Whether it is Coliform bacteria testing of well water, mold testing after water damage, or asbestos and Lead testing prior to renovation, for nearly 20 years, home and commercial property owners have turned to Access Analytical to pinpoint the source of their environmental problems. Access Analytical's certified, experienced analysts have been helping property owners keep their homes and families safe and sound since 1997.
Access Analytical is state certified by SCDHEC for the analysis of Coliform bacteria in drinking water....be sure that any lab you choose is certified in order to ensure data quality.
Because Access Analytical's business is limited to only laboratory testing you can be confident our assessment will be accurate and unbiased, we are not affiliated with any other outside companies. If we do find a problem, we simply report the results and explain what they mean in simple terms…we do not try to sell you other services that you may, or may not, need.
Routine drinking water testing ensures our clients of sound water quality and also satisfies lender requirements for property purchases or refinancing (USDA, VA, FHA type loans). Typical tests performed on well / drinking waters samples are:
A: There are several parts to this answer: I.) Most importantly, although DHEC certainly can test well water is not supposed to accept samples for real estate transactions and/or loan closing purposes (although they do so unknowingly in some cases). In fact, this is clearly stated on the paperwork that is returned to whomever they run a sample for. Please see the attached example form from DHEC here:
You will see that it states the report is not to be used for these purposes. Most lenders will not accept this report from DHEC once they see this. II.) DHEC typically takes four to eight weeks to return these reports to the customer. In most cases clients need their results much sooner than this. Although Access Analytical charges a higher fee for this work we have the ability to provide next day results for bacteria samples. If Nitrate, Nitrite and Lead are required we typically turn these samples around in several working days and can email the reports out to clients.
A: When bacteria samples are found to be positive for Coliform and/or E.Coli bacteria it means that one or more colony forming units (CFU's or Cells) of these bacteria were detected in the sample submitted. Coliform group bacteria are found naturally in the environment and the intestinal tracts of warm blooded animals. Even though these bacteria are naturally occurring they should NOT be present in a properly constructed well that has a good sanitary seal intact at the well head. Their presence in the water indicates that other pathogens may also be present and it is not recommended that this water be consumed until the problem is corrected.
Q: What are the most common causes for private wells to be contaminated with Coliform bacteria?
A: There can be many things that cause well contamination but one of several issues are usually the culprit:
I. Degraded sanitary seals at the well head. Most fairly modern wells are constructed of a PVC or steel casing that extends approx a foot above grade. The well is closed off with a metal or heavy gauge plastic cap that has a rubber gasket (the sanitary seal) with inlets for wires and the water distribution pipe. Over time this rubber seal can degrade and not provide a water tight barrier. Any cracks that form around this seal can allow debris and insects to enter the well. This can cause water contamination.
II. Cracked well casings. Cracks in well casings are most commonly seen at ground level. These cracks come from the well casing being hit by something (lawmowers, cars, etc.). Less commonly, the casing can crack below the ground level, this requires examination by a well drilling contractor to detect. Once a crack forms in the casing this allows foreign material to enter the well water and cause contamination to occur.
III. Older wells that draw from groundwater. Many older wells were not drilled to a sufficient depth to reach the drinking water aquifer and draw water from the shallower ground water supply. These wells are often subject to contamination from nearby septic systems, runoff waters, etc.. The only true solution for this situation is to drill a deeper well into a drinking water aquifer. This situation is usually limited to older wells, new drinking water wells are not normally constructed this way.
Q: What do I need to do to fix the problem if my well is found to be contaminated with Coliform Bacteria?
A: If your well is tested and found to have Coliform bacteria present there are some steps you can take to correct the problem. You should follow these guidelines:
I. The first thing you should do is inspect the well and look for any obvious problems which would allow foreign material to get inside the well (cracked casing, loose or missing sanitary seals, etc.). If any problems are found you should first make all repairs needed to correct the issue.
II. Once any problems are corrected (or if nothing was found upon inspection) then the well should be sanitized. There is a fairly simple procedure prepared by SCDHEC for this purpose. This procedure involves adding chlorine to the well in the form of liquid bleach, circulating this water inside of the well and throughout all associated piping. Click here for a copy of the procedure. NOTE: The procedure outlined by DHEC says to use one gallon of bleach, for deeper wells you should use several gallons to ensure that a sufficient amount of chlorine is introduced into the system for proper sanitizing to occur.
III. Once the well has been chlorinated a second bacteria sample is collected after all bleach has been flushed back out. The majority of the time this procedure corrects the problem and samples test Coliform bacteria free. However, if samples are still found to be Coliform bacteria positive at this point it is recommended that a well driller be contacted to diagnose the problem as some source of external contamination is most likely occurring.
Useful documents regarding drinking and/or well water sampling and analysis are located below:
Total Coliform Sample Collection (27 KB)
Well Disinfection Instructions (1105 KB)
Please contact Access Analytical if you need site specific analysis and/or pricing. You may reach us via telephone at 803-781-4243 or email us. We look forward to hearing from you and will be glad to assist in any way possible.