Buying a Home with a Private Well and Septic System

Amy Galford, a water resources educator with Penn State Extension in Cumberland County, discusses specific issues associated with inspections of water wells and septic systems when buying or selling rural homes and farms.

Homes in rural and suburban areas often rely on private wells for the household water supply and on-lot septic systems for wastewater management. A buyer may not notice problems with these essential systems when purchasing a home, or problems with them can derail a mortgage and closing. This presentation will cover some basics about how these systems work, inspection and testing options, and examples from Pennsylvania.

Time Log for Recorded Webinar (link near bottom of page)

  • 00:00 - Introduction
  • 6:04 - Researching land use and home inspections
  • 18:55 - Public water and sewer
  • 21:04 - Private water supply, testing, and treatment
  • 39:30 - On-site wastewater treatment
  • 45:02 - Financial assistance
  • 47:34 - Q&A

Websites, maps, and databases mentioned in the presentation

USGS Maps and Photos


FEMA Flood Map Service Center

DCNR Sinkhole Map

PennPilot Aerial Photos including historic

PA DEP Radon

US EPA Radon

Penn State Extension publication on New Well Construction

PA DCNR - PA Geological Survey - Well Contractors

NGWA contractor directory and contract guidance

PA DCNR GWIS Groundwater Information System (PA GWIS)

Penn State Extension article by Diane Oleson about Well Logs and PA GWIS

Penn State Extension recommendations on water testing and link to PA DEP accredited labs

Penn State Ag Analytical Servies Lab - Drinking Water Testing

Penn State Extension webinar on Lead (Bryan Swistock, Feb 10) and links about lead and corrosive water

Penn State Extension and Ag and Biological Engineering - septic systems including real estate transactions

PA DEP alternate on-site wastewater systems listing

PA Septage Management Association (PSMA)

PA Assoc. of Sewage Enforcement Officers (PASEO)

PHFA/PENNVEST Homeowner Septic Program

PHFA Renovate and Repair

USDA Rural Development - Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants