If you've recently gone under contract on a home with well water, you may be wondering what you've gotten yourself into. Well water can provide a number of health and safety benefits -- however, this water source requires a bit more maintenance on your part than simply opening the tap. Read on to learn more about the filtering and maintenance you may be required to perform to keep your well in good working condition.
Does well water need to be filtered?
Because well water generally comes from an aquifer -- a deposit of water between layers of rock -- it tends to be "hard," with a high mineral content. Some studies have indicated that the minerals present in hard water can beneficial for cardiovascular health. For this reason, you may be loath to install a water softener or other filter to remove calcium and other minerals.
However, some minerals present in your well water -- particularly iron and sulfur -- can cause discoloration or an unpleasant taste. If this is the case, you'll probably benefit from a water filter designed to remove iron and sediment, which should improve the taste and smell of your water without eliminating the minerals that can benefit your health.
There are several different types of iron filters, and the ideal filter for your well largely depends on the specific type of iron you have. Unfortunately, there isn't yet a filter that can completely eliminate all types of iron in a single water source, so if you're dealing with multiple types of iron, you may need to double up on water treatments.
- If your water is rust-colored, you likely have ferric iron.
These iron particles turn red when exposed to oxygen, which usually happens when the water comes into contact with air during the pumping process. You may notice that your water has a slightly red hue when it leaves your tap, or forms a rust-colored ring around the inside of your toilet or sink.
Ferric iron can be combated through a "membrane" filter, like a reverse osmosis water softener. This filter forces water through a fine membrane, which strains out the larger iron particles, eliminating them from the water supply before this water enters your home. Because iron particles are larger than calcium and other minerals, purchasing and installing a filter designed specifically to eliminate ferric iron shouldn't have much of an effect on your water's mineral content.
- If your water feels slippery or you've noticed a slimy buildup inside your toilet tank or dishwasher, you may have bacterial iron.
This slime is created when natural bacteria present in the well water feed on the iron particles. Adding a small amount of chlorine to your well water (then filtering it out with a carbon-based filter) should be enough to kill off excessive bacteria levels and prevent illness.
- If your water is clear but has a noticeable metallic aftertaste, you may have ferrous iron.
This iron originates from deep within the well, which is why it often has no color. Ferrous iron can be the most challenging type of iron to remove, depending upon how high your well water's iron levels are.
In some cases, an ion-exchange softener may be enough to remove the iron ions and replace them with sodium or potassium ions. However, if the concentration of ferrous iron in your well is high, you'll probably need to install an oxidation or ozone filter. Both filters work by exposing the ferrous iron to air, converting it into ferric iron that can easily be removed from your water supply through a membrane filter. This process can sometimes take some trial and error before you notice a difference in the smell or taste of your water.
To purchase an iron filter for your well, contact a company like Bonnyville Water Conditioning.