Black stuff (carbon) in water?


Old 06-24-04, 07:38 PM
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Black stuff (carbon) in water?

I've got smelly well water that the water conditioner was not helping (I posted my situation under "Smelly Water"). My whole-house water filter (little Coke bottle-sized Omni filter) had not been changed for 6 months, so I decided to go ahead and change it. The white paper filter cartridge was black. When I removed the cartridge, the water in the filter housing had a slight sheen on the top, which may have been from the plumbing cream that was used on the gasket. Anyway, there was a strong oil/propane/turpentine type smell in the cartridge housing, and tiny bits of what looked like carbon. When I dumped the water out, a sludge of black carbon-looking stuff was stuck to the inside of the filter housing. I wiped it out with paper towels and the paper towels turned black.

I have 2 oil heat tanks next to the water softener, but the tanks are located in the basement and are not buried. They're not leaking either from what I can tell. I had my water tested when I moved in last year and they said it was safe (I have the water test in front of me and it tested for like 40 different things). I'm wondering if there's an old oil tank hidden under the ground near my well that could have started leaking. Nothing was disclosed in my paperwork.

I also changed the filter that was attached to the hot water heater pipes (that hadn't been changed for a year), and although it smelled a bit moldy, it didn't have the black sludge all over it. The hot water heater filter is a carbon-filter.

I filled both filter housings with water and mixed bleach in to kill any bacteria. When I dip a paper towel in the mixture, it turns a pretty shade of light lavender.

What the heck is going on with my water???
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Old 06-26-04, 12:25 PM
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Some types of carbon fiters allow an amount of what we call carbon fines (powdery dusty material) into the water when they are first installed. Manganese and iron reducing bacteria cause and oily film on water but not an odor of the type you described unless there are a lot of 'them'. You shouldn't be using carbon on water of unknown microbiological content. It can cause bacteria to thrive and cause slime and odors. The right type of bacteria living in a carbon filter can make you sick.

You need what is called a hydrocarbon scan water test done and to stop ingesting the water in any way and I'd suggest no tub baths, shower only for everyone until you get the water test result.

You should have a Coliform bacteria test along with reducing bacteria tests done.

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Old 06-26-04, 01:29 PM
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What wasn't mentioned is the important fact about water filters:

All water filters perform under normal maintenance and regular replacement due to 2 factors: gallon usage and/or time factors.

If you leave a filter in a potable water system longer than the recommended gallon usage or timeline due to not satisfying gallon usage, the result is more harmful than to not have a filter at all.

Remember that the better a filter works at removing impurities and sediment, taste/odor from your water, the shorter the life of a filter, the more costly the filter at time of purchase.

The cheapest filters usually clean the least, have the highest gallon usage.

First things first.

In relation to the filter and the chemical smell associated with it, there is a possibility that the grease used on the O-ring and threads on the canister was not food-grade grease. If regular grease was used, it is petroleum based and not recommended for contact with potable water.

Remove the grease from the O-ring and the threads, anywhere where contact comes in with the water. FDA approved grease is clear and looks exactly like clear silicone caulk, except the fact that it never hardens and stays pliable.

Use this code approved grease to maintain the ease of removing canister periodically. You need to establish a normal routine, based on the filters your using and the gallon usage that passes through them.

Take the canister and clean it thoroughly with bleach, remove all sediment and dirt from the inside surface. It must be clean upon reuse.

Your explaining filters that went way past thier life in filtering inside the system, kind of like a dirty wet sock on a floor that turns into a breeding ground for bacteria.

Replace the filter, use the grease, and maintain a proper maintenance schedule on the filters.

On the hot water piped filter, is that filter rated for hot water use? Most filters are designed not for hot water, but cold.

Code requires that they are placed a certain distance from water heating devices in the potable water system, much like the same requirement for water softeners. Thermal expansion can raise the temperature of the water inside filter, causing a breeding ground for most bacterias.

I would, after a week, make these corrections, and then if the chemical smell is still ominent after this time, I would contact a laboratory and set up a inspection and get samples drawn from different locations in your water system to determine the exact cause.

I had a older lady I used to change her water filter for her 2 times a year. She didn't use her water much, but she didn't want to pay to have it done 4 times a year like it should be.

By the time 6 months rolled around, no matter how much I emphasized the seriousness of leaving them go so far, the smell was rancid, black, and the clear canister to the in-line filter was permanently stained.

There towards the end, she would wait till it would almost totally restrict flow, and I told her I would not be back, I didn't want to be liable for her choices.

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