When you buy a home, you’re also buying into local utility systems. In addition to finding out about electric and gas services, here are the top questions to ask your water utility.
How Many Water Main Breaks Occurred in the Past Year
All water systems experience water main breaks sooner or later. Finding out the frequency of these breaks helps you assess the risk to the home. If water main breaks are a rare occurrence, the system is in good shape.
But if water main breaks happen frequently, the system may be old and in need of major repairs. These disrupt daily living with water shut-offs and excavation.
How the Municipality Ensures Water Quality
Ask the local water utility about the source of the city’s water supply. Does it come from a lake, river, or an underground water source? Gain an understanding of how the city’s water filtration plant makes the water safe for human consumption.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires community water systems to supply an annual water quality report. These reports show the levels of contaminants in the water. Water systems are required to alert users if the water supply is contaminated. Find out if there have been boil orders or other alerts about water quality in the community in the past few years. Ask what happened and how the water system addressed the problem.
Find out how often the water utility tests the water it distributes. Ask about how the utility plans to upgrade filtering and purification systems over the next few years. Find out what homeowners in the area are supposed to do if their water is discolored or smells bad.
What the Normal Water Pressure Is for Homes Connected To the System
High water pressure can damage pipes and appliances. Low water pressure is a nuisance that makes it difficult to take a shower or wash dishes. Find out what the water utility considers normal water pressure, and whether there have been instances when the pressure rose too high or dropped too low throughout the system.
Turn on faucets when you walk through the home you’re thinking of buying. If the water just trickles, the low pressure problem may be in the home’s plumbing. It could be that many in the community are using water simultaneously. However, the system should be able to handle periods of heavy use. Asking questions about water pressure will help you assess whether fixing low water pressure is an issue for the home or the entire system.
The EPA and the Centers for Disease Control have Frequently Asked Questions about water quality on their websites, and supply further questions you should ask your water utility.