How to Test and Treat a Well for Coliform Bacteria

By
Real Estate Sales Representative with Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc.

There are a lot of homes in Whatcom County that rely on private wells as their primary source of drinking water. While Whatcom County boast some of the cleanest drinking water in country, it is important that you test your well for E. coli and coliform bacteria. Coliform bacteria will not likely cause illness, but it is a sign that there might be disease causing organisms within the drinking water system.

Whenever you purchase a home on a private well, you should test the water quality by performing an E. coli and coliform water test. If your test comes back positive for coliform bacteria, you should watch this video to learn how to correct the problem.

Coliform bacteria can be eliminated by “shocking the well.” To shock the well you will need a hose, some bleach, and a ratchet set. First, locate the well head and remove the cap with the ratchet. Next, pour bleach into the well. Now, run the hose into the well and turn the water on. Cycle the water between the hose and the well for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, go into the house and run all of the faucets and showers. This will run the diluted bleach solution throughout the house. Run the water through all of the facets for 1 hour.

The coliform bacteria should no longer be present. To retest the water quality, get a test kit from Avocet Lab in Bellingham and fill the bottle up to the line from the kitchen sink. Bring the bottle back to Avocet within 24 hours and wait for conformation. That is it. The process is actually pretty simple.

 

 

Ryan Martin, Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom, Inc.

Your Bellingham Real Estate Professional

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Rainer
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Gail MacMillan
Titusville, FL

Hi Ryan...I've never owned a home where I was dependent on a well for my drinking water.  Stuff like this makes me hope I never do.  I also hope this problem is not very widespread!

May 15, 2009 01:37 AM #1
Rainmaker
1,244,561
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Ryan,

That is GREAT. I think you did an incredible job. I love the fact you were doing that in a white shirt too. I would have looked like Smokey the Bear by the time I was done. I am going to do a blog post today, about your blog, and have a link to it. By the way, is that the house I was at. The trees from the window had a certain familiar feel. Do you have a code so I can embed it? Full credit to you but I want to write about that.

May 15, 2009 02:43 AM #2
Rainer
113,497
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

@Gail ~ Coliform bacteria isn't a big problem. It is actually very easy to fix. It's not like we have termites in Bellingham ;)

@Steven ~ Thank you! Yes, that was the same house that you inspected. Nobody had lived there for months, so I figured that the well would test positive for coliform the first time around. I also figured that I should create a how to video while I was waiting for the water to run for an hour.

May 15, 2009 03:28 AM #3
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1,334,156
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Ryan, over time do all wells have to be treated?  Just curious why the test wouldn't be done before the bleach process.

May 15, 2009 10:48 AM #4
Rainer
113,497
Ryan Martin
Windermere Real Estate / Whatcom Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham Commercial RE Broker

Sorry for the confusion Charles. In this particular case, the test had already been done and come back positive for coliform bacteria. Normally, wells don't have to be treated over time. This home was left vacant for six months, which is the reason that there was a problem.

May 15, 2009 11:02 AM #5
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1,334,156
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I see.  Pretty interesting.  Sounds like Steve's assistant must have been messing with it:)

May 15, 2009 11:15 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,244,561
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Ryan,

You can tell by the photo that Charlie is just a kid so you have to explain this stuff to him.

May 16, 2009 02:57 AM #7
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Rainer
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Ryan Martin

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