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Effects of chlorinated drinking water on septic systems: does using a home chlorinator to disinfect drinking water risk harming the septic tank or drainfield? Discussed: What are the effects of a drinking water chlorinator on the septic system tank and drainfields? Does a drinking water treatment or purification system harm the septic tank or drainfield? Effects of reverse osmosis or RO systems on septic systems.
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Do some septic systems require chlorine or other disinfectants?
Will chlorine, bleach, or Clorox™ damage the septic tank or leach fields?
This document explains how to extend the life of the septic system by being careful about what goes into it.
Here we discuss the environmental effects of chlorine introduced into building water systems from incoming water treatment and disinfection systems and the environmental effects of chlorine used at normal levels in household cleaners or in laundry bleach.
First lets say a word on chlorine in outgoing wastewater to be discharged into the environment. Some septic system designs include a final disinfection stage that may be used to reduce the level of pathogens in wastewater before it is discharged into the environment. Properly-designed and maintained, the wastewater discharge from those systems is not harmful to the environment, plants, animals, or waterways.
However, in general, the discharge of chlorine into the environment - into soils - is undesirable in both arid soils and in tropical or temperate soils. At sufficient concentrations chlorine in soils kills important soil bacteria necessary for both the break-down of other contaminants and for healthy plant life.
Finally, the discharge of chlorine into ocean waters or into bodies of fresh water is probably of no measurable consequence or of little consequence. Details are at WASTEWATER BIOCOMPATIBILITY.
Using a chlorinator on well water
At homes where the water supply is not potable due to bacterial contamination, a common temporary solution is the installation of a chlorinator.
Often this consists of an injector which doses incoming water with chlorine, a holding tank to give the chlorine time to work, and a post-processing charcoal filter to remove the chlorine from the water.
It's preferable to find and correct the source of contamination.
In a properly-operating chlorinator the level of chlorine in the house drinking water will not harm the septic system.
Watch out: However, high levels of chlorine, such as from an improperly adjusted or malfunctioning chlorinator would be a problem for the occupants who would not want to be drinking such water, and might be a problem for the septic system too.
Details about Chlorinators for Drinking Water Disinfection
Details about how to install, use, troubleshoot or repair chlorinators for water disinfection & treatment are in our separate article CHLORINATORS & CHARCOAL FILTERS.
Effects of chlorine treatment of well water on Water Tests & Real Estate Transactions
For a discussion of what happens when people dump chlorine into a well see
Septic System Effects of Use of UV Lights as an alternative to drinking water chlorination
An alternative to chlorine for partial treatment of wellwater is the use of a UV light system. This method, used alone, will not add chemicals to the building water supply and thus it won't add chemicals (such as chlorine) to the septic tank, drainfield, or groundwater at the property.
UV (ultra violet) lights [photo] which are sold to treat bacterial contamination in water do not place any chemical into the water supply.
However if drinking water is contaminated with bacteria, a UV light is a not necessarily the best solution as other drinking water contaminants may be present too.
Septic System Effects of Use of an RO = reverse osmosis treatment system for drinking water
Unlike a chlorinator or a UV light system, a reverse osmosis system will add water volume load to a septic system, even though it won't add chemicals.
For a discussion of the effects of other water treatment systems on septic tanks and drainfields, See REVERSE OSMOSIS CONCENTRATE DISPOSAL.
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