Understanding Iron Bacteria in Your Well System

September 15, 2016

Having iron bacteria in your water and well systems in Columbia, TN sounds a lot worse than it actually is. However, it’s still gross and needs to be monitored closely to prevent bad tasting water, and damage to your clothes, sinks and toilets.

What is iron bacteria?

Iron bacteria is bacteria that naturally occur in shallow groundwater and surface water. The bacteria combine iron and oxygen in the soil to form rusty looking deposits of bacteria along with a slimy material that sticks to your plumbing.

How do I spot it?

There are several pretty obvious signs that you have a problem with iron bacteria. These signs affect all of your senses, so they’re pretty hard to miss. Visually. you’ll see red stains around your sinks and your toilet tank (if you happen to ever look there), and you may also notice stains on your clothes after removing them from the washing machine. You may notice that your water tastes bad and may even appear slimy or oily. If the water tastes bad than it probably smells pretty awful too.

If the iron bacteria deposits are severe, you could even notice water production problems with your water and well systems in Columbia, TN.

What can I do to clean it?

Fortunately, cleaning iron bacteria is possible. Unfortunately, you may have to hire a contractor or pump installer to do the majority of the work. If the iron bacteria problem is bad enough, the first step is to physically remove the bacteria from the inside of your well. This entails a contractor or pump installer to get down into your well and scrubbing the walls. After a thorough scrub, a solution is sprayed on the walls to try to prevent future growth.

A combination of chemicals can also be used to clean out iron bacteria from a well system. Chlorine is a popular chemical for keeping swimming pools clean, and it can do the same for your well system. Injecting chlorine into your system is a fairly inexpensive treatment/preventative method but it also may take a few treatments to be totally effective. Contractors will probably recommend combining your chlorine treatments with other substances such as acids or phosphates. Never try to clean your well system with chemicals. This should only be done by a trained professional.

How can I prevent it?

You can keep your well free from iron bacteria by practicing common sense when making repairs. First, water placed in a well during drilling or repair of pumps should be disinfected before it’s put in the well. Never take well from a lake or pond as these bodies of water are hotbeds for iron bacteria. Speaking of disinfecting, always disinfect the well, pump, and plumbing before and after repair. While you or a contractor are repairing your well, never place any equipment, pumps, or pipes directly on the ground. After repairs are made, keep the well casing watertight and properly capped. Seeing how iron bacteria are commonly in the soil, keep the casing at least one foot above the ground.

If you’ve noticed any of the symptoms caused by iron bacteria, or fear that you may have accidentally contaminated your water well, contact us at 931-285-0138 to have one of our professionals clean your system.

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