Photograph of  this open well in a home basement - many concerns 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
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about water & septic test mistakes, dishonesty, & methods to protect against test manipulation
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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?

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Sources of chlorine in drinking water from private wells and public water supplies

This article continues the subject of water or septic test manipulation that we began at CHEATING ON WATER TESTS.

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.

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.

Well chlorination system (C) Daniel FriedmanFollow 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.

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.

We discuss this water problem diagnosis procedure in detail at WATER TEST INTERPRETATION and Correcting Unsatisfactory Drinking Water and the details of well shocking with bleach are located there

How to Avoid Well Water Test Cheats & Septic Test Dishonesty

Photograph of  this open well in a home basement - many concernsHow 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.

This article is part of our series on CHEATING ON WATER TESTS.

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 additional references.

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:

Well chlorination system (C) Daniel Friedman

Test the Water Supply or Septic Effluent for Evidence of the Presence of Chlorine

Water test stripDetails about methods for testing water for chlorine or residual chlorine, or for testing wastewater for chlorine are now found at


Use of Hach™ water tests for chlorine are inexpensive, are more sensitive to chlorine than the old pool chlorine test kit we tried first, and are readily available.

When to re-test a well that has been shocked with chlorine, Clorox™ or other disinfectants: This question is explained at" When to re-test a well that has been shocked with chlorine bleach or some other disinfectant".

Watch out: Testing too soon or testing water improperly after chlorine or other disinfectants have been in use is likely to give false results.


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