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Please help...well water problems!

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by GAMMA RAY, Nov 18, 2011.

  1. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    I noticed yesterday when I filled a glass pitcher that my well water had an orange tinge to it. This has me upset. I don't want my hair or white uniform work pants turning orange, and I am sure it is not healthy either.
    There is no water filter or softener on the system.
    Please help me!
    All advice is greatly appreciated!

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  2. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Get the water tested.
  3. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    What kind of well do you have? Artisan where the pump is submerged (sometimes 100s of feet) and then pumps the water upward , or a dug well with a shallow jet pump.
    Any digging nearby? If you've got a dug well this is more likely but odds are they wouldn't have dug a well if your ground is like this.

    Is this a new glass pitcher, and you're just noticing it now? Around here we get iron in our water, which can change the shade from yellow to dark brown depending on how much you've got in water. My parents started with a shallow well but wanted more water so they dug a new 400' well and struck A LOT of iron.

    There are other things that can cause your water to change color. If you've got a deep water pump, you've most likely got a tank in the basement where the water comes in and the electricity goes out to the pump. That bladder/diaphragm tank will hold 5-20 gallons in house at pressure so the pump doesn't shut off/on whenever someone needs water. If that liner in the tank goes bad all the sediment built up over the years can start to flush itself out. Go downstairs and run the water. If you hear a switching sound (off-on-off-on-off-on) then the tank is most likely ruptured. GET A NEW TANK BEFORE YOU BURN OUT YOUR PUMP!

    If you've got city water (I know, you've got a well) the water can change color on a daily basis just from a fire sprinkler being turned on down the street, or a car wash or other heavy water user suddenly drawing a huge amount.

    There's a backflow preventer on a hot water/steam boiler. The water in the boiler can be prett nasty and could conceivably backwash into the household water supply but is highly unlikely because the house side pressure is so much greater than the maximum pressure of the boiler. The electricity would have to be off and you'd have to be completely out of water before it would start to siphon backwards. Even then the small volume of water that could push itself past the valve would just sit there, waiting to get pushed back into the boiler the instant power is restored. Not very likely, but could happen.

    I'd get the water checked, but any sudden noticeable change may deserve a checkup on the well in general. $100 to have someone check the pressure at the tank, check voltage/amperage draw of the pump, check the well head (he has to shock it if he opens it) is not a bad idea.
  4. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    I am not sure what kind of well I have. I am going to talk to my husband about it later.
    I fill that glass pitcher every day a couple times and then fill the steamer on top of the stove. Yesterday was the first I noticed the tinge of orange.
    There is drilling for a natural gas pipeline about 1 mile from where I live, perhaps that is the culprit. >:-(
    I am looking online to find out where to get the water tested.
    Thanks for all the info Btuser... :)
  5. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    That might be your issue...as the drilling might have set of some vibration that stirred up sediment in your aquafor...or perhaps rattled your well casing, and now you are seeing iron deposits in your water.
    Maybe similar, but about 5 years ago we had a freak lightning storm here in Central Mass during the winter.....neighbor across the street had a lightning strike across the street and hit their wellhead....well, as of us neighbors were attached to the same watersource underground, so we were getting a ton of sediment in our water, and we have a water filter. Anyway, the well pump folks said the lightning prob caused vibration to the well pipe, and hence the brown/orange water.

    Our solution was to basically start to "purge" the well.....you probably have a valve at the bottom of your well tank in your basement where you can shut off the water. Also you probably have a small faucet type thing on the piping that you can attach a garden house to...what we had to do was to shut the water off at the main, and then we ran a garden house to the bottom of the tank/bladder for the well. We would slowly drain the water outside via the house....run it would a few minutes, then shut off....then repeat avery half hour....after about 2 hours the water was clear.
    Not sure if this the same type situation.....did your water suddenly get orange/brown> or has it been gradual?
  6. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    County Cooperative Extension office should know. Or a plumbing supply house.
  7. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    Yesterday was the first I noticed it Dave.
  8. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    At my old house we had a well that all of a sudden started pumping cloudy nasty water. I'm not sure what caused it, but I call a local well/pump guy and he told me to just run the well hard for a while to clear all of the sediment. I turned on the garden hose and let it run for a while ( a couple times for a couple hours) and it cleared it right up. As someone above mentioned the drilling stirred up some junk or your well experienced a partial cave-in.
  9. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    You are very well-come. (I am so proud of myself for that. I can tell today is going to be a blessing of lowered expectations!)

    Unless they're blasting to get that pipeline through I doubt a mile away could affect you. Water tables are weird. My old house sat on clay and when my neighbor put up gutters and a perimeter drain my basement dried out. My ex-brother in law got sued for putting an addition on his house. They lived on a slope and when he dug into the ground it redirected the run-off to someone else's yard and it swamped their septic. Odds are as long as nothing has fallen/crawled into it this is just a temporary thing and not dangerous. Good tip about flushing it via the hose.


    Nothing is more important than good water. Maybe air.
  10. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    Most of PA has counties that require well permits. They should have a Well Completion Report for your well. Look at the well head (probably in the front of the house), and there should be a metal tag ID number. The authority can use the number to provide you with a copy of the WCR. (Unless it's too old...like mine)

    A local well driller can usually tell you all about your water before the well is even drilled.

    No softener or filter you say? At Home Depot you can buy a $10 water testing kit. This includes easy test strips for hardness, iron, pH, and more. You may find that you should invest in a softener. Cargill Salts will give you those hardness strips for free, last I knew.

    As noted by others...there's a chance that the contaminant is added after the well tank, but you can investigate that.

    BTW, iron in water is not bad to drink. It is however, really bad for laundry, bathtubs, and sinks. In fact, I think I'd rather have to take an iron/vitamin pill than put up with iron stained plumbing fixtures. (Here I am jumping to the conclusion that the discolor is from iron. Bad engineering maybe, but that would be the way to bet.)
  11. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    It sounds like iron. Are there any orange-ish stains in sinks, toilets, etc? When you refill the steamer is there any residue in the bottom? If so, you may have had some iron all the while, but some recent event may have caused its increase in the water at the tap. Vibrations from gas drilling.. maybe? It depends on what depth in the ground they're targeting. I'm guessing its horizontal drilling, so the actual zone they're targeting underground may be a little closer than a mile away.

    How deep is the well? What is the well completed in (bedrock or sand & gravel)? Wells completed in unconsolidated sediments are typically screened to keep fine sediment particles out of the water. You may have had iron accumulation on the well screen and now it may be coming loose and entering the water supply. It could even be iron bacteria hanging out on the well screen, taking up iron from the water. Its harmless, but can cause problems like off-taste in the water (musty, oily, swampy, etc). This accumulation could also happen in the tank.

    Anyway, if the sudden appearance/increase in iron was caused by some type of vibration, and your neighbors have similar wells (approximately same depth), then they might be having problems too. If you can get more info about your well, that would be great and it should be put in the permanent file/record for the house. At the very least, some of the area well drillers would be able to tell you more about the wells in your neighborhood. If the problem is limited to just your well, you might consider flushing the tank in the basement or looking at some type of filtering mechanism.
  12. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Use opaque pitchers for your water and buy orange pants for work. Problem solved! You may also want to dim the lights until you can no longer see color.

    I think I found your problem.

    You really ought to have at least a basic sediment filter cartridge on your main water feed. I have a small cartdridge style filter on my main line, its on the master feed line a couple feet after one hose outlet (the hose outlet is unfiltered a) because its pointless to filter it and b) if I have a filter catastrophe of some sort, I can still have some usable source of water). The filter will clear a lot of crap out and if you use the finer culligan filters you'll screen out pretty much everything.

    Agreed you should get your water tested for bacteria, sediment and hardness and take appropriate action with the results.

    Out of curiosity, are fracking going on anywhere in your region of the state? You mgiht be a poster child for the anti-fracking lobby.
  13. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    No fracking nearby....they are digging though to extend natural gas pipelines...
    I am picking up the containers for the water test today. I know we need to put some kind of filter on the system.
    I have to pull out all the info and manuals that I got when we bought the house. I don't remember off hand what type of well it is or how deep...
    I am gonna call my neighbors later to see if they have the same problem..

    I really appreciate all the info guys.... :kiss:
  14. daveswoodhauler

    daveswoodhauler Minister of Fire

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    I would check with your neighbors too and see if they have having similar problems....might point you in the right direction if is an area issue or local issue to your house. The part thats odd is that the coloring was all of a sudden vs gradual. Good luck
  15. Sisu

    Sisu Feeling the Heat

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    This is probably just a maintenance issue. You might have iron bacteria forming in your well casing, plumbing and/or pressure tank. This is not anything to worry about as far as a health perspective. But as others mentioned, it is an aesthetic issue and can stain laundry etc. Do you run the water each morning before taking a glass? A simple fix is to shock the well with some sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach), let it sit overnight, and then flush the plumbing.

    Since you have just noticed the problem, it is something that probably needs to be done annually. If you are using bleach, make sure it doesn't have any scents added. The best stuff is NSF approved.
  16. MasterMech

    MasterMech Guest

    We have high iron content in our water and a water softener to control it. Using the Iron Out salt in the softener helps control it but we still get sediment stains on toilet bowls.
  17. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    R U filling the pitcher from the fridge ice/water dispenser? If U R it could be your filter in the fridge.


    zap
  18. ColdNH

    ColdNH Minister of Fire

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    It probably is just some iron in the water, you should have some sort of water filtration going on.

    I agree with others, get your water tested, although you may not want to know the results!

    We just bought a new/25 year old house and had the water tested as part of the home inspection. the levels of radon were extreamly high and there was also above acceptable levels of arsenic and mangenese in the water.

    Ended up needing 10k in equipment to resolve all the issues!
  19. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    Well I called the neighbor and asked him if he saw any changes in his water. He is about 75 years old and grew up in the house he is living in now. He told me that every year at this time he has noticed a tinge of orange in his water. He said it is iron.
    He has had a water filtration system in place for the last ten years.
    I came home today and filled up the water pitcher and it is totally clear! I am still going to get the water tested and we are going to put a filter on the system.
    Thanks for all the information! :)
  20. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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  21. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    I have an inline filtration canister. A GE from HD. Works well.

    Will probably work better now that we fixed the leaky flex hose issue coming into the house ;-)

    Hogz has some excellent pics of his canister install, by passing the canister, so you can change the filter while still having water running in the house :coolsmile:

    Think about changing your shower heads & tap filters, M. They tend to clog when these things happen. Especially if they've been around for a while.
  22. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    Wow Dixie, I forgot all about posting that LOL.
    I too would suggest even a simple filter like I have installed on my system. I still don't drink the water, One day, I will install a self flushing media filter.
  23. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Like I said, get the water tested. No not the $5 DIY "Kit". Have it tested correctly. You should be having this done every couple years at a bare min anyhow. It could be something simple or it could be the well starting to fail. In any case there are tons of poisons that can leach into an aquifer that can kill you if you consume enough, spending a few $$ to test it is only common sense.
  24. GAMMA RAY

    GAMMA RAY Minister of Fire

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    I picked up the containers and I am taking the water specimens to the health department on Monday.
  25. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    What a coincidence. On Monday I also have to submit a yellowish specimen. Hopefully I don't have to drink mine.

    My favorite drug tests are the multiple choice kind.

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