How to Know If There Is Iron in Your Well Water?

If your home receives water through a private well, you do not have the benefit of a public treatment plan to process and treat the water before it enters your home.
Although well water is often cheaper than the public variety, it is more susceptible to contamination by bacteria that use iron during their life cycle. These bacteria can be introduced into your well water during plumbing work or when maintenance is performed on the well. You can treat an infestation of iron bacteria in your well through a number of methods, including shock chlorination.

Step 1

Check your faucets, sinks and porcelain bathroom fixtures. If your well contains high levels of iron, this can result in rust stains appearing on surfaces that are susceptible to oxidation.

Step 2

Smell your water. If your water has a foul scent, like the smell of rotting eggs, the water may be contaminated by iron bacteria.

Step 3

Examine your water. Iron contamination often results in water having a reddish brown appearance. This is the result of iron oxidation within your home’s pipes.

Step 4

Taste the water. Well water with high iron levels will have a mild metallic taste.

Step 5

Check the interior of your toilet tank. The presence of iron in your water will build up in your toilet tank over time, leaving a rusty colored sludge inside the tank. Iron bacteria also cause a type of sludge and a colony of iron bacteria, though harmless to humans, can grow to completely plug up pipes.

Step 6

Send a sample of your well water to be tested at a laboratory. Swimming pool supply stores, local colleges or your area’s water treatment plant may be able to recommend a water testing facility that will test your water for the presence of iron.

Tip

  • Get an analysis from more than one water testing facility. Different facilities may recommend different ways of solving the iron problem in your well water. Some methods are cheaper than others.

About the Author

Ciele Edwards holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and has been a consumer advocate and credit specialist for more than 10 years. She currently works in the real-estate industry as a consumer credit and debt specialist. Edwards has experience working with collections, liens, judgments, bankruptcies, loans and credit law.