View Full Version : Chlorine bleach near furnace

11-30-2012, 10:16 AM
Not entirely OT, since the furnace heats my workshop. My workshop furnace is in the basement of my house, and my shop is an attached garage. My clothes washing machine is in the kitchen of my house. I still use an old fashioned " grey water" system, where washing machine and bathtub water drains down to a holding basin in my basement, and is then pumped via a sump pump through an underground pipe out to my back field. The holding basin only has a loosely fitting wooden top. My question is this: will using chlorine bleach ( i.e. 6% sodium hypochlorite ) in my washing machine twice a month create enough fumes to corrode my furnace heat exchanger ? The fumes come from the grey water holding tank in the basement, about 10 feet from my oil burner furnace . The washing machine water doesn't usually stay very long in the holding basin , but some fumes might linger for a couple of hours.

11-30-2012, 11:32 AM
IMO if the chlorine fumes don't cause corrosion, the moisture from the tank will. If it were me, I'd find away to seal that tank and vent it to the outside. That will also reduce the chances of it flooding the basement if the drain field should get stopped up or the pump fails. Also the moisture from that tank can also lead to rot in any nearby wooden material and/or mold and mildew on other surfaces so getting it out of the basement will improve a lot of things.

FYI, Water from a washing machine is THE worst thing for a septic tank and drain field due to all the man-made, non-bio degradable fibers from clothing (they fill the septic tank and clog the drain field piping). I ran a separate drain line for my washing machine and run it into a French drain and my septic tank and drain field last MUCH longer and work MUCH better now. Local code may or may not allow that, (if you ask!) IMO a french drain is fine for water that comes from a washing machine that only washes dirty clothes but if you wash diapers or "soiled" clothes then the water should go to a septic system. I added a second stand pipe next to my washer and I can easily move the washer drain hose form one to another. BTW bath water should also go to a septic system and there's no real advantage in sending to a french drain anyway.

12-01-2012, 12:10 AM
Without getting into a debate about how and how not to operate and maintain a septic system, if you can SMELL chlorine, (actually it is chloramines that smell,) then it WILL cause mischief with your furnace.
We use it every day and tend to take it for granted, but sodium hypochlorite and its partial reaction products are EVIL chemicals that will attack damned near ANYTHING! I have seen the results time and time again in water treatment and wastewater treatment plants. Any metal in the chlorinator room is attacked. In the old bell jar chlorinators, all metal parts were pure silver-it was only tarnished.

12-01-2012, 08:27 AM
I like a good swipe at the French as much as anybody but what's a "french drain"? Bad idea covering a basement sump. You can't use it as a urinal.

12-01-2012, 11:57 AM
A French drain is a trench, excavated to drainage grade, with the bottom foot or so filled with coarse gravel or crushed rock. That is then covered with straw or landscape fabric to stop earth fines from filtering in and clogging the gravel. Backfill to original grade and Bob is your uncle.

12-01-2012, 12:23 PM
Thanks all for your input. I posed my original question to the nice people at Clorox, but oddly they never responded.

12-01-2012, 12:26 PM
I like a good swipe at the French as much as anybody but what's a "french drain"? Bad idea covering a basement sump. You can't use it as a urinal.

Google / Images is great for answering "what's a" questions. http://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1309&bih=1043&q=french+drain&oq=french+drain&gs_l=img.3..0l10.2348.6269.0.6752. 401.9.9.0...0.0...1ac.1.XHyD4AJZNQo

David Merrill

12-01-2012, 02:58 PM
Never use chlorine in anything that goes into a septic system or even just on the ground. For that matter, it should be outright banned. Chlorine products kill all the beneficial bacteria and will destroy your septic tank. We have a septic tank but no drain field. The percolation rate here is zero so we have a septic pond. They are allowed only on properties larger than ten acres. As long as the pond isn't killed by chemicals it has a nice covering of green algae and smells like fresh green plants. A couple of years ago it died. All the green algae went away and the pond stank. It took quite a while to figure out why. My wife had bought some new dish soap with a label that said "antibacterial". On investigation I found it contains triclosan. On further investigation I discovered that green algae are exquisitely sensitive to triclosan. It takes less than a part per billion to kill green algae. Just using the dish soap for a week was enough to obliterate the algae in the septic pond. The half life of triclosan is a couple of months. It took about six months for the algae to grow back. I wonder what effect triclosan has on sewage treatment systems? It is very widely used as an antibacterial even in skin products.

I am a small "e" environmentalist. I don't give a crap about cutting down trees as long as it doesn't cause the mountain side to wash away into the river and kill all the fish. I do what I can to reduce pollution in any form and to conserve energy use within reason. I also don't do things that will kill off the beneficial living things we need to live well and that includes not dumping poisons on the land.

12-01-2012, 05:02 PM
I mostly agree with what Evan says above . However, using chlorine bleach in my clothes washing machine on occasion
( i.e., about twice a month) may be a necessary evil if I want to disinfect the laundry. For instance, towels and washcloths that have been in the hamper for a couple of weeks will have a mildew smell that returns quickly if you don't kill the mildew. Bed sheets and pillow cases also seem to need bleach . And if I've been pumping out my septic tank with my " honey dipper" friends, I definitely need to disinfect what I've been wearing. A search of alternate disinfectants turned up some possibilities, but in the final analysis none was nearly as effective, in as short a time, as chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide is a possibility, plus an assortment of terribly smelly products such as Lysol and pine oil . I'd gladly stop using the chlorine bleach if a really effective alternative that works in minutes was available. The fact remains that the careful use of disinfectants in our society has helped to prevent many illnesses and deaths from old time diseases we hardly ever encounter in these times. My immediate concern was for my new oil burner furnace. The previous one only lasted 10 years before the heat exchanger began leaking badly, and I'm concerned that my use of chlorine bleach contributed to a premature failure.

12-01-2012, 09:00 PM
There are alternatives to chlorine. Clorox sells Oxi Magic and claims it works well. It contains hydrogen peroxide and lye. Together those are very effective as a disinfectant but break down very rapidly to harmless substances.

We simply don't wear anything white here. We also don't worry about disinfectant as any effective plain laundry soap is a pretty good disinfectant anyway. Soaps destroy cell walls because any soap is an emulsifier. Emulsifiers are molecules that have one end that is hydrophillic and the other is hydrophobic but attracted to lipids and oils. That is how it destroys the cells walls which are made from lipids.