Water Sampling

Water Sampling

Just about any mineral or impurity can be tested for in the water. However the most common sample group is called the Potability Water Sample, also sometimes referred to as “Chemical and Bacteria Testing.” Should there be a problem, water conditioning units are available for any impurity found in the water. Most lenders require the potability water sample, which is $125 with a septic inspection (turnaround time: 4 days*). It tests for:

  • Bacteria
  • Nitrates + Nitrites
  • pH
  • Turbidity

Unconventional loans, such as FHA/VA loans, require additional testing. The FHA/VA Water Sample is $205 with a septic inspection (turnaround time: 7 days*) and tests for the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Nitrates + Nitrites
  • pH
  • Lead
  • Iron
  • Turbidity

As stated above many impurities can be sampled and tested. Some other often utilized tests are:

  • MTBE’s and VOC’s- tests for petroleum products in the water.
  • Arsenic
  • Iron
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Radium
  • Radon in the Water

Bacteria is a common failure in wells, and infiltrates through a number of ways. Many well caps are old, and do not thoroughly keep out bacteria-creating organisms. Ideally, a well should have a two-piece cap. If a bacteria sample comes up positive, and you have a one-piece cap, it should be replaced with a two-piece cap. In addition, the conduit protecting the electrical wire should also be tightly sealed to the wellhead. More importantly, most counties require that a wellhead extend 8”-18” above ground level. This helps keep bugs, moisture and other debris from entering the well.

Salt Intrusion (Chlorides) and Radon in the Water Package — Salt Water Intrusion is commonly found at properties near tidal water and roadways that are treated with road salt in the winter. The highest risk areas for Radon in the Water are Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Howard, Montgomery, Harford and Baltimore.  Fee: $175 Refer to Radon Zones Map. (5 business days) Radon Map of Maryland

Salt Intrusion (Chlorides) Radon in the Water


Road salt applied during winter months, tidal water, underground salt deposits Radon gas can dissolve and accumulate in water from underground sources like wells.
Risks Kidney and liver failure, dehydration Lung and stomach cancer
Remediation Drill a New Well or Whole Home Reverse Osmosis System $7-10K Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) Filters, Aeration devices or Water Agitator $6-7K
Who Should Test? Near tidal water or roadways that are treated with salt. Refer to Radon Zones in MD Map
Turnaround time for results 5-7   business days 5 business days

Lead** — Found more commonly in homes with copper plumbing, it is also sometimes required by
VA/FHA underwriters. In some cases, the copper plumbing has been tied together with lead solder. Lead can also come from plumbing hardware. Please follow instructions below. Fee: $50; Turnaround time: 3-5 days*

(** Lead Instructions: If the house is vacant, we suggest running the cold water from the kitchen faucet for one hour the day before the sampling. If the home is occupied, this is not necessary. However, the home owners should put a towel over their kitchen sink the evening prior to sampling and should not run any water from the kitchen sink until the sampling is taken. We must be the first to run water from the kitchen sink the day of our sampling.)

Iron — Recommended in most of Maryland and sometimes required by VA/FHA underwriters. Fee: $40; Turnaround time: 2-3 days*

Gross Alpha — The Gross Alpha test is commonly used to indicate the presence of Radium in water.  The test picks up alpha emissions from Radium and other radionuclides such a Uranium. Maps for known Radionuclide areas of Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard Counties are available.  Fee: $195; Turnaround time: 6 business days*

Radium 226/228 — Recommended if Gross Alpha results are 5-15 pCi/l.  Fee: $275; Turnaround time: 14 business days*

Arsenic — For wells located in Calvert and St. Mary’s Counties, the Eastern Shore and the Anne Arundel County towns of Mayo, Edgewater, Arnold and Annapolis. Fee: $65; Turnaround time: 3-5 days*

Cadmium — Found in the Coastal Plains, Eastern Shore Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Price George’s and St. Mary’s Counties. Fee: $105; Turnaround time: 4-business days* For more information on cadmium, go to : http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants/basicinformation/cadmium.cfm

Salt Intrusion (Chlorides) — Recommended if you live within one block of the water or if you have a well located within 50’ of a major roadway (a result of road salt applied in the winter months). Fee: $85; Turnaround time: 1-2 weeks*  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szBoKVVJLBk

MTBE’s or VOC’s — Tests for petroleum products in areas of known leaks and in neighborhoods with underground residential oil tanks. VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) is a test that covers the entire spectrum above and beyond MTBE’s, which is mainly used for finding gasoline. Fee: $225/$275; Turnaround time: 1 week*

Radon in the water — The EPA does not have a pass/fail level for radon in water. Fee: $145; Turnaround time: 1 week*  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3VsfDoAJpU

Hardness — Hardness presents issues with the “feel” of the water versus a major health risk, therefore there is no pass/fail level set by the EPA. Fee: $60; Turnaround time: 3 business days*

Total Dissolved Solids — Fee: $50; Turnaround time: 1 week*

Total Fluoride Sample — Fee: $50; Turnaround time: about 7-10 business days*

Pesticides — Fee:$400 From lawn applications; Turnaround time: 7 business days*

Copper— Fee: $60; Recommend testing for lead too.  Corrosion of household plumbing systems; erosion of natural deposits. Turnaround time: 1 week*

Nitrates/Nitrites— Fee: $70; Run-off from fertilizer use; leaking from septic tanks, sewage; erosion of natural deposits. Turnaround time: 3-4 business days*

Turbidity— Fee: $35; Typically from soil run-off. Turnaround time: 3-4 business days*



Anne Arundel County Radium Map


Baltimore County Radium Map


Howard County Radium Map


*(Turn-around times; approximated)