One of the most common problems of using a well as your water source is the presence of sediment. Slightly murky water may appear harmless, but it could damage your pump and plumbing system because well water sediment will slowly build up over time.
Sediment is an inorganic or organic substance that contaminates your well water through erosion, weathering, or decomposition. An easy way to detect sediment is to put well water into a big jar and let it sit for one day. In some cases, sediment will form after the well water is exposed to air, and see if something muddy or grainy settles at the bottom of the jar.
In this post, we’re going to explain how you remove sediment from well water. Furthermore, you’ll find out why does well have so much sediment. And last, is it safe to drink water with sediment?
Although we can kill bacteria and harmful pathogens by boiling well water, it isn’t necessarily safe for your family, due to the possible presence of fertilizers, pesticides, arsenic, and heavy metals. You need an effective well water filter, not only to remove microorganisms but also harmful substances. There are reasons why well water sediment may form and water that comes out of your tap looks a bit murky. After drilling the well, it may take two weeks or more before the well water sediment settles completely and the water looks clear. But in many cases, it is caused by something more serious.
Well water sediment doesn’t necessarily mean that water shouldn’t be consumed. Actually, using a well water filter makes it consumable.
If an old well and well water sediment problem becomes worse over time, it could be caused by loose rock and soil, due to erosion. After a few decades, screens, seals, or casing inside your well water starts to degrade, creating a pathway for soil, mud, or fine sand to get into the wall water. Rusty pipes and other old metal objects may cause rust-colored stains on your sink, and kitchen appliances. Well water filter is the most cost-efficient way to completely remove any sediment, microorganism, and harmful substance. You only need to replace the filter regularly to keep the well water clean and drinkable.
Well Water Filtration
Well water filtration systems vary based on the type and extent of water contamination. Generally, well water filtration systems involve a combination of sediment filters, activated carbon filters, reverse osmosis systems, and/or ultraviolet light systems to remove various contaminants. Sediment filters are designed to remove large particles from water, such as dirt and rust, while activated carbon filters remove organic contaminants like pesticides. Reverse osmosis systems remove a wide range of contaminants and particles, while ultraviolet light systems are used to remove bacteria, viruses, and other microorganisms.
Black sediment in well water
If you have black sediment in well water, there are different reasons for that, such as high concentrations of certain metals, black mud, or decomposing organic matter, such as animal hair and tree roots. Black sand in well water may form if dark sandy soil makes its way through the small pathways into the well. If you discover the presence of black sediment in well water, it is recommended to test it immediately to find out the actual reason.
Why do I have black sediment in my water?
Minerals, soil, and mud are all to blame for black sediment in well water. As said, black sediment is caused by minerals, soil or mud, or organic matter.
If a deeper layer of soil around your home contains a high concentration of manganese or iron oxide, there will be likely black sand in well water. These dark grains are actually metal oxides and they should be removed completely before the well water goes into the pump and your plumbing system.
Another possible reason is if you have just drilled a brand-new well. The high-speed drill stirs up the soil, sand, and minerals with the well water, so you need to wait between two weeks to one month until the black sediment in the well water settles completely and the water itself looks clear. However, you still need to filter the water, so it will be completely safe for consumption. A more serious concern if there’s suddenly black sediment in the well water and it’s probably caused by a small collapse inside your well.
Red sediment in well water
If there’s a high level of iron oxides, there will be red sediment in well water. This problem often affects old wells with pipes made of galvanized or cast iron. When these pipes rust badly, iron oxide particles will leech into the well water. The color of the sediment represents stages of oxidation. It starts with yellow sediments and the rust gets worse, it turns to orange and finally red. Iron oxides in your drinking water don’t pose a serious health concern, but they will affect the taste, smell, and color. Reddish tone may also be caused by a high concentration of manganese in the surrounding soil.
What is the red stuff in my well water?
Water with rusty qualities is frequently the result of sediment accumulating over time. Red water (red stuff in wells) can develop in old wells over time. Make sure your well is flushed regularly.
Red sediment in well water can be very problematic if not properly filtered. Your clothes will be badly stained if there’s red sediment in well water. If your sink is made of white porcelain, a reddish stain will be difficult to remove as well. Unfortunately, it can be expensive to dig up and replace rusty pipes, especially if they are very deep. The most cost-effective way is to use a multi-stage filtration system to remove rust particles, mud, and potentially harmful microorganisms. Depending on how serious the problem is, you may need to replace the filter more often than usual, but it is still cheaper to do.
Orange sediment in well water
If your well water is orange, this could be caused by the presence of rust particles. At first, the water seems to have a yellowish tinge and if it gets worse, there would be orange sediment in well water. If rust on the inner side of the pipe becomes very bad, sediment will turn red.
Orange well water is also a common issue if your well is shallow and there are many trees nearby. Oak, birch, willow and pine trees have a high level of tannins on their leaves. These trees can live for 50 to 150 years and the top soil around them is primarily made of decomposed dry leaves. After weeks of rain, tannins may cause orange sediment in well water.
If your house is located in low-lying or marshy areas, well water can also be susceptible to tannin contamination. Tannin is harmless, it is present naturally in tea and other plant-based products. However, it may give your water a tart and tangy aftertaste. Tannin is used as a natural dye at high concentrations, so it may stain your laundry.
Other than iron oxides and tannin, orange sediment in well water may also form if manganese compounds combine with calcium carbonates. This can happen if there’s limestone and a high concentration of manganese in the soil.
How to get rid of the sediment in well water?
If your well water is murky, sediment may cause different problems. Some contaminants, like iron oxides and tannins, are relatively harmless, but microorganisms and toxic metals may cause health issues. Fortunately, well water sediment filter is effective for solving this problem. It is straightforward to install a well water sediment filter. It should be placed before the water pump, water softener tank, heater, and other parts of your plumbing system. You need to cut the primary pipe to install new fittings and well water sediment filter itself. If you have the tools and some experience with plumbing work, it should be a quick DIY project. But if you are uncertain and don’t have the necessary tools, it is recommended to hire a water-treatment technician. If such a technician isn’t available in your area, an experienced plumber may also help you to install a whole-house sediment filter for well water.
Spin-down filters are effective as the first stage of whole-house sediment filters for well water. It uses physics principles to remove troublesome sediment from your well water. Murky water with sediment goes into a chamber and it will spin. Larger sediment particles are expelled by centrifugal force, so they will fall to the bottom. Even if your well water sediment problem is a bit serious, you only need to rinse the chamber regularly to clean it. There’s no disposable filter that costs you money.
The next layer of the well water sediment filter is made of pleated paper, which can remove sediment particles between 100 and 20 microns in size. It is not recommended to use pleated paper as the first layer of a whole-house sediment filter for well water, because frequent replacements of cartridge filters will be quite costly.
If you want to make well water completely safe, your well water sediment filter should have a hollow fiber membrane. It can remove dangerous heavy metal compounds and microorganisms down to 0.1 microns in size.
If your home is located just outside the city, it could beyond the coverage area of the public water utility services. It may take years or never at all to get a reliable water supply from utilities. Many homeowners tap water from an underground well to save money if they have swimming pools, ponds, or lawn fountains. Well water is generally clear and has no sediment if it flows through or above bedrock. But sediments will be a problem if there are loose soils and small rocks in your well, because they are prone to constant erosion and mini collapses. Organic contaminants, such as bacteria and fertilizers may pose health issues, while large sediment particles will damage your pump.
Well pumps and water softener tanks can be rendered inoperable if it’s clogged by mud from murky well water. It will be time-consuming to dismantle and clean up the pump and softener tank. In some cases, you need to replace them and buy brand-new ones, if the internal damage is extensive. A filtration system with 50-micron sediment will remove gravel and sand that clog pipes and pump. You also need to remove fine silt with a 10-micron filter to prevent sludge from forming inside the softener tank.
You could be tempted to have perfectly clear and safe drinkable water, but it’s easy to go overboard with your filtration system. If you choose a very small micron rating for your filter, it will restrict water flow. So, if you need larger water pressure for your lawn, washing machine, and swimming pool, a 5-micron filter is adequate to remove particles that cause discoloration and staining. A good solution is to use a bypass pipe to maintain adequate water pressure for your lawn, bathroom, and swimming pool. Water that goes through a low-micron hollow fiber membrane filter can be directed only to your kitchen sink because you don’t need high water pressure for drinking and cooking.