The Virginia Master Well Owner Network (VAMWON) is an organization of trained volunteers dedicated to promoting the proper construction, maintenance, and management of private water systems (wells, springs, and cisterns) in Virginia. The Cooperative Extension Services in Virginia manages the program and have numerous publications and fact sheets that can help homeowners make educated decisions about their drinking water. The volunteers can help homeowners interpret their test results and make educated decisions about what treatment might be appropriate and desirable or appropriate solutions to problems..
VAMWON Notes from the Field are a series of stories of the questions and sometimes the solutions I’ve encountered as a VAMWON volunteer. The VAMWON volunteer or Agent can help you identify problems with the water system and provide information on suggested treatments options and other solutions. You can find your VAMWON volunteer neighbor through this link by entering your county in the search box.
I received the following in an e-mail “A week ago Monday we had slightly brown water. I called the landlord who came by to say he was having a plumber look at the well situation. He stated with all the rain we have been having it has had an effect on the well. Yesterday morning I noticed brown water again. I called the landlord who had the plumber call who parroted that all the rain had caused cloudy water.”
Before you call a plumber, well driller, or water treatment company you should test your water so that the problem can be properly diagnosed. It is cheaper to test your water than call a plumber and you need to understand what the real problem is to correct it. First, verify that both the hot water and cold water are both discolored. If the hot water only is discolored then the problem might be with rust the hot water heater. After determining that the brown water is coming from the cold water tap also, it is still possible that there is rust in the plumbing fixtures or the piping, but it would typically manifest in only one sink or tub and not uniformly throughout the house (unless the rust is in the main water pipe from the well). However, it is to be noted that when a water supply has been shut off for a period of time any rust in the systems is likely to be dislodged when the water supply is turned back on. This is true for wells and public supply water systems.
After rust in the household fixtures there are three likely causes for well water to be brown or brownish, surface infiltration, well collapsing or water level dropping or iron (and/or manganese) in the water. Earthquakes can also cause a change in water, either by loosening fine grains of silt and soil or lowering the water level. According the the US Geological Survey there is no rhyme or reason to which wells will be impacted by an earthquake, but time might restore your well. A complete water test to determine the source and extent of your problem and possible treatments or solutions should include tests for manganese concentration, iron concentration, iron bacteria, pH, hardness, dissolved solids as well as the tests for total coliform, fecal coliform and e-coli bacteria.
Surface infiltration of water is due to impaired pump and casing system. In this instance this would seem to be what the landlord was insinuating with the comment about all the rain. A properly functioning well with a sanitary well cap should not be impacted by rain. The pump system consists of the well cap, well, and grouting. Surface flooding, excessive rain or snow melt could flow down the casing area if the grouting is damaged or the well cap not sealed properly. This of course would also allow bacteria from the surface to enter the well. Testing the well for bacteria would determine if the water were safe to drink and would indicate if there was surface infiltration.
A bacteria test checks for the presence of total coliform bacteria and fecal coliform bacteria. These bacteria are not normally present in deeper groundwater sources. They are associated with warm-blooded animals, so they are normally found in surface water and in shallow groundwater(less than 20-40 feet deep). Most bacteria (with the exception of fecal and e-coli) are not harmful to humans, but are used as indicators of the safety of the water. An inspection of the well and pump system might visually locate any obvious flaws but the presence of coliform surface bacteria would certainly identify where to begin looking.
The second likely source of brown water is from the well itself. It is typical in Virginia not to have well casing beyond 40-50 feet deep. The Balls Bluff Siltstone and red clay common to this area does not typically need a casing. The most common modern well installation is to have a pump that installed in the well and looks a little like an outboard motor on a stick. Changes in water level or supply could result in the pump pulling up a bit of mud or the pump could have wracked a bit and is hitting the side of the well hole. So that water that suddenly turns brown may indicate a problem with the well structure or water level.
The third likely source of brown water is iron (and/or manganese) in the water. As rain falls or snow melts on the land surface, and water seeps through iron-bearing soil and rock, iron can be dissolved into the water. In some cases, iron can also result from corrosion of iron or steel well casing or water pipes. Iron can occur in water in a number of different forms. Iron is harmless, but can affect taste and use of water. An appropriate response to the presence of iron is to install the right treatment system.
The type of iron present is important when considering water treatment. Water that comes out of the faucet clear, but turns red or brown after standing is “ferrous” iron, commonly referred to as “clear-water” iron. Water which is rust colored, red or yellow when first drawn is “ferric” iron, often referred to as “red- water” iron. Iron can form compounds with naturally occurring acids, and exist as “organic” iron. Organic iron is usually yellow or brown, but may be colorless. A combination of acid and iron, or organic iron, can be found in shallow wells and surface water. Although this kind of iron can be colorless, it is usually yellow or brown.
Finally, when iron exists along with certain kinds of bacteria you may get bacterial iron that leaves a reddish brown or yellow slime that can clog plumbing and cause an offensive odor. You may notice this slime or sludge in your toilet tank when you remove the lid. Before you attempt to solve any water problem that appears to be iron-related, it is important to have your water tested. A complete water test to determine the extent of your iron problem and possible treatment solutions should include tests for iron concentration, iron bacteria, pH, dissolved solids, hardness as well as the tests for total coliform, fecal coliform and e-coli bacteria. The test results properly interpreted will allow you to address the underlying problem and spend your money to correct the right problem.
There is a hole in the half moon well plate thru which one can put clorox if needed. It is plugged with a "well plug". The plug on my well plate was missing and (apparently, from the smell) an animal crawled in a died. Twenty-year Professionals who smelled it said it is the worst smelling water they'd ever smelled. 2 heavy treatments with pool chlorine (10%) just stopped the smell for 6 days.
Prior to this I'd had the absolute best water in the world. It breaks my heart.
The battle with the "stank" is still ongoing...I'm in my third week.
M. I am sorry to hear that. To restore your well you are going to have to clean it or replace it. If cleaning proves ineffective you will have to replace the well to restore the quality of your water. It is much simpler to maintain your well and cap then resolve a problem like the one you describe. There are two basic methods for cleaning a well—mechanical and chemical. Generally a combination of the two is the most effective approach and the trick is finding a company qualified to perform the repair. If a well is too old and the steel casing is corroded it may not survive cleaning and you may end up replacing the well anyway. A water well system contractor who has both the training and equipment can help you decide which methods to use, depending on the condition of the well.Delete
Mechanical processes for loosening encrustations and removing debris from the well include: pressurized air, steam or water; wire brushes or scrapers; agitation of water in the well; and sonic waves.
Chemical cleaning often involves the use of various acids to loosen or dissolve debris so that it can be pumped out of the well. Depending on the nature of the cleaning job, there are also polymers and “caustic” chemicals (like chlorine) to remove debris. Chlorine is great for disinfecting, but not necessarily for cleaning.
The age, condition and construction of a well should determine which methods are used to clean it. If a well’s water intake areas or the well casing have corroded significantly over time, they may be damaged or destroyed by more aggressive cleaning practices. In such cases, it is probably wise to save your money and proceed directly to new well construction.
Well cleaning should be followed immediately by a thorough disinfection of the well system and its immediate environment. Disinfection of the well should be completed by the water well contractor to ensure that it is done properly. Finally, work with a qualified water well system contractor who is licensed and qualified and has experience cleaning wells.
I have a 501 ft 10 year well, water comes out of faucet clear and turns yellow within minutes, get worse when heated. Horses and dogs are drinking it. We do have iron in water but not this color thing. Not sure what to do.ReplyDelete
It is either iron (and/or manganese) oxidizing on exposure to air. Water that comes out of the faucet clear, but turns red or brown after standing is “ferrous” iron, commonly referred to as “clear-water” iron. Water which is rust colored, red or yellow when first drawn is “ferric” iron, often referred to as “red- water” iron. Iron can form compounds with naturally occurring acids, and exist as “organic” iron. Organic iron is usually yellow or brown, but may be colorless. At naturally occurring levels iron and manganese do not present a health hazard. However, their presence in well water can cause unpleasant taste, staining and accumulation of mineral solids that can clog water treatment equipment and plumbing. The standard Secondary Maximum Contaminant Level (SMCL) for iron is 0.3 milligrams per liter (mg/L or ppm) and 0.05 mg/L for manganese. You should test your well water and install the proper treatment.Delete
All systems of removing iron and manganese essentially involve oxidation of the soluble form or killing and removal of the iron bacteria. When the total combined iron and manganese concentration is less than 15 mg/l, an oxidizing filter is the recommended solution. An oxidizing filter supplies oxygen to convert ferrous iron into a solid form which can be filtered out of the water. Higher concentrations of iron and manganese can be treated with an aeration and filtration system. This system is not effective on water with iron/ manganese bacteria, but is very effective on soluble iron and manganese. Chemical oxidation can be used to remove high levels of dissolved or oxidized iron and manganese as well as treat the presence of iron/manganese (or even sulfur) bacteria. The system consists of a small pump that puts an oxidizing agent into the water before the pressure tank. The water will need about 20 minutes for oxidation to take place so treating before a holding tank or pressure tank is a must. After the solid particles have formed the water is filtered. The best oxidizing agents are chlorine or hydrogen peroxide.
Our well seems to get cloudy every 6-8 months then, so far, it seems to clear up on it's own. Even so much that it leaves sediment in the tub. If i remember correctly, after a couple weeks it clears up but it is really creepy waiting for the time to pass. Is something going bad? It is a 35 yo well, 25 gpm, super deep, coldest water ever in the winter. We can't seem to trust the well companies here. The sediment is very fine, almost like a powder, not gritty. I think when having a glass of water, I am not sure if it has a hint of mud or minerals. Thought?ReplyDelete
I have almost the exact same problem. But my cloudy water seems to come yearly for about a month during August through September. It did not happen last year, but is lasting longer this year.Delete
I live in East Texas. I have an air injected well. That has no foot pump or jet pump. It simple injects air into the ground to force water out. The well is a 2" that is 377' deep. I have no water within 150' of the surface. I don't know how far down the water is but I have checked the first 150' and it is dry. My problem is I get a lot of sand in the water and discoloring. The water looks like weak tea. I have tried whole house filters and they help some but not enough. Do you have any recommendations? Can I convert it to a different type of system?ReplyDelete
I found your article while searching for answers online. I hope you don't mind me adding a question.ReplyDelete
Last week I noticed my water was cloudy with a yellow tint to it. I noticed that after I let the water sit in the glass for a little bit, I was able to pour the water out and it appeared to be clear. However the glass now had a slight reddish orange film to it that wiped out easily. I am assuming this was iron in my water.
My dad had me drain out the cold water tank and then we turn the pump back on and refilled it. For about an hour after word my water was much more discolored, but did eventually clear. Today I noticed that my water appears clear while standing in the kitchen, either under the kitchen lights or from the natural light coming in through the windows. I can even look down through the glass and read the sticker on the bottom from the manufacturer. However, if I hold the glass up to the window with direct sunlight shining on it, it appears cloudy, but not discolored at all. But again, I only notice it with direct sunlight. I can hold it up to the Windows on the opposite side of the house, without the direct sunlight, and I don't see the cloudiness.
I don't know what is causing that if it's something I should be concerned about. For that matter, it may have always been that way and I just never noticed before. Thank you for your article.
Our well water great then all of a sudden for the past month we get this smell from our water (only the hot water) and it leave ano oily texture on our skin and also has this foul smell. We tried cleaning the hot water tank and that did nothing. Don't know what else to do!ReplyDelete
Hi Jennifer. Okay just a guess, but it sounds like hydrogen reducing bacteria have taken up residence in your hot water heater. Try raising the hot water heat to really hot. Leave it 24 or so hours then flush your tank. For more suggestions see: http://greenrisks.blogspot.com/2013/03/hydrogen-sulfide-rotten-egg-smell-in.htmlDelete
Hello, the water from the water heater is clear as crystal. the cold water coming from the well has a cloudy, murky, reddish tint to it. this is a bored well that relies on surface water. any guesses?ReplyDelete
Hi Elizabeth, until yesterday our water was great. No issues that we were aware of. Our well is approximately 10 years old. We allowed our kids to play outside in the water yesterday using slip n slides, water toys etc, after returning inside for the day upon drawing baths noticed the water in the tub was extremely brown, clear when coming out of the faucet but turned brown upon standing. Same thing in the commodes, sinks, etc. very worried as to what the problem may be. Any suggestions?ReplyDelete
Any suggestions for well water turning dyed blonde hair green/brassy? We have terrible sulfuric water, bought a peroixde drip to fix the smell, it worked but we thought the oxidation was turning my hair. The line went bad, so we tried a hellenbrand Iron curtain filtration system. I still have greenish/brassy hair, the water is much better though and our clothes are even softer. Sometimes if I run bath water its brownish green? suggestions?ReplyDelete
Hello, our well pump went out after 14 yrs and lost all pressure. We had it replaced and 80ft of pipe had to be pulled out of the ground to perform the replacement. Unfortunately we had another issue after replacing it. The water pressure dropped significantly after 3 days, I had to replace our inline 30micron filter as it was full of dirt. 5 days later had the same problem. I am on my 4rth filter and just replaced the 4rth one today and water pressure is still low. Do i have a problem with low water level,bad pump,with the well itself? The well is 220ft but the pump is only 80ft in. The contractor says we can install a sand trap tank to collect the dirt before it reaches my inline filter and water softener. I have removed all water faucet filters and cleaned them including the shower heads with no differenceReplyDelete
Hello. My toilet was running for 8 hours & the well went dry. It recovered quickly but now the water is tinted brown - for 2 days now. This didn't happen the last time the well had the same recovery. We are in a drought but I've never had a problem before. I have a new - 2 yr old - submersible pump & a deep well but I don't know how deep. Will my water clear up again or what is my problem? Thank You!!ReplyDelete
I really could not even guess without more information. Drought does sound like a possibility, thought.Delete
When I turn on a tap in our basement, in the morning, the watet is light brown in color. It's both hot and cold water. After about a minute, it runs clear. Why?ReplyDelete
I need a lot more information to even try to help you beyond what I stated in the article. "After determining that the brown water is coming from the cold water tap also, it is still possible that there is rust in the plumbing fixtures or the piping, but it would typically manifest in only one sink or tub and not uniformly throughout the house (unless the rust is in the main water pipe from the well). However, it is to be noted that when a water supply has been shut off for a period of time any rust in the systems is likely to be dislodged when the water supply is turned back on. After rust in the household fixtures there are three likely causes for well water to be brown or brownish, surface infiltration, well collapsing or water level dropping or iron (and/or manganese) in the water."Delete
My well went dry or caved in and there was a lot of mud. We have an old well that was not used for about ten years. Plumber ran a new water line to hook to my house and the water has a muddy looke. we have added clorox and the smell of the clorox has reached the house but it has not cleared up. Any suggestionsReplyDelete
Test the well to see what is causing the "muddy" look. If it is actually pulling mud, the old well may be also failing. There a several things to check. Call a well driller to determine if the old well is still good or you need a new well.ReplyDelete
Hi, we recently built our home and had a well drilling company install the well. They hit water with 50gal/min in about 100 ft. The driller said he knew our area and not to go deeper in fear of losing our water. Since we moved in this past fall the water has been cloudy at best. After it rain's we see significantly more cloudiness and sediment buildup. Every few weeks we have to clean out the plumbing fixtures from the sediment buildup. We fear the water and sediment is ruining our new home fixtures and appliances.ReplyDelete
We had the water tested multiple times and had good reports in term's of heavy metal presence and clear of bacteria etc.
In attempts to fix the problem we recently checked the well depth and pulled our pump up to prevent "mud" from being pulled in.
We also have tried purging the system multiple times, as well as bleach treatment.
We aren't sure of the source of the cloudy water & sediment. The water is brownish as it leaves the faucet (so not turning as it sits). Toilets get covered in a slime like film very quickly -or a film will appear in the unused guest restrooms.
Not sure if you have any insight into this issue whether it's water quality or maybe installation related.
Any help is greatly appreciated.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
I have a few questions, but you might also want to take a look at http://greenrisks.blogspot.com/2012/10/iron-bacteria.html
Hello Elizabeth. My elderly mother has been getting black water off and on from her well past couple of years. When she runs the water a bit it goes away. Comes back every month or so. Had water tested ori.ginally was told there was no bacteria in it just high levels of tannic. They suggested at that time not to worry about it if it goes away like it does or purchase a special and somewhat costly unit that would get rid of the tannic that would attach to her existing water softner she has. Sound right ?ReplyDelete
Not really. Contact me at email@example.comReplyDelete
I have a 250' deep well with 6" casing set at 61'. When it rains I get murky water. I've already spoke with someone about lining the well but at what depth should the lining be installed? Should it go deeper than the casing is set?ReplyDelete
To be able to offer any suggestions at all, I would need lots more information on the well and you geology and location. Your first call should be to the Department of Health.ReplyDelete
Hi there! We are having problems with our water where the cold water only is yellow and has dirt in it. It's been going on since Sunday. We did get quite a bit of rain here in NC on Friday. We have a shared well with my mother next door, not sure how large the well is or how deep. What could be the issue and what should I do since I have kids? Please help!!!ReplyDelete
Hi there! I've been having a problem where my cold water has been yellow and has dirt in it. This started Sunday. We did get a good bit of rain on Friday. I'm not sure how deep our well is or how large but we do share a well with my mother who lives next door. I'm concerned because I have 3 kids and want the water to be safe. What could the issue be? Please help!!!ReplyDelete
If you experience any change in your water quality, you should immediately test your water. If dirt and rust are only coming from the cold water tap it is unlikely to be a well problem. It is possible that there is rust in the plumbing fixtures or the piping, but it would typically manifest in only one sink or tub and not uniformly throughout the house. It could also be iron. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss.ReplyDelete
We moved into a rental last September. Our landlord told us that the water was fine, great pressure, everything. We soon discovered that the water was super rusty, and when I filled the sink to do dishes, the water was disgusting! It looked dirty enough for a dozen or so loads of dishes! The next day, I noticed an oily film on the water that was in the toliet. Yuck! Now, my boyfriend, my daughter, and myself are developing painful and ugly boils! My daughter got a huge one right by her eye! I'm sure the water is damaging our hair, could it be the reason for these boils? We don't drink or cook with it, but we shower, laundry, ECT. Can our water be harmful to us?ReplyDelete
We recently started getting brown/black water. we have a water treatment system consisted of a regular filter then it goes into 2 scuba tank filters then to the holding tank we also a chlorine injection tank and pump. the water in the bottom of the holding tank is clear and smells like bleach. We have a 3 stage filtration system for drinking water which is fine. The water is black when it comes to the faucets and toilet. Any suggestions of what could be causing this. thanksReplyDelete
WE dug a new well but the water comes out clear and changes colour (brown and oily) after some hours like 5 hour and above. Somebody said is mica or the location of our house. my neighbours well is also same with ours. please what can we do?ReplyDelete
I have a well that was put in in 1976, was used and the water was fine for 30 years, they stopped using it (for drinking) because it came out from the faucet brown. They still showered, cooked, and washed dishes with it. Fast forward to present, i have rebuilt the entire house all new fixtures, and plumbing (PEX). Called in a well guy, found the well, dropped a new pump and ran all new lines to the house. The only thing that is not new is the well casing itself. We put a drain on it because it runs all the time. (Artesian?) the drain runs clear, no brown... The old well was dug to 100 feet, but they only pulled from about 30 feet down, new pump is at 80 feet. After we ran the well up and down for about 3 hours to make sure coloring worked and all. Well guy left everything was fine. Had a drink, no smell no taste, and i didn't get sick. Left for 2 weeks (it's a vacation home now) came in, turned on the water and ran clear for about 10 secs then came out like mud but no particles in it, just the color. Solved problem by flushing system for an hour. Water ran clear no smell, no odor, no bad taste..... tasted great.. Through experiment i have found that i have to run the water every couple of hours for a few secs, maybe a minute for the water to stay clear.... Any idea if this is a simple fix (Sediment filter) or something else? Thanks so much in advance for the help......
You need to test your water to determine what is the problem and how to treat it. Samples should at a minimum be analyzed for: iron, manganese, nitrate, lead, arsenic, fluoride, sulfate, pH, total dissolved solids, hardness, sodium, copper, total coliform bacteria and E. Coli bacteria. Shallow wells are more easily contaminated from surface sources like septic and may be the reason the well was abandoned in the first place.ReplyDelete
Ma, our well water was so clean & taste good but since it started raining recently the color of our water is now brown. It cant be used to wash cloth not to talk of drinking. Infact my toilet closet is now brown. Pls ma any advice for mwReplyDelete
We moved into our new home 3 months ago. We knew the water was severely hard but all other test were fine. We had a professional water system put in to help with the hard water. Everything was going great. Now the water has turned brown (changed the filter and didn't help). There is a sediment in the tank of the toilet and the bowl itself looks slimy. The only smell is when we wash laundry. It is a very strong sulfa smell that lingers in the house. Our well is 560ft and the casing is over 100. Not sure what to doReplyDelete
Please contact me at info@washingtonAdvisors.comDelete
Though, it sounds as if you have reducing bacteria in your softening system.
My well water smells fuel diesel and it turns to yellow dark in contact with chlorox. What can be the causes of these issues?
I had my well water tested and came back police with total chloriform bacteria. I treated the well with a bleach solution on Friday night and let it sit for 12 hours. Since using the water again on Saturday we have been getting a brownish color in our cold water taps. The smell of chlorine is now gone but as of Sunday the water is still a brownish color. I believe my well is around 250-300 feet deep, not sure how deep the casing runs. As part of the disinfection process I has to recirculate the treated water down the well casing for about an hour using my garden hose. I also ran the garden hose water on the well casing walls as recommended. My theory is that process may have caused sediment or iron to be mixed into the well water. My idea on what could cause the water to turn brownish? Is this typical when one disinfects a well? Should I let the well sit without using it for a period of time to let things settle? Any help would be appreciated. ThanksReplyDelete
Very typical. All the gunk (iron, manganese, other minerals possibly iron bacteria) in the well typically comes out when you chlorinate the well. After letting the chlorinated well sit for 12-24 hours you need to flush it before you use the water. So flush it now. You should run the hoses for several hours till it runs clear after chlorine shocking a well. (It takes about 12 hours of running the hoses to clear my well after I chlorinate it- the amount of time depends on the recharge rate and how long its been since you chlorinated your well.) You have now introduced all that gunk into your pressure tank, pipes, faucets aerators, hot water heater and any treatment you have and need to drain the hot water tank (after you clear the well) Please contact me at info@washingtonAdvisors.comDelete
Thank you for the reply. I feel better knowing that this is normal after chlorinating the well. I had let the water run from the hose yesterday but only for about 30 minutes. I'm going to run it now for a few hours. Hopefully we have clear water by tonight! Does the iron bacteria you mention show up in the bacteria water test? Is it harmful? I plan on retesting my water in a day or two after it becomes clear.Delete
This is the first time I have treated my well after living in this house for 14 years.Delete
Hi a week ago I had brown water coming out of the faucets. Cleared up quick with sediment on the bottom, thought it was my well getting low. Found out my neighbors had the same problem around the same time and we are all on the same aquifer. The water was clear again by the next day but we are worried if our aquifer is drying up. A new house was built close by and there were about 10 acres of trees and two year round creeks on that property. All trees were cut down and creeks have dried up and new large house was built. Does it sound like our aquifer is drying up - we haven't had rain in over 30 days - live in SW Washington and have never had any problems, I've lived there for 20 years with the same well. The water hasn't turned brown again but was that a warning that aquifer is getting low? Should all neighbors conserve water until the rains start?ReplyDelete
Hello, thank you for your report. Even though this report was written for Virginia, I currently reside in NY. I am praying you can share some expertise towards my issue, especially if someone encounters this problem.ReplyDelete
My wife and I are in the process of purchasing a home. Everything went good with the inspection except the water, which has a yellowish color and tested positive for coliform. The water test was negative for E.coli. The well was shocked 3 months ago, but remained unoccupied until this day (8/24/17). My question is: Can the yellowish color and coliform occur because it was unused for months especially with the rainfall through these months? If it is restocked, can the problem be addressed? Thank you in advance.
please email me at email@example.comDelete
Our water (well) has recently turned orange, both hot and cold faucets. The local rainfall has only been about 2.5 inches for the month of August. Do you think this has anything to do with the color change?ReplyDelete
I have a 460' well. The water is red and muddy. The well company said there was "rose water" coming in from the aquifer. I was able to get the water to clear by running the hydrant on the well on a timer 15 min on every to hours and repeatedly flushing the pressure tank and water heater. I home tested the water and there was an indication of coliform bacteria. I bleached the well with two gallons of bleach and ran the water until the chlorine smell was detected. The water went complete muddy again. I am at a loss.ReplyDelete
I'm hoping you can help explain what is happening to my well. We have great, clear water from the well, however, if we run a hose for 15 minutes or more the water will turn pink. We do have red sandstone in the area and I suspect it is from that. My question is how/why is it clear most of the time, unless we use "too much" water, and then it suddenly turns pink. The pink color will go away in a day or two when we go back to standard usage and everything will be fine until we "use too much water" again. Can you help explain how this happens? Is the casing perhaps cracked? How and why does it suddenly turn that color, then go away in a few days? Thank you very much for any assistance or thoughts you can provide.ReplyDelete
This would be a classic symptom of well that is either going dry or simply cannot support the extra use. Essentially, you are pulling mud until the well recharges.Delete
please see this blog entry. http://greenrisks.blogspot.com/2012/05/is-my-well-running-dry.htmlReplyDelete
It is only the hot water that starts to turn brown and leaves sediment. The water pump itself is covered on the outside with a reddish brown slime. Thinking about replacing the water heater but perplexed about the slime on the outside.ReplyDelete
Hi, I'm in Massachusetts and every year around December-January, our well water (which is normally really pure with great tests results) will start coming out reddish brown from the faucet. If I turn the water on and off a half dozen times, it gets even darker. I'm assuming that I get sediment build up and like clock work, it's time for this buildup to let go. Is that possible? If so, should I just plan on a good flush of the pipes once a year? Thank you!ReplyDelete
In Massachusetts in the winter your groundwater is at it's lowest level. How deep is your well and when was it drilled? Do you monitor the water level? You may just be pulling mud from the bottom of the well as in the winter months. The solution may be drilling deeper. Water conservation in the winter months may help you out.Delete
Thanks! My well is a little over 300 ft. When this happens I turn on the outside faucets and let it run for about 3 -4 hours then it clears up. I hate to run it that long as we are conscience of our usage. We do not monitor the level. The well was drilled in 1994Delete
I have a thought that I will explore in Monday's blog post. For direct contact email me at firstname.lastname@example.orgReplyDelete
to Bill Robbins: See information on the pressure switch at this post.ReplyDelete
I forgot and left the hose on to help fill our pool and after being on for 6 hours the water started coming out brown. What do I do? All the water in the house is brown and we don't dare use it. Is it because the well got to low? Will it fill up again and be okay?ReplyDelete
Any ideas on what would cause well water that is clear as it comes out of the spigot to turn black after sitting or boiling?ReplyDelete
My well was perfect for more than 10 years. Recently the storage tank ruptured so we replaced it with a new tank. Oftentimes when we had brown water, draining the tank a few times would fix the issue, however, now the water has remained yellowish brown. It also settles so there is certainly sediment. Ive resorted to installing a filter to the outside line, but it clogs more quickly every week. Im replacing 2 month filters every 3 days now.ReplyDelete
Hello! Twice in two months, our water has gone from clear to murky, then for a few minutes just about black, along with this is some sediment (silty). About half an hour of running the hose seems to clear it up. I've found no other comments online similar to my situation. In New Jersey, near proximity to Barnegat Bay. Any Ideas? Thanks!ReplyDelete
My neighbor drilled a new well. No, my water is brownish, cloudy. Any possible connection?ReplyDelete
I am on a shared well and every couple of days my water turns dark orange/brown for an extended period of time throughout the day. No one else on the well has reported this problem. We test very high for iron in the water. I would think if it is a problem with the pipes the issue would always be there but not sure what else it could be.ReplyDelete
It could be iron sediment from the bottom of the well...http://greenrisks.blogspot.com/2018/06/signs-that-well-is-going-dry.htmlReplyDelete
I bought a house about 1 year and a half ago in southern California the house is on city water but the property is on well water. The first thing that I noticed is our white vinyl fences that the sprinklers hit are a redish brown color and recently and am not sure if it is related but our horses have been getting sick and have had elivated liver levels and small stool piles. We tested the water and there was no iron, lead or copper present in the water and the total hardness was low and tds was at 288 ppm the only thing that was high were nitrates we didnt test for manganese. We have a large plastic holding tank before the pressure tanks and the water feeding into the top is clear but the bottom and the sides of the tank are brown. We have not used and bleach or chlorine. Thank youReplyDelete
Overnight my water in Central Virginia went from perfectly clear to brown. I swapped out the 10" filter and standard household carbon filter, checked the water softener and the two UVs (before and after the softener as e-coli does still surface due to past farm use from several decades back). I do drop a cup or so of bleach down the well every six or so months, and have done that for 20+ years. There has been a lot of rain these last days, and the well cap is securely on. Hoping of course the well has not collapsed, but your thoughts are certainly welcome. In the meantime I will keep flushing the system in hopes it will clear back up in a few days. ThanksReplyDelete
You should have your water tested since there has been a sudden change in the quality. A lot of things could have happened both on and off your property. However, in the meantime it sounds like mud- surface infiltration, a collapsing well, screen failure. How deep is the well? How old? What type of well and geology? I can't be much help without more information. email me at email@example.comReplyDelete
By the way, throwing a cup of bleach into a well every 6 months does almost nothing (depending on the depth, diameter etc. of your well). You should properly chlorine shock your well.ReplyDelete
We live just outside of Anchorage and just had two major earthquakes with hundreds of aftershocks occuring. We have a deep well, not sure exactly how deep, but more than 350 feet. It's a low flow well and we have a system that removes the silt from the water which is usually clear when faucets are turned on. We replaced the immersion pump this summer and was told that everything looked fine. Yesterday, 12/1/18, our water turned blackish it looks like car wash water. Of course, it's a weekend and we're not sure what to do. We have a dog kennel and they drink lots of water. For cleaning and sanitizing we use hot soapy water in the house. We also have another deep well that provides what is used in the barn for the dogs. It is not a low flow well and both of the waters supplied by these wells are the same dark yucky color. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation, status post major earthquakes, would be greatly appreciatedReplyDelete
Hi I was just wondering my water comes out clear when cold then turns a yellow brown color and warm/hot water is yellow my question is when I boil my water for dinner it turns really really brown should my family and I not consume this water or does boiling take away any contaminatesReplyDelete
Sounds like iron, it should taste pretty awful. Boiling does not take it away. Iron is a secondary contaminant. Though you should test your water, there are point of use filters that can remove it. check out this article. greenrisks.blogspot.com/2011/01/iron-and-manganese-in-well-water.htmlDelete
Also I’m wondering when I touch the yellow orange color after it’s dried and it’s gets wet my hands turned stained with black like I have black berry stains?? What could cause that?ReplyDelete
It could be maganese, but that tends to be tiny balls. If its like a smear it could be dried iron bacteria. You should get your water tested.Delete
I live in Arizona. We had a heavy snow fall back in January, after which my well water got super dirty. But it eventually cleared up. About 3 weeks ago, the water started coming out a light brownish color. It is coming from both hot and cold water. Sometimes it clears up a little and then gets worse again. I had a water leak at the well that was just fixed last weekend.ReplyDelete
Describe what you mean by a water leak at the well.Delete
I have an older well and it is a well pit. The hose disconnected from the pump last night and filled the pit completely up. I turned off the power to the well and let all the water drain out of the pit. This morning we hooked it back up and had to prime the pump to get water back. Now my water is muddy. It will not clear up. I've had it running for hours and I cant get the mud to go away. It was completely clear and all good before it flooded last night. I'm not sure what the issue is.
More time might solve the problem. Essentially, you flushed out your pit back into the groundwater in your well.Delete
We had a bad snow storm back in January. Pipes, and well pump froze. Everything was fine after they thawed. Then after the snow melted, we had dirt, gravel, and other crud in the water. It eventually cleared up. Then in April we had a water leak at the well. After that got fixed the water got dirty. It was coming out light brown to yellowish. Went on for a couple of weeks and then cleared up.ReplyDelete
Now for the past few weeks the water has been brown again. It's a reddish brown color. I just tested what it looks like between the hot and cold. The cold is really bad reddish brown, and the hot is a lighter brown to yellowish. Any thoughts or ideas? I live in Arizona if that makes any difference.
Drain the hot water heater through a sieve and see if you find dirt. The hot and cold should be the same since they are both pulling from the same pressure tank. The well may be drying out or collapsing. That is just a quick thought. I would need much more details on your well-depth, type, structure, geology, water chemistry and exactly what you mean by "water leak at the well" and what was done to fix it to offer any insights. email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to continue the discussion.Delete
I've lived in my house for 4 years and have had problems on and off with our well water turning brown but ONLY when using cold water. Sometimes the water is just discolored, sometimes there is black residue and a few times it has been almost muddy. After running the cold water for a while it usually clears up however this past month the cold water has maintained a slight brown color with no residue until today. It became pretty muddy, stopped running briefly then came back on. Now back to slightly brown with black residue.ReplyDelete
Dear Ms Ward .. I am writing you to simply thank you for all of the insight, expertise and kindness you have offered to all of the folks with water issues. Your knowledge is outstanding and wish you were closer to us Canucks to help us solve some of water issues on Vancouver Island. Please accept our sincere thanks for all of this most helpful information and we appreciate your willingness to help so many as you continue to do.ReplyDelete
Ocean Estates Developments
We just moved into a new home with a well. We have a new water softener system installed in 2018, water recently tested prior to buying the home and was normal. We’ve been in the house about 2 weeks. Couple things we noticed: 1. Occasionally the water will sputter or stop briefly and restart. 2. Today the cold water tap only has a yellow tint.
What were the parameters you tested the water for? Did you test before or after the softener? Is there any other treatment equipment in the house? What type of well? How deep? How old? What was the recharge at completion? What is the geology? Why was a water softener installed? Often water softeners are installed to solve iron and manganese problems not just to soften the water. You could be experiencing breakthrough if the softener was installed to address an iron problem. The yellow tint and sputtering could also be a sign your well is going dry. Those same symptoms could be an indication the pump could have a problem or the well clogged with iron bacteria. When did the sputtering occur? It can also be associated with geological events or nearby heavy equipment work. Why don't you email me directly at email@example.comDelete
We have one 350' Deep Tube well which iron and manganese was not measurable. Yesterday suddenly brown water coming from Deep Tube Well. No solid particles coming from deep tube well. What would be the possible reason for this sudden change of color? Please advise
Hi I have moved into a home with a well that seems to have been here for about 20-40 years. The new home was built in 2017 but the well was here long before that and the new home sat empty for two years. The water was brown at first and would go clear after a minute or so and the inspectors and real estate agent said it was likely because the neighbor was drilling a well across the street. Anyway I see what looks to be brown or orange sediment in the water pipes and toilet tank but no staining. After the well pump pressure tank I installed a 50 micron spin down filter then a 5 micro sediment filter and then a 5 micron coal oder filter. All three clogged almost within an hour and at covered in the brownish orange sediment and I now have no water pressure. I had the water tested for coliform bacteria and iron. The test passed and said the water was very soft. So I’m stumped, thanks!ReplyDelete
What do you mean by "passed" and iron test? It is not a pass or fail test. Stick your hand in the toilet tank and see if there is any brown or orange sediment on the flapper. Feel it is it slimy?Delete
You probably have no water pressure because you have all those filters and they are clogged. You need to call in a licensed well drilled to examine your well and fully test your well to determine if it is usable or if you need a new well. The life of a well is usually less than 40 years.
My apologies I misspoke, by passed I only mean the water did not test positive for coliform or E. coli and a hardness level of only 12 mg/L. From what understand the “hardness” is caused by iron. The flapper is not slimy but there is orange and brown powder like sediment (I sent pics to your email). ThanksDelete
Sorry I misspoke I meant it tested negative for both coliform and E. coli. I also did a home test for iron, copper, hardness, lead and pesticides and bacteria. All good readings. I suppose it is just a lot of sediment , I may need to cover the well when I look at it I see the electrical wiring surrounded by bricks with leaves inside.Delete
If you have an open well that tested negative for coliform bacteria, I question the quality of the analysis. See this article for how a well should be built https://greenrisks.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-proper-way-to-build-well.htmlDelete
I’m not sure if it’s open or if it just an underground pump? But I will retest, I don’t know a lot about wells. Also I meant to answer your question about the flap in the toilet tank. It is not slimy but there is reddish brownish orange powder like sediment. Well if it were not wet it would be powder like. I have a piece of pex tubing I cut out when installing a water filter and after it dried it was powdery. I was given some paperwork of a recent servicing and check up etc. etc. on the well so I assumed it was ok. However I also read older pumps can bang up agains the side of a worn or nonexistent casing and cause dirt to enter the water? Anyway, thanks for your insight, looks like I won’t be calling the same well servicer that was here for the last owner.Delete
So, first, THANK YOU for continuing to respond to questions, 9 years later!! Wow! I have a question for you that has our community stumped. There are 300 homes in our community, all of which were built over the past 4 years. We are on a privately owned well. When we first moved into our home, we noticed a smell of sulfur in the water from some fixtures but not others. We started discussing with neighbors and found out some had the same issue but others had it much worse. Brown water and sediment when they try to shower, fill up tubs, etc. They've shared video on FB that would make your stomach turn. The HOA states they've done everything that can be done (testing, flushing, treating) and they don't know why it's happening. What's strange is that the problem is so bad for some and not for others... any thoughts? (Western Washington)
Is this a 300 home community supply system? If so please send me your required water analysis to firstname.lastname@example.org so I can take a look. I have additional questions, but I want to look at your water analysis first.Delete
I had a new well pump installed about a year ago replacing one that was 30 years old. For three decades the house was occupied by no more than two people on weekends only and there was no indication of brown water except when the house was unoccupied for a month or more.ReplyDelete
Immediately, following the new installation brown water appeared in all the faucets, both hot and cold. While the well was being unearthed last year, the digger hit the top of the well (well head?) with his shovel which was about two feet below grade. He explained he put one of his gloves over it to stop dirt from falling into it. When they finished the installation they raised the well head to just a few inches below grade which was crazy since the pebbled area is for parking. However, I'm almost certain no one has driven on it since I quickly blocked it off.
The well company came back and flushed the system and following their advice I periodically left the water running for 5 to 7 hours. The latter helped a little bit for a time.
Any thoughts on what the cause may be and how I would determine that. I have to handle this delicately since the well company is the only company servicing my area.
We only get dirty water in the bath tub when we either flush the toilet or run the sink at the same time. Any suggestions?ReplyDelete
This sounds like a plumbing problem. Call a plumber.Delete
Have well water. I replaced a 12 year old electric hot water heater. Every since I replaced old water heater I’m getting brown water that’s dirty throughout every tap in the house. Cold water as well as hot water is affected. We did not have this problem until I cut the water off at the pump for 24 hours. I’ve been battling this for 2 weeks now. HELP!ReplyDelete
Have well water. I replaced a 12 year old electric hot water heater. Every since I replaced old water heater I’m getting brown water that’s dirty throughout every tap in the house. Cold water as well as hot water is affected. We did not have this problem until I cut the water off at the pump for 24 hours. I’ve been battling this for 2 weeks now. HELP!ReplyDelete
Is the problem with the hot water or the cold water? How old is you well? What type of well do you have? What other equipment/ water treatment do you have? Did you add any chlorine to your system?ReplyDelete