This past week I shocked a well in anticipation of a water test for potability. Shocking a well is when you chlorinate it to kill bacteria. You do this with all new wells or ones that have been opened and worked on.

To shock a well, mix half a gallon of unscented bleach with four gallons of water. If the well is over 100' deep use one gallon of bleach. Remove the cap and pour the solution in the well. Run a hose until you smell the bleach. Hose down the interior of the well casing and the cap. Replace the cap and let the well sit for an hour. Next, turn on each interior faucet in turn. Once you smell bleach, turn it off. Let the chlorinated lines sit overnight. Next day, run a hose on the driveway or other spot devoid of vegetation until you no longer smell bleach. Do this in stages if you fear running the well dry.

The well I shocked is 105' deep. I used a gallon of bleach, ran the water for over an hour and still couldn’t smell bleach. That’s when I remembered my sense of smell is largely shot. I prepped the house as if bleach were present, filled a gallon jug from an interior faucet, and drove to the testing lab. There I purchased packets of powder that test for chlorine. You add the powder to a small amount of water. If the water turns pink, chlorine is present. Mine was a shade of pink that would have filled The Easter Bunny with delight. The testing packets are 25 cents each. I bought eight and found I could do three tests per packet. A basic potability test is $75. You can’t test a well for potability if chlorine is present.