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Test well water for mineral levels

QuestionWhat can we do about magnesium iron in our well water? It stains everything a brown to red color, even with our Kenmore water clarifying filter system.

AnswerSome areas have a higher concentration of magnesium and iron in well water. Iron is the most common of the two elements, but manganese is closely associated with iron since they are typically found together. These two non-hazardous contaminants are chemically similar and cause similar problems such as staining, which you've discovered.

In deep wells, where oxygen content is low, the dissolved iron and manganese-bearing water will be clear and colorless at the tap. After exposure to air, they become oxidized, leaving a solid reddish-brown stain on laundry, plumbing fixtures, porcelain, etc. Manganese, acting in the same manner, causes brownish-black stains.

A laboratory test of the water will yield the extent of the iron and manganese contamination. The lab can also test the water for additional water parameters, such as pH, silica content, oxygen content, hardness, and sulfur, all useful information to help determine the appropriate water treatment system for your well.

Check the filter on your water clarifying system to see if it needs changing, but my guess is the Kenmore unit is not the best system for your situation. Consider obtaining an alternate water supply or use some type of treatment to remove the contaminants.

An alternate water supply would be to hook up to community water, if it's available, or drill a new well in a different area or a deeper one into a different aquifer. Note that a new or deeper well may not yield a satisfactory water source.

There are five basic methods for treating the water: oxidizing filters, an ion exchange water softener, chemical oxidation followed by filtrations, pressure-type aeration followed by filtrations, and phosphate compounds.

Check the yellow pages under "Water Purify & Filter Equipment" or "Water Treatment Equipment, Service, & Supplies" to bring in a water specialist to help get the situation under control. A water treatment contractor can assist in getting the water tested to determine whether you have iron and/or manganese in the water and the concentration of these elements. Based on test results, the water treatment contractor can recommend an appropriate water treatment system.

One recommendation I can pass along to you from others who have been in similar situations (I have not used it) is Super Iron Out to help remove the staining. To learn about this product and others, go to www.ironout.com.

Copyright © 2005, 2006, & 2008 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.

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