Welcome back. This series is called Gordon Water Wisdom, happy to talk about things about our water that you should know, and if you’ve been giving consideration to water treatment in your home, there are some options at Gordon Water. And at the very least, we want to give you some perspective on how to approach thinking about that. We’re also spending some time talking about some of the more common challenges with some of the things that are in our water, and that is the plan today Out darn spot! Solve the problem of orange staining that some of our water may cause. Tom Duisterhof is with Gordon Water Systems here in West Michigan. Welcome back, Tom.
Yeah, thank you, Richard.
So, yeah, what causes orange staining, anyway?
Well, we call it rust. Yes, right? Ultimately, it’s oxidized iron, and it has a reddish rusty color when it oxidizes and shows up in our homes and on our clothes.
Clothes, too. That’s interesting if you give that a thought. I presume that you can even change the color of your clothes if you add a little rust.
Yes, you are absolutely correct. And believe me, we’ve had that call. My water is turning my whites orange and we had one customer she used our bottled water for her hair care because she wanted to make sure her hair was being treated well and not adding an orange color to it.
Wow. Yeah, and so that’s an option. I guess you can buy bottled water and you do provide that. You don’t have to buy a whole house system, but you can if you want to.
Oh, yeah. She was unique in that she wanted to use bottled water for her hair, but iron and staining, let’s just call it rust. It’s not always cut and dry, super easy. Part of our proven process, in all candor, is to have our water specialist come out to the house and take a look at some of the concerns you have, whether it’s in the shower or the even the toilet stool, stained fixtures, clothing, your clothes washer. Some people have concern for their landscape because they paid a lot of money for landscaping, and now their house or their rocks are all all rusty. But we need to assess what what the problems are, and part of that is visual. And a big part of that is water chemistry testing. And the reason I say that is all of our water softeners that we carry have a particular feature to them that allows them to have a dramatic effect on reducing iron and rust staining. And that applies to, quite frankly, one type of iron and iron comes in several forms. And so we need to test in the home to see what type of iron somebody has in their water. Because if it’s the type that a water softener can remove, then a good water softener will not only soften the water, but it’ll remove or greatly reduce the iron to the point where it’s not an issue.
That type of iron is called ferrous or clear water iron, and without getting too technical, it’s in solution, it’s dissolved. And the other main type of iron is ferric iron, and that is actually a tiny, tiny particle. That little particle can flow right through a water softener. Oh, it’s not in solution, meaning it’s not dissolved. There’s still a tiny particle. And what happens if you have ferrous iron or the type of a good water softener can remove that can show up as rust stain, certainly in your bowl or your shower or anything like that, depending on the levels, and they can vary widely. Ferric iron will clump together when it comes out and start to form stains as well, so it might be a little particle, but it stains just like ferrous iron, and in a lot of times it can get even worse. We’ve seen brown color in sinks and in stools because the iron is so dense and so thick, if you will, in the water. And that type of staining is not visually good. But it also, quite frankly, can impact your fixtures in your in your water using appliances as well because that buildup is going to happen inside.
Yeah, just like we talked about with the hard water in the last episode, it’s going to have an effect.
So yeah, you would need to evaluate what type of iron we’re dealing with, and I presume the approach is different.
To try to get rid of it, yes, it is. Again, the Ferrous iron is a lot of what we see and our water softeners have a very good time of reducing or removing that iron. But we have customers that have a blend of ferrous and ferric. So that is a little bit of an issue, but not too bad because ferric iron you need to have an iron filtration system separate from your water softener. And so that type of solution is an iron filtration system. It’s not a little cartridge, it’s a full system, another tank or two, and it is designed to filter out the iron. It oxidizes it and filters it out. It can also help with odor as well, so that particular system can tackle a couple of things. But iron, those two are the biggest. That’s probably in 85 percent or 90 percent of the color we see. There’s another issue that is far less prevalent and that would be iron reducing bacteria. It’s an odd one. Again, it’s not common, but anybody listening in West Michigan or elsewhere that has experienced it, they’re going, Oh yeah, that’s a pain.
But it’s it’s certainly something we can address. And again, it is very uncommon, shall we say. The last coloring that people go, Oh, my water looks like tea and it can do a little staining. No doubt about it. It’ll do some staining, but that’s tannins. Tannins are, you know, it’s tannic acid. But think of it this way, in the fall, when there’s a little puddle in your driveway or out in the street, and there’s leaves that have been laying in it for a week or two and it looks a little yellowish or orangish. Decayed plant life is really what tannins is. And if you have a vein of tannins streaming into your aquifer, then you’ve got something that makes your water look like tea. Wow. Yeah, they provide their own challenges. But again, quality water is quality of life. If you’ve got a home you love and the family you love, and you want to stay there, and don’t want to move, tannins and iron and colors we can address.
Regarding the different types of iron to which you referred, can you generally say that certain iron is found more in the municipal system or in a well? Or is it just a mixed bag?
Most municipals try not to have iron. And the reason is my dad used to say color and odor make the phone ring, meaning rust and rotten egg or chlorine or something adding some odor. Rust is very visible, more visible than hardness buildup in a lot of instances. So municipals will stay away from that. They’ll either do a reduction system, they’ll drop it out before it goes into the pipes as best they can. But I will tell you, we have at least one municipal system that does have iron in the water. And again, that was that’s part of the fact that when a municipal system uses well water, they’ll have multiple wells feeding into their system. Sometimes a neighborhood or a section of the municipality can be fed by something that has more iron. And so we’ve experienced that in one of the municipalities we serve in, one side of town has very little hardness and no iron, and the other side has higher hardness and pretty notable iron. So you can get that type of iron coloring in municipal systems, but it’s not wildly common. The other thing you can end up with because a municipal system has miles of pipes and a number of them, the number of those miles might be old steel pipes. Right? So what you end up with is you have rust that’ll build up in the pipes. Sure. And they’ll add polyphosphate or hexametaphosphate to the water at the plant to try to hide those types of things. They sequester it, is what it’s called. It doesn’t show up until maybe your house or later on, but they’re trying to protect their pipes and their pumps.
But what happens is a lot of times the iron will fall out and it’s laying at the bottom of the pipe. A big pipe, you know, a foot, 8 inches, 6 inches. These are big pipes, right? What happens in the spring? They fire, open those fire hydrants, right? We’re going to flush those lines out. And those lines have moved, the ground moves, not a lot, just a little bit. And then when they fire that thing on, you know, those fire hydrants, there’s such a surge of water that instead of like a faucet in a kitchen and a house, they’re blowing, you know, hundreds and hundreds or thousands of gallons a minute. And the pipes just whoosh with water. Well, then we get the calls. My water is orange. It stirs things up the hydrants. Yeah, it definitely does. And they send out calendars, Hey, we’re going to be flushing in your neighborhood, you know, this week or whatever it is. So they do give people a little advance notice, but that iron either is coming from pipes or it’s coming from the wells and it dropped out and it’s laying in the bottom of the pipe. So either way, municipalities can have that particular iron as a particle because it’s already oxidized and dropped out, right? And so what we do for the folks that have that with more regularity is we will put in a back washing filter, which is a really fine filter. It stops those particles. Then every few days at night, it’ll flush those particles down the drain. It’s a little bit different than private well issues when you’re on city water with iron issues, but it’s certainly addressable.
Well, the good news is we don’t have to go out and get a certification in all of these things, you know, “certification” as homeowners because the Gordon Water Team has already figured out these things. And as they study the water situation in your home, they can now address some of the things that might come up with some of the solutions that Tom is talking about. So right in the show notes, is a link to Gordon Water Systems. Just click that and you can connect with them via the internet or telephone and talk to them a little bit about what your situation is. And they can also help provide some solutions for you to consider.
Tom until the next time.
Thank you. Until next time.
Gordon Water Wisdom Special Series on The Richard Piet Show.