How to Disinfect a Well with Bleach


The difference between A Public & Private Water System is that Public water systems are regulated and tested continually. Private Wells are not regulated and left up to the owner to be tested.  One way to ensure the reliability of your Well, is to test and disinfect your Well with bleach every few years. This is a simple uncomplicated solution on How to Disinfect a Well with Bleach?

  • Turn off H2O Heater, bypass H2O Softener
  • Flush system
  • Use 1 gal. 6% Unscented Bleach for 500 ft. of Well
  • Pour Bleach down Well Cap & run hose at the bottom
  • Open faucets till you smell bleach & once you do pull the hose
  • Turn off-Let sit 24 hrs.
  • Flush system till bleach smell dissipates
  • Re-test in 1 week

You should make sure that any testing you do for drinking water is done by a a State Certified Lab that are easy to find and are normally recommended by the Health Department in your County. You also should be aware of any construction that may affect groundwater or neighbors getting their Private Wells cleaned. Its good to be a little nosey when the health of your family is at stake.

Shock Your Well With Bleach

Shocking you’re Well and monitoring what the quality of your well water is putting you in charge of your Private Well, which no one will do for you unless you take action. Owners need to be aware of the harmful contaminants that can enter you well and drinking water. Private well systems can be contaminated by naturally occurring or man-made activities.

When you purchase a house its important that you know the territory surrounding your new home especially if your home depends on drinking water from a Well system. If your home is in a rural area your Well may be contaminated by farms, crop fields or septic systems that are nearby.

Shallow Wells that are perfectly fine and work for years can fail after only a few years supplying a home. At the very least when buying a rural home with an existing Well, find out about the quality of the water to see if it is contaminated or linked to other Wells in the vicinity that may or may not have some type of trouble. Have it tested by a Certified Laboratory recommended by the County or State.

 

 Three Types of Wells Construction

  • Dug Wells-Were hand shoveled until the digger hit the water table- The Shallow well was lined with brick or stone
  • Driven Wells– are constructed by driving the small-diameter pipe into Shallow water-bearing sand or gravel. Drilled Wells
  • Drilled Wells are constructed by either percussion or rotary-drilling machines. Drilled wells that penetrate unconsolidated material require an installation of casing and a screen to prevent an inflow of sediment and collapse. They can be drilled more than 1,000 feet deep. To prevent contamination by water draining from the surface downward around the outside of the casing, the space around the casing must be a seal.

 Groundwater Contamination 

What is groundwater?  

Groundwater is water that flows or seeps downward and saturates soil or rock, supplying springs and wells. Groundwater often begins as precipitation and soaks into the ground where it is stored underground in rock crevices and in the pores of geologic materials (these are aquifers), the same way as water fills a sponge. The upper surface of the saturated zone is called the water table.

How Important Is Groundwater?

Groundwater, which is in aquifers below the surface of the Earth, is one of the Nation’s most important natural resources. Groundwater is the source of about 37 percent of the water that county and city water departments supply to households and businesses (public supply)

 It provides drinking water for more than 90 percent of the rural population who do not get their water delivered to them from a county/city water department or private water company.

Even some major cities, such as San Antonio, Texas, rely solely on groundwater for all their needs. About 42 percent of the water used for irrigation comes from groundwater. Withdrawals of groundwater are expected to rise as the population increases and available sites for surface reservoirs become more limited.

An adequate supply of water in a Well no matter how shallow or deep is 5-6gallons per minute that would depend on the permeability of the rock at the surface of the well. The most common dry well problems have been with Dug Wells. Most Dug Wells are shallow and excavated in poorly permeable material; consequently, they are readily affected by drought or by seasonal declines in the water table and are easily contaminate the Groundwater. A standard 6-inch diameter drilled well can store 1.5 gallons of water per foot. If you know the depth of the well, the level of the water and pump depth, you can figure out the water storage capacity. Most people don’t know all of this information, but it can be figured out by consulting with a water system professional.

 

Groundwater Pollution Sources

 

Some common Ground-water quality concerns are excessive hardness (high magnesium and calcium content), a high concentration of salt or iron, or the presence of hydrogen sulfide (sulfur), methane gas, petroleum or organic compounds, or bacteria.

Some are naturally occurring; others are introduced by human activities. In many areas, the homeowner has little recourse other than to use a chemical treatment to remove or reduce the level of these constituents or to abandon the water supply. Hardness, iron, and sulfur are common constituents that can be treated.

Groundwater can be contaminated in numerous ways in a private well system like from a fuel oil spill.

Fuel oil tanks are located close to the home dug a few feet into the ground and within access to well systems and groundwater that charge the Well system.

Methane gas is a problem that is hardly talked about methane gas that can be carried by groundwater into the good system. if the well is old and not vented properly there always a risk of explosion.

The most common problems in rural Well systems are:

Bacterial Contamination from septic tank effluent. The EPA has made references to findings that the biggest problems in private wells today are bacterial contamination from septic tanks. The second most common problem in rural areas contamination from farm runoff.

For 100 years farmers were careful to place systems upslope of barnyards. This was done for the practical reason to ensure that runoff from the barns didn’t reach the well. This practice has disappeared over the years and brought this concern to the forefront.

Pesticides and Fertilizers from rural areas where large farms were subdivided into smaller units and sold on land that was cropland for years. Heavy applications of fertilizers and pesticides were involved in the grounds where the wells for the smaller houses would be constructed.

Septic Systems effluents run like rain or snowmelt with groundwater and move down the gradient towards the water table according to the slope of the land. Depending on where the Well is on the slope could be the difference of contamination or not.

Old septic systems were used by farmers back in the day or more than what was supposed to go in there. When these big parcels of farmland were subdivided into rural areas, effluents from septic systems like these contaminate neighboring wells toxic chemicals along with bacterial contamination.

A person that buys a property with a Private Well system on it should evaluate the age and history of the property along with septic systems and Well systems. They must evaluate the surrounding areas of abandoned Wells, industry or agricultural developments that existed in the past especially when dealing with Shallow Well Systems.

Most rural water problems are related to old outdated dug wells, septic systems, and cluttered housing developments. Drilled or deep Wells are generally less susceptible to sewage or surface-contamination sources than shallow Wells are. Water from bedrock Wells is more likely to contain gas or minerals than is water from shallow deposits.  Listen to Well drillers who will be aware of common local problems and generally locate wells properly.

They are in the business. Although potential water problems for the rural homeowner can sometimes be expensive, pose a health hazard, or possibly affect real estate values, these problems can be avoided by the observant, informed buyer or owner.

If you are looking for rural property always check the location of the septic tank and then the Well. Check for the slope between the two. The slope or gradient should run from the well to the septic tank. Not the other way around. Check your existing well and septic tank for this general rule of thumb.

Before purchasing a home in a rural area, the buyer should determine the amount and quality of water and should locate the waste-disposal system. A Well Log or Well certification and a water analysis may be as important as a deed.

As groundwater receives increasing attention nationwide, particularly because of toxic-chemical contamination, a written legal document verifying an adequate water supply from new or old wells is becoming important. Some mortgage lenders require a negative bacterial analysis of the water and a yield test of the well to verify an adequate supply.

As mentioned earlier, a single analysis for bacteria may not reflect true conditions, but it is worthwhile to have it done nevertheless.  A Private Well record (driller’s log) describes the good characteristics, including yield and the type of material that the driller encountered. The Well log is not always available from the owner, and sometimes the driller who installed the Well cannot be located. If water quantity becomes insufficient, a record of a yield test is helpful in determining what happened.

Most dug Wells, of course, have no description other than depth. In any case, it is wise to obtain information on Well depth, water level, type of pump, pump-intake setting, and yield before buying a house. This information in the Well  Log is important for the chlorination Procedure because it will give the actual dimension of the Well.

If you have one you should always hold onto it with your mortgage papers and other specs for the property. Still, Even great running Wells need to be tested ( every year) and Disinfected (every 3-5 years) Why not DIY and save money over the years you are drinking from it and keeping track of it maintenance which will be valuable information when you decide to sell your property down the line.

 

 Symptoms of a Well Problem

Inadequate water yields due to well pump or intake pump encrusted along with lower water levels can be resolved by installing a larger and deeper Well have it cleaned or deepen by a Well Driller.

A wet basement that is due to the seasonally high water table or drainage from a roof or slope can be managed with the use of a sump pump or rain gutters added to the roof and or re-sloping the property.

Gas in Water caused by Methane in the Bedrock can be resolved by installing a vent on the wellhead and aerating the water and installing water treatment, Drilling a new well farther from the house and contacting Geological survey.

Salty Water- Cause by salt on roads or salt stockpile that can be resolved by adding new Well upslope or provide better road drainage.

Bacteria contamination caused by effluent from septic tanks can be resolved, first chlorinate then call health Depart and install new well upslope and install new leach field farther away.

Sinkhole development from rock solution contact the State Geological Survey and relocate the home on the property.

Organic Chemical Contaminants from former land use needs to be resolved by contacting the Health Department and deepening the well possibly digging a new one farther away.

Gasoline Contamination from a nearby Service Station needs to resolve by contacting the Health Department and obtaining a new source of water.

Although potential water problems for the rural homeowner can sometimes be expensive, pose a health hazard, or possibly affect real estate values, these problems can be avoided by the observant, informed buyer or owner.

 

 When to Get Your Well Tested?

 

  • Water test from a lab shows Coliform bacteria are in your Well or in your neighbors Well.
  • After a storm, you suspect surface or flood water gets into your well.
  • You dug a new well that was just hooked up to the plumbing system of your house.
  • You did work on your well or replaced the Well pump
  • New construction in your area
  • Water has changed in odor or taste
  • You are buying a home with a Well system hooked up on the premises.
  • A Few Days after Disinfecting

According to the American Ground Water Trust, which is a Nationally recognized organization that promotes the efficient and effective Management of Private Wells in the United States. Testing is the first and most important step for private Well System owners, or for any consumer concerned about water quality. The Trust recommends that a certified laboratory be used for water tests. If you have never had your water tested, or if you don’t have any record of previous tests, the Trust recommends that you test for the following:

  • Coliform Bacteria
  • Nitrate/nitrite
  • pH (acidity)Chloride
  • Iron Manganese Sulfate Hardness
  • Alkalinity Total dissolved solids (TDS)

If your Private well is near any kind of gas or oil storage tanks then you need to test for VOC’s Volatile Organic Compounds. If your Well is in Bedrock then you need to test for

  • Arsenic
  • Radon
  • Fluoride

 ONCE A YEAR-TEST

Test for coliform bacteria, nitrate, and pH (acidity). If pH is less than 7.0, test for lead.

After the change of any Well equipment or there is some change in taste or color or odor you need to test for Bacteria in your Well water.

Some Professional Well Testing laboratories offer a delivery and collection service. You place an order via phone or e-mail. Sample bottles and packing boxes are sent to you with sampling instructions. You take the sample, send it off via mail or courier service, and the results are emailed, faxed or mailed to you within a few days.

Or a drop service that you stop by and deliver the sample yourself. Always use a Certified Laboratory. Commercial Certified Labs are recognized and accepted by the State that you live in.

So you have your well sampled for lab analysis of water quality parameters of contaminants. The water analysis procedure also does microbiological testing of drinking water. There are a few ways to interpret the test results, and get a solution:

  1. One the Private Lab that you paid to sample your Well, could do it.
  2. Your County Health Department can suggest solutions and they are the go-to-guys if you have a problem. 
  3. The National website EPA has pages of information for Private Well Users, that can answer all the questions you may have. You can also compare your test results to the parameters for your State’s MCI’s which are the Maximum Contaminant Levels for Drinking Water. Here is a copy from mine I got on the EPA website. All this information is available at the websites I listed in this article.

These sites have all the answers and some pretty cool tools for what water analysis procedures to run for microbiology and inorganic parameters you need to test for. Although drinking water in the US is considered the safest in the world, the estimate doesn’t include waterborne illness from non-public sources of drinking water like Private Wells.

The EPA regulations that regulate the use of public water supply don’t apply to privately owned wells. So the owner of the well is responsible for ensuring the safety of drinking from the privately owned water source. THAT’S YOU!

Many people in the United States drink from Private Wells that don’t have monitoring. Scary don’t you think. I write all the time about arming yourself with the newest information and technology about water for this reason. This statistic was one that I didn’t know about. Outbreaks of Individual water systems or Wells include Hepatitis, Giardia, and E Coliform that are easily tested by a reputable laboratory.

Fluoride is another concern that is prevalent in drinking water and also needs to be monitored especially if you have young children. EPA warns; All private wells use groundwater if that water is consumed it could cause illness. Groundwater pollution could be caused by seepage from landfills, failed septic tanks or fuel oil tanks, fertilizer, pesticides or runoff from surrounding areas are causes of pollution in rural areas. So get your well tested regularly.

 

Waterborne Bacterial illnesses can include:

  • Gastrointestinal illness (for example, upset stomach, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Respiratory illness (for example, coughing, difficulty breathing, or pneumonia)
  • Eye, ear, or skin infections (for example, Swimmer’s Ear or Hot Tub Rash)
  • Wound infections.

Testing your private well annually for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. I would have the well evaluated by a professional. It’s too important. Water in a well that is bad can get you and your family really sick.

Some members of your family might be more susceptible if they are pregnant or very young or old. The analysis can also provide information on the mineral content and point you to need a water softener and water filtration for your home.

If you determine your well needs to be treated because of any question of high levels of microbiological or chemical contaminants then your system should be shocked with chlorine to sanitize your well water. You can do this yourself. Chlorinating a well with bleach can lower your results for iron and Coliform bacteria and also is an inexpensive efficient way to purify a well for a safe source of drinking water.

Cyst and Viruses that are so small, they are listed under as Total Coliform bacteria result are introduced through groundwater and can enter your drinking supply in your well where you consume it. If your well is being infiltrated with groundwater then You need to test. You need to treat. It should be dealt with. One of the easiest well water purification methods is to bleach it

If you determine your well needs to be treated because of any question of high levels of microbiological or chemical contaminants then your system should be shocked with chlorine to sanitize your well water. You can do this yourself. Chlorinating a well with bleach can lower your results for iron and Coliform bacteria and also is an inexpensive efficient way to purify a well for a safe source of drinking water.

Cyst and Viruses that are so small, they are listed under as Total Coliform bacteria result are introduced through groundwater and can enter your drinking supply in your well where you consume it. If your well is being infiltrated with groundwater then You need to test. You need to treat. It should be dealt with. One of the easiest well water purification methods is to bleach it

Steps For Well

Chlorination Procedure


You are going to need to store enough water for a few days until your well is clean and treated. So buy enough bottled water for your family, especially now that you know that test results were not favorable don’t take the chance of using it until sanitize it. Let your neighbors know that you are going to treat your well so they check for any chlorine smell coming from their well. They should do the same for you if they are working on their Well.

Flush the System Especially if the water from the Well is cloudy. If that cloudiness in the water is (TDS) or Total Dissolved Solids it will absorb the sodium hypochlorite used in the Bleach and weaken it. You don’t want to do this every 6 months so get a complete kill.

  • Measure-If you are not sure about how big the Well does the math. Here are some of the best I picked out that explain these measurements and how to DIY. There are a few different ways to look at the amount of water in the well.
  • Capacity-The first is the water storage capacity. A standard 6-inch diameter drilled well can store 1.5 gallons of water per foot. If you know the depth of the well, the level of the water and pump depth, you can figure out the water storage capacity.

Formula to Calculate Static Head of Water in a Well

To find the amount of water in the static head of a well we find (h), the depth of the column of water in the well when the well is at rest, and then based on the Well diameter we calculate the volume of (h) in cubic meters, feet, or inches. Last we convert that volume into common liquid measures such as liters or gallons.

Using the symbols and definitions given just above, the formula to express the size of the static head of water in a well first in feet of height is simply:

(h) = (d) – [(a) + (c)] – we subtract the well top air air space and pump to bottom clearance distances from total well depth

The actual water quantity in (h) is calculated based on the volume of the Well cylinder interior.

In a standard 6″ steel casing well, the water volume is about 1.5 gallons per foot of height of the static head

Measuring the Static Level of your Well

The formula for Static Head Volume in Gallons of Water in a Typical 6″ Steel Well Casing

Static Head (h)gallons = (1.5 gallons per foot) x (h) measured in feet

Here’s a simple example to calculate the volume of water in the static head of a particular 100 foot deep well. Remember that for your well you’ll need to plug in the actual measurements.

(d) = total well depth = 100 ft.

(a) = air in the top of well casing = 45 ft.|

(c) = well bottom clearance between pump intake and well bottom = 5 ft.

We want to calculate (h), the static head, in gallons of water – we just need to calculate the height of the column of water (in feet) inside the 6″ diameter well casing and multiply it by 1.5 (gallons per foot)

Measuring a Well Casting

Make sure you use protection for your eyes and protective gloves to handle the bleach. 

Turn of your water heater- Chlorine won’t mix with any kind of electrical circuits and wiring especially if it’s made from aluminum like thermostats found in Gas or Electric Water Heaters.

CHLORINATION STEPS:

  • By-pass your Filtering System & Water Softener-Whole House Water Filters, The Well’s Pressure Tank, and H2O Softener will be damaged and ruined if you keep them online during the process.
  • Use a 1 gallon of bleach for every 500′  in a drilled well or 1 gal. of bleach for every 18″ of standing water in a shallow well.  You need to know the diameter and depth of you’re well or an estimate for the size.
  • Pour the liquid bleach down the well Cap- and hit the side walls if you can, so it soaks the walls falling down to the water. Or use the Well casing and pour 1/2 the amount of bleach needed directly into the well.
  • Run a garden hose near the bottom – It will circulate the Well contents for 10 or 15 minutes. Open the spigot full and let the hose run.
  • Once you smell chlorine-  then pull the hose up and rinse the side walls down. around the circumference of the pipe.
  • Put the cap back on- the Well casing or close the opening and tighten it up.
  • Open up all faucets and taps in the house and flush the toilets. This could take an hour or so depending on the depth of the well. If you have an electric water heater run hot water faucets for 15 to 20 minutes for the chlorine to make its way through the system and out the faucets. Run the water until you smell the chlorine coming out of the faucets in the house.
  • Shut all the faucets and taps down.
  • Let the chlorine bleach sit-  remain in the system for up to 24 hours. Don’t drink or use it at all
  •  Afterward Flush the System-  the chlorinated solution from the system by running the hose, faucets, tubs, and flush the toilets to move the chlorinated well water through. You can judge how long to run water after shocking a well by smell and monitoring the chlorine level with a pool kit. You can buy it at the hardware store. It may take a while to come back down to normal.
  • Turn on any breakers you turned off. Make sure you check your pump pressure and empty any sediment traps. Change or empty as needed. Put your water softener  Filtration and Water Softener along with the Well Pump breaker back in service.
  • Retest after a week or so
  • Check this video out on the procedure to give you a general idea of what the steps look like. Called How to Disinfect your Well 

 

   How Often Should You Chlorinate Your Well

After a few weeks or so, retest the same tests and compare the results with the new ones. Give the techs at the Lab the before & After results of the Parameter Testing and keep them on file.

There could be some brown color to your water for a while so don’t drink it until clears up. Private Well chlorination with bleach should be done every 3-5 years. Also, consider a well water filtration system that removes bacteria from the Well water like a Mixed media filtration system. inside your home. 

Check Whole House Well Water System reviews for filters that clean well water. Use the test results you had in the beginning for specific Water Filtration units that will remove contaminants.

Investigate sources of industrial water softeners that can remove dissolved ferrous iron by ion exchange, just as they remove calcium and magnesium. Precipitated iron can be removed by filtration.

Whole House Water Filters Osmosis membrane filters like the ones from Amazon.com, and MyWaterEarth&Sky that clean drinking water from the kitchen faucet or large whole house water filters which treat water throughout the entire home. Some filters use water softeners as a stage in treatment. As their name would imply, Softeners are a type of whole house water filter that softens water by removing minerals that make water hard and cause scale.

Added together with a Sediment stage-A Whole House Filtration Stage- Along with a Water Softener Stage then, with a Scheduled Testing and Well Disinfection will be the best pro-active approach that will protect your family’s Drinking Water from the source to their lips.

Municipal drinking water is generally low in minerals so Carbon filters would work efficiently enough but if your well is hard and high in metals content, Reverse Osmosis with Carbon treatment will strip most heavy metals and inorganic contaminants from water then the carbon block filter will remove organic material.

A complete treatment for your well water system. Check for the specs that are found online. Specify the filter that will be used for the treatment of Well Water. 

Shocking a Well is how to remove bacteria from a Well and the lines coming into your house. But more importantly: Lab analysis of water quality through a reliable water testing Lab will show you what you need to do before you start when you finished and what the correct home water filtration system you need for your home is.

  • Test your water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels.
  • If you suspect other contaminants, test for those too.
  • Always use a state-certified laboratory that conducts drinking water tests.
  • Since some contaminant testing can be expensive, spend some time identifying potential problems.

Test your water every year for total coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, and pH levels. If you suspect other contaminants, test for those too. Always use a state-certified laboratory that conducts drinking water tests. Since some contaminant testing can be expensive, spend some time identifying potential problems. A new well has been constructed

  • Anytime a well is opened for repairs
  • Flood water has entered a well
  • A new holding tank, pump or pressure tank has been installed
  • A new pipeline or other piping or plumbing work has been done
  • Tests indicate the presence of coliform bacteria
  • Odors or slime caused by iron or sulfur bacteria are present

The introduction of Groundwater pollution on the environment and Private Drinking Well systems, depending on their location is a known threat. They need to be treated as such. Bacteria, Viruses, and, Cyst along with chemical contaminants are a danger to the health of anyone that consumes them. What’s more important than that is what you don’t notice in your well.

You can’t test for everything. The unknowns can be secured with these new water filtration products. You’ll sleep better. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends that private water supplies be tested annually for coliform bacteria to detect contamination problems early.

It’s your responsibility to maintain your private well for a safe drinking water supply for your family. The solutions are available. But First Sample/Test your Well. Then Shock/Re-Test your Well with these easy steps as a cost-effective maintenance program that should be done on a schedule. Only tested by a reliable and recommended by city or county Laboratories. Normally you can get information like this from the Health Department. 

 

Jim has had over 30 years of experience in Water/Wastewater as a Consulting-Operator and the Water Filtration Business. He has written over 300 articles on the World Wide Water Situation & Solutions 

jimGalloway

Author& Editor, MyWaterEarth&Sky

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