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Top 7 Well Water Problems and Solutions

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Pentair Water Solutions
Pentair Water Solutions


Top 7 Well Water Problems and Solutions

It’s the moment you dread. You turn on the tap. Out gushes cloudy, discolored, or foul-smell water. Something’s wrong with the well.

Fortunately, there's a solution to many common well water problems. Let's take a look at these issues as well as their solutions. This way, you can take action quickly and restore your water supply.

Common Well Water System Issues

The thing about well water problems is that they can vary greatly. It all depends on what the water is like in your area. It’s important to first conduct a water test to determine what water treatment solution best fits your needs.

Here are some of the most common well water system issues, and how we recommend treating them.


1. Hard Water

When there's too much dissolved magnesium and calcium in your water, it's classified as hard. Hard water is extremely common in the U.S., affecting 85% of the nation.

Signs of Hard Water

Knowing you have hard water is easy once you learn the signs. Some things you likely notice include:

  • Clothes washed in hard water feel rough and lose their color.
  • Dry skin and flakey hair.
  • Low water pressure due to mineral accumulation in clogged pipes.
  • Scale buildup on faucets and in water based appliances.
  • Spots and white residue on dishes and in dishwashers.
  • Stained sinks and bathtubs.

Effects of Hard Water

You might think of hard water as just a nuisance. Nothing serious. But over time, it can cause a number of problems, including:

  • Damage to plumbing and appliances.
  • Wear and tear on clothing.
  • Scale buildup on faucets and sinks.
  • Dryness of skin and hair.

Solution for Hard Water

Once you’ve had your well tested for contaminants, you’ll receive a breakdown of the chemicals, minerals, and microorganisms detected in your well water.

Next, install a water treatment or filter solution based on the specific contaminant(s) present in your well water. While a Whole House Water Filter System reduces many of the contaminants present in your drinking water, you can target the problem more directly based on the testing results.

To reduce the hardness of your well water, you can invest in a water softener or water softener alternative to complement your water filtration system. Pentair offers multiple options for reducing the effects of hard water in your, including Water Softeners and Salt-Free Water Softener Alternatives.

2. Acidic Well Water

pH measures how acidic/basic water is. Seven is neutral, while anything less than that is acidic. Runoff from mining operations, plant life decomposition, and yes — even acid rain — can all drop water’s pH levels below 7.0 pH. Low total dissolved solids (TDS) can also lower your well water’s pH level.

Signs of Acidic Well Water

Knowing whether or not you have acidic well water can be tricky. Its signs are similar to that of other water issues. Pay close attention to the following problems:

  • Blue-green or rust stains in sinks and tubs.
  • Cloudy water (in some cases).
  • Metallic, bitter-tasting water.
  • Pinhole leaks in plumbing.
  • Corroded faucets and fixtures.

Effects of Acidic Well Water

Drinking acid water on its own won't cause you to melt from the inside out. But the corrosive power can do a number on your pipes in the following ways:

  • Increases the risk of leaks and burst pipes.
  • Stains sinks.
  • Leaches lead from old plumbing.

Solutions for Acidic Well Water

Turn that corrosive power into something more palatable. Options for reducing acidic well water include installing an acid neutralizing filter, or soda ash injections into the well to raise pH. If corrosion has become too much of a problem, replacing metal pipes with NSF-approved plastic components is a great way to restore your water.


3. Fluoride

Fluoride — that stuff your dentist puts on your teeth — is naturally found in water. Municipal water authorities even frequently add it to help reduce tooth decay. The EPA’s recommended level for fluoride is 0.7 mg/L, but your well water levels might be higher.

Effects of Fluoride

Like we said, fluoride in water is typically a good thing. It can even reduce the chance of dental decay by 25%, according to the CDC. But too much can have some long-term side effects:

Solutions for Fluoride

Too little fluoride, too much fluoride… the line can be confusing if you're not a water expert. Most people aren't. A reverse osmosis (RO) water filter can effectively reduce fluoride from drinking water so you can be sure you're getting the correct levels.


4. Hydrogen Sulfide

Let's talk bacteria. They're likely present in your well in the form of sulfate-reducing microorganisms. Bacteria that eat sulfates sound good right? Unfortunately, they can lead to the development of a flammable gas called hydrogen sulfide. Chemical reactions with the anode rods in hot water heaters can also cause this gas to form.

Signs of Hydrogen Sulfide

It's pretty easy to tell when you have a hydrogen sulfide problem. Always trust your nose. Look out for the following symptoms:

  • Water smells like rotten eggs.
  • Stained laundry.
  • Stains on bathroom fixtures.
  • Discolored silverware, copper, and brass.

Effects of Hydrogen Sulfide

Hydrogen sulfide is corrosive. This means, like acidic water, it can wreak quite the havoc on your home environment. Here are some of its effects:

Solutions for Hydrogen Sulfide

First things first, please replace the anode rod in your hot water heater. Especially if it's old. This is important if substances in the water chemically interact with the rod.

As for your well. Disinfection can go a long way in reducing sulfide-reducing bacteria. But a more practical approach? Add greensand filters or a filtration system to reduce hydrogen sulfide levels before water reaches your tap.


5. Iron and Manganese

Found naturally in bedrock, iron and manganese can dissolve into groundwater, especially when disturbed by mining operations. Sure, they're important nutrients for your body. But you can always have too much of a good thing.

Signs of Iron and Manganese

Just because your body uses iron and manganese, doesn't mean your home needs it too. Having too much in your well water can lead to several things you'll likely notice:

  • Black specks or stains.
  • Brown, orange, or red stains on sinks and bathtubs.
  • Cloudy, sometimes orange water.
  • Metallic, bitter taste.
  • Oily water surface.
  • Staining water appears grey or black.

Effects of Iron and Manganese

The good news — iron and manganese don't have effects on your health. But your appliances may suffer a bit. They can create:

  • Mineral deposits on appliances that reduce efficiency and increase your electric bill.
  • Mineral deposits on plumbing that can reduce water pressure.
  • The presence of iron or manganese bacteria that can create slime that clogs water systems.

Solutions for Iron and Manganese

Iron and manganese require slightly different solutions. Oxidation filtration will remove iron. But you may require chemical treatment to remove manganese. So stubborn!

To tackle all your problems at once, just use a point of use reverse osmosis filter. It'll reduce both iron and manganese in drinking and cooking water.

6. Turbidity

If you live near a construction zone, you might have a problem. Runoff, drilling, and any other types of earth disturbance usually lead to high levels of total suspended sediment. In other words, turbidity. And if you have turbidity, chances are you also have oxidized metals (iron and manganese), microbial life, or pollutants in your water.

Signs of Turbidity

Here's the thing. Turbidity is pretty easy to spot right away. Since it's a measure of the clarity of a liquid, you'll notice right away if the water is off.

You might even describe the water as:

  • Cloudy.
  • Opaque.
  • Muddy brown.
  • Dirty looking.

Effects of Turbidity

Turbidity is kind of like a mixed bag. You never know what you're getting. Because of that, it can lead to a whole slew of problems depending on what the actual contaminants are, according to the U.S. Geological Survey:

  • Increased growth of pathogens.
  • Increased presence of metals.
  • Increased outbreaks of waterborne diseases, including bacterial or viral infections.

Solutions for Turbidity

Turbidity might sound scary, but it's an easy fix with the right tools. Adding a sediment pre-filter to your water filtration system will reduce turbidity. Leaving you with water you can trust. You can also try UV protection to reduce microbial sources of turbidity.

7. Fecal Bacteria

Ah, poop. It's the one thing we all do that no one likes talking about. But here are the facts: Animal or human waste can infiltrate well water through agricultural runoff, cracks in well walls, or overflowing septic tanks and sewage lines. And if it does, it might put you at risk for exposure to fecal bacteria such as E. coli.

Signs of Fecal Bacteria

You probably won't be able to notice any visual signs of fecal bacteria in your water. Here are some of the signs to look for:

  • Water that has an odor.
  • Large amounts of sediment in the water.

Effects of Fecal Bacteria

Drinking fecal bacteria is not something you want to do. But if you do, you'll likely become sick. E. coli is the main culprit in these types of situations, so let's look at the symptoms of an E. coli infection from Mayo Clinic:

  • Diarrhea, which can sometimes get bloody.
  • Stomach pain or cramping.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Headaches.
  • Fatigue.

Solutions for Fecal Bacteria

No, you don't have to light your well on fire and sell your house. A simpler solution is to just use chlorine shocking. This should reduce these nasty fecal bacteria. As an added layer of protection, a water filtration system with UV protection prevents bacteria from reproducing, significantly lowering your risk of infection.

How to Tell if Your Well Water Pump is Bad

Let's give a shout out to the unsung hero of your well: the well water pump. If your well pump isn't working right, you may experience poor water pressure or no water flow at all.

So how can you check to make sure this crucial element is on its game? Try this checklist:

  • Check the breaker for your well pump and pressure on your circuit panel to ensure it is in the on position.
  • Check the pressure gauge. It should read at least 20 psi. If there’s no pressure, the well pump, well, pressure tank, or switch may require servicing.
  • If the well pump runs constantly, a line may be broken in the system.

How to Test Well Water

If you still have concerns, the best thing to do is have your well water tested. That way, you'll know for sure what you're up against.

The EPA recommends testing once a year. Or any time you have pipes repaired or have your well worked on. And the testing process is simple.

Basically, you'll collect a sample of water and send it to a testing laboratory. Just use the sterile containers they give you and ship it off. Make sure to collect the water from an outside tap after letting it run for a few minutes.
Once they receive the sample, they'll do all of the grunt work to see what problems (if any) you may have. Here's hoping for good news!

Remember, the earlier you catch one of the above problems, the better. It lets you take preventative action so you, your family, and your home can all stay happy.

Managing Your Well Water Filtration System with Pentair

No matter your well water problems, Pentair has a solution that can help. Our well water solutions are specifically designed to help mitigate or eliminate the most common well water problems, so you can rest easy. Insist on Pentair for your well water filtration needs.

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Disclaimer: The information on this website has not been reviewed by the FDA. Products offered for sale herein are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease or health condition. No medical claims are being made or implied. Contaminants mentioned are not necessarily in your water.

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