How Licensed Home Inspectors Ensure Water Quality: What You Need to Know

Home inspectors are used to checking the details most homeowners would never think to look for, from sagging ceilings to cracked drywall. Water testing is another service that can boost a home inspection business by addressing concerns many buyers and sellers don’t have.

Licensed home inspectors can offer this specialized service by collecting samples and sending them to labs for analysis. Here’s how they do it:

Water Testing Equipment

Many factors can compromise water quality. Having low-quality drinking water can have unpleasant and even harmful long-term effects on health. Those living in a home with a private well should have their water inspected by an inspector. The inspector will collect samples in properly sanitized containers and send them to the lab for screening. Water testing equipment can include benchtops and handheld instruments, such as oxidation-reduction potential (ORP), dissolved oxygen and salt, ion meters, and electrochemical testers. There are also specialized tests for radon, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium.

There are several types of water test kits on the market, ranging from genuine DIY kits that ask you to dip paper strips into your tap water and compare the results against a standardized color chart to more-expensive send-away kits that take a sample of your drinking water and then analyze it in a laboratory. Consumer Reports examined one such kit that claimed to detect lead and arsenic, chlorine, fluoride, coliform bacteria, nitrates, and nitrites. It delivered measurements for only six contaminants, however.

Sample Collection

Licensed home inspectors have several professional responsibilities, including thoroughly inspecting a residential property. They inspect buildings’ condition and components, conduct a site review, and report on their findings.

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Home inspectors need access to crawl spaces, roofs, attics, and electrical boxes. They must also be able to move around furniture and pets and enter homes with out-of-the-way spaces like sheds and garages.

A home inspector will test for many issues affecting water quality, including bacteria levels, lead content, chlorine, and nitrates. They will use a kit containing test strips that, when exposed to the water, change color and are matched against a colored chart. In addition, the inspector will inspect for functional GFCIs (which can protect against electrocution and electrical burns) in bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas. They will also inspect the electrical system, including outlets and switches. They will look for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms and ensure all appliances are in good working order.

Lab Testing

Many home buyers seek a property that draws water from the municipal supply. That means a home inspector can ensure the city’s protective standards are in place and that the water is safe to drink. However, many homes in rural settings use wells for their primary water supply. That leaves the homeowners in charge of maintenance and testing.

A home inspector can identify signs of contamination like chemical etching, water discoloration, and chemical odors. In addition, he will be able to test the soil for any chemicals or organic pollutants that may have leached from nearby industrial and manufacturing facilities.

Much like the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit victims, licensed home inspectors protect homeowners from potential health risks linked to contaminated water. These inspectors employ various water testing equipment, including benchtops and handheld instruments, to analyze samples for contaminants such as bacteria, lead, chlorine, and nitrates. With a focus on sample collection and lab testing, inspectors can identify signs of contamination, ensuring the safety of water sources, particularly in rural settings where well water is prevalent. By integrating water testing into their services, inspectors add value and empower homeowners to make informed decisions about their water quality.

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Home inspection companies that offer water testing can provide this service during a standard home inspection for little or no extra cost. It’s an excellent way for inspectors to add value to their services. If you’re looking for a reliable home inspector, find one with several years of experience and professional certifications from a reputable organization.

Report Writing

Home inspections can help buyers understand the quality of their home’s water, and inspectors often recommend that homeowners get water testing for contaminants. Home inspectors should also be aware of the local water supply and infrastructure, as they may have information to share about areas that could threaten the water system’s safety or quality, such as septic tanks, landfills, or industrial facilities near the home.

A good inspector should also be an excellent communicator and write clear reports that are helpful for their customers. They should refrain from using technical terms or jargon and prioritize points to make it easy for readers to find the necessary information quickly.

If you’re looking for a reputable home inspector, ask friends whether they can recommend someone. Then, check the website of your local home inspector association or consumer advocacy group for a list of certified members. If there are no member listings, search for a licensed inspector on online directories such as Nextdoor or Patch and look for reviews on the inspector’s website or elsewhere.