Well depths and types (C) Carson Dunlop Associates Water Treatument Equipment Disinfection Procedures
How to disinfect a water softener, water filter, or similar equipment

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Water treatment equipment disinfection procedures & warnings: for water filters, activated charcoal systems, water softners and sulphur removal systems.

We repeat important well disinfection notes about adjusting the pH of well water & the pH of well disinfectant solution to assure adequate disinfection, & we repeat important safety warnings about handling chlorine or adding chlorine to water containing hydrogen sulfide H2S.

Page top sketch illustrating both deep and shallow water well construction and depths is provided courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.

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Special Well Chlorination Procedure for Water Filters, Water Softeners, and Water Heaters

Reader Question:

I would like to know when I chlorinate my well should I bypass the water softener and any filter in the line.

Also why does it say to turn on just the cold water? - Jerry Highsmith


We recommend these added water filter, water softener, and hot water heater details that may be helpful when shocking or chlorinating a well.

Water filters & activated charcoal water treatment equipment bypass during well disinfection

Take out the water filter cartridge then close up the canister, but do not put it on bypass. Let the chlorinated water run through the canister to sterilize and clean it, then install a new filter after all chlorine-smelling water has been flushed from the system.

Watch out: if you fail to bypass activated charcoal type water treatment equipment you may have difficulty removing the chlorine or other disinfectant and its odors from the building water supply. And if the charcoal filter system has itself been exposed to contaminated water you will most likely need to replace the filter or media with new, fresh, sanitary material.

Water softener bypass during well shocking

Bypass the water softener for the same reason we explain below about water heaters, and with the same exception as below.

Water heater bypass during well disinfection

Bypass the water heater when chlorinating the well for this reason: if you put chlorine-treated water inside the water heater, because incoming water in the water heater tank keeps mixing with what's already in the tank, it is difficult to flush all of the chlorinated water back out of the water tank without running a very large volume of water through the system.

Watch out: Also heating water that contains a high level of chlorine might produce potentially dangerous chlorine gas coming out of a hot water faucet.

If your water heater piping does not make it easy to bypass the actual water heater while running chlorinated water through both cold and hot water piping, then you might want to just run cold water in the building.

When flushing chlorinated water out of a well, it's fine to run that water through both hot and cold water piping and fixtures if you can bypass your water heater tank itself. That helps sanitize all of the building piping. But if you cannot bypass your water heater, you can have trouble getting all of the chlorinated water out of the water heater tank unless you first run cold water until there is no chlorine or bleach odor, then stop and drain any chlorinated water from the water heater tank.

Exception - When to Chlorinate a Water Softener or Water Heater

You might want to run chlorinated water through a water heater tank or water softener tank if you suspect that those devices have been contaminated, such as by bacteria during area flooding, or in the case of a water heater, by bacteria that can form inside of a hot water tank. In that case, however, it may be easiest to simply drain the heater or softener tank completely, manually, after it has been treated (chlorinated) rather than trying to flush it out by running through the many times its actual water volume that would otherwise be required.

Watch out: be sure your water heater has been turned OFF and has cooled down to at least room temperature before trying to run chlorine through it. Heating water that contains a high level of chlorine might produce potentially dangerous chlorine gas coming out of a hot water faucet. More information is

It won't hurt the water heater or water softener equipment itself for a dilute amount of chlorine in water to remain inside it, (after all this equipment is used in some homes where a chlorine injection system constantly places a small amount of chlorine into the building water supply).

Because chlorine is volatile, eventually it will be dissipated as water is used or left in an open container (for use) in the building. See DRINKING WATER - EMERGENCY PURIFICATION for details.

Water Equipment Disinfection Procedure Warnings

Watch out: But leaving too much chlorine in any water system can be dangerous: drinking concentrated chlorinated water could be sickening or even fatal, and less seriously, doing laundry with chlorinated water may bleach clothing by accident.

Watch out: In addition, for difficult well or equipment sterilization cases such as after area flooding or where there is a persistent bacteria source, pH adjustment of the disinfection solution may be necessary for the disinfectant to be effective,

Watch out: for hydrogen sulfide: if the water source contains notable levels of sulphur (rotten egg smell or hydrogen sulfide (H2S)) there are extra safety precautions needed. Details are at WELL DISINFECTION after a FLOOD

Well & Equipment Cleaning & Well Disinfection Procedures for Difficult Contamination Cases

This topic has been moved to a separate article found at WELL DISINFECTANT TABLE, POST FLOODING or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Water & Water Equipment Disinfection Articles


Continue reading at WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES - home or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.


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