Although many homes today use a private well as their drinking water source, the problem with well water is that it is easily contaminated – and many common well water problems arise on an annual basis, making it very important for well water owners to check their water on a regular basis.
Preventative care is important, however you also need to know what to do when a problem arises. Here is an overview of the most common well water problems, and the best solutions to treating these issues.
If you’re noticing a buildup of hard, white, scaly material on your hot water appliances and tap fixtures, you’re dealing with a hard water issue. Hard water actually contains very high levels of calcium and magnesium, more often referred to as calcium carbonate.
While drinking and using water with elevated levels of calcium carbonate is not personally harmful, you’ll find that the scale that’s left behind on your appliances and inside your pipes will cost you money in the long run.
That’s because hard water causes you to lose lather when using soap – which means that you’re going to need to use extra detergent when washing dishes and clothes, and you’re going to need more shampoo and soap when you’re in the shower. The efficiency of your small appliances is also reduced, since the scale is blocking up their proper conductivity – so you’ll start paying more for electricity.
The solution to hard water is to purchase a water softener. These remove the hard minerals from your water and replace them with sodium ions – all you have to do once the unit is installed is to empty a bag of specialized salt crystals into your water softener about once every few weeks.
Staining & Bad Odors
You’ll find that iron, sulfur, and manganese are often the worst culprits when it comes to well water. They’re usually found together, and can result in both a bad taste and smell, as well as staining on things like your sink and tub. These minerals on their own are not detrimental to your health, but they can be embarrassing and awkward to deal with.
Iron is the mineral that will cause the most staining in your home, and you’ll need to obtain a water softener or chlorination system in order to flush the iron out of your water. If you already have a water softener, call the manufacturing company to see if their product also filters out iron.
The “rotten-egg” odor is caused by sulfur in the pipes, and this can be controlled by installing an automatic chlorination system in your well house. If there are harmful bacteria present, a chlorination system will take care of most of the bacteria as well. You may also consider using an oxidation system, which will oxidize the contaminants and allow them to be removed through a filter bed.
If you’re highly concerned about bacterial contamination – which is a valid concern, as strange substances and chemicals can easily make their way into well water – a chlorination or oxidation system is the best way to treat and prevent against contamination.
The only problem is that chlorine may cause your water to tasty a little different, and may have a slightly unpleasant odor. Ozone, on the other hand, can be a costly system to install and implement.
One more recent solution to bacterial contamination is through a BioSand filter. These filters use a biologically active layer that essentially “consumes” any unwanted bacteria, and there is almost no wastewater produced when you clean the filter. These systems are excellent for more rural locations, and they can be installed with capacities from 20 liters per hour all the way to 600 liters per hour.
photo by Banu / CreativeCommons