How to Clean Iron From Water Pipes

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Things You'll Need

  • Testing kit

  • Aeration filter

  • Chlorine pump

  • Oxidation system

  • Water softener

High iron concentrations in your water pipes can lead to stains on clothing and a metallic taste to drinking water. Iron is classified as a harmless contaminant by the government as iron is necessary for human health as well as one of the earth's most abundant minerals. More common in private wells than public supplies, iron and iron derivatives in water pipes can be removed using several different methods.


Step 1

Test the water to determine iron as well as other mineral levels. Your local municipality may offer testing. Water testing kits are also available online. A complete test would include checking iron levels, the amount of iron bacteria as well as the pH level of the water.

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Step 2

Determine the type of iron problem you have before choosing a treatment method. Not all methods work for all the iron problems in tap water. The iron may be soluble or insoluble. Soluble iron shows up in clear tap water that is left to stand for a few minutes and is the type that causes staining. Insoluble iron is immediately apparent by the rust color of the drinking water and comes in three forms: red water, bacterial and organic.

Step 3

Choose aeration as the first step in turning soluble iron into insoluble iron deposits. By adding oxygen to water containing soluble iron, the mineral particles harden and are then filtered out of the system using an aeration system. Aeration works most effectively in warm and hot climates. Aeration systems require regular cleaning to work correctly.


Step 4

Consider chlorine for high levels of soluble or insoluble red water and bacterial iron. This is an intense chemical bleaching of the water to eradicate the iron. The chlorine is dispersed using a small pump system with a carbon filter attached. Adequate water pressure is necessary to maintain the system.


Step 5

Use an oxidation system for all types of iron in low measures. For an iron content less than 15 mg per liter, an oxidizing system that utilizes a bed of manganese green sand works well as it absorbs the iron particle, removing it from the tap water. Adequate pressure and periodic back washing of the system is recommended.


Step 6

Pick a water softener to remove iron particles through an iron exchange system. This system works for insoluble and organic iron particles and utilizes ionization, collecting iron particles and replacing them with sodium. This system is not recommended for people on a low salt or sodium restricted diet as it adds a lot of sodium chloride to the drinking water.


If iron particles (red rust-like particles) have recently developed in your water system, it is a good idea to contact the local municipality to check that the iron is coming from your own residential pipes rather than from the public water system.


Adding chemicals to your water supply incorrectly can be hazardous to your health. Always research thoroughly and hire a professional when necessary


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