Water Testing FAQ

Things to know:

  • We can usually collect within about 2 business days and then it takes about 2 business days to email out the report.

    • The science behind the tests take a certain amount of time - unfortunately there is no way to "rush" it.

  • We do take payment up front to schedule.

    • If cancelled one business day before, water test and trip fee are 100% refundable.

    • You can pay with a debit/credit card (Visa, Mastercard, or Discover) over the phone or online from the invoice

  • For wells (and most springs), water and power need to be on and running to a spigot or faucet.

    • If water and power are not on when we arrive, we cannot collect the sample and a wasted trip fee will be charged.

    • House must not be "winterized"

    • If you are the buyer, please have your agent let the list agent know that you will be ordering a water test and that the house cannot be winterized, and water and power must be on.

  • We collect our samples at what the EPA calls a "point of consumption"

    • This is a point in or on the house: hose spigot, kitchen sink, bathroom sink, tub, etc

    • This is what most lenders want​

  • Price is per sample/source​

    • If you want well head and house tested, that is 2 sources and 2 samples​

    • All Prices include collection in Buncombe County, testing, and reporting. For other counties, there will be an additional trip fee as listed on the Trip Fee Page

  • Reports/Results are released to whomever paid for them​

    • ​​If They can authorize us to release them to additional people.​

    • We will answer general questions and questions about results (but we will not release results).  Example: We can't answer "Did the test pass?" or did it come back with bacteria? but we will answer "My house tested positive for Total Coliform, what do we do?"

 

If you have additional questions or to schedule,
Call our office at 828.552.5174 x3

(or send us an email)

 

I'm getting a loan/refi - what test do I need?

Please ask your mortgage broker to check with underwriting!

FHA, VA, USDA Loans for buyers typically require Total Coliform, E. coli, Lead, Nitrates, Nitrites (what we call our "Lender Scan" ).  Rarely, they will go through with just a Total Coliform and E. coli ("Basic Bacteria").  For Refinances, sometimes they require the Lender Scan and sometimes just the Basic Bacteria.

If the mortgage broker says it has to "meet local requirements", that is the Lender Scan.  If you are unsure (or the mortgage broker is vague), we recommend erring on the side of caution, and getting the Lender Scan (if you get the Basic Bacteria and underwriting kicks it back, it will add time and cost). 

 

If the well has to be treated for bacteria and retested, check with your underwriter if they will accept the first test and the new basic bacteria test or if they need the lender test completely redone (so that all 5 pass on one test).

 

Why Should I test my water? We haven't noticed any problems.

Homeowners should test their water on a regular basis.  Well (and especially spring water) can change over time, even suddenly.  It can be effected by environmental factors such as weather, age/condition of well/spring components, and sometimes it just changes for no discernable reason.

Total Coliform and E. coli can get into wells/springs and build up slowly over time. For people whose immune systems work properly, their body will build up a resistance to the bacteria.

But if someone comes in from city water, or if someone has immune system issues, it can make them sick as their immune system does not know how to fight it. (See section on Total Coliform for more information).

Many buyers want to test it as part of their "Due Diligence" so they can be aware of any issues or because they need to for the mortgage.  Often homeowners will need to test when they refinance.

 

How often should I test my water?

The CDC recommends testing the well water at least once a year. (See previous item for more information.)

 

Can I bring my sample to you?

We collect all our own samples to ensure that samples are collected properly to avoid contamination - it is very easy to contaminate the bacteria sample if you are not properly trained.

 

How do you collect the sample?

We follow EPA collections procedures which includes running the water and sterilizing the spigot/faucet before we collect the sample.

 

Where do you collect the sample?

(For Springs not connected to a house, creeks, etc, see the question for that item.)

Our default location for collection is somewhere in or on the house- an outside hose spigot, kitchen sink, bathroom sink or tub, etc.  This is where most lenders want it collected from, this is where the EPA recommends to collect it, and this is where most people want it tested because this is the water they are using everyday. (It is referred to as "a point of consumption".)

If you want us to collect it from a different location, like before a filter or at the well head, please let us know upfront.

If you are concerned that there is a problem with your water, we recommend testing at the house first. If it passes, no reason for additional testing. If it does not pass, then maybe test at the well head to see if the issue is the water at the well or something in the pipes.

We often hear: "But x company told us you had to collect it at ....".   Different companies have different goals.  Well contractors usually collect at the well head as their license law only cover the well, not the house. Plumbers usually collect at the house as their license law covers the house, but doesn't cover the well.  Filtration companies want to sell you a product or service.  We collect where lenders want and where the EPA recommends.

 

Water & Power/Winterizing

The water and power must be on and the house cannot be winterized.

Our default location for collection is somewhere in or on the house (see previous question), therefore the house cannot be winterized and the power and water must be on to the house.

A modern well needs power to produce water - if there is no power, there is no water.

If this is a well on vacant land, please call our office for more information.

 

Do I need to do anything before you come?

Make sure the water and power are on (see previous question.)

If we are using an outside spigot, please make sure it is accessible (no gate, no pets, remove hose, etc) and working. 

Otherwise, we should be all set.

 

Do I need to be there?

If the house is for sale with an agent, we will arrange access with the agent (we have the same lockbox access agents have) and no one needs to be there.

If the house is not for sale with an agent, we can take it from an outside spigot as long as it works and is accessible (see previous item), otherwise we will need access to the inside of the house. If there is a lockbox, hidden key, door code, etc to provide access no one would need to be there.

 

How long does it take?

We can usually collect it within 1 or 2 business.

Once the collection tech arrives on site, it typically takes about 20-30 minutes to collect the sample.

The report takes about 2-3 business days.

 

Is there anyway to speed up the results?

We can usually collect it within 1 or 2 business.

Once the collection tech arrives on site, it typically takes about 20-30 minutes to collect the sample.

The report takes about 2-3 business days.

The science behind the testing takes a certain amount of time, so unfortunately there is no way to speed it up.

 

Can you send me a copy of the report?

The report is sent to the person who paid for the test and anyone else they authorize.  We cannot send it to anyone else without the authorization of the person who paid for it. This includes lenders, real estate agents, homeowner (if the buyer was the client), etc.

The person who paid for the test can send it to you or can authorize us to send it to you.  If you are the person who paid and its been 3 business days since it was collected, check your email (especially spam) and if you don't see them, please call the office at 828.552.5174 x3.

 

What were the results? Did it pass?

We can only release results to the person who paid for the test and anyone else they authorize

We will answer general questions for anyone or if you have the results, we are happy to answer questions about them.  For example, if we did the test for the buyer:

If the homeowner calls and asks if the test passed or if it had Total Coliform - we cannot answer that.

If the homeowner calls and says the test came back with Total Coliform, what is it, what do we do, etc - we will answer those questions.

If the homeowner calls and says if the test come back with Total Coliform, what do I do  - we will answer that.

 

Total Coliform and E. coli

Total Coliform is a family of bacteria and E. coli is a specific type of Coliform.

They are considered "indicator bacteria".  The EPA says if you have any Total Coliform and/or E. coli ("one or more colony forming units) that the water should be treated.  Therefore, the test we use (which is also used by the NC State Lab of Public Health) is an absent/present test. If it is present, the water should be treated.

Total Coliform and E. coli can get into wells/springs and build up slowly over time. For people whose immune systems work properly, their body will build up a resistance to the bacteria.

But if someone comes in from city water, or if someone has immune system issues, it can make them sick as their immune system does not know how to fight it.

There are many items that can cause a test to be positive: wells that have been sitting unused tend to be positive; weather can affect it (especially lots of rain); issues with the well like a crack in the casing or an open vent hole); and sometimes it just happens.

 

Radon in Water

According to the CDC, "Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless, radioactive gas".  The CDC also says "High levels of dissolved radon are found in the groundwater in some areas flowing through granite"; however, it also says "Showering, washing dishes, and laundering can disturb the water and release radon gas into the air you breathe".  Radon leaves water to enter the air, so most people test the air in the home for radon.

The EPA has not yet approved a collection method (would have to be air tight), testing method (would also have to be air tight to get an accurate result), or a recommended level.  Because of this we do not currently offer a test for radon in water, but we do offer testing for Radon in the air.

 

Testing Springs

A spring is water coming straight up through dirt and is usually surface water.  It is exposed to insects, animals, dirt, weather, runoff, etc.  Springs are almost always going to test positive for bacteria.  Depending on the way the spring is set up it can be chlorinated, but it is more likely to come back than a standard well (and more likely to come back sooner).  The other option is a UV Light (which are typically more expensive to install and must be serviced every year).

If the spring is the water source for the house, there is no difference in the collection procedures described above.

Otherwise the following apply:

  • The spring must be on property you own or are looking to  buy.

  • There must be a collection point where we can easily fill up a water bottle. You can email or text us a photo if you are unsure.

  • The collection point must be safely and easily accessible (ie, not down a bank, or in a thorn thicket, or in poison ivy, etc).

  • The collection point must be near the road/driveway/parking area (no more than a 5-10 min walk - not a hike/climb).

 

Testing Steams, Creeks, Ponds, Lakes, other natural bodies of water

These are open and exposed to insects, animals, dirt, weather, runoff, etc so their water is constantly changing and are almost always going to test postive for bacteria.  Streams and creeks are even more variable since they are constantly flowing.  There is also no way to treat them.

The following apply:

  • There must be a collection point where we can easily fill up a water bottle. You can email or text us a photo if you are unsure.

  • The collection point must be on property you own or are looking to buy.

  • The collection point must be safely and easily accessible (ie, not down a bank, or in a thorn thicket, or in poison ivy, etc).

  • The collection point must be near the road/driveway/parking area (no more than a 5-10 min walk - not a hike/climb).

WNCIL is 

  • a NC Certified Drinking Water Lab

  • a NC Licensed Septic Inspector and Installer

  • a NC Certified Class A Well Contractor

  • an affiliate member of Hendersonville Board Of Realtors