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Thread: Well cleansing - regular task?

  1. #1
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
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    Default Well cleansing - regular task?

    Folks:

    Its been a while since I used the forum. Last time I did, it was a huge help. I am now looking <hopefully> to get some answers about my well water.

    Before we moved in 2 years ago, we had the water tested. It came up with bacteria (septic tank nearby) and well is only 60' deep. They treated it, I think by basically dumping some clorox down it and retested. Second test showed clean water. We use a brita pitcher in the house and drink A LOT of the well water. Without having to re-test using a lab (to save $) can I just assume that it probably has bacteria again and routinely flush it with some bleach? And if so, what is the process to do this? The water seems to taste fine but I can't help but think about it seeing that we drink so much of it. Thanks for your help.

  2. #2

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    if its a carbon brita its the worst thing you can do as bacteria breads in the carbon even more. as long as the septic tank is not leaking and the weepers are not close to the bore hole and it was drilled correctly and sealed no surface water should be able to enter the well. is the well head coverd so no small animals can fall down?. your best bet would be to fit a uv filter as they have become very cheap over the past few years at least you have peace of mind that any unforseen problems would be delt with. pouring chemicals in the well is the last resort or quick fix solution. best to sort it properly in the long run. all the best max

  3. #3
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    how far away is the septic tank?

    If it had E coli bacteria from the septic tank you should not use the well at all.

    I think Title 5 requires 100' between a well and septic area unless it is older and grandfathered in.

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    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
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    Default well cleansing

    uv filter:
    is this something installed between the wellhead and the house? or possibly under the house? I have plans to install a whole house filter already. should i install the uv filter at the same time?

    the septic tank is about 50 feet from the well head, it was all installed in 1965. the wellhead does have a cover so no animals can fall in. it was not e coli it was chloro-? something like that. i would have to pull it. they treated it with clorox and re-tested and it was then fine.

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    Dumping chlorine into the well can cause problems and is only a temporary fix. If you think you have e-coli, you should do another test in a few weeks to see if it came back. If so, you should get a chlorinator and inject chlorine into the water stream then into a retention tank. It helps to check the chlorine strength weekly with a test kit to be sure it's doing it's job.

    I agree, the charcoal filter is just a breeding ground for bacteria.

    bob...

  6. #6
    DIY Senior Member SteveW's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremytl

    the septic tank is about 50 feet from the well head, it was all installed in 1965. the wellhead does have a cover so no animals can fall in. it was not e coli it was chloro-? something like that. i would have to pull it. they treated it with clorox and re-tested and it was then fine.
    I know NOTHING about wells but do know something about bacteria -

    Did the report possibly say something like "coliform?" If so, that's the group of bugs that e. coli belongs to...

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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Coliform bacteria live in the intestines of warm blooded animals.

    Most coliform bacteria are not harmful. There is one with a nasty mutation that you read about when they recall millions of pounds of hamburger.

    It is relatively easy to test for coliform bacteria. The presence of coliform bacteria is an indication of fecal contamination. Feces can contain lots of other bad things such as salmonella, typhoid, and any of those other nasty things that make people sick.

    If you must use water that is susceptible to contamination with coliform bacteria it should be disinfected, and in many cases filtered to remove chlorine-resistant organisms such as cryptosporidium and giardia.

    It is not necessarily safe to use water from a well that has been contaminated just because you got a test that was negative for coliform bacteria. If the cause of contamination has not been corrected, then the water should be disinfected before use.

    If you are going to use ultraviolet treatment, the water must be filtered to prevent the UV tube from getting covered with material that will block the light.

    Activated carbon is not a satisfactory treatment for bacteria because the carbon absorbs the disinfectant. If is it used it should be installed at the end of the pipe just before the water is used.

    How to install an ultraviolet light

    Last edited by Terry; 06-14-2010 at 01:22 PM.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Coliform bacteria is a large group of various types of bacteria found in soil and water.

    There are many more than one type in the group that is dangerous to humans; such as fecal coliform, streptococcus (the last I heard, 56 types found in groundwater), numerous types of e-coli etc..

    All carbon comes with the caution to not use it on waters of unknown microbiological content. You certainly don't use it on water you know is susceptible or previously contaminated...

    A UV (ultraviolet light) is a light, not a filter. There are a number of potential pretreatment requirements for minimum water quality that must be met or a UV will not work. The minimal pretreatment without any other being required/used, is a 20 micron disposable cartridge filter, and then proper and timely maintenance in replacing the cartridge and lamp and cleaning the quartz sleeve.

    There are two types of UV lights; class A and B. Class A does inactivate crypto and giardia cysts. Class A has a much higher dosage/intensity or we could say ability to 'kill' bacteria etc..
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
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    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
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    Default well test

    My well was tested right before we moved in. I need to re-test, especially after reading all of your responses. Who would you all call to test the well? A local well service company or county/ municipal health department? Thanks.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Yes or a lab, water treatment dealer, county extension office or some pump and plumbing supply houses.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    You want to find someone who will test a water sample that you collect from your faucet. That is the lowest cost way to do it. They will furnish a sample bottle with instructions.

    You should sterilize the outlet faucet with a little bleach or flame, run the water for a minute or so, and then collect the sample without touching the faucet, the top of the bottle, or the cap.

    Sample bottles often contain a small amount of sodium thiosulfate that neutralizes any chlorine in the sample. Do not dump it out because any chlorine in the water destroys the ability to detect any pathogens.

    Your pipes rarely add anything bad to the water, although poor sampling technique can contaminate the sample with bacteria.

  12. #12
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The lowest cost is through a water treatment dealer, plumbing/pump supply houses and county extension office. Labs are always the highest priced.

    If you have shocked the well, you don't want to test until 5-7 days after the smell of chlorine is gone. That's the best means to find a recurring contamination; instead of getting a non contaminated test result.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  13. #13
    DIY Senior Member rshackleford's Avatar
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    who test the well. i have been taking many bacteria test lately and there are a lot of false positives. it is very easy to screw this test up. a finger in the wrong place, a breeze and a mist of water, a splash off a fitting. it is very easy.

    take another test. let the water run for a while. take a spray bottle with bleach. spray the bottle, spray the sample tap, spray your hands, spray the bottle again, spray the tap again, spray where you are going to set the bottle down at, spray your hands again, spray your hands. take your sample. keep the lid in the down position so that nothing splashes onto it. do not touch any part of the inside of the bottle with anything. do not get your thumb in the bottle or the lid. now take the sample to the lab.

    did i mention that you must the get sample bottle from the lab.

    i have found that if i do not follow this procedure that i will get a lot more failing results.
    rshackleford

  14. #14
    Scientist jeremytl's Avatar
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    Default Well test results and remediation

    Brief history: We had well tested two years ago before we bought house, it tested positive for total bacteria and negative for eColi. It was shock chlorinated and re-tested, with both negative results. We have lived there for 2 years and drink the water heavily, never have gotten sick. The well has NO treatment system of any kind. We have been using a brita filter, which I understand is the opposite of what we should be doing. So, we stopped using the brita filter.

    Last week, I had the local county health department test my well for bacteria and inorganics. Inorganics results won't be back for a couple more weeks. Bacteria results are back ($50 for each analysis). Well tested positive for total bacteria and negative for e Coli. From what I understand after reading your previous comments, I should install a uv filter. I was also planning on installing a "whole house" filter b/c I know I have iron in excess. So, where should each of these filters go? I.e., which order, one before the other, after welltroll tank or before, between pump and welltroll, etc. etc. I have also heard of an under the sink "point of use" filter the guy from my county office told me about. By the way, nice as this guy was, he has been well sampling for 15 years but had limited knowledge about treatment options. I am on a budget and I anticipate I will be installing these filters myself (and the help of my kind father). So I basically need to know the layout and which brands I choose.
    Other house info: Small house, 2 people, one bathroom. Shallow well (60') close to house, pump and welltroll tank under house. Septic tank located less than 100 feet away from well (1965 year built). I also have a question, while I am at it, about my septic tank but i'll post that in the appropriate section. Please know, you guys are very much appreciated!

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