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  • Major iron bacteria problem in sump

    We have a full drainage system in our basement (I think there must be a spring under the floor), which works well except for pump failures. Pumps only last 3-5 months due to a thick, orange slime which grows in the sump pit and stains the ground where the sump outlets. It was while googling iron bacteria that I found your site & forum.

    The sump outlet is at the margin of a wetland, and I'm afraid a chlorine treatment would do more damage than good. The sump pump cycles on every 5-10 minutes, so heavy is our water problem, that keeping a chlorine residual in the pit for any length of time would be very difficult, if not impossible. Meanwhile, when the pump fails it takes roughly 15 minutes to flood the basement with an inch of water -- sometimes faster if its been raining, sometimes slower if its been very dry, but always, always inconvenient. We keep a spare pump for quick replacement as soon as we notice the failure, usually after there's 6 or 7" of water on the floor. We have a continual battle with mold due to the occasional flooding.

    I'm wondering if anyone has any solutions to iron bacteria infestation, what they are, and if they can be adapted to work for us.

    Thanks,
    Aili
    central CT

  • #2
    thanks! I'll check them out.

    Comment


    • #3
      Iron Build up on Sock Drain Tile

      I did my drains and used a socked drain tile. The sock clogged and over the last few weeks I have developed about an 1.5" thick pile of iron. WOW WHAT A MESS!

      I don't have money to repair so I don't know what to do at this point. Anyone want to do a havitate for humanity or rescue my basement?

      Comment


      • #4
        Iron Bacteria Removal

        I can understand being sensitive to the environment in regard to utilizing Chlorine.
        Chlorine should be used to oxidize the bacteria and then the chlorine needs to be neutralized.
        When you shock the draintile with Chlorine the Chlorine level will be high for a while. Unplug your sump pump when doing this. After the Chlorine has had a few hours of kill time add a couple pounds of Sodium thiosulfate to the system. This is a chlorine neutralizer. Swimming pool suppliers should carry this product.

        Comment


        • #5
          Same issue x 7 years

          I stumbled upon this thread several years ago but never posted. I have the exact same issue. Sump pumps go off every 1-2 minutes. Caked over by iron ochre (I thought it was clay until the basement guy told me otherwise). He recommended 'Iron Out' which I used for one year. I didn't think it worked until yesterday when I found out that my pumps are caked over again and the vertical discharge pipe is clogged like the picture on this website (and I just powerwashed it 3 months ago!)... I think I used too little when I did use it and when I stopped over the last few months I now realize that it actually worked... I now want to finish this thing off for good but I am unsure of what to do... My pit is about the depth of a 5 gallon container and 12'' long and 36'' wide. Average water level is about 6'' below my basement floor.

          I'm thinking of getting a deeper sump pit that goes 36'' deep and I can adjust the depth of the pump from there. Surround it with gravel but not put a filter around it as it will only cake over. Have a battery backup. Forget the perimeter drains (at least until I can control the Iron Ochre in the Pit)... I don't know which pump is better (submergible or stand)... And the deeper pit means more sump pump activity (argument is made so I can drop the water level by 1-2'' more so I don't get flooding when the pump can't keep up with the rising water). When the pumps are working and not caked over it does fine (minimal if any water in basement after 6 days of constant rain).

          So my questions are what do you guys think of the deeper pit? What type of pump is best for this? How much Iron Out do I have to still use? Is there any other alternatives? I thought I was doing well with it by powerwashing it out every year (albeit a pain) but this does not seem to be working now. So if I invest in newer technology, will I still have to powerwash it and drain out the pipe? Is there anything I'm missing?....

          Lastly, is CLR good for this? I think it is more environmentally friendly than bleach.

          Thanks,
          Carl

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by wighardt View Post
            I stumbled upon this thread several years ago but never posted. I have the exact same issue. Sump pumps go off every 1-2 minutes. Caked over by iron ochre (I thought it was clay until the basement guy told me otherwise). He recommended 'Iron Out' which I used for one year. I didn't think it worked until yesterday when I found out that my pumps are caked over again and the vertical discharge pipe is clogged like the picture on this website (and I just powerwashed it 3 months ago!)... I think I used too little when I did use it and when I stopped over the last few months I now realize that it actually worked... I now want to finish this thing off for good but I am unsure of what to do... My pit is about the depth of a 5 gallon container and 12'' long and 36'' wide. Average water level is about 6'' below my basement floor.

            I'm thinking of getting a deeper sump pit that goes 36'' deep and I can adjust the depth of the pump from there. Surround it with gravel but not put a filter around it as it will only cake over. Have a battery backup. Forget the perimeter drains (at least until I can control the Iron Ochre in the Pit)... I don't know which pump is better (submergible or stand)... And the deeper pit means more sump pump activity (argument is made so I can drop the water level by 1-2'' more so I don't get flooding when the pump can't keep up with the rising water). When the pumps are working and not caked over it does fine (minimal if any water in basement after 6 days of constant rain).

            So my questions are what do you guys think of the deeper pit? What type of pump is best for this? How much Iron Out do I have to still use? Is there any other alternatives? I thought I was doing well with it by powerwashing it out every year (albeit a pain) but this does not seem to be working now. So if I invest in newer technology, will I still have to powerwash it and drain out the pipe? Is there anything I'm missing?....

            Lastly, is CLR good for this? I think it is more environmentally friendly than bleach.

            Thanks,
            Carl
            So when you were using the iron out where were you putting it? and did it seems to get rid of all residue..?

            Comment


            • #7
              When I put the iron out in, I put it in the sump pit itself. The well went from an orange muddy pit to a clear pit within 1-2 minutes. I just can't seem to find a formula that is a good usage rule of thumb. I was putting in 1/3 cup once a month or so. This time I unloaded a whole bottle within a one week period. Cleaned up a lot of the ochre but residual stuff still there as my pumps run too much.... Too bad they haven't come up with something like '1000 sump flushes' where the iron out can be dispensed at the top of the waterline.....

              To continue on, two weeks ago I took everything apart. Sumps cleaned again but vertical discharge pipe was fine. Found a clog in the underground discharge drain and needed to clean it out. Need to send a camera down there to see if the clog is due to a frost heave breaking the pipe, or due to a build up of the sedement. But a 2'' clot buster attached to the end of my hose did just fine in breaking it up... Just a ton of residual iron ochre sludge backed up as a result that sent a big orange cloud into the wetlands behind me.

              Would still like someone's opinion on what they came across and what they think of my idea of lowering the pit and if anyone has other ideas on iron out or iron ochre.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by wighardt View Post
                When I put the iron out in, I put it in the sump pit itself. The well went from an orange muddy pit to a clear pit within 1-2 minutes. I just can't seem to find a formula that is a good usage rule of thumb. I was putting in 1/3 cup once a month or so. This time I unloaded a whole bottle within a one week period. Cleaned up a lot of the ochre but residual stuff still there as my pumps run too much.... Too bad they haven't come up with something like '1000 sump flushes' where the iron out can be dispensed at the top of the waterline.....

                To continue on, two weeks ago I took everything apart. Sumps cleaned again but vertical discharge pipe was fine. Found a clog in the underground discharge drain and needed to clean it out. Need to send a camera down there to see if the clog is due to a frost heave breaking the pipe, or due to a build up of the sedement. But a 2'' clot buster attached to the end of my hose did just fine in breaking it up... Just a ton of residual iron ochre sludge backed up as a result that sent a big orange cloud into the wetlands behind me.

                Would still like someone's opinion on what they came across and what they think of my idea of lowering the pit and if anyone has other ideas on iron out or iron ochre.
                Thanks for the info. My house is only 5 years old and the first few years we were here I had little evidence of the Iron Ochre. In the last year or so it has become more and more abundant to the point of clogging the underground discharges into the sump and then clogging both the sump and discharge going out. I will be trying the Iron out today but water usually is clear unless disturbed. The Ochre just collects and sits on the bottom of the sump.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Also.. I am guessing that just by putting Chlorine or Iron Out in the crock water won't break down the material that clogs the pump and discharge lines correct?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    As bad as this is...

                    I'm so glad I'm not the only one having this problem.

                    When I first bought my house, about 11 years ago now, I was told, after I was sold the house, by a neighbor, "oh yeah, did Gene tell you to make sure you poured muratic acid down into the sump pump about once a month?" To which I first replied, NO, then, WHY? Apparently, because this area of my neighborhood was built so close to the neighborhood pond, most of the basements in this culdesac were wet, and on top of that, were on "Clay". Come to find out, it's not clay. Besides being my nightmare, it's Iron Bacteria. After losing many sump pumps, and frankly, years of my life, I'm at the point where I really need to kill the cause of this. I've used muratic acid every month or so, and it's helped, but it seems like the months I forget, and end up going 6-8 weeks before re-adding, are the months my pump goes on the fritz, or it's extra wet outside so extra sludge comes in. I need to figure out how to get this to stop coming in, but I have a feeling that would involve heavy machinery, and a telethon to raise money for it. I do have a water back-up, which, twice failed due to a bad springs (Yes, 2 new, bad springs) in the valve, but has otherwise saved my basement from yet another, and another, and another, flood.

                    I am completely at whits end with this "sludge", and dealing with Muratic Acid, sump pumps, and periodic trips to Home Depot to get a replacement. Thank God for Home Depot and their "Ridgid Lifetime Guarantee" replacement policy, although I have upgraded 4 times in the last 10 years, and now have the best one they carry, which, much to my dismay, comes with one minor setback. It has an external water "Sensor" on it, and once it detects water on the sensor, it kicks on and discharges the water. Well, when you have Iron bacteria that builds up in your sump pump, you'll inevitably get sludge build up on the sensor, which will stick to the sensor AFTER the water has been discharged, and have the pump believing that all the water is not yet drained, and will kick on and off, forever, until you either hear it running, or it burns out. Try hearing a pump when there are kids, TV's, etc constantly filling the house with noise... Obviously, the latter happens most often in my home.

                    Other than muratic acid, which so far, seems to break it down and drain it out, is there a better product out there I should use? Or, is there a reason I SHOULDN'T use the muratic acid? I've seen the Grate pump that's offered on their site, but in a situation like ours, is that the saving grace? I'm sure it can't be a barrier to a constant, never-ending barrage of iron bacteria being thrown at it. I wish there was some kind of product that you could drop in the bottom of the well that would keep the sludge from solidifying, and say, every 6-12 months, you just drop another -product name- in, and you're good to go. It keeps the sludge from binding together, and able to flow through the pump and vertical return. Maybe THAT could by my rich-into-retirement invention... An acid "Stick-Up".

                    I'm going to explore stopping this at the source, in-depth, this week. If I come up with anything in my hunt for peace, and a sump-pump-worry-free home, I'll post here. I simply can't take this anymore.

                    Take care and stay DRY!

                    Chris Rouvalis

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      lots of Iron bacteria issues

                      The Grate Drain system is the only basement drainage pipe that's designed with anti-microbial into the system and with enough outlets and access points to keep a system with a serious iron bacteria problem under control. This helps to keep the bacteria from feeding on the pipe, clinging to the pipe, or get comfortable around the system.

                      Iron bacteria feeds on high levels of minerals in the soil and is generally harmless - save clogging pipes and drainage systems.

                      At Pioneer Basement in Massachusetts, they use a combination solution for helping to solve and repair clogs caused by iron bacteria.

                      A hot flush (160 degree or hotter) of high pressure water fed to a clogged area will shock the iron bacteria into it's "dormant" state which will allow the pump to process it out into it's discharge direction much easier.

                      The system can actually isolate and segment the iron bacteria to the area where it's coming in. This allows any service team to keep the problem at bay with regular maintenance.

                      Iron out - a diy product you can get at pretty much any store is something that can be used as an alternative "shock" treatment. However, make sure, if you're in a marsh or water shed area (it sounds like you're close to a stream?) that you check with the town before allowing you pump to push that (however watered down) into the yard.

                      you can read more about how we treat and view Iron bacteria on our Home Basement Finishing Site.

                      You also might be able to find out more information on Pioneer's Help Forum

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Iron Bacteria

                        Well I actually took the expensive route last year.

                        My basement flooded, only 2" of water on labor day weekend (2009CY). And I also witnessed rapid mold growth in the basement. I feared for my son's (infant at the time) health in that the air would be contaminated with mold and eventually get circulated to my first floor where we all sleep.

                        I cleaned the pump out and piping because of the iron bacteria build-up (as I have done multiple times and drives to Home Depot). That stuff is messy and hard to clean off your skin if you come in contact with it. So I put everything back, and noticed after 24hr period that the water on the surface of the basement floor was not dissipating. The water was not flowing back to the pump(?). I had water coming out of the seams (between the floor and wall) this was due to the hydrostatic pressure being built up underneath the floor.

                        So I called and had a few local companies to come out. They all recommended 'waterproofing' of the basement. They were not confident that if they used a snake to unclog the block in the drain tile would resolve the issue. Even if they were to unplug it, they guaranteed that I would call them back again because it will plug up in another few months. The other issue is they do not know what method of drain title routing was used, insinuating that the home contractor may have cut corners or wasn't very cautious of not kinking the water tile lines (I learned of this after the issue from a friend of a friend that said that these local home contractors do only bare minimum to pass inspection).

                        After finding a contractor for a reasonable quote, I authorized them to go ahead start the water proofing. Water proofing solution was to break out a foot from the wall around the whole perimeter of the basement. Very labor intensive job! The cost of the whole process was labor!! After they jack hammered around the perimeter of the basement, I could not believe how much water was flowing to my pump, creek-like flow. They laid and buried the new PVC pipe (with 3/4" holes on its side) and the contractor also added unscrewable ports for maintenance. They added a secondary sump-pump with back-up. Put pea gravel on top of the PVC pipe and then concreted everything back up.

                        I noticed the other day that the iron bacteria crap is coming back so I will have to go in and start my maintenance.

                        I am surprised that if there are people out there that complaining about this issue that the local/city government laws/inspections aren't revised to enforce better water managements systems to prevent people from having this issue. Or better yet, more robust soil core sampling not just testing for PCVs, but other organisms.

                        Does the water proofing fix the issue, I believe yes and no. It is a band aid to an issue and root cause cannot be fixed without some type of solution that would permanently kill off this bacteria/growth/annoyance!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree. there needs to be more done on a Gov. level to help ensure that people are getting the right product for their problem. Many companies are still avoiding installing wall moisture protection and are also still installing Open back systems - which can give the iron bacteria an easy path right onto the floor of the basement (THAT's a rough problem to deal with).

                          I fear that PVC piping isn't going to keep it at bay for very long. They tend to drill the holes in the PVC, the holes are small and easily spanned by the membrane of the Iron Bacteria once it forms a bond.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Same Problem

                            I thought it was just red mud. I've been cleaning my pit and pump for about 5 years now. The builder left me a sewerage ejector pump but I never used it. its huge cast iron and my sump pit is in my entertainment area so I though it would be loud. Turns out its quieter than the regular 1/2 HP sump I bought from Lowes.

                            Anyway, my pump requires semi-anual cleaning, but typically I do it anually when it fails. I also installed a clean-out on the exhaust pipe from the pit. I can't snake the whole thing because of the type of corner put in at the top. My drainage system has cleanouts where it crosses into the house, but sadly the builder installed some of them with an uphill grade to the pit. They need to be cleaned of sand as well. Whats worse is since there is appearantly no sock on my drain tiles, there is lots of sand that goes into the pit.


                            As for making the pit deeper, I don't think that is going to make much difference on a pump that runs every 5 minutes. It might make your pump run every 8 minutes, depending on how much deeper you make it. Probably easier on your pump, but I don't think it will help with the bacteria.

                            Im using my pit water on my grass. This sprays on one side of my house and you can guess what is happening there. Yep, its turning orange. Not much deeper than the paint I already had though, so I'm just going to match it and call it a day...

                            I don't think this problem can be "fixed."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              making the sump pump basin deeper will only add to the possible issues. Basins/Liners deeper than 24" can lead to undermining of the foundation as soil can be coaxed into the basin as the water moves in. Iron bacteria would be the least of your problems at that point.

                              From re-reading all of the statements in this thread everyone seems to have a few similar issues

                              1.) awkward or non-existent clean outs

                              2.) badly pitched discharges and systems

                              3.) no way to properly separate the iron bacteria and isolate the issue.

                              Comment

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