Please help, I am getting taken for a ride somewhere in this iron water system debacle, please read!

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by wolff2423, Jan 15, 2020.

  1. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Hi All,
    So I have been dealing with this problem and I feel like I need an outside unbiased opinion and advice so I know if I am down the right path or I am going to get screwed.
    Beginning of November, my basement floods, partially and only about maybe an inch. This keeps happening though. On the outside of where it has leaked there is an obvious salt outline, even though it doesn't feel like salt it's like powder the disappears between your fingers.
    Then one time when it floods, usually around 1-2 am, when our water system regenerates, I go to investigate and find that the pooling of water and source of water is from this water system. The system has an iron filter tank then a water softener and a connected salt brine tank.
    The first time I noticed the flooding, I called a plumber. All he could find was that the overflow hose or drain hose I guess, was not attached to the salt brine tank. He reconnected it and that was that. That didn't fix the problem.
    Next call is to the guy who installed the water system. He comes out, kind of pushes his way through the door, goes downstairs to the system, no one with him, and leaves. He tells me the pump isn't putting out enough pressure for him to run a backwash, something that does turn out to be true, but still leaking.
    Water guy gets called again after another flood and his system is the obvious source. He does a lot of fast talking blames the well, has the "these tanks have never been known to leak" talk and shows the water pressure from well problem again, does nothing, problem continues.
    On the 4th time I have the water guy come out, I tell him that I want him to lift up or move the tanks so that I can see the bottom because that is obviously where the leak is coming from. He does, surprise the iron filter is leaking, have picture, very obvious. He even states it's leaking, takes the tank away promises new one.
    I know this is long, but please, please hang in there!!!
    He also at that time replaces, at my absolute insistence, the salt brine tank. I see the bottom, looks like it's leaking.
    I don't hear from him for 2 weeks, I know should have gotten to him sooner, such is life. He tells me he took the tank back to his office and magically now it holds water and wants to bring it back. NO WAY I saw with my own eyes and have photo. So, eventually I call the company that makes the tank, nope, no new tank, even though they boost a lifetime warranty on tanks, they believe the water guys story.
    I send email with pictures, all of a sudden, happy to build and ship me a new tank, surprise, surprise. Mind you that this is now at the very end of December.
    I contact water guy, haven't heard, again, whats up. He says happy to come install at my convenience, but only if I will sign this waiver.
    Long and short of the waiver, water guy, water company and anything of the kind is not responsible for anything from here forward. The reason being, the low well pressure will break the new tank & it's outside limited warranty?? Hmm, short lifetime. No way I will sign, damage to basement is obviously going to come from some where...So now he is holding my tank, supposedly a brand new one, hostage unless I sign the waiver.
    I am having the well pressure fixed tomorrow. I have a horrible iron problem, horrible. The well guys want to put in Borax treatment...now what? Also, is there any way that this water system could have made the well pump, if that's the problem, happen?
    Even with the well fixed they are going to say outside warranty, but it's the tank and it's a lifetime. They also state the ONLY reason they agreed to build and send me a new tank, was at my insistence and in the manner of goodwill...what now?
    I don't know how the leak occurred, I have a theory that somehow an amount of pressure went through the filter, cracked it, onto the water softener, which is fine and then to the salt brine tank, cracked it and was enough pressure to move the salt brine tank 1-3 inches and detach the overflow hose. But how and where from could that happen??
    It has now been over a month with iron and sulfur water, horrible, the water company are being a bunch of "now let's see about this little lady" types and have treated me as such. The basement stuff, which is a large basement, ruined, carpet needs replaced, lots of stuff, haven't reported to the insurance company yet. But thought better to get the water system fixed and then get in insurance.
    I need help on the cause, the resolution and hopefully a conclusion where I am right, can prove it and they are wrong.
    Attached photo is bottom of leaking iron tank

    11-18 PM #2 20191118_144541446.jpg
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    IL
    I don't think we have the expertise to do what you are asking for.

    If you wanted a suggestion of a plumber or water system pro or well person, I would not know. But if you identified where you are, some body might have that info.

    If were asking how your system should work, we would need more info, such as photos that showed the system. Water test report. Your photo could be any number of things I don't recognize. I at first I thought maybe it was the wheel of some plastic car with the hubcap removed, but you say it is a leaky iron treatment tank.

    If you were asking how to troubleshoot your system, again, more info would be needed including wider-coverage photos. Sorry about your stress. I don't know if your assessment is right, or wrong. I can understand the water treatment guys being reluctant when you have probably indicated you are trying to figure out who to sue. I am not a pro.
     
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  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    The brine tank is not a sealed vessel and so cannot possibly be subjected to pressure.
     
  5. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Well I thank you for the reply. I know the salt brine tank only has the lid. My thought was that the pressure leaving the softener tank was enough, or had enough pressure left to blow off the overflow hose. Do you think perhaps that is a possibility? I will post a picture of the salt outline around the salt brine tank and the gap between the outline and the tank shows how far the plumber had to move the brine tank in order to reconnect the overflow hose. 11-6 #11 20191106_010710104.jpg
    The water guy said that the only way the brine tank moved is if someone broke into my house and moved it! Also, the water guy, the first time he came out and no one was with him, he went downstairs where the system is and moved all the tanks...why would he do that? Again, thanks for your reply.
     
  6. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    I am replying to Reach 4 here because I can't figure out how to do it on here, sorry I am new. If you could tell me the correct way I would appreciate it.
    Thank you for the reply. The suing issue has not been made an issue to anyone, nor is it a necessary avenue. What brought up the waiver is when I said in an email that I assumed the water guy would bring the warranty information for the new tank. The main problem is they said that the water guy said the pressure from the well was low, which is true and being fixed tomorrow. Then they say it's outside the limited warranty, but it has a lifetime warranty.
    I do understand needing more pictures, however; I am not looking to be told how the system works, just what could have caused the damage of the iron filter bottom leaking (the picture above, which I suppose you would just have to believe me is the bottom of the iron filter tank) and the salt brine tank overflow hose, which has barbs, so would be hard to just have come off, to come off and the salt outline.
    I can tell you this about the water:
    estimated water usage = 225 gal/day
    hardness = 6 G.P.G
    Taste and odor = yes and pH 7.0
    iron = 5 PPM
    sulphur = trace
    TDS = 200

    I am hesitant to post much more because of this being an "open situation" and, no offense the state you are posting from could tell me something.

    I am not sure what you mean by a plumber could help if they knew where I was.

    And, what I am really looking here in this forum I suppose is one, what could cause this too happen & two, well I am not sure what else, any ideas or past experiences with this problem, things of that sort. Anyone else who has had a similar experience and how they handled it or tips on anything.

    The water treatment company can be as concerned or not concerned about being sued. That in no way gives them the right to hold on to a tank, that is to replace a tank I paid for and own, unless I sign a waiver. That's blackmail.
     
  7. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Also any other pictures would have the company name on them and I think it best not to post that information. I can try to blur that out and show you what the system looks like if you think that would help.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Covering with masking tape or taping an opaque card over something before photographing may be easier than altering the photo.
     
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I have a theory that there might have been a lightning event that moved the brine tank and caused the damage. This is assuming that the electrical service entrance if bonded to the plumbing. I would look for further evidence of such and pursue an insurance claim.

    BTW, the brine tank overflow only discharges when the softener fails to draw brine. Just connecting the drain and calling it done is incompetence.

    Up until now you only said you have a pressure problem, not that you have low pressure. Excessive pressure can cause a tank failure but not low pressure. A lightning event can cause water to boil instantaneously creating a spike in pressure.
     
  10. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Well I apologize if I was unclear, it's been such a frustrating situation. However; what you say makes a lot of sense, especially this morning. I went down to the basement only to see it flooded yet again. I believe that the water softener has now failed. It has flooded in the same pattern and looks like it's center is the softener and tank. I peeked into the salt brine tank and it looks extremely low to me, and again I don't quite know what all should or shouldn't be or how is should look. I could attach a picture if you think that would help.
    There has been, and forgive me if I am saying this again, a salt outline after it floods. This time as I am checking out the flooding you can see way more salt build up on the edges of where it is drying, assuming this has been happening with the softener now.
    From what I am being told by the water system guy, the low well pump pressure is keeping, or was keeping the iron tank from doing a whole 12 minute backwash. It only had enough pressure to get to 10 minutes.
    I have a well company out as I type this because there is something wrong with the pressure being to low, I can tell that from just the water flow, especially out to the barn.
    I completely agree that that may be the most likely cause. I just kept thinking something had to have gone through both these tank filters and the brine tank. So thanks so much for that thought, I believe you may be correct!

    "BTW, the brine tank overflow only discharges when the softener fails to draw brine. Just connecting the drain and calling it done is incompetence."

    This a understand is not a fix of any means, just the only thing at the time, the overflow hose being disconnected that is, that the plumber could see that even remotely could have caused the damage. And he looked at the softener and salt brine tank do to the salt outline.
    What do you mean the overflow discharges when the softener fails to draw brine. I am a little lost on that one.

    I will go ahead and connect a picture of the salt outline and you can see what you think. And the salt brine tank looks very low, is very low and I just put 2-3 bags of salt in it no less than 3 weeks ago, however; it looks like there is none now, what do you think?
    20200117_102112.jpg 20200117_102056.jpg
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Very low brine level like that is very compatible with a leak. It is compatible with the water not getting softened, since there would be no brine to regen the softening resin. It could also be normal if your softener is set to brine first.

    I don't think that would be solely the cause of no salt. The reason is that if you leak out the brine, the salt will not be consumed any faster than it would during normal operation.

    One thing I would want to check on your flooding is if there is a failure in the drain line or path. So if the floor drain or standpipe, or whatever takes your softener drain water, that could explain water on the floor. It would not explain bad softening or accelerated salt disappearance.

    That bit about the pump not being sufficient seems odd. A softener with a 54x10 tank only takes 2.4 gallons per minute. So if your pump and well system could not keep up with that, you would probably have noticed that drawing a bath and other things. Filling a bath usually gets about 5 gpm. Some more.

    Prescription: Without adding salt, trigger an immediate softener regen. How? Depends on the softener. Watch for flooding during backwash. Backwash is usually the first 5 to 10 minutes if you have the more common brine last setting. Backwash is noticable if you are near the softener. At the end is brine fill. That will occur several minutes after you start, and lasts from 5 to 40 minutes typically. Watch the water rise in the brine tank, and measure the rise with a yard stick etc. If you have the less common "brine first" then the first cycle is putting water into the brine tank. That fill is followed by an hour or more of just sitting before proceeding with backwash.

    At any point that you see leakage, note where the water comes from. Stop the leakage by putting the softener into bypass. How? Check your manual, or show us a photo of the upper back of your softener.

    Maybe have your wet-dry vacuum handy to slurp up what leaks before you bypassed the unit.
     
  12. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    There is a brine fill stage and later, a brine draw stage. If it runs the fill stage and later does not draw brine, the tank will eventually overflow. What you posted now however shows an empty brine tank, so it is likely not overflowing.
     
  13. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Wow!!! Thanks so much for your input! It's a lot of information, but I think I can address most, if not all of it and show you some photos.

    First off, the brine level was low the first time I had the water guy out, in fact it looked very similar to how it does now. However; the water guy did bring me back a new salt brine tank, so this one is maybe a month old, but again doing the same thing. Could it be going so low because the main water softener tank is leaking? And looking at it, what can I do to make sure the salt brine tank is getting what it should?


    As I had said, the salt brine tank got filled with a few feet of water and 2-3 bags of salt right after the water guy brought the new one. He had said that I could go ahead and put in a few more bags of salt in the next day or two, however; that seemed like a lot, especially with the low amount of water. Would that have been too much salt.


    The drain hose looks like it is working fine, however; the drag of the situation is that I am never there when the flooding is happening, I just find the aftermath! As I said, our water had a lot of iron and the well guys found not much when pulling the pump, but have all of a sudden found a horrible amount of magnesium... So the drain hose from the tanks, which I imagine was once clear, is now an orange color, except the closer it get to the drains, starts to really run down into the drain, the hose has turned more black, magnesium color. I have never seen after any of the floodings any problem with the drain hose tank, what have you, backing up. Now when the water guy was here to FINALLY take out the leaking iron tank, and eventually the salt brine tank, but replaced that one right away, I had him put the softener tank up on a few pieces of wood and that way we could see if it was leaking...at the time it was not, but since he was taking out the iron tank, I believe the water was off, so no water, nor pressure was getting pumped into it...though in all fairness I have not noticed it leaking since, except it could have the last flooding, I just wasn't there and I can't tilt the tank forward and check out the bottom all by myself.


    Before the last flooding, and for the reason of the fact that we did appear to have low water pressure, I would turn the water on to the barn, go feed and come back, turn the water to the barn back off. This particular night I had forgotten to turn the water to the barn off right away. That should be okay to not turn it off, but that's what I was down in the basement to do and found the flooding.


    I believe that we have the more common system, water softener tank to the salt brine, but I will try to post a picture for you to see. There is a cable hooked up from the softener tank to the salt brine tank...so what you are saying, so that I get this right is, as it all stands now, well once I get water turned back on, it's off because well guys had to order the right pump, but once back on do a regen, pay attention to the softener tank, leaking and such and within 5 minutes of the regen, take the top off of the salt brine tank, watch to see, after measuring where the water was to begin with, start watching the water rise and measure it. Then if I see any leakage from either the salt brine tank or the softener tank, note where the leaking is coming from, probably a good idea to get a picture or two, then to stop the leaking put the softener into a bypass. I think I can figure that out with the manuals.


    I have kept a wet/dry vac down there constantly.


    So if the salt brine tank looked like this, low water, no salt before and does now, even with it being a new tank, is it more likely that the leak would be coming from the softener tank? Also the softener tank has a sheath over it. the tanks are sealed with shrink wrapped tape. Do I try to take the outside sheath off first, or wait and see if it starts leaking?


    And then, of course, I am just identifying if I have a leaking problem in the softener. If I don't what would it look like, with the exception of the leaking. Will the salt brine fill, will the water softener tank run through the regen and be fine???


    OH FYI, So the well guys, first off told me there is absolutely NO WAY that anything with the well had anything to do with the demise of the water system. They explained it as two sides, and will swear by that. Nonetheless, the pump had gotten clogged up with these large pieces of magnesium sediment and so it wasn't pumping all the water out. Probably, my guess, the pump was allowing about 60% of the water go back down and you can see evidence by the magnesium sheeting on the outside of the pipes. Now mind you, this is the very first time anyone, after 18 years has even mentioned magnesium and very little iron, not sure what the reasoning for that would be, do you? It's a deep well, about 650 feet down.


    Okay let me try to get you some photos and add those and see if that helps you anymore. I sized down photos, hopefully they still work.
    11-15 back of the iron filter valve.jpg 11-15 back of water softener valve.jpg 11-15 slight view.jpg 11-15 the back of the system.jpg 11-15 how the tanks were or are hook up electrically.jpg 11-15 looking down at both valves backs.jpg 11-18 fuzzy bottom of salt brine tank that was replaced.jpg 1-17-2020 the day of the last flood salt brine tank.jpg
     
  14. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    Okay I think I got it. Maybe take a look at the photos I posted, may help.
     
  15. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    If you have a metered head, it will measure how much water is consumed and regen more often which in turn would consume the salt faster.

    If the salt is getting consumed and the brine tank is not overflowing, that indicates the brine fill and brine draw stages are working. The amount of water added during the fill stage should be governed by the brine fill time setting. That time setting was input based on how hard the water sample was at the time of programming.
     
  16. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    It seems like once the softener was reconnected that the water softener was putting out a lot of salt, if that is what makes the water feel very slick?? So if were to run through 3 bags of salt within a month or so, then was out of salt, then if there is not salt in the brine tank, could that cause an overflow. If I am understanding correctly what you mean. Also when you said that I should look for more evidence of the lightning strike, what would I be looking for?

    I wanted to say thanks too before I got to much farther along, you and Reach4 have given me such good input that I fear no one else would have, and actually didn't, to listen to the whole story and then offer unbiased feedback. I thought I would give you an update, before doing anything with the water softener testing or watching it, because it has had to be off while the well people were here.

    The well pump had gotten clogged with magnesium, badly. Now there appears to be more magnesium then iron even. They showed me a water bottle of when the water was first pumping out, and it was pure black. Now, I know that magnesium can most likely be fixed if the type of magnesium matches certain things, like pH & TDS, can be cured with a water softener. As I said though since the last flooding and the well guys being here I have not turned the water softener back on. So, without the softener on, our water of course has the black sediment of magnesium.
    If you recall, the iron filter that is being held hostage, I still have not had put back in. One because I wanted to well fixed first, two, no way I was going to sign their waiver & three, why have it hooked back up unless I know what caused the problem in the first place because you want to be able to prevent that from happening again, right?

    So now the pump in the well has been replaced, all of the lines checked for holes, none found. The well we found out is 755 feet deep and they had to go down to about 670 feet to get water going, it was dry at about 650 feet. As I said, lots of magnesium. It had actually built up on the pipes and because of the build up in the pump, the pump was only pumping out maybe half of the water, or less, with the rest just going back down. The magnesium on the pipes looked like flakes, thick flacks, that you would have to pick off, and not easily.

    Now, I do have a separate pipe that runs to our barn. This valve can be turned off and on, I suppose pipes have to be able to do that, light bulb very bright above my head, sorry. Now if I turn on the valve to the barn, then the house water pressure goes down until I turn the valve to the barn off again. Keep in mind, if I haven't mentioned this, before all of this debacle started, I didn't have to keep the valve to the barn turned off in order to not lose pressure with the house water, but now I do? I talked to the well guy and he said that is not an issue with the pump, but an issue with the piping that goes to the barn, i.e. pipe freezing, hole in pipe, etc. I do have a hydrant in the barn that goes down 6 feet, to prevent it from freezing.

    I suppose at this point my question is what do I do now? Do I call the guy with the tank and tell him that it wasn't the well, and actually the well people are putting in the notes that there is no way that the well pump, motor, pressure tank, etc. could have caused the flooding to the basement, neither high, blowing the tanks, nor low, not getting enough water to the tanks for a backwash. I am filing an insurance claim for the well, possible lightning strike, interesting with your theory...I would think though that the water guys would be thrilled to find out that the problem could be lightning, except that they may not believe me, your way of explaining it of course makes a lot of sense, I just don't know the answer, since I don't know what kind of evidence I am looking for. I did post that picture of how the tanks were connected to the electricity, did that help any? One last weird thing and then I will end this novel here, the basement is only partially finished, however; it does have outlets in the unfinished portions. When the water guy hooked up the orange extension cord, he could have used an outlet less than 10 feet away from the tanks, yet chose to use one in the finished part of the basement, so the extension cord runs under the door to the unfinished basement, across the little hall, and hooks up there. That seems odd to me. Does it seem odd to you and is the electrical hook up shown in the picture look okay or safe?

    Thanks again, you all have really helped me so much!
     
  17. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Magnesium and calcium are the main hardness stuff. Those are usually not black. Black would usually be dirt that got kicked loose during pump and well work. The deal for that is to pump a lot of water to the ditch. Ideally you pump water at a high enough rate that the pump runs continuously during that time.

    Stand by to turn off the pump if the well runs dry. If that happens, let the well recover, and then pump more.

    Of course freezing can make this harder.
     
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    I think that it might be manganese which is black. Manganese between your fingers smears and stains like black ink. I have it in my well water and it builds up as a thick black layer that is hard to chip off. It can plug up the intake screen on the pump. A water softener is not the best way to remove it. The iron filter does better at removing it.

    The line to the barn is likely leaking and so stealing volume that manifests as low pressure.
     
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  19. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    I think what you are saying about the manganese, the thick black layer that is hard to chip off, the well guy made it looked easier than in all reality it was, and I do remember them talking about an intake screen on the pump perhaps letting too many big chunks of manganese in. They put down a pump with the little windmill thing inside, being metal, not plastic. This was of course the same set up they put down last time, same manufacturer and all, however; the well guy thought it may have 2 screens for better filtering...and that appeared to be the only option we had. Also, they put down a new motor, by the same, hopefully good company. The pump seems to be doing well as far as the pressure and psi. Generally it sits between 48 psi - 56 psi without the barn water being turned on at the same time. The barn water pressure is even better each time, but in the back of my mind is the bone chilling thought of a broken pipe, in which case I figure I will just light the place on fire, just start somewhere besides the basement so that I can actually get a match to light. I still don't leave the water to the barn hydrant open unless I am feeding, which I used to be able to do. Also, the well company did write up that there is no way that anything with the well, pump, motor or something like over pressure, could cause any sort of damage to the water system. It was explained as kind of 2 different sides, if that makes sense. I also did get an invoice from the plumber stating that the overflow hose from the salt brine tank was indeed disconnected. If nothing else to show that I am not lying.
    So if you are saying that the iron filter does a better job of removing it, could that be why all of a sudden we have it? Well, I suppose that would matter in the outside water since it doesn't get filtered. The iron filter was taken out on the 18th of November, with just the softener and brine tank left. I had the water softener off for a bit too, just as a safety measure to prevent any chance of leaking, but is now back on. The water guy got in touch with me while the well guys were here and wanted to come put the new iron filter in, but I declined until the well was fixed, since I will never, in this lifetime or the next, sign the waiver and I will demand a new warranty on a newly built tank.
    Is there any event that you can think of, sans lightning, that would seem to change the sediment in the ground? Someone built a new house not too far away, but I don't think that would do it, as we would all be in trouble.
    You said you have the manganese too, do you mind me asking what kind of filter system you have, specs more than the actual company name, unless you are comfortable stating that too.
    My last thought, and bear with me, could something else make, since the iron filter was taken out, make any flooding/leaking in the basement related to it? Such as, the iron filter say was leaking, soaking and then drying everything for at least 3 weeks based upon the damage to clothes or books, and from having that sitting water on top of those cement slabs, the water wore away the mortar and made the mortar crack, especially in such colder weather, then any leaking now would or could come through those cracks mortar places?
    I really appreciate your help and ideas through this. You have both definitely schooled me well in all different parts of water, well & testing different ideas and the tanks themselves. So thanks to you both!
    Well pressure tank next to the water line.jpg
     
  20. wolff2423

    wolff2423 New Member

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    I think I have an idea of what you are saying about pumping the water. When the well company was here, I believe they did do that for a bit, just trying to clear out some of the manganese, which they told me is black, in fact they brought me a water bottle full up of black water. They also said that after they left, we should turn on a hose or spigot for a few hours, just to try to run some through I would imagine? I turned on a spigot, because the cold weather would have just frozen the hose.
    I wrote a lot more about some others things to consider on the other reply that you may find interesting, if not an enjoyable read. Thanks again!
     
  21. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    Don't confuse manganese with turbidity. There is likely to be some turbidity from having disturbed the well that needs to be flushed out as Reach4 suggests.
    My iron filter is the type that uses a micronizer to aerate the water to oxidize and precipitate the iron in a contact tank. From there it goes through filter AG media. This type of system does require good pressure and volume to be able to backwash the media. It is a high maintenance system as the iron and manganese tends to coat the inside of the tanks, piping, and pressure switch.
     
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