Iron is keeping me up at night

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by brothersnow, Apr 4, 2011.

  1. brothersnow

    brothersnow New Member

    Apr 3, 2011
    Willow, Alaska
    A concernced father in the lower 48 suggested I read up on some discussion that has taken place here and I have since read countless threads on different aspects of my ongoing research. I have a shallow well which has provided my family with perfect water for three years. I could sell this water... Every year towards the end of winter our shallow well jet pump begins to suck some air. I could start a few new threads on the lengths I have traveled up that road but instead I had a deep well drilled this past fall in case the shallow well ever quit. At 30 feet we hit 50gpm and I decided to stop since I had already established that every well drilled deeper in my immediate area had crummy flow rates, hard water, and tons of iron. At that time we had the water analysed and it contained 6ppm iron, 3gpg hardness, and a PH of 7. The Iron on a later test without continuos water flow (I dropped a galvanised pipe with cap for a sample) revealed an iron level of 8ppm. Here we are towards the end of winter and the shallow well sounds like each pot of coffee may be the last. My question to the forum is simple; what do I do??? I have been stuck on that question for weeks and am about to leave on vacation for a month leaving a house sitter who may have to bath in melting snow. Some threads I have already viewed have discussed pros and cons of water softeners. I have a very young baby girl who could be adversley effected by increasing the salt in her diet. Others have been ridiculed on their threads for being against water softeners but I challenge anyone to explain that to new parents and win. I'm against it, and furthermore told my wife my concerns so it is now in the 'not going to happen' category. There are also some claims that salt could effect the bacteria I have nurtured in our septic system which I would also like to avoid. I have also ruled out reverse osmosis as a whole house solution for claims that the amount of water wasted is substantial and loss of pressure can be quite a bit. I wondered about using Potassium pellets in a water softener but after a few days of going through softener manuals it was explained that one shouldn't use such a medium for removing iron. The GE manual went further to say softening water below 3gpg wasn't advised. I've read enough on this site to get the idea that pyrolox systems are marketing scams but they have shown up in discussion with arguements on both sides. I have also read up on the manganese treated media systems but there is enough talk about harsh chemicals in the water to get that new parent bug going, almost enough so to tell the wife. So who has the facts? Why is pyrolox a joke? What chemicals show up through the manganese media when flushed with potassium permanganate? Why won't pottasium pellets work to remove iron in a water softener? Are there affordable aeration methods that work? And how can you sleep at night if you don't know?
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2011
  2. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Feb 6, 2011
    NW Ontario, Canada
    TO remove iron, I use what they call a birm filter. Essentially the water is aerated with a micronizer, held in a precipitaion tank briefly, and then filtered through a bed of pumicite which gets backwashed from time to time. It involves no chemicals but the micronizer requires a significant flow rate to work at higher pressures. Mine stops sucking air at 40 PSI. There are other systems like the Iron Curtain, that uses an air compressor instead of a micronizer.

    I have very hard water so I also have a softener after the iron filter and I use Potassium in it. Potassium will impart some taste so the drinking water then goes through an RO filter.
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  4. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Nov 25, 2006
    I know very little about wells and even less about products on the market for water treatment. However, I have a bud who is leasing a Hague softener and RO system. He's very quirky and definitely cost conscious. He's also isn't going to spend a penny on anything without doing some research... so, if I needed well water treatment I'd look into the same system he has just on his recommendation.
  5. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Oct 7, 2005
    In babies, too much iron will cause constipation, have you talked with your pediatrician about the negligible amount of salt while using a water softener?
  6. drick

    drick In the Trades

    May 16, 2008
    I have 12+ ppm iron so I learned a thing or two about filtering it out. First, to filter out iron you need to get it to convert from its dissolved state into a solid state. Luckily we have air! You can use one of those venturi devices to get air into the water, but I use a special air pump and tank that maintains an air space at the top that the water has to fall through.

    The next problem is it takes about 20 minutes for the dissolved iron to convert to a solid state so that it can be effectively filtered. So you need a 100 gallon containment tank. After that comes the filter. Now to my knowledge Pyrolox is not a scam. The problem with it is that it is heavy and therefore difficult to "fluff up" and clean with the water pressure available from most well pumps. I use a filter medium called Filox. It is also heavy, but not as heavy as Pyrolox and I can attest that it works great with iron! (2.5 years and no maintenance so far and clear water.) The critical thing is you need to determine how many GPM your well pump can CONTINUOUSLY produce while maintaining 45-50PSI. You will need to maintain this flow rate for 10-12 minutes usually. This will determine the maximum size filter tank you can buy. You don't have to get the biggest if a smaller one will work for you, but you cannot exceed the maximum size determined above or the media will eventually foul with iron and fail. You will also need to backwash Filox every single day so unless you think your septic is up to the task, you might want to plan on another location to dump the backwash water.

    The best part about this setup is it doesn't require any chemicals to be added. It can go a year or more with zero maintenance. The bad is that sometimes (like one a week in my case) you will occasionally get an air bubble in your water line from the air injection. Its really just an annoyance, but if you want to avoid it you can substitute the air injection tank with a chlorine pump and this should work just as well. The pump would also allow you to mix in other chemicals to deal with high PH without any additional cost. You'll need to add chemicals every month if you go this route. Also if you are injecting chlorine you might want to add a carbon filter to filter any residual chlorine not used up by the iron back out before it enters you house plumbing.

    Good Luck
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2011
  7. Randyj

    Randyj Master Plumber

    Nov 25, 2006
    Just a little something else to muddy the water....

    Dear EarthTalk: Why is chlorine added to tap water? Do water filters effectively filter it out? -- J.P. Miller, Hudson, WI

    Chlorine is a highly efficient disinfectant, and it is added to public water supplies to kill disease-causing bacteria that the water or its transport pipes might contain.

    “Chlorine has been hailed as the savior against cholera and various other water-borne diseases, and rightfully so,” says Steve Harrison, president of water filter maker Environmental Systems Distributing. “Its disinfectant qualities…have allowed communities and whole cities to grow and prosper by providing disease-free tap water to homes and industry.”

    The Pros and Cons of Chlorine
    But Harrison says that all this disinfecting has not come without a price: Chlorine introduced into the water supply reacts with other naturally-occurring elements to form toxins called trihalomethanes (THMs), which eventually make their way into our bodies. THMs have been linked to a wide range of human health maladies ranging from asthma and eczema to bladder cancer and heart disease. In addition, Dr. Peter Montague of the Environmental Research Foundation cites several studies linking moderate to heavy consumption of chlorinated tap water by pregnant women with higher miscarriage and birth defect rates.

    A recent report by the non-profit Environmental Working Group concluded that from 1996 though 2001, more than 16 million Americans consumed dangerous amounts of contaminated tap water. The report found that water supplies in and around Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, and the Bay Area in California were putting the greatest number of people at risk, although 1,100 other smaller water systems across the country also tested positive for high levels of contaminants.

    “Dirty water going into the treatment plant means water contaminated with chlorination byproducts coming out of your tap,” said Jane Houlihan, EWG’s Research Director. “The solution is to clean up our lakes, rivers and streams, not just bombard our water supplies with chlorine.”

    Alternatives to Chlorine
    Eliminating water pollution and cleaning up our watersheds are not going to happen overnight, but alternatives to chlorination for water treatment do exist. Dr. Montague reports that several European and Canadian cities now disinfect their water supplies with ozone instead of chlorine. Currently a handful of U.S. cities do the same, most notably Las Vegas, Nevada and Santa Clara, California.

    Those of us who live far from Las Vegas or Santa Clara, though, do have other options. First and foremost is filtration at the faucet. Carbon-based filters are considered the most effective at removing THMs and other toxins. The consumer information website compares various water filters on the bases of price and effectiveness. The site reports that filters from Paragon, Aquasana, Kenmore, GE and Seagul remove most if not all of the chlorine, THMs and other potential contaminates in tap water.

    Concerned consumers without the money to spend on home filtration, though, can just rely on good old-fashioned patience. Chlorine and related compounds will make their way out of tap water if the container is simply left uncovered in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
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