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Dozer

Sludge in water pipe

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Latley we have been getting crud in our water. Every once in a while you will get a glass full of rusty looking water out of the sink or a bath full of rusty water. If you let the water run for awile it will clear up. I installed a water filter in the water line today just behind the pressure tank. I cut the 3/4" copper line and found it was full of sludge. Its probably 1/8" thick all the way around the pipe. Its like a thick rusty sludge. Any idea what would cause this? Is there anyway to clean this out?

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I presume you have a well. You probably need to bleach the well and kill off the bacteria that feed on the rust. You can probably get good directions at the U of M extension HSOforum. But what you need to do is to pour a gallon of household bleach down the well casing. You then pour 50-100 gallons of water down to wash the bleach off the wires etc. Run the taps in the in the house until you smell bleach, flush the toilet etc to get some up into the pipes. Then let it sit over night. In the morning run an outside hose for an hour or so. Likely for the first 10 minutes or so it is going to come out looking like ketsup. Keep it going until you don't smell bleach any more.

When you turn stull on in the house it is going to also run red and probably even some black stuff for a while so you want to make sure that you take the aerator's off so they don't get plugged. The shower will also make a mess for a minute or two. DO NOT RUN THE WASH MACHINE, WATER SOFTENER, DISHWASHER OR ICE MAKER UNTIL YOU'VE PUMPED OUT THE PIPES.

You may have to do this a couple of times to clean things out. It's messy, but not all that complicated. I had to do it every 6-9 months when we were on well water.

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That is the answer I was looking for. Yes we do have a well. The 50-100 gallons of water you pour down the well after the bleach, can that come out of a hose which would be pumping out of the well or does that need to come out of a tank the would be filled prior to the bleach being dumped down the well?

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Tom, can you "turn off" the water softener? I don't think we installed the bypass going past the softener when it was put in. I think we have to do this too at the cabin, never had well before. Thanks.

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A well guy told me to draw the water and store it and not run the pump once you put the bleach in. Don't know how/where you're supposed to store 100 gallons of water so I just used the hose. Besides getting it up into the pipes and cleaning them out was part of the desired goal for me. I suspect that if you over did it you could damage some seals and stuff if they got too much bleach.

Box, my place has a built in bypass and so it wasn't an issue for me. I got some sand size particles of stuff when I did mine and so I think you have to do something to isolate the softener out of the system - at least I wouldn't recommend it. Bit surprised that the only advice given so far is mine - there has to be someone out there that knows more about it than me.

As I said, go the Ag Extension web site and do a search for 'chlorinating wells' here's the link but I don't know if this will survive the auto censor jobberdo:

http://www.extension.umn.edu/distribution/naturalresources/DD5941.html

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Dumping a gallon of bleach down the well isn't a good idea. Before you dump any bleach down there, take a look at the HSOforum and decide how much you need by the diameter and depth of your well. Too much bleach will cause problenms with some of your plumbing fixtures. Typically, you need to get the bleach in the well, run water out of each fixture until you smell bleach, let it sit overnight if possible, then run water until you no longer smell bleach.

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Please go to the Extension HSOforum. I was wrong about the amount of bleach that is required and they have a table that takes into account the size of the well casing and the depth. Do not simply do what I said.

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Dumping a gallon of bleach down the well isn't a good idea. Before you dump any bleach down there, take a look at the HSOforum and decide how much you need by the diameter and depth of your well. Too much bleach will cause problenms with some of your plumbing fixtures. Typically, you need to get the bleach in the well, run water out of each fixture until you smell bleach, let it sit overnight if possible, then run water until you no longer smell bleach.

Eric is correct and I was wrong - again, go to the Extension HSOforum for the straight dope on how to do it. Sorry for the misinformation. Tom

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Something that you will want to watch out for is the possibility of the bleach melting so much sludge that it will clog the screen on your pump. It happen to me when I was shocking the well and it took a couple of hours of blowing air with the compressor back down to the pump from the inside of the house to release enough of the crud so that I could get some of my water pressure back. I had the well guy come out and show me what to do and he always kept the water running out the garden hose and back down the well and mixed in the bleach a little bit at a time until it was all poured down the well and kept it circulating for about 30 minutes and then ran the water in the bushes so that it did not go into the septic. We were able to clean up the sludge and get the water pressure back up were it was suppose to be but it did give me a little scare that I might have to sink a new well for awhile.

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Something that you will want to watch out for is the possibility of the bleach melting so much sludge that it will clog the screen on your pump. It happen to me when I was shocking the well and it took a couple of hours of blowing air with the compressor back down to the pump from the inside of the house to release enough of the crud so that I could get some of my water pressure back. I had the well guy come out and show me what to do and he always kept the water running out the garden hose and back down the well and mixed in the bleach a little bit at a time until it was all poured down the well and kept it circulating for about 30 minutes and then ran the water in the bushes so that it did not go into the septic. We were able to clean up the sludge and get the water pressure back up were it was suppose to be but it did give me a little scare that I might have to sink a new well for awhile.

Looks like mine has done the same thing. I can hear the pump running but I dont get any water at all. Gonna have to get a well guy out tomorrow.

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You might want to try the air compressor shooting air from inside the house down to the pump.Short burst with lots of pressure works best. If not I hope you get a well guy the is willing to try and not give you the "Its shot" so he can put in a new well for you. I have been going on 3 years since mine clogged up and my water pressure is still very good.

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Do you have a submersible pump or is it a shallow well pump?

Did you disinfect the well yet? Its possible you ran the well dry when running the bleach out. That'll get air into the lines. More then likely that loosened up some of the rust and now it plugged something. Did you look at the filter? Also there is a foot valve inside the well for a shallow well pump. If rust got in to that it can't hold the water and will drain back to the well. If you have a shallow well pump then you'll need to prime the pump. You will need to remove the screens and aerators on all your fixtures, check that filter. Also the pressure tank and pressure control switch. For sure if you have loose rust that small line to the switch will get plugged so will any gauges.

Worse case is rust bridged the line from the well to house. Until that water can get to the pressure switch next to the tank it'll keep on pumping and lock that bridge in. Trip the breaker off for the pump and let it be for a while. Repeat the on and off.

Next you can try what Jim suggested with compressed air.

I'd then cut the power to pump, pull the well cap and lift the pump from the pitless adapter. That bend and fitting is a good spot for a plug from rust, if rust is your problem. Don't know if your comfortable doing that but if you have a well guy coming he will if that is what it comes down to. Run compressed air from a line inside the house. If that checks out I'd start troubleshoot the submersible.

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This is not just a well-specific problem for others reading this. I realize this question involves a well, but it is very possible to get dirty water and having sludge and minerals built up in your lines on a domestic water system. First thing I thought to ask was if you had galvanized pipes, but then you mentioned copper.

If you have domestic water and you're experiencing dirty water problems, run the cold water until it clears up. If it happens frequently or doesn't clear up contact your public works office. Someone like me will come check it out. It may be someone is repairing the water main or flushing of hydrants or many other causes for loosening the sediment.

Great info from the well guys!

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What powerstroke said only comes into play if you have city water then if they are out flushing hydrants or fixing a main you will more then likely get some very dirty water for awhile, but if you have a well it is your problem.

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Ok Dozer, what was it and how was it fixed? You can't just drop it and leave us in the dark waterless.

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Ok Dozer, what was it and how was it fixed? You can't just drop it and leave us in the dark waterless.

Sorry its been one of those weeks! Wound up being a bad pump. It was unreal how much rust was on and in it! He told me its was due to my well being long overdue for a chlorination. Everything was so built up with rust. He recomended I chlorinate my well at least every 6 months from now on.

Wound up being a $980 bill I could have done without! If I would have had time to deal with it myself I would have just gone to Fleet and bought $450 pump and put it in myself.

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