We have discovered that we have Iron reducing bacteria in our new well.
We have been living in our new house for about 5 months and always had
a funny smell in the cold water. A test from a lab confirmed that it
was iron reducing bacteria and in high concentration 3+ out of 5.
already and that lasted 2 days and the smell came back. We called
Culligan and they stated that the problem could be very serious as the
smell came back so quick after bleaching.
My understanding is that IRB (Iron reducing bacteria) can render a well
system useless very quickly.
Can anyone suggest a course of action to deal with this. The builder
says that its not his problem.
There are no health problems; the water just tastes lousy.
I have the same problem. A carbon filter lasts a couple days.
The only real fix is pretty expensive. I have stopped noticing it, but my
Well, my wife and I are sick of it ! I'm going to tackle it one way or
another. Has anyone else had dealings with Iron Reducing bacteria and
how to deal with it ? And what damage it can cause ?
I have no experience with wells, but I did do some Google searches
(Now I'm an expert.)
These bacteria form a coating. Multiple treatments
are frequently required.
In persistent cases you can have the well dosed with acid
to dissolve and kill the bacteria. You need a professional for that.
My understanding is that the bacteria are not
a significant health hazard, but the slime and odor
they produce are certainly an annoyance.
I tried shocking the well several times and almost
succeeded in blocking the (submers) pump inlet(!)
with their goop.
Experimenting, I found that adding bleach directly
to the water after it entered the house piping
eliminated both odor and slime.
Next step was to build a homemade chemical injection
system. I bought a (used) precision lab pump made
for these applications and piped it into my well pump
bladder tank. The feed pump is supplied with dilute bleach
and runs for a brief period when the well pump starts up
This system has worked flawlessly for the last 5 years.
On 23 Dec 2006 13:40:36 -0800, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Beware of such statements from those with a vested interest (sellers of
filters). It is in their best interest to convince you to buy a more
expensive model that what may be necessary. Not a problem if you can afford
it, but if you're strapped for cash...
I'm not even implying that this is true in the above case, just something to
watch out for.
Best bet is to talk to your Extension Service Agent and/or local well
drillers. They are familiar with your area and the problems encountered. They
can also suggest solutions that have been found reliable in your area.
Iron bacteria are not a health risk - unless you are made of iron - the human
body is a deadly environment for them. Only a very few kinds of bacteria are
harmful to humans and only a few of those are really harmful.
The builder will have no responsibility as the water is safe to drink or the
health department wouldn't have ok'd the well for drinking water in the first
place (you would not have been able to close the sale). All the health
department cares about (at least here) is coliform (E. coli and friends)
Iron bacteria cause a smell and taste in the water that isn't particularly
palatable, but the main problem is buildup of bacteria colonies (brown slime)
in pipes and fixtures - particularly screens, aerators and filters as holes
are small in these locations. It can cause loss of pressure, and clogs.
I have seen it recommended (Extension Service IIRC) that you run bleach
through your system periodically to destroy the colonies and flush them away.
You need to remove screens and aerators prior to flushing though to prevent
catching the resulting crud in them.
I have read both positive and negative reports on the effectiveness of both
multiple shocking and acid treatment as a permanent cure - depends on the
population of the bacteria in the soil/rock supplying the water as I
understand it. I believe that acid treatments must be carried out by a
A 5 micron filter will catch many bacteria and, if it has carbon in it, will
help with the odor and taste. I use a whole house filter with a 5 micron
carbon filter to get the iron taste out of my water - no real problem with
the bacteria as levels aren't extremely high. Concentration of bacteria would
determine how quickly the filter clogs, but carbon should go a long way
toward fixing the smell/taste. You will have to shock the system upon
installation of the filter to kill the bacteria clinging to the sides of the
pipes and fixtures downstream of the filter, otherwise don't bother to
(substitute strickland in the obvious location to reply directly)
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