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Testing and Removing Iron and Manganese from Well Water

Four generations of experience installing, maintaining and
repairing wells throughout Utah and Wyoming.
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There are several important facets of caring for a water well and it’s drinking water output if you’re a property owner who uses one, and one that’s at or near the top of any such list is preventing contamination. There are a variety of potential contaminants that might make their way into water, from dirt and dust to bacteria and other pathogens – but luckily, there are also time-tested methods for ensuring these contaminants never become a problem in your system.

At Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC, we’ve helped numerous clients deal with and avoid any contamination risks in their water wells. From water well softening for removal of various minerals to water well inspection and testing, we’ll ensure your system stays free of any pathogens or harmful particles that might impact everything from the taste and odor of the water to the health qualities it has once ingested.

Two particular contaminants you will need to watch out for in your water well setup: Iron and manganese. These are common metals that are naturally occurring in some forms of soil, and without proper protection, they may be washed into your drinking water supply from rain and surface run-off that seeps into the ground. However, if you’re experiencing issues with these metals, there are simple solutions to ward them off. Here’s a primer on everything you should know about iron and manganese prevention in water wells.

testing iron manganese well water

Risks of Iron and Manganese in Water

First off, let’s go over a primer on why iron and manganese are undesirable particles in your drinking water. First and foremost, research has shown manganese in particular to be a potentially harmful particle for infants who are fed using formula – infants likely cannot process too much manganese in their system, but formula contains it. For this reason, water used to mix formula must have the lowest level of formula possible. There are also some adults for whom minor health issues may arise due to high quantities of manganese or iron in water.

On top of this, iron and manganese in water are simply annoying and uncomfortable. They give water a metallic taste when it’s consumed, plus can stain various laundry, clog valves or other plumbing components. In some cases, they even make standing water appear to have an oily or crusty sheen on their surface, which makes the water appear disgusting. For these reasons and those above, many prefer to treat their water if it contains iron or manganese in high levels.

Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974

It’s also important to note that the government is aware of these particles in water as well. The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974, which was set in the same year, set standards for iron and manganese in water – these are generally based on aesthetics, but the same themes apply to health. There are no current state-level health standards for these particles in water, but as we noted, the potential risks to infants and the issues with taste and smell are common reasons why they’re regularly treated.

Testing Formats

One slight positive here is the ease with which iron and manganese can generally be spotted. As we noted earlier, they give off several signs we can pick up with our senses, from their metallic taste to the orange-brown staining they tend to create on bath fixtures and even the odors they sometimes create.

Before jumping straight to treatment if you notice these signs, however, it’s important to test the water and confirm the precise concentration of these elements within it. Tests can also determine the chemical form of these metals, which might be relevant for treatment.

There are two common tests used here: The reduced test and the oxidized test. Both have similar methods, causing the water to turn a specific shade or create solid particles based on the presence of iron or manganese in it. Our team will be happy to recommend the ideal test for your system if you believe iron or manganese are present, or to conduct one of our own professional tests if required.

Treatment Options for Iron or Manganese Issues

If you have tested the water and confirmed not only that iron or manganese are present, but also their concentration levels and precise types, you can move toward treatment options – an area that our well service team is here to help with in a detailed fashion. We have extensive experience with well water inspection and testing in numerous areas and for all sorts of potential contaminants, including iron and manganese.

A couple of the solutions we may recommend here include:

  • Oxidation filtration: This is a treatment and filtration method that actually injects oxygen into the water to remove the impurities created by iron and potentially several other contaminants as well. This format will need some additional chemical treatment, one that includes chlorine bleach, to remove manganese.
  • Reverse osmosis: Also known as point-of-use reverse osmosis, this is a system that is applied to a single tap within the home (multiple osmosis systems can be purchased if you want multiple taps covered). The filter uses a membrane to remove molecules that shouldn’t be in the water, letting pure water pass to the other side. It does use more water than some other systems, but it’s very effective.
  • Water softener: While water softeners are usually used to treat hard water, they can also remove small amounts of reduced iron and manganese using an ion exchange process.

For more on ensuring iron and manganese aren’t contaminating your well water, or to learn about any of our water well drilling, rehabilitation or other services, speak to the staff at Mike Zimmerman Well Service LLC today.