Iron Filter Spews Iron after Outdoor Sprinklers are ran

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by branjo101, Sep 20, 2010.

  1. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It would seem that a week later now he has run the sprinklers and found no problem with rusty water and sees no reason to post that.
  2. branjo101

    branjo101 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hello All,

    Sorry for not getting back quickly. I wanted to post so everyone could use this as a lessons learned. To recap, I was getting major amounts of iron or dirty water coming out of the house faucets/fixtures..etc after the sprinklers were ran. We're on a community well and my neighbors do not have the same problem, though they only have water softners. It took forever to narrow it down to this. I had my incoming feed line cleaned out about a month ago and there was a significant amount of iron that was rinsed out. I did not run my sprinklers for a while because it was rainy. Well, it did not fix the problem. It did help with the incoming water supply quality to the house after the sprinklers were ran; it wasn't as bad. However, I still had just really dirty water after the iron filter and water softner. So, I put my sprinklers to run for 1 minute each zone and ran all 10-11 zones. I went down in the basement and sat by the tanks. I could hear a little sloshing going on in the iron filter and noticed that the pre-filter started to get cloudy after about the first 3 or 4 zones; I was not running any water in the house. After everything was done, I had to regen the iron filter and softner again. I noticed some real fine sediment also in the prefilter; it looked like BIRM.

    To sum it up, the CHECK VALVE WORKED! It isolated the house plumbing from the irrigation system. The big water demand of the sprinklers caused a pressure drop on the main line and forced water in the reverse direction, maybe not much, but it had to be fast as it stirred things up. I ran the sprinklers 4 times in a row (all zones for a minute a piece) without any problems. I could tell the check valve was locked down right when the first zone ran. It just sounded differently....there was no noise around/in my water conditioning system. Also, I found out that it is code to have isolation on my house plumbing in my area.

    Thanks for everyone's help. I appreciate it!!!
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  3. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,483
    Location:
    Alaska
    Now who would have thunk it that a check valve would be the answer..................

    Who???

    Back flow though the system when that much water is used before it...

    This is much like a check/backflow between a water heater and a softener.. the heated water will push back through the system and unpack the media bed.
  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

  5. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,005
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2010
  6. branjo101

    branjo101 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hi Terry,

    Thanks for your reply. I do have a backflow preventer on my irrigation system. In addition, now I have a backflow preventer/check valve right before my water conditioning system too.
  7. branjo101

    branjo101 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hi Gary,

    Sloshing might be the wrong word to use; maybe stirring. When I was looking at the prefilter as the zones were changing, I could see iron/sediment going back and forth. If I had air coming in, wouldn't I have a leak then? Actually, I don't see that I could have air coming in if I have any type of line pressure. I look at it as the plumbing system is trying to get to some equilibrium pressure as these zones kick on. When I'm using the term backflow, I don't mean that it is draining, but rather just a little movement backwards. Once it seems like a zone valve closes, then the water flows a little forward. Kind of like a pendulum. It's hard to describe what I'm seeing in words....thanks for your reponse
  8. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Then the pressure is going to zero as the zone comes on due to the peak demand gpm of the zone's heads being higher than your pressure tank/water service can deliver.

    An air leak that doesn't leak water yes. It can be a gasket or o-ring on a control valve or a threaded fitting in the plumbing etc. etc.. And recall that water is not compressible so the pressure going to zero psi is not going to cause any water movement without something in the system being compressible, like a garden hose, air operated water hammer suppressors, washer machine hoses, etc..

    See above.

    So now the check valve is treating the symptom rather than the cause but it's solving the problem of rusty water. but, the rusty water is/was on top of the iron filter media/mineral and shouldn't have been able to get through the whole bed to the bottom of the tank to get out into the plumbing and to your fixtures unless the mineral needs replacing.
  9. branjo101

    branjo101 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Michigan
    Good points Gary. I wonder if how my piping coming in is a possible culprit. I thought someone in this thread said that it should be irrigation sprinklers teeing off of the main and the main inlet continues on to the house; I have the opposite. Is there some length of pipe that is needed from the main to the water conditioning equipment? Mine are in real close proximity. Yeah, I don't know how rusty water or iron could get through the iron bed. It was just rebedded; I had the problem before and after rebedding. Unfortunately, I have been down the path of getting all new and refurbished equipment.
  10. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    I doubt very much that you have any suction leak there, what you had was a classic back flow situation. The check valve has solved your problem. Did you have an approved backflow preventer installed or just a check valve? Both do the same thing but an approved back flow preventer is as Terry pointed out, code required on sprinkler and irrigation systems. I wouldn't give it any more thought, you have done the right thing.
  11. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes that could be the cause, it isn't normal IMO and I've never seen irrigation plumbed that way.

    The length of pipe doesn't matter but if the equipment is before the pressure tank that does matter and is wrong.
  12. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    3,988
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I realize this is an old thread but I'd like to put forth my opinion on what was happening. The entire plumbing system in the house provides some amount of expansion (and subsequent storage) albeit not much. The sprinkler system was dropping the supply below the house pressure causing a small amount of reversal. The final step of a birm filter backwash is a forward rinse and pack, with an emphasis on "pack". This packing is an important last step and the small reversals were shaking up the pack allowing the filter to be too loose.

    Also, there could be small amounts of air trapped in the top of the softener or hot water tank which would increase the amount of "draw down" increasing the amount of reversal. I see this exact same symptom on my system.
  13. branjo101

    branjo101 New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Michigan
    Hello All,

    I figured I'd close the loop here with an update. It's been almost a year since I had this problem. The check valve isolating my system has worked flawlessly. I ran my outside sprinklers almost every day during the hot summer months. The inside house water was/is absolutely crystal clear. No more draining hot water tanks, dumping ice cubes, and softener/filter regens. I've passed this on to a few of my neighbors. They only have water softeners, but they've been complaining of iron in the water (not to the extent I had) during the summer months. Thanks for the great posts. Hopefully this helps other people.
  14. jocko11

    jocko11 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana
    I don't know how this works so here goes. I have a failed MacCleens iron filter that i need to replace. I also have aquired 3 old softners, one with a fleck 3210 and the other 2 with a fleck 3200. Rather than purchase a new filox media filter, can I use the parts from these and just purchase the new media and gravel, If so, what do I use for the control head,and what do i do with the brine settings, and inlet on the controller?
  15. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,483
    Location:
    Alaska
    Fleck 3210 and 3200? that would be what kind of timers are on the valves?
    Might there be a photo of the units in question?
    It might be that you could buy new media , but what media is a question ...
    But I be at a loss on the type of fleck valves that you have.
  16. jocko11

    jocko11 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana
    retrofit iron filter

    The valves are 3200/ with manual skipper wheel, or 3210/ with water usage auto set wheel. I also have the original 2510 that is on the old MacCleens unit, that could be rebuilt?

    Do you need a picture of the valve body?
  17. Akpsdvan

    Akpsdvan In the Trades

    Messages:
    1,483
    Location:
    Alaska
    Photos would be great... of both the valve body and timer controls on the front of the valve bodies.

    2510 is a valve that is in use today so that can be rebuilt with no challenge.

    You might wish to start a new thread for this,
    Some thing like Refit of Iron Filter
    Just a thought.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  18. jocko11

    jocko11 New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana
    here are pics

    SAM_0865.jpg SAM_0866.jpg SAM_0867.jpg

    these are valve and timers ihave
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