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Major iron bacteria problem in sump

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  • #16
    I looked into the perimeter drain system and like the idea. However, I need to do more research on how to properly clean out the perimeter drains once the iron ochre gets into it. There is nothing worse than spending lots of money on a product that only clogs up several years later and is useless.

    I don't think the iron out will help eliminate the clogged pores once they harden. I do question the muratic acid and would love anyone's experience if muratic acid actually eliminates the dried out iron ochre.

    CLR seems to be a good product that helped to take away some (not all) dried out iron ochre but I don't want to spend $400 on enough CLR to fill my clogged perimeter drain every few years.

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    • #17
      My Iron Ochre Experience and Suggested Reading

      Living in my home for 24 years, I decided the time had come for installing a basement waterproofing system. As we all know, there is nothing "waterproof" about drain and pump systems since they allow water in, channel it and pump it out.

      Anyway, in the first year, the system worked flawlessly. Sometime during the second or third year, after the installer performed maintenance on the system, we started to see the rust colored water that we later learned to be iron ochre. Thinking back, I often wondered if the maintenance guy "seeded" my system by using dirty tools. After all, what mechanic sterilizes his tools between clients? Further, neither of my neighbors have an iron ochre issue. Anyway, regardless of the "how" and the "when", the problem exists.

      For the past few years. I have been searching the web for a solution. While I have encountered many of the suggestions noted earlier in this message thread, the reality is that all of these solutions are somewhat hit-and-miss. They work sometimes... but not for everyone.

      My installer claims that because so many of their clients have the issue, they are also searching for answers. They indicate that they have yet to find anything that is promising. I have some doubts as to how hard they are working on the problem since they seem to want to do more frequent maintenance... collecting more fees for such service.

      I am fortunate that water is only an issue for my basement when it rains... not the everyday issue that many others have. The system I had installed includes not only a sump but a secondary, smaller pump on a battery backup. The idea is that when storms hit the northeast, we sometimes lose power, rendering the main pump inoperable. This is when the backup pump kicks in.

      A few months ago during a particularly heavy rainfall, we lost power. Shortly thereafter, I heard an alarm going off in my basement. Although it sounded like my CO2 detector, when I investigated, it turned out to be the water level alarm on the sump pit. Why? The exhaust/waste pipe on the backup pump was clogged... thus, neither pump was operational... one clogged and the other without power. Fortunately, I was able to flush the clog and the backup remained operational until the power returned later that night.

      Since then, I try to flush the system more frequently with fresh water. I also spoke to someone with a chemical background to see if they could suggest a chemical solution. So far, no luck.

      Meanwhile, I happened across an article written by someone at the University of Florida. I think it answers some of the questions posted to this forum and I recommend that everyone take a few minutes to read it. You can find that article here:

      http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ae026

      Good luck to all... and please share any info you find in your quest to beat this "red devil of a problem".

      Regards to all,
      JerseyGuy

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      • #18
        Oxiclean works wonders on iron bacteria

        After struggling with the iron slime build-up in my sump pump for a while now, I sprinkled some oxygen cleaner (Oxi-clean) powder into the residual water in the sump pump pit. Within a minute or two, the iron slime build-up on the bottom lifted itself off and floated to the surface in a bubbly mass.

        The other areas along the sides I treated the same way. I dampened the dried areas first, then sprinkled a little Oxiclean powder on. The slime just came right off. After waiting a couple minutes, hooked a hose to a basement sink and sprayed the inside of the pit, pouring in enough water so that the pump kicked in several times and flushed out the solids.

        The pump and pit now look completely clean of iron slime. I would imagine that the oxygen cleaner had the same effect on the outflow pipes as the water flowed through them.

        This was by far the simplest, cheapest treatment I've found. I may need to do it again in a few months, but I can't complain about how simple it is.

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        • #19
          Oxiclean works wonders on iron bacteria

          Thank you for your thoughts and suggestion regarding the use of Oxiclean to remove iron ochre slime. While I am unfamiliar with this product, I have heard of it and it sounds like your suggestion may have some merit. I suppose I should be happy knowing that there are products that will remove the slime with relative ease. However, I can not help but note that this is certainly not a "cure" in that it will not resolve the underlying cause of the iron bacteria build up.

          Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate hearing of your experience. I may give this a try....

          -JG


          Originally posted by Leah Hokmah View Post
          After struggling with the iron slime build-up in my sump pump for a while now, I sprinkled some oxygen cleaner (Oxi-clean) powder into the residual water in the sump pump pit. Within a minute or two, the iron slime build-up on the bottom lifted itself off and floated to the surface in a bubbly mass.

          The other areas along the sides I treated the same way. I dampened the dried areas first, then sprinkled a little Oxiclean powder on. The slime just came right off. After waiting a couple minutes, hooked a hose to a basement sink and sprayed the inside of the pit, pouring in enough water so that the pump kicked in several times and flushed out the solids.

          The pump and pit now look completely clean of iron slime. I would imagine that the oxygen cleaner had the same effect on the outflow pipes as the water flowed through them.

          This was by far the simplest, cheapest treatment I've found. I may need to do it again in a few months, but I can't complain about how simple it is.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by TJ1962
            Yes actually there is a product designed to battle the build up of Iron Bacteria. This company is very near you in MA. Grate Products has designed a drainage system with cleanouts and specially designed sump crocks that deal with the Iron Algea build-up.

            Contact Mr. Steve Andres at Grate Products:

            http://www.basementquestions.com/cli...c=ironbacteria

            You can also read more information at:

            http://www.basementdepot.com/knowled...2&id=28&c=root


            Sincerely,
            TJ1962
            Near as I can tell, this Grate System simply provides a removable cover on an inside the foundation drainage system to make flushing the iron ochre a little more convenient. You are still stuck with the mud formation, but perhaps have a little eaiser time flushing it out.

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            • #21
              Originally posted by Leah Hokmah View Post
              After struggling with the iron slime build-up in my sump pump for a while now, I sprinkled some oxygen cleaner (Oxi-clean) powder into the residual water in the sump pump pit. Within a minute or two, the iron slime build-up on the bottom lifted itself off and floated to the surface in a bubbly mass.

              The other areas along the sides I treated the same way. I dampened the dried areas first, then sprinkled a little Oxiclean powder on. The slime just came right off. After waiting a couple minutes, hooked a hose to a basement sink and sprayed the inside of the pit, pouring in enough water so that the pump kicked in several times and flushed out the solids.

              The pump and pit now look completely clean of iron slime. I would imagine that the oxygen cleaner had the same effect on the outflow pipes as the water flowed through them.

              This was by far the simplest, cheapest treatment I've found. I may need to do it again in a few months, but I can't complain about how simple it is.
              Wow, I have to try that. I have an inside perimiter system and need to flush it 2 or 3 times a year. I have been adding chlorine to the cleanouts each a little more often, but still the goo builds up inside the PVC and around the base of the sump.

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              • #22
                Copper Sulfate?

                I have been flushing my inside perimiter (B-dry) drain tile system with a garden hose 2 - 3 times a year and then adding chlorine bleach to the cleanouts. My PVC sump pipes still clog with iron ochre and need to be disassembled and flushed at least once a year. What a MESS. Two sumps, each running every 2 minutes. Water table is at least 6 inches above my basement floor all year long. It seems to me, chlorine just doesn't do much good. I am going to try the Oxy-clean idea someone mentioned here. Various agricultural university sites have mentioned that running bare copper wire down the drain tile field will kill the iron bacteria. Perhaps a few coils of copper wire in the bottom of the pit could keep it clean. Has anyone tried Copper Sulfate to kill the iron bacteria?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by crouvalis View Post
                  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
                  I could have written your letter because it describes my basement water problem exactly. I was replacing lifetime pumps annually like clockwork until I decided to use an external switch type, with adjustable float balls on plastic cable. I found that a smaller capacity pump, with the switch float balls adjusted to start when the sump water level is only 6 inches below the floor, and not stop pumping until the sum bowl is nearly empty lets the pump run longer, and saves the switch. Pumps last a few years now, and they cycle every 5 or 6 minutes instead of once a minute. I also had a second sump in another corner of the basement and added cleanouts to the inside perimiter drain tile system. Oh yeah, that iron bacteria is likely clogging your outside perimiter drain tiles as we speak. When they stop flowing, you may need to add tiles inside the basement. I just tried Oxyclean in my sump and cleanouts and I think it might be the best thing yet. Looks like Sams club has the best price on the BIG box.

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                  • #24
                    I've been told by the basement contractor that the only way to effectively control the iron bacteria issue is regular use of Iron Out, problem is that its toxic stuff and very harsh on the environment. As others have mentioned, chlorine only affects the top layer and isn't effective on buildup.

                    I just had my output piping fro the sump pit replaced about 8 months ago - it had been totally clogged with the orange sludge. After the new piping was installed, I started putting putting 3" slow release chlorine tabs (meant for my pool) in each pit every few weeks. I called the pump manufacturer (Zoeller) and confirmed this wouldn't do any damage to the pumps. I'm not sure if its helping, but the situation definitely seems better.
                    Last edited by gunksny; 03-07-2011, 05:04 PM.

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                    • #25
                      I wasn't sure if i should start a new thread or post here.

                      I bought a house about two years ago and have had water come into my basement at least three times now. Originally I had three waterproofing companies come out to my house and every one of them told me that we had a hydrostatic pressure issue and needed to replace the sump pump system ($12,000 to $15,000). They never mentioned iron bacteria at all. Though, they all of offered a discount of half off ($6,000 to $8,000) the original quote, which I thought was odd. Taking the advice of my friend I decided not to have the basement water proofed. I ended up cleaning out the sump pump and that worked for a while, then the sump pump went out. So I replaced the sump pump and haven’t had water come into my basement since. When I replaced the sump pump I also bought a sump pump alarm and flood alert device. So everything has been going great, but over the past two weeks the sump pump alarm has been going off twice. Each time the sump pump was running fine, but I did notice that the sump pump was completely covered with iron bacteria.

                      Anyway to make a long story short, I remember coming across an article about iron bacteria when I was looking into having my basement water proofed. In looking for that article and searching Google for the authors name I stumbled upon this thread. So I guess this is me checking in to share my situation. I am somewhat relieved that I am not alone.

                      Oh and I plan on trying the oxiclean to see if that will help any because up until now, I have been using my shop vacuum to clean out the iron bacteria

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                      • #26
                        Iron Ocer

                        Originally posted by JerseyGuy View Post
                        Thank you for your thoughts and suggestion regarding the use of Oxiclean to remove iron ochre slime. While I am unfamiliar with this product, I have heard of it and it sounds like your suggestion may have some merit. I suppose I should be happy knowing that there are products that will remove the slime with relative ease. However, I can not help but note that this is certainly not a "cure" in that it will not resolve the underlying cause of the iron bacteria build up.

                        Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate hearing of your experience. I may give this a try....

                        -JG
                        I HAVE DELT WITH IRON OCRE FOR 10 YEARS. 2 SUMP PUMPS A YEAR FOR 10 YEARS DUE TO IT CLOGING THE INLETS AND OUT FLOW PIPES. THE SUMP PIT WAS A HORRIBLE MESS AND SMELL WAS WORSE. I HAVE TRIED EVERYTHING YOU COULD POSSIBLY DREAM OF TO CONTROL THE OCRE. (BLEACH, POOL CHEMICALS, IRON OUT, COPPER PIPE, MOTH BALLS), WITH NO SUCESS AND I HAD REALLY GIVEN UP. IT SEEMED CRAZY THAT NO ONE KNEW WHAT I WAS TALKING ABOUT 5 YEARS AGO, NOW CITY'S AND GOVERNMENTS ARE REALIZING THEY TOO HAVE A PROBLEM WITH DRAINAGE SYSTEMS AND NO KNOWN SOLUTION TO FIX IT.
                        AS A LAST DITCHED EFFORT I TRIED THE OXICLEAN TREATMENT. SHUT THE PUMP OFF AND PUT 4 OR 5 SCOOPS IN AND WATCH IT WORK!
                        I HAD 10 YEARS OF BUILD UP SO I TREATED IT 3 SEPERATE TIMES BUT WHAT A MIRICLE. (DO YOUR SELF A FAVOR AND SHUT THE PUMP OFF FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN TO LET IT "SOAK". 3 TO 4 HOURS IF YOU CAN, REPEAT AS NEEDED. YOU WILL LIKE THE RESULTS

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                        • #27
                          Land

                          What I'm afraid is that once you have the iron bacteria in your land, there is no permanent fix, which may also hinder the sale of your property later.

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                          • #28
                            Thank you for reassuring me. You see, in my case, the solution the seller is talking about is to install chimneys and get an annual cleaning services. I'm concerned that the chimneys might create other issues, like creating weak points in the property. Also the neighbors will see the people coming to clean as it was a septic well, bad image for the property.

                            Something interesting though, everyone points to sand as the bearer of the bacteria, and where the house I'm trying to purchase there is no sand. So the sand was most likely brought by the builder, and most likely he installed cheap sand who know from where.

                            Is there any way to put some chemicals in the property to completely eliminate the bacteria, once we know which one it is?

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                            • #29
                              Update:

                              I'm currently still dealing with my iron bacteria issue, since there is no real solution. However, I have come up with a way to minimize the maintenance. It's, I'm sure, nothing anyone hasn't tried, but this is how I implemented it.

                              I used to dump a gallon or three of muratic acid in the pit about every other month. It broke down the bacteria and flushed the pipes. Well, that was an EXTREMELY smelly job. Stunk up the house for 3 days. Worked, but sucked. Come to realize, Chlorine does about the same thing. So, I started thinking, maybe I'll get the 3" tablets, drop one in and replace it every few weeks. Problem with that is, the pucks really need flowing or moving water to help dissolve it. So, I took this medium gauge wire I have($3-$4/roll) and created a "basket" to hold the puck. It's very MacGyver. I then wired said basket to dangle in front of the drain pipe that drains to the pit so the new water coming in flows over the top of the chlorine puck and breaks down any iron before it hits the well. Now, I've only had this installed for a few days now, but my well is cleaner than its ever been. My plan has changed from the muratic acid to this, plus 3 scoops of Oxi-Clean every month or so. It's a cleaner, less troublesome band-aid.

                              Not sure yet if the MacGyver basket is a super-genius invention or a nut-job waste of time, but if it seems like it may be helpful to someone, it was worth the post.

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                              • #30
                                I was talking to a co-worker today about my sump pump issue and I remembered that I hadn't reported back my experience with oxiclean. Oxiclean does work, it doesn't get rid of the iron bacteria completely, but it does breaks it down. I usually drop one to two scoops in my sump pump pit every few weeks. I also occasionally drop a few scoops in the drain on the outside of my basement door.
                                Last edited by JRMN; 07-19-2012, 07:49 AM.

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