Well water problem


Old 10-04-14, 04:02 AM
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Well water problem


We have a house in Northern VA with a 32 year old well on the property. We owned the house for a few years and we always had some reddish fine sediment (not sure if it's mud, iron, rust or a combination of thereof) in the water. The water is going through GE whole house sediment filter which needed to be changed every few months (GE 1 in. High Flow Opaq Whole House Water Filtration System-GXWH35F at The Home Depot ). We had to move for work last year, so we now live in another state and that house is being rented out.

A couple of months ago, there was an issue with the solenoid valve that controls filling of the bladder tank constantly clicking on and off. Plumbers came in and had several options of what could have been causing the issue – after some discussions they ended up changing the bladder tank itself (suspected internal leak), the solenoid valve and the well pump.

For the following couple of months everything was working smoothly. Last week, our renters complained that there is a massive sediment breakthrough and they have to change filters nearly daily to keep water somewhat clean. Initially we suspected that the work that was done on the well might have caused it, but the company that did the work refused any responsibility and we have to way to prove it.

Then for a week we had an endless run-around of several companies coming out and giving us absolutely different answers and quotes for different solutions, one more expensive than another. The first local company told us we need a fancy reverse osmosis system with a water softener and proposed to install one for about $5k.

This seemed excessive, so we then called “My plumber” and they did a water analysis and came up with the following results:

TDS (total dissolved solids) 115 ppm
Hardness= 9 gpg (0-3 gpg is soft)
Iron= 2 ppm (high levels, causing stains in plumbing fixtures,
clothing and so forth)
Ph= 6.0 (7.0 is neutral. Below that is acidic. Water is aggressive to
metallic piping)

They then proceeded to offer an even fancier system for $12k.

One of the plumbers we used before said he had the same problem in his house and all he did is installed a sand filter and a water softener for about $1k which took care of both iron and acidity. This seemed fairly reasonable, but we are having hard time finding someone who is willing to offer and install one – everyone we called pushes some sort of complex system for many thousands of dollars.

On top of all that, the well guy came out again to make sure that none of the work he did interacted with it. He looked at the issue and told us that the real problem is that “our well is pulling muddy water from the top rather than the bottom” and this is the root cause of the problem. He is confident that no water filtration system would solve the problem and the well itself needs to be fixed - but he is not sure he can fix it – he is checking on this.

So by this point, we are completely at a loss. It's been going on for over a week and we have a multitude of mutually exclusive solution offers from multiple companies, each costing thousands of dollars and not guaranteeing anything.

Each of them is absolutely confident that their solution is the only correct one and other options will not do anything – but none of them do both wells and filtration systems and only work on their scope, so whichever one we choose can blame it on the other thing and not solve the problem.

Any suggestions would be very appreciated.
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Old 10-04-14, 05:27 AM
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There are a multitude of problems, each requiring a different solution, and it looks like you have all of them.

1. Coarse sediment (that makes the water muddy andwould settle out if the water is not constantly churned or stirred up).
2. Fine sediment (that does not settle out quickly and gives the water a cloudy appearance).
3. Dissolved mineral content, usually corrected with a water softener.
4. Acidity/alkalinity (pH), may be corrected with some water softeners or by other equipment or left uncorrected.
5. Worn out, leaking, clogged, or corroded system components.

The various expensive solutions suggested to you address different combinations aforementioned problems.

The most urgent problem is #1. The filters you had lasted a reasonabe time handling #2 but when #1 happened the filters quickly became "full" or "saturated" or "clogged."

Problem #1 can be broken down into two parts:
1a. Minimizing the amount of coarse sediment that gets up into the system.
1b. Filtering out the sediment in a manner requiring the least time or least effort or least cost (can't have all three) (to clean filters, etc.)

If you can add a new "first stage" that corrects #1 then the rest of the system will behave the same way it did when you were living there.

You probably fixed problem #5 but normally you need to do homework to figure out what really needs fixing. It is possible you replaced some parts, such as the pressure tank,
unnecessarily because not enough homework was done.

Last edited by AllanJ; 10-04-14 at 05:51 AM.
Old 10-08-14, 08:14 AM
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I just asked my girlfriend that puts in and monitors wells for an environmental firm.

Her first thought is to inspect the well by "sending a camera down there to see if the screen or casing failed. That is too much sediment for that." Basically, you need more information before making a choice on what/how to fix it.

The casing is used to keep sediment (soil, dry sand, clay, etc) out of the hole before you reach the aquifer level, then the screen needs to be sized appropriately for the material down there to only let the water through.

Not every well company has a camera suitable for this so you might have to call around if you go this route.

As for the pH, it "isn't out of the norm. Our county water pH is 9."
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