Dirty water after changing sediment filter

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Boofuss

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I'm having a disagreement with my neighborhood well committee and need some "expert" advice. In our neighborhood there are a number of shared wells. I believe that there are only a few houses on my well because of my location. So I think the well/pump should be able to handle reasonable usage for any of these few houses, even simultaneously.

A key issue is that each time I change the cartridge in my sediment filter, I get a considerable amount of dirty water (temporary). Where I live, that means red-ish/brown fine sediment, no sand. It's been frustrating because I put in a new filter, then turn on the main supply to the house and the filter gets dirty immediately.

After a few weeks (we try to go longer...but hard to take a decent shower), water pressure upstairs is so low (due to the filter cartridge clogging) that I have to change it again. I think this may be because it gets so dirty at the time of installation that its life is significantly shortened.

This, and other experiences make me think that the flow capacity of the well is simply not sufficient. I think the well cannot deliver sufficient water and therefore kicks up lots of sediment on high demand. But I'm not believing that shutting off my water to change the filter, then turning it on again is "high demand".

In response the well team says they will do a chlorine shock to the well. I don't understand how that would help. The last couple times this happened (both times I went to the well and saw that the pressure went to zero) I was told that it was because of some nearby house construction, in which the workers were also using water. But I think the workers were using a single hose and I feel that the shared well should be able to handle other usage besides my house.

At one time I offered to pay for an outside well company to diagnose and service the well, but our neighborhood team feels that they are properly handling things. I don't know what to do.

Any advice?
 

Reach4

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How about a photo of the cartridge filter housing, and the bypass valves? I am guessing you may bypass the filter when changing filters, but not necessarily.

Another thing to check for is if the cartridge housing is plumbed in backwards.

Also, when changing the whole-system filter, I would flush the pressure tank first. Watch the stuff that comes out during that process, perhaps by playing the flushed material into a white Lowes bucket to help observe.

https://terrylove.com/forums/index....izing-extra-attention-to-4-inch-casing.65845/ is my sanitizing writeup. It is more rigorous than is normally done. I am not a pro.
 

Valveman

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I am pretty sure you do not have a pressure tank? But you still need to flush the lines at high volume before adding a new filter cartridge. The well team could certainly use a second opinion. Especially since you are paying for it. Only those who don't want you to find out what is going on are afraid of a real audit. Lol!
 

Boofuss

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I have no pressure tank. That is all at the community well.

When I change the filter I turn off the line coming into the house (at the basement wall). I have a water softener which I then bypass (mostly because I don't like this anticipated dirt going through it). Then I open a sink valve in the basement to release internal house pressure. When that comes to a trickle, I replace the cartridge. Then I turn on the main valve. At this time, I will get sustained dirty water (perhaps a minute or so?). Sometimes the incoming pressure will go down from 60+ to 20-ish (in the case when construction workers were also using water). When the pressure drops like that, I know from experience that if I walk to the well (not far from my house) it will probably show 0 psi at the well, and eventually recover.

Even if there is no construction happening (or other significant usage from another house), I still don't want the dirty water.

I've attached a photo of my setup: water coming in from the wall, up-outlet with gauge to outside of house, then to cartridge, then through softener to house.

I am currently using that vertical outlet to the outside to drain dirty water before I open the valve on the cartridge--which seems to work. But it makes it more of a task and I would rather solve the problem if possible. (I think this is a problem, maybe not?)
 

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Reach4

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Nice photo.

1.
  • What does the valve up top of the filter do?
  • What brand of filter housing is that?
  • What do you do with the valves when you swap cartridges?

2. Your Sharkbite PRV has a filter screen. Have you cleaned that? I did not find what size wrench is needed. See attached image. Cleaning that screen each time you change cartridges would good if it catches stuff, but I don't know if there are any pitfalls. Since I don't find posts of people trying that, maybe there is a worry.

3. Does your clear filter housing fill with sediment, or what do you see through the housing before swapping cartridges?

4. Looks like maybe 1.25 pvc coming in on the left. Looks like all of the flow-carrying pex in the picture is 3/4 inch. Right?

5. The first tee carries up water for the outside hose bib. This is what Valveman suggests you flow maximally before changing cartridges, to wash accumulated sediment from the PVC. Whatever you can do to maximize flow at that point is good.

6. You should not use a cellulose filter cartridge with non-chlorinated water. Use polypropylene or polyester elements.

7. What does the first gauge read at various times that you have noticed? What is your PRV set to?

8. You need, and probably have, a thermal expansion tank for the WH. Make sure that has air precharge set to the PRV setting or a couple PSI above that.

9. Here is an idea: if you cannot eliminate the appearance of the sediment after you use the valve atop the filter housing, you could leave that valve untouched. Turn off the whole-house valve. Then bring water pressure down to zero by opening a faucet. Opening the drain on the WH may be a good way to do that, plus you could maybe dump some WH sediment in the process.

10. I would very lightly lube the o-ring with NSF-61 listed silicone grease at each filter change. . I like Molykote 111. A very light coating is used. A 5.2 ounce tube is a lifetime supply. I wear nitrile gloves to ease cleaning my fingers. Do have a spare o-ring on hand.
 

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Bannerman

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I anticipate the black handle on top of the cartridge filter is a bypass valve to allow water to flow past the filter while the cartridge is being replaced without requiring shutting off the main valve. If so, this would allow the incoming line to be flushed out to the open faucet while the softener is bypassed. Since the vertical line before the filter supplies an exterior faucet, it will likely be easier to flush out the line that way.

Your description seems to describe oxidized iron which maybe a result of shocking the well with chlorine and then not flushing the well thoroughly at the well head.
 
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Boofuss

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Incoming pressure is usually 60-75-ish when things are working properly. I set the pressure regulator to 60.

Hmm. The fact that no one has specifically addressed the idea of dirty water coming from the well may be all I need to know. I did not know this was normal.

All the plumbing in the picture is new as of the beginning of the year. And yes, as I said I can use the vertical outlet piping right after the main incoming line to flush things out (that line goes outside the house). And yes, there is a bypass at the top of the canister as well which I know I could use as well but that is after my outside water and would require me to fill too many buckets with dirty water to be practical.

I was just thinking that getting this rush of dirty water from the well was an indicator of something wrong at the well.

As described, this occurrence just happens when the incoming line is stopped, pressure reduced inside (mostly drained), and then turned on again.

Could someone explain to me what this would happen even before this reaches my internal plumbing? Why would my plumbing affect incoming water? And, I don't understand why it happens only when I cycle the incoming valve (normally things are fine).
 

Valveman

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Your incoming water should not stop at any time. The pressure may get low, but the flow should not stop. Without knowing what the pump is doing it will be hard to tell. The pump could be shutting off on overload. These are usually automatic overloads and reset themselves in a minute or so and water starts coming again. Just regular on/off cycling of the pump can stir up the crud. But stopping completely and starting again in a minute or so would stir up the crud even worse.
 

Bannerman

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I believe the crud is coming from the well. Unless there is a lab test report, we won't know which elements and quantities are in the water. As stated, if the well has been shocked but is not sufficiently flushed at the well head, it is likely there is ferrous iron dissolved the well water which was oxidized to a ferric state (solid- rust) that is being pumped into the supply line.

To flush the well, the supply line will normally be disconnected at the top of the well and the pump permitted to run non stop until the water flow becomes clear and without chlorine residue. By disconnecting from the supply lines at the wellhead, the pump will move the greatest amount of water possible from the well, carying crud with it. Without sufficient flushing, ferric iron and other crud will be pumped into and can settle in the supply lines, but will be only moved along when there is higher flow velocity than usual, such as when you suddenly restore flow to your home.

Although the line to the exterior appears to be 3/4" or larger, if there is a common garden hose connection, the flow rate is likely less than adequate to sufficiently move crud from within the larger diameter supply line feeding your home. You may want to bypass the cartridge filter and softener and open every cold faucet and the external hose line to maximize the flow rate into your home to flush out any remaining debris. Aerators on faucets should be first removed. Of course, if crud continues to be added from the well, clearing the supply line will be of limited benefit.

If the well does not produce sufficient water to supply the connected homes, then a large capacity storage tank (cistern) maybe needed. The exsisting well pump output could be restricted to be equal or less than the well recovery rate, to continually fill the cistern until full. Another pump(s) would then pump water from the cistern to supply the home's as needed.
 
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Reach4

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Could someone explain to me what this would happen even before this reaches my internal plumbing? Why would my plumbing affect incoming water? And, I don't understand why it happens only when I cycle the incoming valve (normally things are fine).
Speculating wildly:

Your thermal expansion tank, which you did not mention, has the precharge too low. When you cut on the water, there is a sudden flow of water due to your expansion tank and pex etc, that gets accumulated sediment in the pipe kicked up.

There were 8 question marks in my first response. I think you responded to about 3.

Hmm. The fact that no one has specifically addressed the idea of dirty water coming from the well may be all I need to know. I did not know this was normal.
Sediment from the well is primarily why you would have a sediment filter.

Cities flush water mains, typically annually. They open the fire hydrant at the end of the line, and let the sediment wash out.
 
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