Just closed on a small cottage adjacent to our property up in the
First weekend there and everything is dandy. Turn on the hot water heater,
the pump, raise the thermostats and light a fire in fireplace... Damn. The
hot water is basically murky and smells of sulfur, the cold water doesn't
smell as much and is less murky but still not anything one would drink.
Maybe it's just inactivity so lets run it and let it drain the system and
the hot water tank. Maybe fill up the tub, drain and start again. So I
fill the tub and by the time the water gets to the midway point I can't see
the bottom anymore. Oh boy, we've got a real problem.
Anyhow, after doing that a couple times, the sulfur smell is basically gone
and the color is better. The cold water is much much better but still a
little bit murky.
End of the weekend and things have improved but still not drinkable, barely
usable to wash with.
QUESTION: What experience do/have some of you had with this situation and
what did you do about it?
Flush the well? Install special filters? Kill the whole system and dig a
new well somewhere else (not really an option)?
Get the water tested, to see what you're working with.
Have it tested by someone that is familiar with the water in that specific
I'd avoid messing with the well directly if at all possible cause that
Here, wells cost $100 a foot, thats why nobody has one, everybody is on
(I'd prefer a well myself, I like to control my own destiny and thats what
I've had exclusively since 1988)
Next, consider getting a softener and a whole house filter.
(they cost $500 and up depending)
I'm also wondering if the interior of the water heater has been permanently
stained/contaminated, if such a thing is possible.
Its hard to tell whats going on if the water has not been tested.
Sulpher can be disipated with a standard aerator system, which may be what
you have right now.
Anyway, get the test and post the results here.
When returning, stagnant water should be flushed from the pressure tank
and the pump until it runs as clear as possible and then flush all the
cold water fixtures. Then run hot water until it is as clear as
possible; draining and flushing the tank will help and speed the
If the odor is not caused by naturally occurring H2S gas it will be
caused by bacteria. If the cold water does not have the odor and hot
does, bacteria are responsible. Raising the water heater temp to 140f
will kill all bacteria including Legionaire.
The dirt can be from iron, manganese and invisible sediment, which all
waters contain. If the water comes out of the well dirty, then before
running water into the building, run water outside as close to the well
as possible until it clears.
You should have a water test done for iron, manganese, Coliform
bacteria, nitrates/nitrites and hardness. If you have Coliform, and
pretreat the water you could use a UV light. Pretreatment would be for
iron, hardness, turbidity and H2S. You may be able to use a softener
for everything (listed) except H2S which goes right through a softener.
Shocking a well can cause problems with the water quality, pump, power
cable if a submersible pump, drop pipe if galvanized and cause more
bacteria related problems in the well which can lead to a reduced
recovery/production rate by causing encrustations that chlorine can not
penetrate. Bacteria will live in/under the encrustations, so the
problem will still exist albeit it may be less of a problem.
Then you'd need well rehabilitation/cleaning. Or a new well, and they
do not come with any guarantee of water quality, so you could end up
with better, the same or worse water quality and have a lot less money
for water treatment equipment. So it's always better to treat than to
drill a new well unless the present well is not producing the volume
needed for the building.
I have 20 years experience in water treatment and I also have done well
pump work for most of that time. I've also answered questions like this
in many newsgroups and on web site forums for the last ten years.
Quality Water Associates
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