely ask the seller to disinfect the system and provide a new test result, negative for bacteria.

Well head

Homes which have been vacant or shut down for lengthy periods are notorious for having bacteria in the water.  The good news is, most often the source of bacteria is momentary and not continuous.
To disinfect the system, the basic theory is to “shock” the entire water supply system by adding a gallon of Chlorine directly into the well.

Then run the heavily chlorinated water out to every faucet including clothes washer, dishwasher, outdoor faucets, etc. The odor is unmistakable.
Let the disinfected water sit in the pipes; 24 hours or more is ideal.
Then run the water until the chlorinated smell is no longer detected. This can take several hours and is best done by running through an outdoor hose (not down the drain, into the septic).
If a homeowner is not able or willing to undertake the process, property managers, maintenance contractors and water conditioning companies can accomplish the task.

Clean water is critical to good health and a smooth real estate transaction!

To you health

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