City Water, Wells & Cisterns Compared

As if the act of buying a home isn’t stressful enough – add in the inspections and unexpected structural questions that must be addressed. By the time you get in so deep with the house of your dreams – its water quality may be the least of your concerns. But should it? Depending on the type of home you plan to purchase, within the city or further into the country, the water running into your home and thru its pipes can have major long-term effects.

The water running thru your new home affects the structure of pipes, the life of your appliances and the health of your family. It can affect the value of your home and the future investments needed. This should not be overlooked.

Are you considering a home in the city? Maybe you like wide-open spaces of a farm. Or possibly you plan to jump off the grid. Be sure to research and test the water sources in that home before completing your purchase. Here’s an overview of common home water sources to get you started:

City Water

There’s a belief that homes with city water are a better investment and more valuable compared to those with wells and cisterns. This may or may not always be the case. Either way, homes with city water have their concerns and benefits. The ease of life with city water is a major factor, but does the lack of control increase the risk?

Some City Water Pros & Cons to Consider.

  • PRO: Quality and quantity is the responsibility of the city.
  • PRO: Ease of access is a win-win.
  • PRO: You don’t have to worry about regular testing.
  • CON: It’s considered less fresh than natural sources.
  • CON: City water can cost more in utilities.
  • CON: Water can become contaminated on a mass scale.
  • CON: You have to monitor public water quality reports.

Well Water

Many folks love the idea of living with some land and natural resources. These could be farms or older homes and homesteads. Thirteen percent of Americans, an estimated 42 million people, have homes where wells are the main source for their water supply. These individuals and families are drinking, bathing and cleaning with water from an underground aquifer. The source is wonderfully natural, but the surrounding properties, and possibilities of contamination need to be discussed.

A Few Well Water Pros & Cons to Ponder.

  • PRO: There is virtually no water bill.
  • PRO: Wells are a natural and fresh water source.
  • PRO: They provide water high in nutrients and minerals.
  • PRO: Wells are usually protected during natural disasters.
  • CON: They are dependent on electricity.
  • CON: You are responsible for water quality and quantity.
  • CON: Can easily become contaminated by surroundings.
  • CON: You must test regularly.

Cistern Water

Also known as ‘rain harvesters’ – cisterns are a must have for you off-the-gridders. They have become a popular option for so many reasons. Whether this has been your forever home goal, times have made you an extreme naturalist, or you’ve been watching too much History Channel, many people have chosen homes with cisterns. They really have become a popular choice with many untapped benefits. But, as always, this alternative source of water has its drawbacks.

Pros & Cons of Water Catching Cisterns.

  • PRO: You can enjoy independence from public water supplies.
  • PRO: The monthly cost is so minimal. There’s no utility bill.
  • PRO: Cisterns help avoid polluted ground water.
  • PRO: Water tends to be softer, without the iron and sulfur problems of wells.
  • PRO: You have the ability to access your water supply if the power goes out.
  • PRO / CON: Cisterns have size options / limits – compare this to your family size.
  • CON: You have complete responsibility.
  • CON: Cisterns are subject to air pollution and debris accumulation.
  • CON: You must test water regularly.
  • CON: Concealed toilet cisterns are a whole different ball game!

Importance of Testing & Knowledge Before Buying

Understanding the quality and responsibilities of your water supply are just as important as the general structure of your new home. We’ve only covered a few of the pros and cons for each water source. It is now important that you – do the research on the local community’s water supply and regulations, know the health of the well and the land surrounding it, or know the size of your cistern and how it was built. Also, have the water tested before you buy.  This knowledge may be cause for possible mitigating costs when negotiating. It may also save you so much more down the road.

What If There Are Problems? How Do You Maintain?

With testing before signing, you will be prepared for the maintenance and obligations needed with your new home’s water source. That is reason alone for having water tests completed with inspections. Major water problems and concerns should be known and solved or addressed before closing.

Contact Gordon Bros Water. We understand there is no one-size-fits all solution for your new home’s water concerns and maintenance. We are here to help you understand the unique needs and customize a solution for the type of water source you have. Give us a call at 800-331-7611 or visit to setup a FREE in-home water test completed during your inspection. Once we get to know your water supply, we can review various treatment options and provide affordable estimates. Have you already purchased your new home? That’s okay too. We’re here to help. Give us a call today.

Read our recent blog discussing custom treatment options including filters, reverse osmosis technology, softeners and whole home solutions for city, well and cistern water supplies –

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