Iron in Water – Why and How to Deal With It

When you drink the tap water from your home does it taste odd? Tap water is typically safe for drinking and bathing, but in the chemical sense, it is not pure. It contains materials dissolved from the ground, through which it has seeped. It can also contain minerals from the pipes in your home. One of the most common minerals found, especially in well water, is iron. Low levels of iron in your water can go undetected unless the water is tested. With high levels of iron in water, there will be obvious signs such as taste, smell, and staining.

How Does Iron Enter The Water?

There are two sources of iron you can find in water.

The first source is through seepage. Rainwater and melted snow are absorbed into the soil and become part of the water supply. If there is iron present in the soil, it will inevitably end up in the water as well.

The second source is from corrosion. The pipes and casings in a well water supply system are constantly exposed to a combination of water and oxygen. This combination causes iron in the pipes and casings to deteriorate. Rust is the natural by-product of this deterioration. It flakes off the interior of the pipes and other components of the water system and is carried in the water to your tap.

Is Iron Unhealthy?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, iron in well water is a secondary contaminant, which means it does not have a direct impact on health. The Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level set out by the EPA is 0.3 milligrams per liter, but this is merely a guideline and not a federal standard.

Iron is necessary for the human body to function properly, as with many substances, high levels can be toxic. That said, it is physically impossible to drink enough water to consume toxic levels of iron. While iron is not a health risk, it can cause other issues such as food, clothing and property damage.

Damage Caused by Iron

Food and beverages can be affected by the iron contained in well water. It will give the water a harsh metallic taste that will carry over into anything made with the water like coffee, tea or even ice cubes. Iron can also turn beverages dark and murky looking,

along with giving them a bad taste. Foods cooked with water containing iron can also be affected in both color and taste.

This discoloration caused by the iron and the rust it creates can cause staining. Your white clothes may look dingy after only a few washes or your bathtub or sink may develop dark stains that are difficult to impossible to remove.

Iron that travels in your water supply can accumulate in different places throughout your home. this accumulation can cause damage by clogging household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and sprinklers. It can also cause more extensive and costly damage by clogging and disabling your water system and the well itself.

Iron in Water - Why and How to Deal With It

How to Deal with Iron in Water

You have a few options. A water softener can help with small amounts of iron but with heavy concentrations of iron, this may not be an effective solution. The aeration method adds oxygen to the water to oxidize the iron. An oxidizing filter causes immediate oxidation and provides a backwash or flush. Chemical oxidation uses chlorine or hydrogen peroxide to oxidize the iron. A water treatment system must then be used on the chemical from the water before it can be used.

The first thing you should do if you see signs of iron or rust in water is to have it professionally tested. The results will reveal exactly what is in your water and an experienced well drilling and pump company will know how to deal with it.

A-1 Well Drilling and Pump Service takes great pride in providing efficient and quality workmanship backed by four generations of experience. We offer a variety of services including well drilling, well and pump service, water treatment installation and service.  We can also custom design and install various water well systems. Contact us today for all your water system needs. At  A-1 Well Drilling, “your problem is no problem!”


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