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Thread: Iron Filter Spews Iron after Outdoor Sprinklers are ran

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Angry Iron Filter Spews Iron after Outdoor Sprinklers are ran

    Hello All,

    I have a recently rebedded/refurbished Birm Iron Filter which expells iron and sediment after the outdoor sprinklers are ran. We had the same problem prior to rebedding. The iron filter is NOT in-line w/ the sprinklers. I have a 50 psi community well feed to the house; the iron filter T's off the main line. The main line continues on and runs out to the sprinklers.

    Has anyone ever seen this? Do I need an inline check valve to the iron filter (which runs to a water softner and the rest of the house). I thought as long as I wasn't inline w/ the main line, I should be ok. After a regen cycle, there no more iron that is expelled. Is the iron filter somehow getting aggetated? We inherited the system when we bought the house.

    Thanks in advance!
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    Last edited by branjo101; 09-20-2010 at 09:02 PM.

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    DIY Senior Member Bob999's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by branjo101 View Post
    Hello All,

    I have a recently rebedded/refurbished Birm Iron Filter which expells iron and sediment after the outdoor sprinklers are ran. We had the same problem prior to rebedding. The iron filter is NOT in-line w/ the sprinklers. I have a 50 psi community well feed to the house; the iron filter T's off the main line. The main line continues on and runs out to the sprinklers.

    Has anyone ever seen this? Do I need an inline check valve to the iron filter (which runs to a water softner and the rest of the house). I thought as long as I wasn't inline w/ the main line, I should be ok. After a regen cycle, there no more iron that is expelled. Is the iron filter somehow getting aggetated? We inherited the system when we bought the house.

    Thanks in advance!
    Try shutting off the valves on the filter between the birm and softener the next time you water and see if the problem occurs. If it doesn't then you are almost certainly getting flow of the sprinker water through the birm filter (and softener).

  3. #3

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    Do you have raw water test results? Where did you get the rusty water, from a faucet or from the filter housing? Where and wehn is the clear water taken? Is the water chlorinated?

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Do you have a bladder tank in the house? If so, when you use the sprinklers, you may be using more water than the well is supplying (gpm), and some water is backflowing to them from the bladder tank.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    In the Trades Wally Hays's Avatar
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    Stick a Watts #7 on the feed line to the filters.
    Perception is 3/4 of reality

  6. #6
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by branjo101 View Post
    I have a recently rebedded/refurbished Birm Iron Filter which expells iron and sediment after the outdoor sprinklers are ran.

    We had the same problem prior to rebedding.

    The iron filter is NOT in-line w/ the sprinklers.

    I have a 50 psi community well feed to the house; the iron filter T's off the main line. The main line continues on and runs out to the sprinklers.

    Do I need an inline check valve to the iron filter (which runs to a water softner and the rest of the house).

    After a regen cycle, there no more iron that is expelled. Is the iron filter somehow getting aggetated? We inherited the system when we bought the house.
    I think you're looking in the wrong direction. Unless you have a pressure tank after the softener, no water can go backwards through the filter, and if it did, it wouldn't cause rusty water like in that glass because the water from the filter is usually clear.

    I question how much water you are using for the sprinklers, and what the water quality coming to the house is after they get into watering for say a half hour or so. The filter looks like a 1.0 cuft or smaller so it isn't going to have much capacity to remove dirty water coming into it. Some/most would go right through it which is your problem.

    So no check valve is needed unless you have a pressure tank after the softener or something else that stores water with compressed air in it to power a back flow through the filter. And then I doubt you'd get rusty water through the filter to the faucets unless the water coming to the filter is rusty.

    Check your plumbing to make sure the filter is not plumbed backwards. And remove the cartridge filter after this filter and run the sprinklers and after say 30 minutes run water at a tub and watch the disposable cartridge housing for dirty water. If you get dirty water, then check the water going out the sprinklers and see if it is rusty. If it is you've found your problem; running too many gpm for too long causing the water to get rusty.
    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.

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    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Cool

    Hi All,

    Great comments everyone. Here's a little more detail. The water on the left is what is coming into the house. The water on the right is what is coming out of the iron filter. The particulate filter in the middle is also clogged with a lot of iron. The water is a city community well servicing probably 250+ homes. It's treated by the city and they add phosphate to the water. I think it's about 2-2.5ppm iron. Here's the scenario which will cause this issue:

    1. Morning showers and water coming out of the iron filter and softner were clean and clear

    2. Left for work and turned the sprinklers on before I left

    3. While the sprinklers ran (11 zones), the house water was NOT used. It was not used for 8 hours thereafter.

    4. Came home and a big plume of iron came through the house. The inlet water to the house was what you see on the left and the outlet water was on the right.


    There is no pressure tank after the softner. I wouldn't doubt that when the sprinkler system is on, it demands high flowrates. I'm not a plumber or water softner expert, but wouldn't that drop my pressure possibly. If it drops to let's say 40psi when I run and my house is at 50psi plus, I could see that it could leak bakcwards a little until everything is equilibrium. Also, if maybe a sprinkler line outside is completely empty of water, wouldn't I get even a bigger pressure drop. So it's possible I may be getting a little oscillating effect too through the house plumbing as it switches zones.

    I do not see any inlet water coming into the house anywhere near to what is coming out (as you can see from the glasses). From all of your comments, I'm thinking I'm getting a little backflow.

    From all of your comments, I'm starting to subscribe to the theory that I need some type of isolation on this water circuit (check valve). If this is put in, do I need a hold or expansion tank (5 gallon or so), to act as a buffer so I don't pop my pressure valve on my water heater tank all the time.
    Last edited by branjo101; 09-21-2010 at 06:05 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Do I need to add a holding or extention tank (to give myself a buffer) if add this to prevent the pressure valve on the water tank from popping

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    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Good idea...I can see where you're going, but I don't have a bladder tank. I have a big ol' hotwater tank out there though )

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    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    The rusty water is coming out of the iron filter...out of the softner...and out of the house. If I am getting a backflow, the source may even be the water softner, because the particulate filter in the middle is clogged with iron.

  11. #11
    In the Trades Wally Hays's Avatar
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    put a watts #7 on the feed line to the filters. no buffer tank unless your relief starts weeping
    Perception is 3/4 of reality

  12. #12
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by branjo101 View Post
    Hi All,

    Great comments everyone. Here's a little more detail. The water on the left is what is coming into the house. The water on the right is what is coming out of the iron filter. The particulate filter in the middle is also clogged with a lot of iron. The water is a city community well servicing probably 250+ homes. It's treated by the city and they add phosphate to the water. I think it's about 2-2.5ppm iron. Here's the scenario which will cause this issue:

    1. Morning showers and water coming out of the iron filter and softner were clean and clear

    2. Left for work and turned the sprinklers on before I left

    3. While the sprinklers ran (11 zones), the house water was NOT used. It was not used for 8 hours thereafter.

    4. Came home and a big plume of iron came through the house. The inlet water to the house was what you see on the left and the outlet water was on the right.


    There is no pressure tank after the softner. I wouldn't doubt that when the sprinkler system is on, it demands high flowrates. I'm not a plumber or water softner expert, but wouldn't that drop my pressure possibly. If it drops to let's say 40psi when I run and my house is at 50psi plus, I could see that it could leak bakcwards a little until everything is equilibrium. Also, if maybe a sprinkler line outside is completely empty of water, wouldn't I get even a bigger pressure drop. So it's possible I may be getting a little oscillating effect too through the house plumbing as it switches zones.

    I do not see any inlet water coming into the house anywhere near to what is coming out (as you can see from the glasses). From all of your comments, I'm thinking I'm getting a little backflow.

    From all of your comments, I'm starting to subscribe to the theory that I need some type of isolation on this water circuit (check valve). If this is put in, do I need a hold or expansion tank (5 gallon or so), to act as a buffer so I don't pop my pressure valve on my water heater tank all the time.
    Eleven zones, all at once.... you are using enough water to scrub the iron residue off the inside of the city plumbing causing rusty water to the sprinklers. You come home and turn on water and get too much dirty water for your undersized Birm filter to remove and get dirty water though it.

    But we'll go your way and you can explain how that works.

    Tell me how water flows backwards out of the house when it is a closed system that is under pressure with no pressure tank to force the water backwards.

    If that were happening, you would have to allow air into the house plumbing OR the negative pressure (vacuum) would suck the filter and softener tanks in like crushing a Styrofoam coffee cup. That hasn't happened.

    Also, to form a negative pressure (suction) in the house, you would have to have a venturi effect and your tee probably can't act as a venturi, especially when the house is pressurized which as long as there is city water (it is under pressure or the sprinklers don't get water). You must have pressure to cause flow to the sprinklers for your suction idea to work or the water won't be sucked out of the house right?

    So I suggest you start thinking of other more likely causes or... go spend some money for a check valve and take the time to install it and see what happens. My money is on that will not solve the problem.

    You can also ask Wally Hays here to explain how you can suck water out of the house.
    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.

  13. #13
    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Hi Gary,

    Thanks for your explanation. I think I got what you are suggesting. I will bypass BOTH the iron filter and water softner in the morning and see what I have coming through the house when I get back home. I will try the sprinklers friday or this weekend; it's raining tonight and tomorrow. I want to wait and do this test when all my neighbors are running theirs, so we're all drawing on community feed around the same time. I see what you're saying that we could be stirring up any iron sitting in the pipes. This is a good test.


    Just a couple of clarifications from my last post - sorry, it was misleading.

    - I didn't mean to convey that I had water flowing out of my house, but rather maybe a little movement going and stirring things up in the softner and filter. Kinda the same reason you need a backflow preventer on an outside sprinkler system to isolate it? Yeah, I agree with you that you can't have constant flow backwards on a closed system.

    - I can only run 1 sprinkler zone at a time. With my inlet pipe size @ 50psi (probably ~40psi in the morning); I don't think I have that kind of flowrate to support anything greater than 1 zone. Each zone seems to be sized correctly (I think); have good pressure at the heads. No more than 4 heads in a zone. I seem to be a little more conservative compared to my neighbors. I have more zones and less heads per zone.

    - Also, when I came home, the water that was coming into my house was in the glass on the left (usually ~2ppm iron). The glass on the right was running out of my iron filter and through my house. So the water somehow 'got' dirtier between the community inlet and the faucets upstairs. Maybe I missed a big burst of iron in the inlet.


    Thank you for your help, I really appreciate you taking the time. This has been an ongoing problem this summer and it's driving me nuts.
    Last edited by branjo101; 09-22-2010 at 09:31 PM.

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    DIY Junior Member branjo101's Avatar
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    Thanks Wally, will do when I get the valve. Another plumber from another site said that this was code now on new construction to put this in before any water conditioning system. Does that seem right?
    Last edited by branjo101; 09-22-2010 at 09:31 PM.

  15. #15
    In the Trades Wally Hays's Avatar
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    depends on the code, but it's always a good idea to have a backflow device in the line
    Perception is 3/4 of reality

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