Do you have well water iron stains and buildup on your sinks, tubs, and toilets? How much time and money are you spending on buying products and chemicals to clean shower curtains or faucets? Do you have tainted food and beverage flavors and consistencies?
The problem may be too much iron in your water.
In this article we will explore some common questions about well water iron and what you can do about it.
Well Water Iron: How Does Iron Get Into My Well?
Seepage — water from above the surface in the form of rain or melted snow travels through the soil into the well’s water supply. Along the water’s path, iron within the soil may dissolve into the water and follow it into the well.
Corrosion — Remember as a kid when you accidentally left your bike outside in the rain and woke up to find it a rusty mess? Something similar can occur within your well causing iron to enter the water. The casings and pipes leading to and from the well are likely made of iron. When they are exposed to water and oxygen the iron can begin to deteriorate, causing the iron to oxidize, and form the natural byproduct rust. As water travels through the pipes the rust flakes off into the water supply and subsequently into your tap and appliances.
Well Water Iron: What Are the Different Forms of Iron?
Iron typically appears within well water in two common forms…
Ferric Iron — This is also called “Red-Water Iron.” That lovely orangey-red water mentioned in the beginning of this article, is Ferric Iron. Ferric Iron is clear well water that has been exposed to oxygen, oxidized forming visible rust, giving the water a reddish color.
Ferrous Iron — This is also called “Clear-Water Iron.” This form of iron cannot be seen in the water because it is soluble or can be dissolved in water. Ferrous Iron often comes from deeper wells or water sources.
Well Water Iron: Are There Any Health Hazards Caused by Having Iron in My Water?
If you have concerns about iron in your water supply, while it can be damaging to your water system and appliances, serious effects on your health are unlikely. Iron is an essential component of the human diet for proper function and it is highly improbable that you would consume a toxic amount solely through drinking water. However, excessive iron in water may have negative effects on your hair and skin. Well water often contains high levels of iron and other minerals.
Once absorbed by your hair, these contaminants will cause your hair to develop a darker discoloration and become dry, brittle, and have an awful metallic odor. Heavy amounts of iron will tint light-colored hair orange and cause dark hair to become darker with red highlights. In addition, oxidized iron actually functions similarly to how a mild peroxide attacks the hair. It may cause an excessive dry feeling in your hair and could even change your hair’s visible texture. In regard to your skin, iron can damage skin cells which may lead to wrinkles. Furthermore, dissolved minerals such as iron and magnesium will cause excessive soap scum residue, clogging your pores, and cause unattractive skin problems such as acne or eczema.
More serious health consequences may result from iron bacteria, which are microscopic organisms that feed off of iron. These creatures can leave behind iron waste, a gross slime that can stick to pipes and create an environment that harbors other harmful bacteria and organisms. The EPA has not listed iron bacteria as a contaminant. However, the EPA does list iron as a Secondary Drinking Water Contaminant because the pathogenic organisms, which require iron to grow, increase the risk for disease or infection when digested by humans.
Well Water Iron: What Damaging Effects Does Iron Have in Well Water?
There may not be any consequences to your health from the iron present in your well water, but your appliances, dishes, laundry, and food will definitely pay the price.
Stains and Slime — One of the annoying repercussions of iron in well water are the stains it leaves behind on your laundry, dishes, sinks, and bathtubs—which are nearly impossible to remove. The stain will appear in a red, yellow, or brown color making all of those items look gross and unsanitary. The well water iron issue remains no matter how hard you try to clean them.
Clogged Pipes — Sometimes when rust particles and iron fragments travel through your water supply they stop for extended periods of time. Once stagnant, the iron is able to accumulate inside the pipes of your water supply system as well as your appliances. This can result in the need for expensive repairs in your dishwashers, washing machines, sprinklers, and other water-related appliances.
Stuck Well Pump — Occasionally, when we service a well, the well pump is stuck inside the casing. Well pumps get stuck when the iron in the water oxidizes, forming rust. Over the years, this rust builds up in your well casing. It doesn’t allow enough room for your pump to be removed and serviced.
Foul Taste and Smell — Iron in water will make even your best dishes and drinks have a disgusting metallic taste and a repulsive dark black color. This problem is especially prevalent with vegetables and other foods cooked in water.
Well Water Iron: What Should I Do About Iron in My Water?
Well Cleaning—The primary, and most important step is a well cleaning every ten years. During a well cleaning, we remove your submersible pump out of the well. We also, lower a high-output air line into the well, and airlift years of built-up sediment and gunk through the top of the well. This freshens up your old well and redevelops the well screen so you get better flow and better quality water.
Free Water Analysis—Our sister company, C&J Water Treatment, offers a free water analysis designed to track down the source of poor-quality water. Our team will come to your home and provide an analysis of your city or rural water and answer any questions you may have. We only need 30 – 45 minutes of your time, and we will only schedule at a time that’s right for you. Following our expert review of your water, your water treatment expert will give you an estimate for a treatment solution. Our technicians have decades of experience diagnosing and solving common—and uncommon—water issues. They provide several applications designed to remove sulfur, rust, iron, sediment, and much more.
C&J Well Co. has many options for mitigating the iron in your water. We have been offering solutions to Central Indiana families for decades and you can trust our experts to provide you with the best, most affordable options—contact us today!