Save Yourself Some Money: Chlorinate Your Own Well

Replacing a well water system can be costly and time consuming. With gas prices on the rise, well drilling contractors are increasing their rates to compensate, costing the average citizen more money for simple, every day maintenance tasks they can easily do themselves. Chlorinating your own well is a simple way to save yourself some money this summer. Chlorinating kills coliform bacteria, reduces hydrogen sulfide odors, and removes iron and manganese buildup, which can damage your water heater. This is also a good chance for homeowners to evaluate their water system and find any abnormalities that could signal larger problems. The average well needs to be chlorinated once a year, although some wells with poorer water quality will need to be chlorinated more frequently. Depending on how far you live from town, well drillers can charge you $100.00 or more plus mileage to chlorinate your well, when you can do it yourself for only a few dollars. This simple guide for the average homeowner will walk you through the steps of chlorinating your own well.

First, bypass your water softener or other water treatment systems. If your system was installed properly, you should have shut off valves near the input and output on your softener. If you cannot locate them, you will need to contact the person who installed the system or the previous homeowner. You may need to re-plumb your system if it has not been properly installed. This can generally be done for minimal cost.

Next, remove your well cap and pour approximately one pint of chlorinated bleach into your well. Clorox works well and is inexpensive. Do not use more than a pint as this will sear the bacteria off the top of the water but will not penetrate deeper into the well.

Then, run a garden house from an outside hydrant to the well. Drop the end of the hose as far down the well as it will go, and then turn on the hydrant. This will cycle the chlorine through the entire water system. You will need to run the water for approximately an hour.

Next, shut off the outside hydrant and move into the house. One at a time, open every faucet in the house, both hot and cold taps, and run the water until you have a strong chlorine smell. This includes the dishwasher, toilets, washing machine, and bathtubs as well as sink faucets and any other outside hydrants.

The system will need to sit for 24 hours to thoroughly kill bacteria. This is a great time to get out of town for the night. The water is not safe to drink or bathe in until it has been thoroughly flushed. If you must stay home while chlorinating your well, be sure to store enough water for 24 hours use.

After the 24 hour period, hook the garden hose to the outside hydrant and run the end to an area where the chlorine will not damage vegetation or run into a waterway. Turn on the hydrant and run the water until you can no longer smell the chlorine. This may take up to two hours.

Then, return to the house, and, again, one at a time, turn on each faucet and run the water until you can no longer smell the chlorine.

After you have thoroughly flushed your system, you can resume normal use of your water. You may have a slight chlorine smell or taste in your water for two or three days, depending on your usage, but the water is safe to drink. If you are having your well tested for coliform bacteria, be sure to collect a water sample within 30 hours of chlorination.

If your water quality declines two or three weeks after chlorination, you may need to repeat the process to thoroughly disinfect the well. If this is a continuing problem, take a water sample for analysis. This could indicate larger contamination.

Chlorinating your well is a simple task that can protect the health of you and your family. This summer, save yourself some money and chlorinate your well yourself. You will enjoy better water quality and the money you save can go towards something much more fun than maintaining your well.

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