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Iron and Drinking Water

One of the biggest complaints around the country with regards to drinking water is iron. Billions of dollars are spent buying bottled water bought in either individual servings from the grocery store or from a service like Hinckley and Shmitt and a significant reason for this is the iron taste.

The iron present in drinking water in many areas throughout the country is not harmful to drink for humans or animals but it is quite harmful for the plumbing pipes and plumbing equipment in your home. Without treatment of some kind high iron content in your local water supply can :

  • Stain clothing
  • Stain plumbing fixtures
  • Stain appliances
  • Clog water piping

Before we go into ways of treating iron in your water let’s get a little background on the different types of iron.

  • Clear Water or Ferrous (Ferrous is the word used to indicate the presence of iron. In this case it represents a +2 oxidation state) Clear water iron is water with iron that is dissolved in the water. So you can’t see it but you can taste it and it will stain plumbing fixtures, clothes, appliances etc. When this type of water is exposed to air the iron will eventually begin to come out of solution and begin to turn red or rust color.
  • Red Water Iron or Ferric (The word Ferric is also used to indicate the presence of iron however in this instance it represents iron in a +3 oxidation state) Red water iron has already been oxidized, it appears red or orange and it does a real nice job ruining anything it comes into contact with, including clothes, appliances, fixtures, etc. Did we mention that it tastes like you’re sucking on a penny? Anyone that says “my water is fine” when they have red water iron present is lying to themselves.
  • Bacterial Iron : We are not going to go into depth here because there is no typical cure for this type of iron problem other than trying to remove as much iron as possible and killing the bacteria by chlorination. Anyway Bacterial Iron or Iron Bacteria is bacteria that feeds on iron. This bacteria is not harmful if ingested but it’s pretty nasty stuff. The by-product of this feeding frenzy is a gelatinous slime that fouls shower heads, aerators and appliances. A common place to find some form of Bacterial Iron is in the tank of a toilet. It is more common in water supplies that have little movement.

My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Another common problem with drinking water is a rotten egg smell. This is dissolved hydrogen sulfide, it’s more common name is “sulfur”. Hydrogen sulfides can enter into the water system through wells or cisterns from decaying and decomposing plant material. Below are a few of the problems common to high concentrations of hydrogen sulfide:

  • Rotten egg smell
  • Bitter/ foul taste
  • Rotten egg smell on the hot side only. (The magnesium anode rods common to many water heaters can break down chemically naturally occurring sulfates to hydrogen sulfides.

High concentrations of sulfides can cause similar problems to that of high iron concentrations.

  • Black stain on plumbing fixtures
  • Slime or residue in pipes, fouling appliances and fixtures.
  • High hydrogen sulfides can be corrosive to metals. If you have copper water piping or cast iron waste piping in your house this is bad.
  • Hydrogen sulfide can foul the resin bed in a common ionic exchange water softener.

Manganese Look at These

The last fairly common component present in our drinking water that can foul our plumbing fixtures and appliances is Manganese. Manganese if dissolved usually presents no real issues however in high enough concentrations and throw in a little oxygen and the Manganese can pose a real problem. Here are some of the common problems listed below:

  • If in high enough concentrations can clog pipes.
  • Can react with some common household beverages to create a black slime.
  • Manganese deposits can settle in water heaters and storage tanks and water softeners seriously effecting the longevity of the equipment.

What Can You Do to Treat Your Water?

Well there are quite a few options actually.
You can buy a whole house filter, however if you have a high level of iron in your water you’ll clog the filters so quickly it wouldn’t be cost effective. (Most canister water filters negatively affect the water pressure as the filter gets fouled. So you must change the filter cartridge just to get your water back to neutral.)

So if you have a high iron content in your drinking water most times you add an iron tank to get rid of that iron en masse. If you have a water softener the iron tank would be installed before the softener. Simple right?

Lets say it right here, ground water that has iron usually picks up other impurities along the way as well. What happens if your water has hydrogen sulfides (sulfur)? Once again a sulfur tank would have to be installed. Sulfur scrubbers are usually two tank systems. And then you have Manganese, Manganese is usually filtered with a whole house taste, smell and sediment filter, however if there is a high level, even that will not be affective.

Where can I Find the Space for All This Equipment?

So if you had all three of these minerals present in your drinking water you could potentially have a water softener, and iron tank, two tanks for the sulfur and a whole house filter for anything you’ve missed. That seems excessive don’t you think?

One Tank to Take Care of All of Those Issues?

Yep, what if we told you that a company had come up with one innovative product with one tank, to solve all of the problems above? Freije Treatment Systems is introducing Iron Shield a one tank system that separates all of those minerals leaving behind clean better tasting drinking water for you and your family. Here is a sneak peak at the propaganda from Freije before they are releasing it to the public, so it is a ThePlumbingInfo.com exclusive.

If you have any questions please contact ThePlumbingInfo.com or go to www.easywater.com/ to find an Easy Water dealer near you.

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