The facts about iron in well water that I can explain is from more of a practical point-of-view. Well water with iron will often contain varied levels of manganese. We’ll refer to Iron and Manganese as sister elements… neither are listed as health concerns but both together or each on their own at high enough levels can ruin the appearance of a home by staining and may cause costly damage.
If called to a home I can instantly recognized one of the more obvious facts about iron in well water… the homeowner has usually gone out and purchased every aggressive cleaning product and scouring pad on the market in an effort to remove the difficult iron staining on fixtures caused by iron in their well water. If you do have a newer home and are battling with iron and manganese issues… you should really stop before you ruin your fixtures from over-aggressive cleaning. You will damage the finish on your shower enclosures, sinks and other fixtures. That’s just the visual part of the damage caused from having too much iron in your well water.
There is other damage occurring that may not be as visual but will certainly become more apparent in time with elevated levels of iron and manganese. Although we cannot alter the naturally occurring levels of iron in water that’s recharging your water well as it’s simply just the water chemistry of the water. But one of the most surprising facts about iron water is that it can better managed so it’s not affecting everything the water comes in contact with over the years.
It’s All About Maintenance
Many water wells will have elevated levels of both Iron (Fe) and Manganese (Mg), it’s often apparent soon after we put a water system in the service. Or a water well may have more moderate to minimal levels iron but the system will still deteriorate over time. In deeper wells or rock holes as we call them here on Vancouver Island the iron tends to more or less be in solution initially as it enters the well through fractures in the rock. But if there are several hundred feet of well standing full of water most of time or if the well is never heavily pumped or reversed once in a while, then much of the iron will slowly oxidize and come out of solution – gradually settling to the bottom of the water well.
Often years of ferric (oxidized) iron settles into maybe 10 feet or more of water below the submersible pump, sort of like a settling basin. Eventually this settling area becomes loaded with oxidized (ferric) iron, every time the pump engages the torquing of the pump causes the movement of the water below the pump (the settling area) and picks up more and more ferric iron all the time loading everything in it’s path with even more oxidized iron.
Another very important fact about iron that I can share with you is the importance of water well maintenance. I’ve seen a lot of excessive damage occur within a home over the years… a lot of that is preventable! Please understand that iron removal from your water well needs to begin with well maintenance. It’s best not to expect to permit a home water well system to substantially deteriorate then just call in “the water filter guy” and have him install a iron filter for you and and suggest your problem is suddenly resolved, things will look better initially but soon your fouled water well will just foul the filter and slowly the problem will begin to show up again! I’m dead serious… you want to start with a clean well or at least a well that is a whole lot cleaner than it probably is several years after being drilled.
I’ve pumped many dirty wells over the years and have seen miracles occur just by spending a few hours disinfecting (chlorinating) then back flushing a well for maybe a few hours, sometimes the improvement is so significant that there is not a need for water treatment on the system as long as the well is maintained. Not always but sometimes. Regardless, only after a well has been disinfected and purged will I make an assessment and finally take water samples for the lab.
While performing maintenance on a water well we are able to monitor and assess the well water as it’s being pumped from the well… it’s sort of like DNA to me! We can then make important discoveries about the characteristics of the well and the entire home well water and pressure system which will be by Italy important and required for the functional design of any water well filtration system if required. There can be far more information that does not show up on a water chemistry report than what does sometimes… unfortunately that’s the data that you have to do some work for! I believe this is the main reason why I don’t have well water filtration systems fouling and failing. Yes the easy way out is to not bother with the well but that’s never been my practice for nearly 20 years. There are no shortcuts when it comes to iron issues in well water, these are my simple and proven facts about iron in water wells.
I hope you have found this article helpful, we would love to have your comments.