Urgent! Do This Immediately After Disinfecting Your Well

While private water wells can provide some of the cleanest, healthiest water, there are no guarantees of water purity unless regular well maintenance and testing are done. According to some sources, however, as many as 90% of well owners never test the water in their wells.

Ensuring that a household has a healthy supply of water requires testing and disinfection of well water. When disinfection is done correctly, it will kill any accumulation of bacteria, fungi, parasites and other microorganisms. However, as necessary as disinfection is, there’s also a little-known danger associated with this procedure.

The Interaction of Chlorine Disinfectant and Arsenic in Bedrock

Most people use a chlorine-based disinfectant to eliminate unwanted bacteria or other microorganisms. This type of disinfectant has a very strong corrosive effect and it can dissolve the arsenic in the earth so that it is released into groundwater.

Arsenic occurs in bedrock, soil and groundwater in most areas of the United States, especially the Midwest, West, Northeast and parts of Texas. The type of arsenic that works its way into water wells in these areas is inorganic arsenic, the most toxic form. 

In all these areas, the process of disinfecting a private well can draw excessively high levels of arsenic into the well. This is especially true if chlorination is done too frequently or if the concentration of the disinfectant is too high. In this situation, frequent disinfection may be too much of a good thing. While well disinfection is important, steps must be taken to ensure that post-disinfection arsenic levels are not elevated. 

When You Need to Do Well Disinfection

Here are times that it’s important to disinfect the well:

  • When a new well goes into service
  • An old well is returned to service
  • A well is returned to service on a seasonal property
  • An annual water test shows that there are bacterial, fungi, parasites or other microorganisms in the water
  • Work was done on the well
  • A septic system nearby was worked on
  • There has been a flood on the property
  • After a heavy rain, well water was cloudy or dirty
  • There are signs of iron bacteria or biofilm (slime) in the well
  • The water has an odor
  • There is illness in the home

How to Do Well Disinfection the Right Way

ETR Laboratories provides our customers with a disinfection kit that contains calcium hypochlorite instead of the household chlorine bleach most people use. This chemical is less toxic and more effective at eliminating microorganisms in well water.

Here’s what to do when you receive this product:

  1. Remove the well cap, add the chlorination agent and rinse the sides of the well thoroughly. The product will float on the top of the water which is where the microorganisms are. It’s easier to use than liquid bleach which can cause burns or damage your clothes. This powder also won’t get caught in cavities in your well equipment or household plumbing. (If chlorine bleach gets caught in these pockets, your water can smell like bleach for weeks.)
  2. Circulate water back into the well from an outdoor spigot until a chlorine odor is detected. Then open each cold water faucet and run the water until the same odor is noted. Close the taps.
  3. Let the chlorine remain in the well and pipes for at least 12 hours. 
  4. Pump out the water until no chlorine odor is detected which could take hours or days. 
  5. Now, here’s the critical step other companies don’t tell you about. Once the water is fully flushed and ready to use, complete an arsenic test and make sure that the corrosive nature of the disinfectant did not draw arsenic into your well. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water is 10 parts per billion.
  6. Your final step is to have the water tested for bacteria fourteen days later. If it tests clean, you are done and ready for many months of microorganism-free water. 

What If You Do Find Arsenic in Your Well?

If you do discover that you have arsenic in the bedrock or soil around your well, there are filters that will remove it from your well water. 

  • Activated carbon filters will reduce 40% to 70% of arsenic
  • Anion exchange filters will remove 90% to 100%
  • Reverse osmosis filter removes 90%
  • Distillation removes 98% 

With the right filtration in place, you can be confident that arsenic will not be a problem in the future. If you live in any of the areas with higher levels of arsenic, this is a good investment. 

ETR Laboratories is a reliable, professional water testing company with every type of water test you could need. We can provide you with the results of an arsenic water test in just a few days. Follow this link to order our arsenic water test.