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Poor well water pressure

I looked at a horse property for sale today. The sale is “as is”. The water pressure in the house was very poor and there was no water at the barn. The agent said it might just be shut off, but we have no way of checking with the seller before making an offer since it’s an estate sale. If I make an offer with it being contingent on doing an inspection, I will likely lose out to someone who is waiving inspection. Considering the myriad of reasons the pressure might be bad, what is the most expensive reason and roughly how much $$ would we be talking?

I don’t know where you are and won’t presume to speculate BUT I would suggest call a well company and do an inspection. If the pressure is THAT low, I would find out what the costs are for installing a pressure pump (AKA jet pump) AND whether the lines from the well to house and barn could handle the pressure. There’s NO way I’d make an offer on a place without knowing the status of your water. I live on a well and water is everything. I’ve had to replace my jet pump a couple times in 21 years (about $1000-1200 a pop) and had to have all the galvanized pipes replaced after our big TX freeze when they (all insulated) burst. But you just have to have enough pressure to deliver water where it’s needed. In the house it would be miserable and you don’t want to have to stand at a water trough for 10 minutes to fill it at 8-10gpm. You should also ask about having a storage tank if there isn’t one. Mine is 3200 gallons, so the well fills the storage tank, based on a float, and then the storage tank water is pumped to the house, barn and pastures. Definitely get a storage tank if there isn’t one. That way, if power is off and the well won’t pump, you can still get water out of the tank and once filled, your well won’t run as often.


Oh – forgot to say—reasons why the pressure is bad could be anything and have nothing to do with the well. It could just be the water table or aquifer and it is what it is. Andy hey – I will say that if someone else is willing to bypass that assurance either they ARE a well person and can handle whatever is the outcome or they are idiots. Don’t jack with the water setup. Take it from someone in TX where water is increasingly a prized commodity.


Yeah that would be the plan if properties weren’t literally selling in a day. This one will be gone by the end of the weekend. I have to put inspection in my offer, so I’ll just have take my chances. It’s too bad. Properties like this rarely come up in my area. The land alone is worth what they’re asking. The house needs cosmetic work, but the barn is adorable and the land is fantastic. 6 rolling acres already fenced in. It’s always something.


I’ll just reiterate—water is everything. That might be why it’s for sale “as is”. Someone is going to spend $$ on fixing that glaring issue but with an inspection, at least you’ll know what you’d be in for. If everything else is nice, then you know this is a big issue they didn’t want to address. My place was on the market in the fall and will be again next spring because nothing around here is moving. So I get your angst over it! I don’t know your budget or how tight it is, but if you’re able to handle the high end of what it might cost to make it right, then you’re ok.


Oh – how long has it been on the market? That might give you some additional insight.

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Call well companies and find the last one that serviced it. The well company that serviced our, gave us a full history prior to purchase.

Plus ask the average cost to put in a new well…. Just in case.


Great point. Again, I don’t know where you are or the water situation and whether the depth of the well is even related to the pressure, but here where I am, the well companies will not drill existing wells deeper. You have to drill a new one and that is in excess of $50,000. Just a data point, but that’s the cost here.

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Ya, agree with @gradytb, water is EVERYTHING. I’m in CA and when we bought our house, the current well wasn’t even producing the county minimum of 2.5 gpm (which we found out during inspection). We discussed with the seller and we decided she would pay for drilling of the new well instead of giving us a credit. Good thing she did because the water was so salty there was another $50k in a water treatment system that had to be installed. :scream: New well was 8 gpm when it was drilled (end of rainy season), but has waxed and waned throughout the years. It’s good now but there were years where we considered drilling a THIRD well on our 6.5 acres.

Anyway, make sure this is sorted. I agree with calling the well drillers in the area to see if they’ll give you info (they probably will since it sounds like the previous owner has passed). You could also try finding and calling the plumber that has worked on the house.

Lastly, if your area has a minimum gpm for domestic wells, you’ll probably be “off the hook” for the cost of a new well if the issue is the well isn’t producing enough water. I’m not a real estate agent, but that’s how it worked with us - the seller was required to turn over the property in a livable state, which meant with a functioning well.

If the well is not the issue, I don’t think you’d be able to top $100k even if you replaced everything related to the water system, but that would be my CA estimate.

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Depending on where you are, I would offer a suggestion to consider rain water catchment, especially for barn and/or non-potable uses.
I realize I’m not addressing your original question or concerns, but if it’s otherwise your dream property, it would seem a shame to lose out on something that could be managed/augmented by something that (generally) falls free from the sky , and the catchment tanks are a fraction the cost of a well drilled.
Good luck!


having grown up in a rural area where water was valuable my first thought would be Fire Protection with limited water is nearly impossible

If this is that wonderful dream property I think I would surely install a large pool that could also be used as water source for a fire department (if and when they finally get there)


Speaking as a well owner who had to replace the 40+yo tank & pump last Summer, due diligence as to why the pressure is low is really not optional.
FWIW, intermittent low pressure was a symptom I noticed & stupidly ignored long enough to burn out the pump.

I was fortunate that first:
The pump had lasted that long!
& second:
As it happened on a Sunday, I was able to get a Well guy out that same day & he was able to get both replaced the next day. Cost was $2K.
I could have halved that by doing the work myself, but that was not going to happen*
*I’m Old, Summer heat, etc.

I’m in the Midwest, so water isn’t the issue it is in CA & @clanter 's TX , but having water on my farm is 100% required.
If you haven’t lived with a well, toilets can’t be flushed if your pump is down. Minor inconvenience, but water for horses had to be available.

Worst case: well itself is borked and new one needs to be dug. Lots and lots of dollars.

Could just need a new pressure tank though. They wear out. Couple/few hundred bucks.

Or the sediment filter needs replaced. Like twenty bucks?

You really need a well guy out to have a look.


Absolutely a good point. If there isn’t a fire station nearby also, getting insurance in this day and age might be difficult.

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Years ago we had a problem with the well at our house in rural Western NY. They had started building houses up the hill from us and it turned out our well had run dry and we needed to have our well dug deeper. Contrary to what other posters have said our well driller was willing to dig the existing well deeper to try and find better water — all while cheerfully explaining that just because there was water there once didn’t mean that they’d find more water down deeper. Or that just because the water was good once (ie no sulpher) that it would be good down deeper. Happily for us they did find good water down deeper — but we also put in a large storage tank (as other posters have recommended) which helped when the kids were growing up and our demand for water (showers, laundry etc) was high.

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It went on the market yesterday. An offer will be accepted by Monday morning. Already 4 other offers on the property. I’ll likely be outbid no matter what and I absolutely need to have the offer contingent on the well inspection. The house is old and in need of a lot of cosmetic work. I can afford some degree of surprises, but not 30K here / 30K there stuff. The poles for the fencing are still in the pastures, but I will need to add the actual fencing.

Thanks for all the input. While I would hate to miss out such a nice piece of land, but I recognize how important water is. It’s in New England, so we don’t tend to have droughts, but it is out in the sticks so not close access to fire department. There is a small pond on the property, but it’s not close enough to the house or barn to act as a source.

Also I’m New England and our well is just over 1000 feet deep. It would be expensive to redig. Complaints about under producing wells are common on the local FB group, although often because they’re old and shallow and or the pump is old and undersized for the task.

Calling around to see which what local well guys know is a good suggestion. The town will also have info on date it went in & depth.

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Silly question - is the electricity on? It being an estate it makes me think it might not be.

If there is no electricity, the well pump can not work, which means no water.

The flow in the house might simply have been emptying pipes that were above where you turned the water on.

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Yes electric is on. Water was coming out of faucets. More than a trickle, but very poor pressure. My agent thinks our offer will just get tossed anyway if I put a contingency on it, so we’ll probably pass.

That’s too bad. You might have dodged more than a bullet though. Old houses can be complete money pits. And my concern would be if something as vital as the well was performing so poorly, they probably didn’t spend (or have) money to maintain much else. Especially if it was an older person.

My house in the listing was said to be built in 1978. The middle part was actually built around 1852 and a lot of the original rock walls sheet-rocked over! It was added on to in 1938, in 1960-something, and then again in 1978 when an attorney bought it and doubled its size. Also, not in any city limits so no codes. I bought it “as is” in 2003—had it inspected and seemingly the same thing. Not really my taste (bad 1970s vibe) but the inspection revealed NOTHING about what was actually wrong. Loads of water damage up in the 1850s loft area which made ceilings start coming down not long after I’d moved in. The roof leaked like a freaking colander. EVERYWHERE—it’s 5,011 sq ft. Long story short, to extend the roofline (which was pitched) to eliminate the worst leaking source section of flat roof until it joined the next pitched section, eliminate a couple walls and fix the water damage—quotes were $250,000. That was only for that middle section of the house. My dad had just passed away and I had a little money but nowhere near that. I found some much less expensive workmen—one was a pastor who did construction to make up the gaps—and got that fixed, but it also entailed rockwork (the 1850s part is 18" thick walls of limestone); the electrical completely freaked out the electrician when he first saw it. All of the HVAC (4 systems) had to be replaced, new windows because the wood frames had rotted out and if you opened them the glass fell down through the bottom. Mind you—the inspector I PAID FOR saw none of this. And that didn’t even touch the 4 bedrooms and bathrooms! Plumbing issues. Flooding issue…you name it. So 21 years later, there is still one more bedroom/bathroom to fix and I will have spent close to $400,000. The rest of the house is good now, but I just had to replace all the HVAC again after 17 years. Don’t get me started on fences :rofl:. the 4-plank board fences were jagged, splintered and falling off the posts. I took almost all of the down and replaced the main internal pastures with V-mesh but have a 3-4 acre paddock with just posts. And they’re gonna stay that way!