Sediment and Bacteria help!

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog. Water is life.' started by LFCraig, Aug 10, 2014.

  1. LFCraig

    LFCraig New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Hi,

    I hope I'm posting this in the right forum.

    My husband and I moved into out house 6 months ago. The house is 60 years old, with a well and septic system. The pipes are a mix of copper and pvc. All the hot water pipes are copper. The cold are a mix.

    The previous owners had a potassium permanganate softener, which didn't seem to be working when we moved in. The dishwasher (which we replaced) had rust stains in it and the shower had both red and black staining. We had our water tested, though I am not sure of the exact results, but it was hard and we had sulfur and iron present. In February, when we moved in, we removed the old softener and had an iron breaker 3 and clack water softener installed, along with an RO system under our kitchen sink.

    Everything was working great - no odor, no staining (in fact, the stains on the shower doors that I couldn't scrub off are slowly disappearing!), soft water etc. - until April when something (I'm told it was a large chunk of sediment??) broke a valve on the iron breaker, preventing it from working properly. Whatever it was prevented the air bubble from staying - it would form, but then disappear after a couple hours. During that time our water smelled and had small black chunks in it. The guy who installed our system came out to replace the part and also diagnosed the grey slime I had noticed building up in our toilet bowls and tanks as iron bacteria. He suggested we disinfect the iron breaker by introducing chlorine once a month, during the regen cycle. We have been doing this since April. He also disinfected our softener and RO by introducing bleach into those as well.

    Fast forward to today. Our water is still odor and stain free, but the slime continues to build up in the toilet tanks. The tanks are filled with hundreds of small bubbles trapped on the surface and there is black, slimey build up on the internal bits. I have rinsed the tanks with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide on separate occasions (letting it sit overnight). This seems to solve the problem for a few weeks, but then it returns. I am hesitant to use bleach because of the septic system.

    I was somewhat content to just keep doing this, until recently, when we replaced the hot water tank. Following this there was a huge amount of black/grey sediment expelled from our pipes - mainly the hot water, but also present in the cold water. I removed all the aerators and this stuff is continuing to come out weeks later. There has also been an increase in the slime buildup in the toilets. We have a sediment filter before the hot water tank, which we just changed last week, and it is slowly filling up with black chunks and clear filmy stuff.

    I have spoken to the guy who installed our system, but he seems in over his head on this one.

    So - 2 questions:

    How do we get all this crap out of our pipes? Is it possible that this is stuff getting through the iron breaker, or is it sediment that was stuck in our pipes and now breaking loose? I should also maybe mention that we switched from regular softening salt to the rust removing kind and that the previous hot water tank was filled with white sediment.

    How do I get rid of whatever is growing in my toilets? Is there a way to determine what it is? Since we are bleaching the iron breaker, could iron bacteria be stuck in my pipes AFTER the iron breaker?

    OK, I guess that's more than 2 questions ;)

    Any help or thoughts would be greatly appreciated. I have been reading about flushing our pipes with various things: weak acids, strong acids, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, compressed air + water, but everyone seems to have differing opinions about what works, making things very confusing!

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2014
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I am not familiar with the pot perm operating... but regardless of what else you do, I would do a well sanitizing. http://www.moravecwaterwells.com/disin_test.htm is the procedure I like and did. It is possible that it would be a permanent cure, and it is possible that the effects are only temporary. The difference would be whether your problem bacteria inhabits your aquifer naturally, or it was only somehow introduced to your well. I did get some high-range chlorine test paper to make sure that I had plenty of chlorine. I also got some pH paper to make sure I had gotten the water acidic enough. Some water "buffers" the acid, so a simple calculation may not tell the whole story.

    I did not have the problems you do, and my iron+sulfur filter works on a different principle. It does draw a small dose of bleach solution from its solution tank during each regen, and that is the only chemical that I use for regular water treatment. My water is probably different from your water.

    I have a friend who drops a slow-release chlorine tablet into each toilet tank to help keep things clean.. I think each lasts a couple of months. He says it has not (yet) caused the failures that people warn about. I use one Fluidmaster Flush n Sparkle and one Kaboom Scrub Free. Those do not add chlorine to the tank, but only down the overflow to the bowl.
     
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  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    TL;DR
    It is not clear what bacteria is present. Have you tested the water for potability?

    If it is IRB/SRB then chlorinating the water prior to filtration may be required if the bacteria is too far advanced into the aquifer to treat with shocking the well. What concerns me is the mention of grey slime (silt?) It may be indicative of a bad seal on the casing and surface water getting in, risking more serious contamination that just IRB/SRB.

    The black crud could be manganese or it could be a disintegrating anode.
     
  5. LFCraig

    LFCraig New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Thanks, that looks like a thorough method! Did you by-pass your water treatment system while flushing the pipes?
     
  6. LFCraig

    LFCraig New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Sorry my post was too long for your liking. I wanted to provide as much info as possible, to avoid things like "or it could be a disintegrating anode". Had you bothered to read my post, you would see I replaced my hot water tank a few weeks ago.

    I will look into the casing issue you mention.
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Was not hard. I lined a garbage can with two clean liner bags (for redundancy) and filled that with the flooding water. Then I covered it with an inverted bag to keep it clean.

    I avoided putting too much chlorine into the septic.

    I circulated my water a lot to mix it. Since my well casing is 4 inch and the pump is 3.75 inch, I could not drop chlorination pellets to the bottom. So I circulated overnight to promote mixing.

    I did not bypass the sulfur and iron filter IIRC, but I put the softener in bypass mostly. I did let a chlorine into the softener.
     
  8. Smooky

    Smooky In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    It must be bad if you had to move into the outhouse.
    The slime sounds like it might be iron bacteria. I would try super chlorinating the well. If you are worried about the septic just use an outside spigot to run the chlorine out of the well.
     
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    IRB imparts a slimy feel to the water but not a grey colour. The grey sounds like clay fines which can also feel a little slimy.
    The grey fines could be a failing bentonite seal or clay from the aquifer. I tried again to read the OP but could not find any real info on the well.
     
  10. Smooky

    Smooky In the Trades

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    LLigetfa, The black/grey sediment that she spoke about I was wondering if it could have come from flexible water lines that are sometimes used to connect hot water heaters. I have heard of them disintegrating and causing a similar problem. It seems like there was a discussion about that a few months back. (I'll look for that post.)
     
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