Well shock, water heater question

Hey gurus,
We get build-up of iron rich bacteria in our well. Eventually, this leads to an unpleasant odor in our water (especially when the water has not been run for a while) as well as slime in the toilet tank, etc. The odor is much more noticeable in the hot water. I'm not sure if that's because the bacteria like the hot water better or because the warmer water releases the odors better. Anyway, I try and shock the well about once or twice a year to stay on top of this problem.
My question is what to do about the water heater. Since the problem is more noticeable in the hot water, I want to make sure that the hot water pipes and water tank get addressed as well (the water heater tank is 80 gallons), but I also know that a high concentration of chlorine can corrode rubber seals, etc. In the past I only flushed the system through the cold water pipes but then Idrained the hot water tank to get rid of any bacteria in that water. However, I felt that the smell returned pretty fast because I wasn't killing the bacteria sitting in the hot water pipes or the walls of the tank. Also draining and refilling our hot water tank is a pain because our well has a low refill rate and if I let it fill our 80 gal tank as fast as it can, I will run the well dry and kick up a lot of sediment - not to mention being bad for the pump. Of course, I can't see exactly how fast it is filling inside the tank, so I would end up filling it extremely slowly.
A few years back we had an outdoor hot water spigot installed for an outdoor shower. So these days, I flush the system through the hot water tank then run all faucets (hot and cold) until I smell the chlorine. Now I've got chlorine water in all the pipes. After letting it sit for a day, I flush through the hot water tank again until it's chlorine free again. This can take a long time, since I don't want to exceed 1.75 GPM and the 80 gallon tank will only slowly return to a no (low) chlorine state since there will be mixing in the tank.
So, I feel like either way is a poor choice. If I don't run through the hot water system, I feel I'm not addressing half of the problem, if I do run through the hot water system, I feel the chlorine may be doing damage somewhere in the system. So what's the best way to address the whole system, without causing unnecessary damage? Is what I'm doing OK, or should I be doing something else? I think when this water heater goes, we'll probably go to a tankless water heater, but until then...
Thanks.
-J
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an unpleasant odor in our water (especially when the water has not been run for a while) as well as slime in the toilet tank, etc. The odor is much more noticeable in the hot water. I'm not sure if that's because the bacteria like the hot water better or because the warmer water releases the odors better. Anyway, I try and shock the well about once or twice a year to stay on top of this problem.

noticeable in the hot water, I want to make sure that the hot water pipes and water tank get addressed as well (the water heater tank is 80 gallons), but I also know that a high concentration of chlorine can corrode rubber seals, etc. In the past I only flushed the system through the cold water pipes but then Idrained the hot water tank to get rid of any bacteria in that water. However, I felt that the smell returned pretty fast because I wasn't killing the bacteria sitting in the hot water pipes or the walls of the tank. Also draining and refilling our hot water tank is a pain because our well has a low refill rate and if I let it fill our 80 gal tank as fast as it can, I will run the well dry and kick up a lot of sediment - not to mention being bad for the pump. Of course, I can't see exactly how fast it is filling inside the tank, so I would end up filling it extremely slowly.

shower. So these days, I flush the system through the hot water tank then run all faucets (hot and cold) until I smell the chlorine. Now I've got chlorine water in all the pipes. After letting it sit for a day, I flush through the hot water tank again until it's chlorine free again. This can take a long time, since I don't want to exceed 1.75 GPM and the 80 gallon tank will only slowly return to a no (low) chlorine state since there will be mixing in the tank.

water system, I feel I'm not addressing half of the problem, if I do run through the hot water system, I feel the chlorine may be doing damage somewhere in the system. So what's the best way to address the whole system, without causing unnecessary damage? Is what I'm doing OK, or should I be doing something else? I think when this water heater goes, we'll probably go to a tankless water heater, but until then...

important than the cold for the sulpher smell. What is the chlorine going to hurt? Tap washers???
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wrote:

bleach and water. And 40:1 is WAY more than the normal shock load.
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On 6/21/2012 8:13 AM, J wrote:

an unpleasant odor in our water (especially when the water has not been run for a while) as well as slime in the toilet tank, etc. The odor is much more noticeable in the hot water. I'm not sure if that's because the bacteria like the hot water better or because the warmer water releases the odors better. Anyway, I try and shock the well about once or twice a year to stay on top of this problem.

noticeable in the hot water, I want to make sure that the hot water pipes and water tank get addressed as well (the water heater tank is 80 gallons), but I also know that a high concentration of chlorine can corrode rubber seals, etc. In the past I only flushed the system through the cold water pipes but then Idrained the hot water tank to get rid of any bacteria in that water. However, I felt that the smell returned pretty fast because I wasn't killing the bacteria sitting in the hot water pipes or the walls of the tank. Also draining and refilling our hot water tank is a pain because our well has a low refill rate and if I let it fill our 80 gal tank as fast as it can, I will run the well dry and kick up a lot of sediment - not to mention being bad for the pump. Of course, I can't see exactly how fast it is filling inside the tank, so I would end up filling it extremely slowly.

shower. So these days, I flush the system through the hot water tank then run all faucets (hot and cold) until I smell the chlorine. Now I've got chlorine water in all the pipes. After letting it sit for a day, I flush through the hot water tank again until it's chlorine free again. This can take a long time, since I don't want to exceed 1.75 GPM and the 80 gallon tank will only slowly return to a no (low) chlorine state since there will be mixing in the tank.

water system, I feel I'm not addressing half of the problem, if I do run through the hot water system, I feel the chlorine may be doing damage somewhere in the system. So what's the best way to address the whole system, without causing unnecessary damage? Is what I'm doing OK, or should I be doing something else? I think when this water heater goes, we'll probably go to a tankless water heater, but until then...

If I understand correctly, you clean the system and the bacteria starts building until you can't stand the smell and you repeat. That sounds nasty. Is there no way you can prevent the bacteria from entering the house? Filters, external chlorination/sedimentation/maybe spray it in the air...? Maybe a two stage process that takes the PH out of the viable range, then restores it?
I don't know what iron rich means, but it brings to mind a BIG magnet.
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an unpleasant odor in our water (especially when the water has not been run for a while) as well as slime in the toilet tank, etc. The odor is much more noticeable in the hot water. I'm not sure if that's because the bacteria like the hot water better or because the warmer water releases the odors better. Anyway, I try and shock the well about once or twice a year to stay on top of this problem.

noticeable in the hot water, I want to make sure that the hot water pipes and water tank get addressed as well (the water heater tank is 80 gallons), but I also know that a high concentration of chlorine can corrode rubber seals, etc. In the past I only flushed the system through the cold water pipes but then Idrained the hot water tank to get rid of any bacteria in that water. However, I felt that the smell returned pretty fast because I wasn't killing the bacteria sitting in the hot water pipes or the walls of the tank. Also draining and refilling our hot water tank is a pain because our well has a low refill rate and if I let it fill our 80 gal tank as fast as it can, I will run the well dry and kick up a lot of sediment - not to mention being bad for the pump. Of course, I can't see exactly how fast it is filling inside the tank, so I would end up filling it extremely slowly.

shower. So these days, I flush the system through the hot water tank then run all faucets (hot and cold) until I smell the chlorine. Now I've got chlorine water in all the pipes. After letting it sit for a day, I flush through the hot water tank again until it's chlorine free again. This can take a long time, since I don't want to exceed 1.75 GPM and the 80 gallon tank will only slowly return to a no (low) chlorine state since there will be mixing in the tank.

water system, I feel I'm not addressing half of the problem, if I do run through the hot water system, I feel the chlorine may be doing damage somewhere in the system. So what's the best way to address the whole system, without causing unnecessary damage? Is what I'm doing OK, or should I be doing something else? I think when this water heater goes, we'll probably go to a tankless water heater, but until then...

Iron Sulphide and many other iron-containing compounds are totally non-magnetic, although very high in iron.
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Talk to some water treatment people. Making hard water soft is not the only service that they offer. They'll treat acid, iron rich and other chemical or mineral problems.
A vinegar solution works for treating mineral build-up in water-using appliances, faucet filters, shower heads, humidifiers, etc. Wonder if circulating such a solution in your pipes would help. Vinegar is easily rised out of pipes and less hazardous than chlorine when well diluted in water.
Tomsic
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Thanks everyone!
Sounds like I'm doing the right thing - more or less. So I guess I'll keep doing that for now. RE copper heating elements in the water heater: yes, that's what I remember hearing might be affected by the chlorine. I think I won't worry about it too much though - even if chlorine in a spa could eat through copper after a while and even if my concentration during the shock is higher, it's only for a short period of time (a day or two) and after that the water is clear again.
As for preventing the problem from recurring... I get the impression that the bacteria get up to a noticeable concentration in two ways. 1) They get in through the groundwater - nothing you can do about that - though perhaps one could filter or treat the water between the well and the plumbing system 2) shocking the well gets rid of most of them living in the system, but the few that remain start reproducing and spreading after that. I don't know which avenue is the primary one via which the concentration of bacteria gets up to a noticeable level.
The good news is that this kind of bacteria, while annoying, produces no known deleterious health affects (that I've ever heard of). Its just a nuisance.
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