Chlorine in Water or in Septic System Effluent
Water or Septic Test Cheating Detection & Prevention - How to
Detect Chlorine in Drinking Water
or Septic Effluent
CHLORINE SOURCES in WATER - CONTENTS: chlorine sources in water or in septic effluent; water bacteria tests - why people manipulate the test, how to detect it, how they do it, how to protect yourself. Where might chlorine in drinking water be coming from? Not all chlorine detected in drinking water samples represents a case of test manipulation nor dishonesty. ; How to detect possible water or septic test cheating or manipulation cases; How to test for the presence of chlorine in water
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Why people try to manipulate water test results:
Cheating on water tests or on septic loading and dye tests: This article explains why people might do something that prevents you from obtaining an accurate water test,
how to detect this bad behavior, and what to do about it.
Cheating on drinking water tests or on septic system tests may come as a surprise to most folks - who would do such a thing, and why?
How do they cheat on water or septic tests? How can we detect and prevent water or septic test cheating or manipulation?
If your property has a private septic system, the same folks who poured chlorine into a well (to cheat on a water test) may by that means or other steps, also have sent bleach or chlorine into the septic system - possibly harming the system and possibly subverting a septic loading and dye test.
See CHLORINE IN SEPTIC WASTEWATER.
Chlorine in private well water? From what cause or what source do we find chlorine in water? One would not expect to find chlorine in well water from a private residence except for a few conditions, most of which indicate a concern for the sanitation of the water supply.
Chlorine from municipal water supply: If your water smells
like chlorine, first let's find out if your water is supplied by a private well or by a municipal water system and it is chlorine that you smell.
Chlorine is quite volatile and doesn't stick around in water - if you run water from a tap into a pitcher and let it sit, the
chlorine will dissipate pretty quickly. People who want to avoid chlorine in their water can install a treatment system
such as charcoal filtering to remove it.
Municipal water supplied: The water may not be from a private well - you may have misunderstood or been misinformed. Community water supplies often contain chlorinated water.
Old wells and complete water supply systems are sometimes left in place after a home is connected to a municipal water supply.
Most municipalities are careful to be certain that the homeowner has no physical plumbing connections between the well water system
and the municipal system, as they don't want to risk back-contamination of their supply. An old well might be kept working, for example, to water laws or wash cars.
Follow the pipes in your building to the point where water service is provided to be sure you know where water is entering and from what source it arrives.
Well Water Chlorinator may be Installed: (photo at left) The water supply may be known to be unsanitary, and a chlorine injection system may be installed. If post-processing of the
chlorinated water is not properly adjusted, odors of chlorine may be present at fixtures, or may be detected by testing with a Hach or similar test kit.
If a drinking water treatment system is installed, you can find it, make sure it's working, test the well to determine what's really needed, and be sure that the treatment system is properly maintained. If your home water smells like chlorine and you have a chlorinator installed for water disinfection, make sure the equipment is properly adjusted.
If someone has just shocked or sanitized the water well to try to correct a bacteria problem (a step which is ineffective if there is a persistent bacteria source - See WELL CHLORINATION SHOCKING PROCEDURE) it is possible that you have not run enough water to flush out all of that chlorine (bleach).
Recent well shock treatment after work on the well, well piping, or submersible well pump: the well may have been shocked as normal good procedure following work on and removal/replacement of a submersible pump or piping in the well itself. Chlorine from this or any well shock treatment
is left in place (typically for 24 hours at the proper concentration of chlorine), then flushed from the well quite thoroughly in order to avoid giving the occupants chlorine to drink or to accidentally bleach their clothes.
So unless a well shock for a legitimate reason
is virtually in process at the time of an independent test that detects chlorine, we'd suspect something darker, discussed in the next bullet. [Thanks to SGP Rich for this tip -- DJF 5.2006]
Recent well shock treatment to Hide a Problem: The well supplying the building may have been recently "shocked" with bleach either in a attempt (questionable) to correct a known
bacterial contamination problem, or in a attempt to disguise a known contamination situation (highly dishonest and dangerous).
If readers know of other reasons why we'd find chlorine in a private water supply, please let me know.
As we mention in the list above, people might shock a well or install a chlorine treatment system for sanitation or to remove an odor from water - for a legitimate reason. Finding out if this is the case is one step in determining if the building piping or well casing
have become soiled and contaminated or after actually doing work on the well pump or piping in the well itself.
Shocking a well with bleach will have only a temporary effect in reducing the bacteria level
in water if there is a persistent source of contamination in the water supply.
How to Avoid Well Water Test Cheats & Septic Test Dishonesty
How to protect against cheating on water potability tests or other water tests: This article series explains why people might do something that prevents you from obtaining an accurate water test,
how to detect this bad behavior, and what to do about it.
Also see Choices of Water Tests& Fees: A Summary of Types of Water Tests,
Degrees of Comprehensive Water Testing, Details of Water Test Parameters.
and Water Testing Advice based on information from Cornell University of Maryland with extensive edits, text additions, and
Most people we've dealt with in the last 45 years of construction and building diagnosis & repair have been honest and decent.
But on occasion the "pressure of the deal" or just downright dishonesty lead some folks to try to fool the buyers or occupants of a property, regardless of the possible consequences for their health or their wallet.
Here are some things you can do to avoid tripping up over the bad apples of water test cheaters:
Requests to Realtors/Sellers: ask that no "special" water treatment and no septic system work of any kind be performed in the two weeks before an inspection and test are scheduled.
Examine equipment supplying and treating water in the building. Note if a chlorinator, water softener, UV light system, or other "water purification" equipment is installed or has been installed (such as noting an equipment hookup or footprint even
if the equipment has been removed).
Water sampling strategy: might include collecting water samples from both before and after any water treatment equipment, but beware that dirty un-used faucets such as at a basement water tank or outdoors could be a point source of bacterial contamination of the water test.
How to avoid being duped by duplicitous well shockers: if we are collecting a water sample for bacterial testing we always conduct a Hach Test™ for chlorine before collecting my water sample.
Some inspectors use swimming pool test kits for this purpose. Unfortunately those tests are much less accurate in detection of low levels of chlorine that may be residual after a cheating well-shock and flush-out procedure.
In inspecting properties in the Northeastern U.S., particularly in the remote country
in areas of bad soils, we find that someone has subverted our water test perhaps 5 or 10 times a year.
The subversion by bleach ("well shocking") may have been done in ignorance, out of anxiety that a problem might be present, or out of an actual wish
to hide a known issue. We don't need to figure out motives, but it's wise to avoid a false "OK" on a water coliform test when a well has been shocked, or might have been.
Test the Water Supply or Septic Effluent for Evidence of the Presence of Chlorine
Details about methods for testing water for chlorine or residual chlorine, or for testing wastewater for chlorine are now found at
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