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Bleach Gel in Private Well

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OldRollie

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We just moved out into the country for the first time and we may have made a big mistake. Instead of pouring straight liquid bleach down our well to shock sanitize it, we unwittingly poured laundry bleach (kind of a semi gel) down the well head and now the water pressure in the house is very weak. I’m crossing my fingers and praying that the system is just clogged and the gel will eventually dissolve and clear itself out. But a local plumber was making me feel pretty stupid for what we did and said we may have burned the pump up when it tried to suck up that bleach gel. He said to not use the water for at least a day before running it again. I shut the breaker switch off for the well so as not to be tempted to use any water. Any ideas on what may have happened and what to do about it, and how to remedy? Thanks in advance
 

Caribou

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Good luck. The pumps are designed for water, not jello. Instead of sucking up diluted bleach you are sucking up almost full strength bleach, which has the potential for deteriorating any rubber. These are a couple of potential problems with your action. One thing you did right was fessing up to your mistake. Neither the plumber, nor anyone else, can help you without all the information.

For future reference, and you probably know this now, only plain, unscented liquid bleach should be used in a well. I have not seen this problem before and I'm working on a theory based on my knowledge of pumps.
 

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Good luck. The pumps are designed for water, not jello. Instead of sucking up diluted bleach you are sucking up almost full strength bleach, which has the potential for deteriorating any rubber. These are a couple of potential problems with your action. One thing you did right was fessing up to your mistake. Neither the plumber, nor anyone else, can help you without all the information.

For future reference, and you probably know this now, only plain, unscented liquid bleach should be used in a well. I have not seen this problem before and I'm working on a theory based on my knowledge of pumps.
What he said.

The hopes that waiting may help lies in the gel dissolving in water.

May be worth trying a quick experiment and fill a five gallon bucket with water and then dump in the same amount of bleach gel as was put in the well. If it dissolves in a day there is hope. If it still a gel after a day... (smiley-sad-face).

Ben
 

randyt

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do you have a submersible, shallow or jet pump? Do you hose bibbs? If so what is the pressure there? Do you have a accessible pressure tank? Is the pressure gauge working on it and if so what is the pressure? is there a boiler drain or hose bibb on tank tee by the pressure tank and if so what is the pressure there. Just check by turning it on and letting it run. Gelled bleach should have dissolved quickly. I've not used it in wells but have treated many wells with regular bleach. Also most wells have a drawdown so when the gelled bleach was poured into the well it hit the static water level and then when you pumped it it probably had to at least come down ten feet in the well casing before getting into the pump therefore mixing with the water.

good luck
 

randyt

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I have cast iron casing, after I bleach it I have to change filter , after pump , before water softener, 2 or 3 times .

Jim
I've seen that. It's the reason for my question on pvc or iron casing.

The way I bleach a well is to pull the top (assuming submersible pump) pour the bleach in. Isolate the house from the pressure tank. Come off the pressure tank boiler drain with a hose and stick the hose back into the top of the well and let the bleach water circulate, around and around. Then I'll purge the crud out the hose until it clears. Open the house valve back up and button things up. This is assuming well head is relatively close to pressure tank. I've done it a few different ways though, depending on the situation.
 

OldRollie

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Latest update: kitchen sink faucets not working at all, downstairs bathroom running very weak in cold water but not at all in hot, upstairs bathroom hot water running strong but cold is weak, toilet seems to refill ok, outdoor hose faucet starts off strong and then gets weak over a few minutes. I have seen some crud come out of some faucets so the crud build up idea definitely seems plausible. The fact that some faucets work and others don’t tells me it has less to do with the pump and more to do with clogged filters or aerators but what do I know. I don’t know where the filters or aerators would even be.

Thanks for all the replies. I’ll upload pics of the well and pressure tank which is reading 50 psi right now but was 70 half an hour ago when I first decided to retest everything. I believe the well pump is submersible but not sure. Bear with me, I don’t know wells or plumbing very well.
 

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phideaux

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I'll put money on filters and aerators.

50 - 70 psi , for on and off pressures is normal.
That's exactly what I have mine set at.

Look at/for online filters ,
Unscrew aerators from faucets and check pressure at faucet .

You should have a filter that looks like this , somewhere in the water line...
matte-pentek-whole-house-water-filters-pentek-hfpp-pr10-64_1000.jpg


Jim
 

OldRollie

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I'll put money on filters and aerators.

50 - 70 psi , for on and off pressures is normal.
That's exactly what I have mine set at.

Look at/for online filters ,
Unscrew aerators from faucets and check pressure at faucet .

You should have a filter that looks like this , somewhere in the water line...
View attachment 51182

Jim
Can’t find a filter in the water line anywhere. But I did unscrew some of the aerators, they were clogged with debree and it did help some. Now the kitchen sink faucet works fine hot and cold, it didn’t work at all this morning. Hot water still doesn’t work in downstairs bathroom faucet but cold improved a lot. Upstairs I’m having trouble removing the aerators and the faucets are still weak cold, fine hot
 

Caribou

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Have you drained your water heater?
 

Caribou

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Water heaters should be drained once or twice a year as regular maintenance.
 

backlash

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I am afraid to drain my water heater. It's really old, 25+ years at least, and has never been drained. I figure if I do drain it I will have problems and I will end up having to replace it and I don't want to do that.
Let sleeping dogs lay.
For some reason, it was just turned off under the sink
There was a reason. Maybe it leaks. I would keep an eye on it.
 

Caribou

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I am afraid to drain my water heater. It's really old, 25+ years at least, and has never been drained. I figure if I do drain it I will have problems and I will end up having to replace it and I don't want to do that.
Let sleeping dogs lay.

There was a reason. Maybe it leaks. I would keep an eye on it.
LOL! Any damage is already done. Start saving your nickels and dimes, you'll be replacing it soon enough. Mine is 20 years old and has been regularly drained. I will be ecstatic if it lasts another five years.
 

Spikedriver

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I restarted a well that sat dormant for almost 10 years once. My advice, when you bleach the well again, is:

Install a spigot inline in your well pit or shed. Attach a garden hose to said spigot. Close the valve to the house. After bleaching ("shocking") the well, start the pump and run the water straight out of the hose for 20 minutes. Let it sit a couple hours and repeat. Do that several times until there's no bleach odor at all. It will kill a day, but the water should be good.

If you haven't had the water tested, I'd strongly recommend it. It doesn't cost that much and it will let you know the hardness, the minerals/substances present, and also might reveal biological contamination. Well worth it IMO. And when you know the composition of the water, you can make good decisions about how to care for your water system.
 

backlash

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When I shocked my well the driller's recommendation was to pour the bleach in the well then open every water valve 1 at a time and let the water run until I smelled bleach. Let it sit for a couple of hours then open the valves again 1 at a time starting at the valve farthest away from the well until I did not smell bleach.
 

OldRollie

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@OldRollie , how's it going.

Is everything working ok?

Jim
Hey Jim thanks for checking on us. We cleaned all the aerators which helped but still had some problems. Tonight we disconnected the hot water line under the sink and dumped it in a bucket while running the faucet to blow debris out in reverse and then put it back together and reversed the process with the cold line. That helped a lot but the cold water is still not quite 100%. Huge improvement though. Next we may try to replace the cartridges. Miraculously, after doing this though the bathtub faucet and shower head seems to work way better now. To the point where a bath or a shower is at least a possibility. Instead of just an IV drip. Not sure if that had anything to do with back flushing the sink faucets or not but hey we’ll take it. Hose spigot working much better now too. Problem appears to be almost resolved, most faucets in house are running acceptable and some are strong. I guess the well pump is doing its job
 

Duncan

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When I shocked my well the driller's recommendation was to pour the bleach in the well then open every water valve 1 at a time and let the water run until I smelled bleach. Let it sit for a couple of hours then open the valves again 1 at a time starting at the valve farthest away from the well until I did not smell bleach.
That's exactly what we did! We did a check and although we didn't find e. coli, we did see coliform bacteria (not surprising, we're near several dairy farms). We did exactly what you did ran the water until the bleach smell went away and a couple days later did the bacteria check again. No coliform!

Now we do it every six months; the only different thing is now we have an auxiliary hand pump (~1 gal/min) that we pump manually for about five minutes to make sure there's no contamination in the aux pipe, too.
 
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