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A Homeowner’s Guide to Iron Water Contamination

The water you drink, wash with, and cook can potentially suffer exposure to a number of contaminants. Many of these contaminants are invisible to the naked eye and some don’t even change the taste or color of your water.

However, water contaminants can cause problems beyond changing the potability of your water. One of the most common water contaminants, especially for homes with wells, is iron.

In this blog, we provide the information you as a homeowner need to know about iron water contamination and your filtration options.

Where Does Iron Contamination Come From?

When you think about iron, you may picture the durable metal often used in construction and manufacturing. When you have iron contamination in your water, however, you’re unlikely to see any obvious metal or metallike particles.

Instead, the iron in your water consists of either miniscule iron particles or a specific bacterial species called Gallionella. Iron bacteria accompanies most contamination because it depends on the oxidation of iron for its energy. But most of the iron it consumes comes in particles small enough to be nearly indetectable.

Most of the issues and signs of iron contamination come from the bacteria, rather than the iron itself.

Iron contamination can occur when a plumbing system becomes corroded or when foreign bodies are introduced to the system. However, most contamination comes directly from the water source. Homes with wells have the highest risk of iron contamination.

Is Iron Contamination Dangerous?

Iron, like manganese, qualifies as a secondary contaminant. Secondary contaminants pose no discernable health threats. However, iron water contamination can endanger your property and plumbing system over time.

Mostly, iron contamination proves itself bothersome because it comes with a host of unpleasant smells, flavors, and residual textures.

How Do You Know if You Have Iron Contamination?

Iron contamination is highly recognizable. If you have an issue with iron contamination, you will likely notice some combination of the following visible side effects:

  • Abnormal Water Taste: You may not be able to see iron in your water, but you’ll probably taste it. In straight water, iron contamination creates a sharp, metallic flavor.
  • Odors: The most noticeable symptom of iron contamination is the smell. You may notice rotten egg, sewage-like, or cucumbery smells when you turn on a tap.
  • Slime: Contamination that includes iron bacteria leaves a distinctive rust-colored slime in toilet tanks and at the openings of your faucets.
  • Staining: Even water that looks clear can transfer iron particles to your possessions. Iron contamination often leaves red or brown stains on laundry and dishes.

In addition, iron contamination poses an unseen threat to your pipes, faucets, and appliances. Over time, iron builds up in these pieces of equipment, causing clogs, corrosion, and inefficiency.

Your plumber or water treatment specialist can perform some simple chemical tests to confirm the presence of iron bacteria in your water.

How Do You Address an Iron Contamination Issue?

Iron contamination almost never responds to traditional filtration or water treatment. This stubborn contaminant usually requires a system that oxidizes the particles completely before they ever enter your home.

If you have iron contamination in your home water, you will likely need a whole-home iron filtration system.

If you know or suspect that you have trace amounts of iron in your drinking water, contact a water filtration specialist. While iron rarely causes health complications, it can be hard on your home systems.

Your trusted water filtration professional can make recommendations based on the contents of your water to increase your plumbing system’s efficiency, improve your water’s taste, and eliminate the side effects of iron contamination.

To learn more about water and water filtration, browse our blog section.

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