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How to Chlorinate a Well!

by Jan Mh on February 07, 2015

How to Chlorinate a Well


Having your own well provides you with a source of fresh water. Over time, however, the well can become contaminated with bacteria and other harmful pathogens. One effective treatment for this is to add chlorine bleach to the well water, which will kill the bacteria. This process takes a day or two, so it's best to prepare yourself for minimal water usage.

Part 1 of 3: Preparing to Chlorinate

  1. Chlorinate a Well Step 1.jpg
    Know when you need to chlorinate your well. It is a good idea to chlorinate your well at least once a year, preferably in the spring. Outside of that, there are several other circumstances under which chlorinating your well becomes necessary:
    • If your annual water test results show that bacteria is present.
    • If you notice a change in the color, smell or taste of your drinking water, you should test for bacteria and will need to chlorinate the water if the test comes up positive. You should also determine the water constituent that caused the change in water quality and take measures to treat the water to remove anything unpleasant or unsafe. Your local environmental agency will be able to provide direction in this endeavor.
    • If the well is new, or has recently undergone repairs, or new pipes have been added.
    • If the well has been contaminated by flood water, or if the water turns muddy or cloudy after a rainfall.[1]
    • When you are preparing to abandon the well.
  2. Chlorinate a Well Step 2.jpg
    Gather the necessary supplies.
    • Chlorine: Obviously you will need chlorine in order to chlorinate your well. You could use HTH chlorine tablets or granules, but this article assumes that you are using a 5% solution (or greater) of regular household chlorine bleach. Just be sure to use an unscented variety. You may need up to 10 gallons (37.9 L) of bleach, depending on the volume of water within your well and the strength of the bleach.
    • Chlorine test kit: A chlorine test kit can be used to precisely measure chlorine levels in the water, rather than relying on scent alone. These test kits are usually used for swimming pools and can be found at any pool or spa supply store. Make sure to get OTO liquid drops instead of the paper strips, as the paper strips only indicate chlorine levels in the range that is ideal for swimming pools.
    • Garden hose: To recirculate the water in the well, you will need a clean garden hose. Some sources recommend using a hose with a 12 inch (1.3 cm) diameter, rather than the standard 58 inch (1.6 cm) size, however this is up to you. You should cut the male end of the hose at a steep angle.
  3. Chlorinate a Well Step 3.jpg
    Calculate the volume of the well. In order to determine how much bleach you will need to adequately disinfect your well, you will need to calculate the volume of water it contains. To do this, you will need to multiply the depth of the water column (in feet) by the gallons per linear foot for your well. This depends on the diameter of the well or casing (in inches).
    • To get the depth of water in your well, you will need to measure the distance from the bottom of the well to the waterline. You can do this using a fishing line and a moderately heavy weight. The line will remain taut until the weight hits the bottom, at which time it will go limp. Once this happens, retrieve the line and measure the wet portion of the string with a tape measure. Alternatively, you can mark the line at the top of the well casing and measure the total depth of the well, then subtract the distance from the top of the casing to the surface of the water within the well. This can be found by tying a short stick securely to the line, lowering the stick into the well, marking the line when it goes slack, and measuring the length of the line from the stick to your mark.
    • Alternatively, a rough measurement should be stamped on a plate affixed to the slab poured around the well casing or you can contact the drilling company who constructed the well. They are required to keep records on all of the wells they've worked on in most jurisdictions.
    • The number of gallons per linear foot is related to the diameter of the well casing. This number should appear on the well log. Drilled wells will usually have a diameter between 4 and 10 inches, whereas bored wells range between 12 and 26. Once you know the diameter of your well, you can use this table to figure out the gallons per linear foot of water within your well.
    • Now that you have measurements for the depth of the water in the well (in feet) and the amount of water per linear foot in gal/foot), you can multiply these numbers by each other to get the total volume of water in your well. You will need to use 3 pints of 5% chlorine bleach for every 100 gallons (378.5 L) of water in your well, plus an extra 3 pints to treat the water in the household plumbing.