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Thread: High Iron and smell- Should I buy this house? Help please

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  1. #1

    Default High Iron and smell- Should I buy this house? Help please

    My wife and I are in the process of buying a house we like, but the Iron content is 16 ppm and manganese is 0.96, pH 6.5. There is a rotten egg smell in both hot and cold that takes a long time to dissipate if the water is run. There is reddish brown staining in the toilets. Currently there is a 1996 two tank treatment system, but it obviously is not up to the task. House has been unoccupied for almost two years, but we ran the water for a least 8 hours total recently, but still have the high numbers

    Am I better off passing on the house rather than try to treat water with this high of an iron content?

    We have spoke with 4 local water treatment business and get 4 different opinions, often also explaining why the other guys system will be ok for a few months then fail. Would really like to get educated here, thanks.

  2. #2


    I guess the question is how much do you like the house? 16ppm is very high iron (mine is 12ppm last check). The good news is its treatable, the bad news is its gonna cost you. Knock 15K off the asking price just because of this! You can fix your iron problem for about half this assuming you can live with average (not spectacular) water pressure. Also you may find that the high iron has damaged your pipes, water heater, dishwasher etc so be prepared for this possibility

    What type of well do you have? How deep is it? What is its GPM recovery rate of the well? How many GPM does the well produce (get a 5gal bucket, open up the outside faucet, see how long it takes to fill it, and do the math) What are the low/cut it, high cut out water pressure readings on the gauge at the pressure tank? Do the neighbors also have high iron and sulfide smell? Is there anything else you can tell us about the well itself???

    What type of filter system is installed currently? What is its approximate age? What were the recommendations of each of the four water treatment companies? DO you want someone to install this for you or are you up for a moderate DIY project?
    Last edited by drick; 12-01-2008 at 05:28 PM.

  3. #3
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    200 miles south of Little Rock


    Quote Originally Posted by yoxman13 View Post
    ... Iron content ...
    ... rotten egg smell in both hot and cold ...
    ... reddish brown staining ...
    ... two tank treatment system ...
    House has been unoccupied for almost two years ...
    Our house had been sitting empty for only one year when my wife and I first moved in, but our overall water situation was then very similar to yours. I stumbled along trying various things for a while and added filters ahead of the softener, then finally sanitized (chlorinated) the well and all the plumbing in the house over a two-day period.

    I do not know exactly how or why, but we no longer have a staining problem even though a very slight odor still does occasionally come and go. Our water heater is set at 140*, and that definitely helps. Then most recently, a significant increase in the overall volume of water used here has been keeping the odor away almost completely.

    I had not noticed any of the water problems here before we got this place, but I can say I would have proceeded anyway ... and having since found this discussion board, I can tell you there are people here who can definitely steer you toward quality water.
    Last edited by leejosepho; 12-01-2008 at 06:35 PM.

  4. #4

    Default Here is some of the information asked for in the forum:

    Hi Everyone,

    Thank you for the replys

    Here is some of the information asked for in the forum:

    Total Hardness : 84.64 mg/l
    Sufates: 16.21 mg/l
    Chlorides 56.16 mg/l
    Hardness: 84.64 (mg/l)
    Turbidity 77.8 NTU

    The water appears clear after running for a bit, but I do not know quanity of ferric vs ferrous iron. I assume there is a special test for that?

    Well Depth is approx 130 feet, drilled in 1996,
    The home inspector measured 4gpm, but that was taken on an outside spigot, after a long run of pipe, so I think the actual flow rate may be higher. He also measured 40 psi with the water shuf off. I do not have any info on cut-in / off.

    The house is in Madison CT

    The current system is a 1996 water softener with some type of pre-filter tank.
    The neighbors have 4 tank systems, not sure of the type, which they claim to work ok as long as the water is run, but if they go away on vacation for a week, the water smells for 3 days or so. One recently measured 13ppm iron. They all said their treatment companys told them the water is OK to drink, they drink bottled water……..

    All of the water contractors are suggesting using an ion exchange water softener, with various types of pre-filters. One wants to use catalyzed carbon, calcium and manganese as a pre-filter, another wants to use and aeration system as a pre-filter, another had a pre-filter that required a very small amount of chlorine bleach, but I do not have the details from him with me right now.

    I am willing and able to perform a DIY project, even a big one ( fwiw, I am a engineer in the aerospace industry and work on hydraulic systems), but with the levels this high think I need an expert to at least determine what type of system can handle this water and not be a huge hassle.

    I appreciate your replies!
    Last edited by yoxman13; 12-02-2008 at 04:44 AM.

  5. #5
    Previous member
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Riverview, Fl.


    Whatever iron passes the carbon, the softener will pick up as well as the hardness.
    Are you suggestion using carbon as an iron filter?


  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by biermech View Post
    Yes. It works quite well with oxidzed iron.

    Drick....Filox may be good but I don't use it because of it's weight. With low flow rate, it packs and becomes useless.
    You are right it is very heavy, and you have to allow for that by using a smaller tank otherwise you will have backwash problems. I was prepared to run two tanks in parallel to increase removal capacity, but it was not needed as the 1.0cuft tank works fine for me on 12ppm iron. My flow rate is 9gpm at 50psi (35/55 cut in/out) and I have no problem backwashing with a 1.0 cuft tank. With just a 1.5cuft centaur carbon filter I was not getting clear water - better than without, but not clear.


  7. #7
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.


    Chlorine will oxidize all the things that can be oxidized; iron, manganese, H2S, and it will kill all types of bacteria.

    You do not want to use any type of carbon to remove iron.

    The 4 gpm at an outside faucet is low but you can not use that to determine the flow rate to equipment right after the pressure tank. He would replace the plumbing to the equipment with 1". I don't think a 1 cuft Filox filter will work very long, how old is it now? And the flow rate it can service is only like 4 gpm/cuft.

    I suggest he look at the drop pipe in the well to see how blocked up it is and if he has IRB or other types of reducing bacteria. Possibly replace it and clean up the pump inlet if it is blocked. If there is blockage, a pellet dropper on the well, a mixed bed turbidity filter and then Centaur and then a softener. If no blockage, then an inline pellet chlorinator including the mixing tank, the Centaur filter and a softener.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  8. #8


    Quote Originally Posted by biermech View Post
    I would go with a chlorinator, 120 gallon retention tank, a 2 cubic foot auto backwash carbon the a 90k-120k softener. It is the most effective way I have found to get the water right. The chlorine does 3 things to the water. Kills bacteria, oxidizes the iron, and the h2s. Then the carbon will pick up the chlorine. Whatever iron passes the carbon, the softener will pick up as well as the hardness.
    First he needs to find out what size filters he can backwash. The outside faucet test only yielded 4gpm, which seems wrong given the pressure switch is most likely set at 60/40psi. He needs to determine the actual GPM output of the well after the pressure tank so the filters can be sized appropriately. MAKE SURE all the filters are bypassed when you test. The low GPM you measured leads me to believe the filters were online at the time of the outside faucet test. The outside water should not be filtered, but thats another story.

    I mostly agree withe the above suggestion, however I would filter the iron using filox. Look here: http://www.pwgazette.com/filoxfilters.htm. I tried filtering with just carbon and the results were only fair at best. Adding a filox filter totally solved my iron problem to the point where hardly any iron even makes it to the carbon filter. You can't go with just the filox filter though because you need to remove the chlorine before it gets to the water softener. Chlorine will destroy the water softener resin eventually. The flow would be as follows chlorination -->retention tank --> filox filter --> centaur carbon filter -->water softener. That said you may still end up needing airation in front of all this to get rid of the hydrogen sulfide gas smell. I'd try it without it, but pipe your system in such a way so that you can add an airation tank in front of the chlorinator without having to re-pipe too much.

    So with the final product you will have 3 backwashing filters and a chlorinator that need some degree of baby sitting. Its not as bad as it sounds, mostly just adding a gallon of plain old chlorine bleach once a month, maybe mixed with some soda ash to bump the PH a bit. And the water softener will need salt added probably at about the same time. The carbon will need replacing every 2-4 years as it will eventually become saturated.

    Also, invest in a water testing kit so you can track the ph, chlorine, and hardness levels yourself. You can test for iron as well, but you will discover it will be 0 or almost 0 after that much filtering. The chlorine will bond with the iron so if you have it set at 4ppm before the retention tank tank you should see approx 1ppm just before the carbon filter and 0ppm after it. Any more than 1ppm you will use up the life of the carbon unnecessarily fast. Lower than that and you may not be oxidizing all the iron.


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