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Thread: Iron Bipfouling/softener issues?

  1. #1

    Exclamation Iron Bipfouling/softener issues?

    Hi everyone,

    I stumbled across this forum and we sure could use some advice. We live in a rural area in Northern CA, where there is a lot of issue with iron bacteria in the water.

    We have had issues for years, due to what we think is an inadequate filtration system which is a large container with gravel in it, essentially ...I'm sure I've got the terms wrong here! ... it is set up to 'backflow' and clean it out at night (regardless, our water, if left to settle, within minutes turns a light orange; our shower tile is orange no matter how much I clean it!). We have a softener, that the previous owner told us to put 'red out' softener pellets in. This worked okay for a few years, but it has been getting worse and worse. We had this system checked out a few times, and never could find anyone who really had any good ideas as to what to do.

    Suddenly, our water is turning very orange. My husband says there is a lot of iron debris in the softener -- first time ever -- and we are sure the container needs to be serviced, for one.

    We are hearing that the Triple O system is the best for our situation, thought the cost is quite prohibitive right now.

    However, I'm hesitant to spend money even having this serviced right now, when it is just more hundred of dollars that could go towards the Triple O system.

    My main questions are:

    -- Is the Triple O worth it? We were quote $9K to have it installed, with a 2600 gallon water tank, and all new piping from the pump to our house.

    -- This house has galvanized piping throughout, the well was put in around '85. If I get the Triple O, my water will be clear but it has to travel through piping that has 20+ years of iron build up! Will I have residual iron "biofouling" still as an issue, or will the Triple O miraculously handle this? ;>

    -- What is going on with the softener? Is it just that the gravel in the container needs to be cleaned out?

    -- How harmful is this water? I'm getting worried about my children taking baths in orange water. We use bottled water to drink at this point, and have for at least 2 yrs.

    (And BTW -- I too have had bad skin rashing, far worse than ever, since using this water. )

    Thank you so much, I hope this is not too vague given my lack of knowledge. We have felt we are getting scammed a bit by some companies, so we are trying to educate ourselves as much as we can.

    Kimberely
    (Ms Thistle)
    Last edited by Ms Thistle; 01-25-2009 at 05:48 PM. Reason: edited to clarify, typos, and now that my husband corrected me some ;>

  2. #2

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    Hi,

    Sounds like you have very high iron (so do I BTW). Water softeners will handle up to about 4ppm iron. Anything beyond that you will need an iron filter before the softener. However you need to provide us with a professional water test before anyone here can really recommending anything. These tests tell you how much iron, how much hardness, ph, etc. Someone in your area does water testing. Get a test kit from them, follow the instructions for obtaining a sample and return it to them. Make sure to bypass all filters, softeners, etc and let the water run for a few minutes before taking a sample.

    Also what is the GPM yeild of your well and knowing what the cut in and cut out settings are on your pressure switch would also help.

    Also what is the purpose of the 2500gal tank? A 2500gal holding tank isn't necessary to remove iron.

    -rick

  3. #3
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    A triple O could be anything, but for that price, for get it. It's a scam.

    I agree with the water test. Without that, there is nothing anyone can do for you.

    Iron in water and Iron Bacteria are totally different things. Be sure you find out if you have one or the other.

    bob...

  4. #4

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    Hi Rick,

    Thank you for your response:

    Quote Originally Posted by drick View Post
    Hi,

    Sounds like you have very high iron (so do I BTW). Water softeners will handle up to about 4ppm iron. Anything beyond that you will need an iron filter before the softener. "


    Yes, I forgot to mention that -- we do have one. It is highly inadequate as well, though we change it out all the time.



    However you need to provide us with a professional water test before anyone here can really recommending anything. These tests tell you how much iron, how much hardness, ph, etc. Someone in your area does water testing. Get a test kit from them, follow the instructions for obtaining a sample and return it to them. Make sure to bypass all filters, softeners, etc and let the water run for a few minutes before taking a sample.

    This is a good idea -- we had the water tested awhile ago, but it was only after the filter process, to be sure it was drinkable.

    Also what is the GPM yeild of your well and knowing what the cut in and cut out settings are on your pressure switch would also help.

    I'll look into that.

    We just recently had this guy, who was trying to sell us the Triple O, btw, who insisted that our bladder had failed (we assume it had, because we could not get any water, the pressure was gone). He charged us $500 to fix it. Anyway, he swore it was all as it should be, and reset everything as I recall. Again, we need to get more educated about all that, obviously! Sorry, I'm kind of rambling here... I will check with my husband, he most likely knows.

    Also what is the purpose of the 2500gal tank? A 2500gal holding tank isn't necessary to remove iron.

    The tank is for the Triple O process: instead of the water being pumped up through a bladder at then along the pipe to our filter system at the house, this water is pumped up into a holding tank, which has the filter system - the Triple O, or ozone filtration as I understand - in the tank. The water is filtered there in the tank, and then travels to the house.

    http://www.tripleo.com/process.htm

    -rick
    Thanks, Rick!
    Kimberely
    Last edited by Ms Thistle; 01-26-2009 at 07:25 AM. Reason: recalled more information

  5. #5

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    Hi Bob,
    Thank you as well for your response:

    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    A triple O could be anything, but for that price, for get it. It's a scam.

    I agree with the water test. Without that, there is nothing anyone can do for you.

    Iron in water and Iron Bacteria are totally different things. Be sure you find out if you have one or the other.

    bob...
    I've included the link to the Triple O, have you heard of it? We are being told by everyone in our parts (Northern CA), that this is the best possible system to address the heavy iron issues here. We thought the cost was ridiculous as well -- even though it included all labor, parts, tank, etc. The cost went up 2K strangely, from his original verbal quote. My husband started price comparing online, and thought the guy was scamming us.

    From what I have been told, we have Iron Bacteria. We have been told to shock our well often, though it seems to help only for a short time. I need ot have someone com eout, so I will look into the water tests.

    Could you tell me a little more about the difference between iron in the water and iron bacteria? Or point me to some online info?

    (Right now, when I take a shower I can feel the sticky residue of the iron on my skin. I also have similar to what I'm reading from others here: orange toilet bowl, orange hued clothes from my washer, the sponge in my kitchen sink is orange. FWIW...)



    Thanks!
    Kimberely

    http://www.tripleo.com/process.htm
    Last edited by Ms Thistle; 01-26-2009 at 07:33 AM. Reason: clarification

  6. #6
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    I haven't heard of this Triple O but Ozone has been around for decades. It's nothing new. Problem is, all the Ozone machines I have seen over the years don't last more than a couple years at best then your right back where you were. And they are not a cure all by any stretch. You can accomplish the same results with chlorine for $400.00 or less.

    Get a good test done and put it up here for some of us to look at. You will get honest advice and won't get ripped like you would with some filtration salesman.

    bob...

  7. #7
    DIY Member mariner's Avatar
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    Hi,

    WHat everyone else has said.

    There are a few people who deal with and sell water softeners. These people will help you out and can point you in the right direction, once they have mor detail of your situation - especially water test results, as everything will hinge on what the water properties are.

    So, in the mentime hang in there and commit yourself to nothing. Research and ask questions and then question the answers until you are sure. What you have been quoted is 99% a ripoff or grossly overpriced if put politely.

    There are a lot of willing and good people here that will give you an honest opinion.

    HTH

    mariner

  8. #8
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    IRB is a large group of anaerobic and aerobic types of bacteria that are harmless to humans and animals. They cause slime and staining and can cause ferrous, clear water, soluble iron levels to fluctuate. You must kill them with a disinfectant and then filter the 'dirt' that causes out of the water.

    Disinfectants like chlorine or ozone are used. Ozone is a much stronger and faster acting disinfectant than chlorine or anything else. Ozone systems are very pricey and can be very difficult to get to work right and maintenance can be expensive.

    Triple O is an ozone system using a bubbler in a storage tank. The rust from the ferrous iron content and the IRB and dirt from other things that can be in the water and oxidized like manganese, will settle to the bottom of the tank and will require the tank to be cleaned at times and you could get dirty water out of the tank prior to it being cleaned or all the time.

    Softeners that are sized correctly can remove up to 5 ppm of ferrous iron. They will require a resin cleaner be used such as Iron Out. Specially built softeners can remove up to 10 ppm of iron with the help of a resin cleaner like Iron Out. I've been doing it for 21 years.

    I suggest my inline erosion pellet chlorinator, special mixing tank with a manual bottom drain used t oget rid of teh 'dirt' in the tank periodically, that is equivalent to a 120 gallon retention tank, and an automatically backwashed filter with a special carbon that is great at removing the 'dirt' and chlorine from the water after chlorination/oxidation. Depending on the size of the filter, the delivered price is a bit more than a 1/4th of the $9K for the Triple O and you don't have a HUGE 2500 tank in the yard.

    Get the raw water iron, pH, hardness tests done and post them here.
    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.

  9. #9

    Question Here are the Test Results

    Hi everyone,

    This test is from 2002-- we had another test done yesterday, but it will be 2 weeks and they are telling me they don't expect the numbers to be any different (so why take another test? Seems superfluous to me, but we went ahead because the plumbing co was adamant).

    This is the RAW sample, untreated:
    hardness 7.95 grains per gallon
    pH 7.44 parts per million
    Iron 1.770 parts per million
    Manganese 1.30 parts per million
    Iron Bacteria present: Coliform present at 9.0 and E.Coli absent at -1.1

    At that time, after servicing system and treatment:

    Hardness o.oo
    pH 7.4
    Iron o.ooo
    Mang o.oo

    Now, what is interesting to me about this treated set of numbers is that if this were correct, how come we were still constantly having problems with our system? I guess it doesn't matter at this point, but I am curious if only for the education factor.

    This was about 5 yrs back, and we were almost in a dispute with the company we were dealing with. That's a long story, but they didn't really know what they were doing and really gave us the run around. We have never trusted those 'treated' numbers. They have since gone out of business, as far as I know (?).

    Each time we have had it serviced or ''upgraded', we had decent water for literally days to 2 weeks, maybe. And then the iron issues would be back.

    Since the above numbers and servicing, in 2004 we had the medium changed out and a new canister (?) installed -- a "Flopac". There is a small paper filter attached, and then we have a Kenmore Softner Ultrasoft 425 as well (I want to say on 2006).

    The system is set to regenerate every night.

    (The pump is set, btw, at 60/40 my husband said. )

    Is it possible that the Iron Bacteria has a root problem that is not being addressed? I understand that it 'breeds' and can be quite tenacious. Could this be why a water test may come back looking good initially, and yet our water seems to get worse and worse?

    Currently, we know that we need to have the softener cleaned out and the medium in the canister as well -- we did not keep up on this part, our fault because we weren't really clear what to do -- and the company we are using now seems to think it may be saturated with iron (but they aren't sure! Nice guy, but didn't even know what system we were using).

    Regardless, they will fix it but we will be right back where we were -- this system is inadequate. We are trying to investigate what is the best course of action to take: ozone? A mix of ozone with the system we have now? Additional filter of some kind with the system we have?


    Love some input, and thanks again!


    UPDATE: the person here to fix the issue took the head of the medium canister (regenerator?), it was completely locked-up by a tremendous iron build up (says he's never seen anything like it). He also said that the system we have he has seen work well for other people to get the iron out, "can't figure out why it isn't doing the job, though it obviously isn't! "

    Kimberely
    Northern CA
    Last edited by Ms Thistle; 01-28-2009 at 02:37 PM. Reason: update

  10. #10

    Default Don't spend $9K

    From what I can gather, you have a couple of things going on here. First - the good news - based on the water analysis and your description provided, your water is not that bad - and certainly fixable for far far less than $9000 bucks.

    Your resin has probably become completely fouled with iron - that's why you're getting the orange color to the water. This is simply oxidized iron. It's not dangerous just a nuisance - it will permanently stain many surfaces.

    Based on the quantity of iron and manganese present, I suggest a dedicated iron/manganese system in addition to a properly functioning water softener. Some water softener manufacturers will make wild claims about the amount of iron and manganese their systems will remove - the reality is over the long term they will not perform well. Have a look at a Pyrolox system for both iron and manganese. It is a single tank system that will do a good job for both. Your pH is above 7 which will also help with the iron and manganese removal process.

    The reason you have iron bacteria is only because you have iron in your water. Getting rid of iron bacteria is a two prong approach. First - get rid of the food - iron. Secondly, you need to shock chlorinate your plumbing lines several times to kill the bacteria that are lining your pipes now.

    Based on the presence of coliform bacteria, I would also recommend a UV system.
    Last edited by Cass; 01-31-2009 at 03:46 AM.

  11. #11
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    I will never understand why softener people almost always use a softener to treat iron problems. Why do they make iron filters if softeners would do such a great job?

    Your water is almost soft at 7 grains. I would be looking into a good (not sears or any other box unit) iron filter. I do not have manganese in my area so I am not familiar with what needs to be done to rid you of it.

    bob...

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by speedbump View Post
    I will never understand why softener people almost always use a softener to treat iron problems. Why do they make iron filters if softeners would do such a great job?

    Your water is almost soft at 7 grains. I would be looking into a good (not sears or any other box unit) iron filter. I do not have manganese in my area so I am not familiar with what needs to be done to rid you of it.

    bob...
    Hi Bob,

    Forgive my lack of knowledge -- you mean that canister with the medium in it is not an iron filter? Or the silly little 16" housing for a paper filter (which I always thought was a joke)?

    See, this is what I don't know and therefore don't know to ask -- so the process of how they are trying to get our iron out is via the softener? No wonder it doesn't work! [grrrrr]

    What is a good iron filter, and what do they run?

    Thanks!

    Kimberely

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    Even though I sell Iron Filters, Softeners and Sulphur Removal equipment, I usually recommend Gary Slusser for sales of this kind. He has great prices and won't steer you wrong. It's a pain in the neck for me to package up a water softener or anything else like it and ship it without fear of it getting destroyed in the shipping process.

    I'm sure he will be along and will shoot you some prices.

    bob...

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