One of the most common well water contaminants is hydrogen sulfide. This foul smelling gas occurs when certain types of sulfur-reducing bacteria take up residence in your well. Although harmless, hydrogen sulfide has a distinctive and highly unpleasant smell, even at low concentrations.
Fortunately, a trained technician can often resolve hydrogen sulfide problems. One of the most effective strategies involves shocking the well with chlorine. Of course, you should educate yourself about this technique before proceeding. This article takes a closer look at two key things to know about combatting hydrogen sulfide by shocking your well with chlorine.
1. Chlorine Quantity Depends on the Size of Your Well
As you probably know, the chemical chlorine has powerful disinfecting capabilities. Yet in order to effectively destroy the sulfur-producing bacteria in your well, you must introduce an appropriate amount of chlorine. If the chlorine becomes excessively diluted in the well, it likely won't produce the intended effect.
The general formula requires a 200 parts per million solution of bleach, which amounts of roughly 3 pints for every 100 gallons of water in your system. To correctly determine the necessary amount of bleach, you must know two key things about your well: the diameter of the casing and the depth of the water.
A well water volume chart can tell you the number of gallons for every foot of depth at a particular diameter. For instance, a well with a 10-inch diameter contains roughly 4.08 gallons of water for every foot of depth.
Before calculating the necessary amount of bleach, however, you must factor in all of the water located elsewhere in your system. Pressure tanks and water heaters contain a significant amount of water. You will need to know the precise capacity of water-containing appliances. Once you have totaled up this number, add an extra 50 gallons to account for all of the water in your pipeline.
2. Even Well Proportioned Shocks Don't Work Forever
Many people mistakenly assume that, once they have shocked their system, sulfur-producing bacteria won't ever return. Unfortunately, chlorine shocking provides no such guarantee. The key factor here lies in the original source of the sulfur-producing bacteria. Surprisingly, such bacteria often originate inside of your home's water heater.
A water heater provides an ideal breeding ground for such bacteria, thanks to the presence of two key factors: heat and chemical conditions. All water heaters contain a component known as the anode rod, which protects against tank corrosion by sacrificing its own metal instead. Most anode rods contain a large proportion of magnesium metal.
The electrons released as corrosion breaks down the magnesium provide a boost to the sulfur-producing bacteria, aiding in the reaction that converts sulfates to hydrogen sulfide gas. If sulfur-producing bacteria manage to find their way into your water heater again, your hydrogen sulfide problem may recur - but hopefully not for a long time.
You can usually determine whether the problem stems from your water heater, since in that case only your hot water supply will produce the unpleasant smell. If both your cold and hot water has the smell, the issue more likely stems from your well. Sometimes the sulfur-producing bacteria find their way into your well simply by accident.
In that case, shocking the well may clear up the problem for a long time. In other cases, however, the bacteria find their way into the well from the surrounding soil. If the soil of your lawn contains elevated levels of sulfur-producing bacteria, you stand a much higher chance of the problem recurring. In such cases, you may need to have your well re-shocked on a regular basis.
Hydrogen sulfide gas can make using your water highly unpleasant. Fortunately, a professional can help you keep this issue at bay. For more information about treating hydrogen sulfide in your well, please contact Charlotte's water experts at McCall Brothers Inc.