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Old 11-11-2009, 09:33 AM   #1
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Water test came back, "contaminated!"

Greetings, this is my first post, I'm hoping someone can give me advice on a residential water test result. Thanks in advance!

Home is part of my father's estate and is on the market for sale. I just received a decent offer and is in attorney review, etc., etc..

Realtor had a water sample sent to lab, it came back as 'contaminated'!

High levels of nitrates/nitrites(?) and iron.

Being I live on west coast and home is on east coast, this is being handled with phonecalls and email, which makes things somewhat difficult.

My question; the house has been vacant for approximately 2 years, and only occupied occasionaly the prior 2 years. Would the lack of use of the water system, it's a well with a 100 gallon reserve tank, cause the levels to be higher than normal?

As mentioned, I was not there when sample was taken, and I don't know if it was taken immediately after opening the tap or if it was left to run awhile.

Would this make a difference?

At this point realtor suggests that a 'water softening system' be installed and then another $300.00 water test.

Does this sound legit?

Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated



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Old 11-11-2009, 09:45 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by LindseyM View Post

At this point realtor suggests that a 'water softening system' be installed and then another $300.00 water test.

Does this sound legit?
Sounds like your realtor doesn't have a good understanding of water chemistry. My guess (and it is a guess) is that high nitrate levels are indicative of fertilizers from above infiltrating your aquifer. They also could be from other sources, including bed rock.

Start by contacting the Department of Ecology, or the equivalent, where the home in question is located.

You need a pro, not some idiot realtor spouting crap about something they don't know


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Old 11-11-2009, 10:03 AM   #3
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Thanks for the reply 'Anti-wingnut'.

House is in Northern NJ and supposedly there is a lot of bed rock in the area.

Fertilizer is an interesting thought.

Realtor was only assuming a softener install would correct the issue. She/We are contacting local plumber's for advice and job qoutes.

Any ballpark figure on what this should cost? Which brand unit? Size?

Details: 3/4 bedroom, 1-1/2 baths. There's a boiler room with plumbing exposed and easily accessible.

Thanks again.

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Old 11-11-2009, 10:45 AM   #4
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Old 11-11-2009, 01:33 PM   #5
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You should probably have the realtor (or someone) drain the tank and flush it a few times before taking a sample. There are a lot of things that could take place in a closed, basically stagnant tank of water that has been setting for a length of time. High nitrate levels can be a problem for nursing mothers and young children. And like was mentioned, they can originate from a few different sources. Also get the documentation that shows the amount of contamination and compare it to permissible levels. Dissolved iron could be coming from water sitting in the tank or the well casing for an extended period. If you can get a water sample from any neighbors, that may be a clue if any of these conditions are common in the aquifers serving the area.
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Old 11-11-2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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The issue that catches my attention is the statement: "At this point realtor suggests that a 'water softening system' be installed and then another $300.00 water test." In my ten years of working with Industrial Water Treatment and being State Licensed for Water Treatment, I have never seen nor heard of a "water softener" that would clean up "contaminated" water. That said, do you have a copy of the water testing results? At this point it sounds as if you are taking the realtors word for this problem. I do realize you are many miles away, and it is difficult to handle your problem that way. High Nitrate, and/or Nitrite levels could indeed be from environment (soil, rock) leachage, the iron cold be from the well piping and/or tank. "maintenance 6" hit it correctly-don't trust just the realtors statements at this point. Have your own testing done by a reputable lab, maybe even a county lab, and get the paperwork in your hands as to what the problem actually is. Even having neighbors well's tested for comparison is a good idea. As this system has been used seldom in the last few years, a good flushing is in order, the another test. Good Luck, David
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:17 PM   #7
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Thanks for the information everyone.

I don't have the test results in hand yet, will be emailed today/tomorrow. I will post it when received.

With doing a bit of internet research, seems NJ has adopted a 'water certification' program which requires private well water must meet min. standards prior to selling property.
Also, all testing (field personnel & labs) must be certified by the state.

That said, shouldn't the field person have cleared the well casing, storage tank of stagnant water before taking sample? Or at least informed us of this prior to taking sample? At $300.00 a pop, you'd think they would!

If a water softener won't correct the issue, what needs to be done, a 'whole house' filter?

Thanks again all!

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Old 11-12-2009, 06:35 PM   #8
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I strongly suggest you get a hold of a well and pump company.

In my area well testing for purity is done at the well head-NOT INSIDE THE HOUSE-

The tester here has no idea what kind of fancy filtering system is in the house because his job is to test the WELL -not the house.

Call the health department and see how the test is performed--Then call a well guy.--MIKE--
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Old 11-13-2009, 12:38 PM   #9
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What town in NNJ? I'm in the same area (Budd Lake, to be exact) and have a slight problem w/ iron that gets taken care of by a water softener using the salt w/ iron removing additive.

Nitrates are another matter that I have not had to deal with.
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Old 11-13-2009, 07:55 PM   #10
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You really need to get a copy of those results.

I quickly found this with a Google search:

I agree with the other replies that suggest a Realtor is not the best expert on water quality. If your father's well has a problem, then probably half the wells in the county have the same issues, and the solutions have all been thought out.

If you were told that your water was simply "contaminated", that just does not smell right to me. Your thread caught my attention because just last week, somebody left at my door literature and a test tube that I could send in for a "free" water quality test. I will bet that I too have "contaminated" water. But I bet they are willing to sell me what I need to un-contaminate it.
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Old 11-17-2009, 11:57 AM   #11
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-UPDATE- "Water test came back, "contaminated!""

Good morning all!

I received the well water test results (attached) and would appreciate any opinions or input on the three (3) items that failed;

1) Manganese: test-.17mg/l limit-.o5mg/l
2) PH: test-5.25 low/high limit-6.5 - 8.5
3) Nitrates: test-13.500ug/l limit-10,000ug/l

I then called the person who took the samples (seems to be owner) and asked how test was performed, he said the following;

1) Samples were taken from the bathroom sink.
2) Tap was run for a few minutes and toilet flushed.
3) This was standard testing procedure.

I asked if he was aware that house has been vacant for nearly two years (water stagnant) and that there is a 100 gallon storage tank after well head. His response; "It wouldn't make a difference in results",
and that he had looked for "pressure tank" but couldn't locate. Hmmmm?

Sound right?

I'm still looking into this and calling local well/water companies, but wanted to get your opinions also.

Thanks for any much needed help.

Attached Thumbnails
Water test came back, "contaminated!"-image002.jpg  
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Old 11-17-2009, 12:18 PM   #12
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Very interesting. I would continue to try to talk to a water chemist, hydo-geologist, or hydrologist. While some well drillers are skookum savvy about water, some really only know about drilling holes. I would think that your county, city, or even your local community college would have someone on staff that understands your local bedrock and aquifers. They would probably immediately understand if your problem is one of the aquifer being infiltrated by surface waters, by corrosive action acting upon your piping system, or by dissolving bedrock.
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Old 11-17-2009, 08:00 PM   #13
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Lindsey: I am next door to CGOLL in Netcong :}:} First thing I would do is call PARKHURST 973-584-6000 They are our largest well parts distributor,
Talk to them, if there is an answer they have it. If you want PM me and I will give you the name of a good contractor I use.
When you call Parkurst tell them Jack , J&M Contracting told u to call.


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