Well Water vs City Water and Water Softener Question

2 Replies

I currently have my first property under contract and it uses well water. I was wondering, what are some of the pros and cons of using well water vs using city water? Are there a lot of costs associated with keeping the water clean? Also, this is a duplex, and I'm curious if anyone has any systems in place for the tenants to take care of the water system. I want this to be as passive as possible and am trying to plan ahead. Same goes for the water softener, do most of you provide the salt or have tenants pay for it  and take care of the upkeep? The water system for both units of the duplex is stored on one side, so one tenant would be responsible for handling water for both sides. Any help would be appreciated.

Hi Chad,
Well water can be hit or miss, depending on your area. It can even be different from neighborhood to neighborhood. I have two units that are on wells. One unit has what I would consider drinkable well water -- you won't die drinking from the hose. The other unit has water that you can chew -- the iron content is off the charts!

On both units, I've installed sediment filters, industrial strength water softeners (not the cheapo ones from Home Depot), and reverse osmosis systems. The sediment filter catches all the big particles and keeps them out if the softener; the softener is vital for protecting your plumbing, fixtures, and water heater; the RO system is important if your tenants plan to drink the water (softened water is not all that tasty).

I just did a new system install on one of my units that cost me $5,000. Not too bad, big still a considerable amount. That being said, I'd recommend servicing the system yourself. This will ensure the system is kept in good shape and it will give you an extra opportunity to eyeball the property to make sure your tenants are taking care of the unit.

Salt is cheap -- say $5/bag, but you may find that some of your tenants will prefer potassium, which runs $20/bag. Sediment filters are $5-ish each. RO filters can get expensive, but they usually only need replacing every 1-3 years depending on the system. It's up to you if you want the tenants to provide the supplies or if you want to pay for them and add it to the rent. I pay for everything and just factor it into the rent.

One more thing to consider: often times people think well water is free. It isn't...not only do you have salt/filter costs, but you have electricity to run the pump, plus some jurisdictions charge an annual well tax. One of my units does not have this tax, the other one does and it runs $350-ish per year. It's worth checking....

Another thing: get a well test done as part of your due diligence to check the workability of the system and to see what's in your water.

Hope this helps. Anymore questions on this, let me know.


Hey Thomas,

Thank you, that was very helpful, I do have a couple of questions about what you said. How do you factor the supplies into the rent? Do you just charge a set amount more, e.g. $10 more added to the rent each month? Also, how do I find out if there is a well tax in my jurisdiction, and is it standard for the sellers to pay for the well test or is that something extra that I need to pay for? I just had the property inspection today, but did not have the well tested. And if you are buying the supplies, are you responsible for changing filters and salt?

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