Iron staining, Sulfur smell, water options

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by astraelraen, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yeah I know, if if if..... If you wanted to grow bacteria, carbon is an excellent medium to do that in.

    If you need to use a disinfection, instead of a solution feeder/injection system, check out the dry pellet erosion chlorinator and the mixing/retention tank at the link below and if you call them mention my name;
    http://www.apwinc.com/chemfeeder.html

    I suggest a back washed Centaur carbon filter.
  2. astraelraen

    astraelraen New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    ID
    I don't want to grow bacteria, but I also don't want to buy a chlorinator if it is not necessary :) You seem to imply I shouldn't use carbon, or that carbon should only be used in conjunction with chlorine? That makes sense if there is a bacteria problem, and I will test for bacteria if I go that route to make sure there are none. Maybe another issue is that with well water you cannot completely kill off all the bacteria as they could be in the aquifer itself? I don't know the answer to that question.
  3. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I know. lol

    I treated a lot of water just like yours for many years and dealt with many guys with your type of thinking which is normal.

    By the time you pay for those tests you mentioned, you'll probably have a couple hundred dollars less... And I say there is only one fool proof way to go, and that's to use chlorination/filtration from the beginning.

    Otherwise there are no guarantees except you may have to go to chlorination later if you don't go with it now and by them you may need new carbon.

    So shock your well again my way and go from there.
  4. F6Hawk

    F6Hawk New Member

    Messages:
    166
    Location:
    Alaska
    Yes, I understand how to subtract the static water level from the well depth, and I know you do too, so I didn't use the proper words of water column height vs. well depth. Sorry.

    I don't think the site I quoted mentioned the hose method, but several other sites on how to shock a well do. And I agree with you that more chlorine is better than not enough, at least to a point... it's easy to get TOO much and potentially harm parts in the system. So knowing what the correct amount of chlorine to use, and using at least that much or a little more is pretty important, I'd wager. But getting less than required may just waste time, eh?
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,066
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    No, I'm not talking about surging.

    Only in Canada you say?

    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/wwg411/
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2012
  6. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,227
    Location:
    Maine


    I agree with Gary's assessment here.
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Chlorine damages 'stuff' and it doesn't matter much if more than needed is used but I'd like you to tell us how anyone, especially at a university or with the government, can say how much is correct for anyone's well without knowing the chlorine demand of the water and without using FREE chlorine instead of total chlorine content.

    BTW, when I first started posting on the internet in Jan 1997 in Usenet Newsgroups (now Google Groups) and then on forums, I had been shocking wells for about 10 years, and no one but me was using the hose down the well (or smelling for chlorine at the faucets etc. etc.). As time went by I saw more and more guys saying to use it but no government or university types suggesting it. That's because they don't have to live with the results of doing it their way and especially for customers.
  8. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    Just wanted to add that ozone is a very powerful oxidizer and disinfectant, and superior to chlorine in many ways for the OP's problem.
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    And I'll add that although that is true, and ozone works much faster than any other disinfectant but... ozone is difficult to get to work and very expensive. Thereby it is not very popular.

    Part of the problem with ozone is that the manufacturers of ozone equipment haven't established a minimum volume that all ozone generators should produce. And there are two very different means to produce ozone. And in most of the country an air dryer is required because you can't produce much ozone using humid air. Air dryers cause increased and expensive maintenance and cost of operation.
  10. astraelraen

    astraelraen New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    ID
    I agree the tests do end up adding up. I think I'm already up to 50-60 or so in home tests. If I have a lab do the bacteria it will be another 70-100 on top of that.

    How does that unit work since it doesn't have a pump? Does it use the flow of the water to meter how much of the chlorine is put in water? Do you have to buy proprietary chlorine tablets to work with that unit?

    What are the chances a chlorine injector will work without a retention tank? I'm thinking of space issues in terms of laying things out. I'm going to go home today and measure out the area to see how much room I have to set things up.

    I think I'm going to shock the well again with ~2 gallons of bleach this weekend too.
  11. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    738
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I have used a chlorinator without a retention tank many time and it works fine. I do not recommend it if you have bacteria. You have to have contact time. As for the pellet chlorinator, I sold a few of them and saw the problems they have; o ring leaks over time, can not regulate the strenght of chlorine like you can with an injection pump, the ports get clogged with calcuim and the center stem get brittle. Injector chorinator have there problems as well, but I have found there are less than that of the pellet chlorinators.
  12. astraelraen

    astraelraen New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    ID
    I measured the space I have available. There is a raised platform next to the water heater and space on the floor next to the pressure tank.

    The raised platform is 17"x31" the area next to the pressure tank is 16"x31"

    Height is not a problem.

    Most retention tanks above 40 gallons appear to be at least 17" in diameter. So I may have trouble fitting a larger one in that area. I'm not sure if I would be able to fit both a carbon filter and a softener as well. The two tanks might fit, but the placement of the brine tank might be fun.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    It is a large venturi and a volume of trapped air. You always have it empty of water when you put the lid on. The trapped air causes 2 levels of water in it once you turn the water on. For your water quality you would set it for the minimum dose by following the included instructions. You would add pellets and swap the spare center tube with the used one and clean the used one after you are done adding pellets, about every 6-8 weeks. At the same time you would drain the bottom of the mixing tank until the water runs as clear as you can get it, usually not more than like 5 gallons. The tank has a bottom drain with a 3/4" PVC valve on it.

    You should buy the manufacturer's pellets because they are harder than others and will not turn to mush as the competition is known to do.

    If you buy the original, the one at the link I posted, there are knock offs that don't work well or for long without problems, and follow directions and do the maintenance, it's a fool proof system that works every time. I've sold over a hundred of them and on water much much worse than yours.

    I had like 4-5 customers over like 10 years that screwed up their lid o-ring while putting the lid on, you can buy a spare or a pack of 5 with the unit or later if needed.

    I would not buy a solution feeder/injector without having the proper size retention tank.

    The chlorinator hangs in the plumbing but has to be supported like on a shelf that allows taking the unit out of the plumbing for cleaning etc. which is done with unions that come with it. And you drain the water out before taking it out of the plumbing. And you install the boiler drain to be able to drain it first and and a stop valve before and after it so you are only working with the water between the valves. The mixing tank and carbon filter and a softener can be fit in a 3'+ space along a wall and out about 2' or a bit more from the wall.

    You'd put the salt tank under the chlorinator so you can use the top of the salt tank as a work space by taking the lid off it and setting a board or piece of plywood on the tank to set a 5 gal bucket under the chlorinator to easily drain the chlorinator into it and then put the chlorinator in the bucket to take it to a sink, tub or outside to clean it.

    The mixing tank would go along side the chlorinator back against the wall with the backwashed carbon filter in front of it and the resin tank along side it.
  14. lifespeed

    lifespeed Member

    Messages:
    321
    Location:
    California
    I know one family member and one acquaintance both successfully using ozone to treat their water. One of them has exceedingly bad iron problems, the other is moderately iron-laden. It is true that their are two different methods for generating ozone - Corona Discharge and UV bulb.

    The CD method is more potent, but does require an air drier in humid weather. This method is extremely powerful, effective, and is so fast-acting it requires no storage tank for contact time. One can simply inject the ozone upstream of the filter (typically mangox or other iron and H2S removal media. Catalytic carbon can also be used depending on the water). Yes, you have to maintain a drier, but all water treatment requires some level of proper design, implementation and maintenance.

    The UV method places the bulb directly in the water storage tank. It requires contact time to be effective, and must be periodically cleaned, but is fairly low-power, simple and effective.

    Choose whichever method and maintenance chores you find more suitable to your specific situation. It is my opinion that ozone is worth considering as an alternative to chlorination.
  15. astraelraen

    astraelraen New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    ID
    I didn't get a chance to chlorinate this weekend. We are going on vacation for a week soon and won't have a chance to do anything/make any decisions until we get back from that.

    I'm still considering doing a water softener for hardness/iron removal and a backwashing carbon filter for sulfur smell removal. I guess the biggest downside to this approach is still bacteria?
    I understand that chlorine may be the best answer, I'm just not sure I want to deal with the setup and messing with a chlorine mixing tank, etc does not appeal to me.

    I'm also slightly still considering the "miracle" iron/sulfur filters that are advertised out there. From what I can gather though most of them seem to use "heavy" media and I'm not sure I have the GPM to backwash them. Even if I do have the GPM, I'm not sure I want the additional water requirements dumped into my septic. My wife and I will probably talk about options later this week.
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Yes bacteria determines what you should do if you don't want to spend money on a failure and then more money to do it right.

    Your septic tank should be sized based on the number of bedrooms at 2 people each; in other words the number of people that could live in the house.

    And... the number one cause of septic system failure is too little water.
  17. bill marsh

    bill marsh New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    NY
    You dont need a water softener. Just for informational purposes if you softened water on 5.5 gpg it would add under 50 ml of sodium per quart of water. A cup on milk contains 120 ml og sodium. There are many aeration systems on the market that will solve your iron and sulfur problem. Most ofthese systems require an alkalinity of 100 so have the alkalinity tested by a lab and check the specs. of the equipment. Why should a guess be made at the amount of sulfur? There are simple test kits which most water treatment specialists carry. PS That price is absurd. Plus they did not listen to your concerns.
  18. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,718
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I'll add my $.02 as a completely unprofessional DIYer who's had lots of water problems similar to yours. All appear to be solved now, but I travelled a bumpy road to get here -- most bumps self-induced.

    Our well (200' deep, 84' of 4" casing, pump inlet at 60', 17' static water level) was drilled 8/24/2000. To me, the well water looked OK, but tasted and smelled bad, so I had a treatment system installed by a local old-timer whose only testing was done by feel, taste, and smell. I'm a recovering engineer, so I do some more scientific testing; over the years, test results have been pretty consistent: Hardness - 8gpg, Iron - 0.9 mg/L, pH - 7.5. A very fancy gas chromatography test run by a co-worker showed manganese sulfides, possibly as a result of bacterial action, and negligible hydrogen sulfides. Periodic Hach tests for H2S, IRB, SRB, SLYM have all been negative. Periodic Health Department tests are all negative.

    My local old-timer is a chlorine fan, so he recommended chlorine injection followed by a carbon filter and a softener. He hooked 'er all up, told me to dump a jug of Clorox in the chlorine tank and refill it when it got to 1/4 full, keep the salt level up in the brine tank, flush the contact tank periodically, and replace the carbon when the water in the house started to taste of chlorine. I've fine-tuned things a bit in that I monitor the residual chlorine and fiddle with the injector setting now and then, but all in all, it's a pretty easy system to maintain. I've learned that if you let the chlorine tank run dry you're in a world of hurt, and if you run out of salt we do see a difference in the shower and laundry; we like soft water. We've never smelled chlorine in the house, so our carbon filter is apparently doing a great job. In the house, the water feels, looks, and tastes great. For some reason, there's still some iron staining in the toilet tanks over the very long term, so I'm adding an iron filter.

    A few words about chlorine: There's an anti-chlorine bias on the part of some water treatment experts, but every time my wife sees a horse take a leak in the field across the street, she LOVES our chlorine system. I find it easy to manage, with one exception: there's a 120-gallon steel contact tank -- big, poorly designed for draining precipitated iron and other sludge, and showing evidence of nascent rust. I wash it out with a pressure-washer once every couple of years, which is a major PITA. One vendor offers a tall skinny Polyglas retention tank with a bottom-drain blowout and a fancy mixing device in it, claiming it's as effective as the big bulky steel tank. Might be worth a try (http://www.terrylove.com/forums/sho...quot-x60-quot-Retention-Tank-Good-stuff-or-BS). I noticed that my system was set up in the order: pump->pressure tank->chlorine injector->contact tank, with the injector controlled by the pump switch - a common arrangement. However, this means there could be zero flow past the injector much of the time, when the pump is running but there's no demand in the house. I'm going to rearrange things so the order is: pump->injector-> contact tank->pressure tank to ensure the full flow from the pump is passing the injector. This order is recommended by several on-line vendors and the manufacturer of my pressure tank. For unrelated reasons, I'm going to use a flow switch instead of the pump switch to control the chlorine injector pump.

    A few words about Clorox: Many people have given me flak about not using "special" chlorine. They claim that Clorox has benzene and other impurities in it, loses effectiveness over time, and is "illegal" to use in potable water. However, according to the Water Quality Association, it is approved under NSF/ANSI 60 International Standard for Drinking Water Additives (http://www.wqa.org/goldseal/detail.cfm?tableDefID=6&companyID=1031933), which is good enough for me. It's cheap, available everywhere, and if you adjust the concentration so as to require refilling the chlorine tank once a month or so, there's negligible loss of effectiveness over time.

    After a while I noticed a sulfury smell in the hot water. I replaced the 30-year old electric water heater, which was really disgusting inside, but the smell returned after a while. A little Googling told me that a) it's a bacterial thing, b) it's related to the sacrificial anode in the tank, and c) it can be aggravated by using softened water. This led me to periodically adding hydrogen peroxide to the water heater tank, which worked OK, but got old pretty quickly. I moved on to replacing the anode with a special no-stink anode, which also worked. It requires inspection and possibly replacing (they're called "sacrificial" anodes for a reason) every few years, so I will probably replace it with a powered anode (hopefully solar powered) when the time comes. I now use a solar water heater, and the water temperature in the tank is usually over 160° unless we have an extended cloudy period. This should, by itself, kill any bacteria in the tank, so a fancy anode may no longer be needed.

    All backwash effluent goes to a drywell, so there's no impact on the septic system.

    Now, of course, they're threatening to run city water down our street, and state law requires us to hook up if it's available. City water is legal, but tastes awful, so my investment in my current system won't be money wasted.

    Finally, a word about Kinetico. A neighbor a few doors down has one and swears by it. He also swears at his water, which stinks to high heaven and stains his toilets badly. In fairness to Kinetico I think the smell is the same water heater problem I had. I've never tested his pre- and post-treatment water, so can't say if the Kinetico system is softening and removing iron as intended, but for the money he's paying it sure ought to be. All in all, I wouldn't have one.
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Your old galvanized/steel tank is probably adding iron to your water as it rusts inside. I've never seen iron cause a ring in a toilet bowl, it causes an orange/brownish/tan coating the the whole bowl from the water line down.

    Replacing that tank with the mixing/retention tank would cure that.

    If you were dosing the correct strength and volume of chlorine and had the proper retention time, you wouldn't have bacteria using the anode rod in the water heater to create an odor or... iron getting past the carbon filter and through the softener to the toilets. I doubt the softener is allowing that, an iron test on the softened water would show if it is.

    I think you are over thinking this. And you sure don't need an iron filter. BTW, if you wipe the ring off the toilet bowl, that is a lot less expense than buying equipment.

    You don't need to install the injector ahead of the pressure tank and if you do that, and the injector blocks upyou can cause serious problems for a pump and, assuming the pressure switch is on the pressure tank and it is in the house, if a submersible pump, plumbing problems in the well or underground to the house.

    pssssst you could tell the wife that usually urine is bacteria free and that the stuff from the other point of exit of mammals that contains bacteria. And that it being on the ground is highly unlikely to contaminate your well water.

    I have to ask, why is the "pump inlet" at 60' in a 200' well?
  20. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,066
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Unless you have a really shallow well, I doubt that horse piss ends up in your drinking water. Mind you, folks have changed their thinking WRT deep wells since Walkerton. As long as there are hacks and DIY'ers poking holes in the ground, it is always a possibility.

    I don't use chlorine. My untreated water smells from the manganese and iron. It does not smell like rotten eggs. When my water treatment system is working right, after aeration and iron filtering, it smells considerably less. After softening, I can no longer detect the odor. After RO filtering, it is also tasteless.

    When my treatment system is not working right, I detect a distinct smell of iron in the shower, like what you smell when you have a bloody nose. The manganese I only ever smell on the raw water. I don't advocate using just a softener to remove iron.

    I grew up as a country boy and never could tolerate the smell of chlorine with city water. Still can't. I have on a couple of occasions noticed a sulfur smell on two of my fixtures. One was the sprayer in the kitchen sink that very seldom gets used. The other was the cold tap at the lavatory. Both were caused by bacteria that got established in the plastic supply lines. A little bit of chlorine soak of the plastic supply lines solved it and chlorine shocking of the system kept it from ever returning. I set the temperature higher on the HWT so it cannot harbor bacteria.
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