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Major iron bacteria problem in sump

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  • #46
    Hi everyone.
    This is my first posting. I to have a major problem with Iron bacteria. My house is only 12 years old. I have been dealing with this problem the last 10 years.
    I think the grate drain system is my only option to.I would love to talk to Mrez about the System that he put in. If he could contact me I would really appreciate


    • #47
      I have a basement where the iron ocre laced water percolated through the floor, due to clogging one of the drain pipes. I've had contractor's out and they all state that it can't be snaked but I find that hard to believe. (they all want to sell me a sump system). I surmise that if I can snake the pipe and then maintain it with Oxi-Clean periodically, I might be ok.

      Any thoughts would be appreciated.



      • #48

        As you can see from the posts Iron Ochre is in the outside soil and will be a constant maintenance issue. Adding more cleanouts and yes snaking can help but will also need chemicals to help the sump pump and lines removing the red slime.


        • #49
          So, many years later - gave up on the stenner pump. I would love to try something that regularly adds a small dose of iron out for me, but metered powder dosing mechanisms are too expensive. In the meantime -
          I have found Zoeller pumps to be the absolute best pump available. I use the manual model N53 with an external switch. I use the Pro series USC3 switch. no problems. I just had one of the zoeller pumps seize on me. It ran 6 years at 15 second intervals. That's not bad- it equals roughly 126,144,000 cycles. when it seized it sounded an alarm and the second zoeller which had sat idle for 6 years kicked on and started pumping without a hitch. I have a replacement zoeller on the way.

          As for the iron bacteria - I found a nifty way of cleaning the pipes really good. It does involve some work. I have a decent pressure washer. I bought a 100 foot sewer jet hose from (you can read how it works on the site). It pulled itself through the pipes and the iron bacteria didnt stand a chance. left the pipes extremely clean. Still not a cure. I have to do this once a year in addition to the iron out, but it cleans the underground pipes, and the sump discharge lines. I have cleanouts every 50 feet but i dont need all of them as i have a 100 ft hose.

          the sewer jetter really helps with getting back to square one cleanliness wise. the iron out just helps maintain


          • #50
            I too had the same problem but periodic cleaning with chemicals fixed my issue. I think it helps a lot if my problem was quite similar to yours.


            • #51
              I am so glad I came across this forum! There is more information here about iron bacteria (or iron algae) than I have found anywhere else on the internet. We built our two story home (with basement) about 15 years ago. All was well (we have city water, so no iron bacteria there) for at least 13 years. About 2 years ago, we started noticing that our walk-out basement egress was filling with water after rain or storms, and we had minor flooding (about 1-2 inches) of water in our basement in the spring - coming up from the floor and drain areas - seeping through the cracks, and in unfinished areas of our wood style basement. Our sump pump crock is filled with dirt and rusty colored fragments, and we have a rusty discoloration at our discharge point. When this started happening, we thought it was due to poor maintenance of the tile connected to our neighbors pond ( it is a large wetland area - man made pond) next door. We live in a rural location, and own 6 acres of land, 3 of which are adjacent to the pond. After experiencing flooding in the spring and fall during 2014 and 2016, we had a contractor mention iron bacteria as a possible issue. We also put $3000 into a tile system with openings to treat the iron bacteria just two months ago. This spring despite lots of rain, we had no issues with water in our basement (which we attributed to the new tile system), until we had a flash flood in June. This time we ended up with 13 inches of water in our basement and major damage. It wasn't due to iron bacteria, but as a result of ditch backwash from the tile that ran to the ditch (as natural drainage) from our sump crock - that was not fitted with a check valve. So, as we prepare (now) to deal with the damage, we are struggling to understand how to deal with this stuff. One question I have is can iron bacteria gum up pea gravel? Or is it just that we need to clean out the sump area clogged with the iron algae and all will be well? Since we have a wood style basement, we have pea gravel instead of footings, and we wondered if that (iron bacteria in the pea gravel) was what was causing the water build-up under the house after sring flooding or heavy rainfall. We have not even begun to clean out the sump area yet - however it is clogged right now. We have never had our sump pump die out on us, but we did replace it once. Since we're not sure if the iron bacteria is a problem, I bought an iron bacteria test kit just to make sure we have it. The tile system seems to be working, but we will need to treat the tile regularly based on what all of you have said. I'm not sure I want to pour chlorine down the openings and since everyone seems to swear by the oxy clean I could try that, but how does it affect the environment? Is it safe? What about the iron out as well? Lots of questions, not too many answers to share yet as we are just taking our first baby steps with this problem. Would love any advice!


              • #52

                The iron bacterias are small living organisms which are naturally present in the soil, shallow groundwater and surface water. These bacterias are not that dangerous, they donít cause any diseases but can cause undesirable stains, tastes, and odor.

                They bring great damages to the plumbing system. They corrode plumbing equipment, clog pipes and drainage system.

                So better hire any professional contractors to get rid of them because it is very difficult to remove them with normal cleaning procedures.

                Bleaching the sump pump and cleaning the wall with a stiff brush can solve the problem to an extent. But this is not a permanent solution.


                • #53
                  I have been reading this forum for about 2 years. My house is 10 years old, newly built near a lake and the soil has lots of iron. Being new, I think we disrupted the soils a lot and since building, I have been fighting the iron bacteria problem constantly. We have a great drainage system around the footers, that's good and bad. I have two 24" sumps with two staggered sump pumps. My main pump goes out almost every year. So far, I think I may have replaced 6 pumps. Sometimes they seize up. I have disassembled the suction and cleaned the impellors on a number of occasions. Numerous times I have had to replace the first 20 feet of PVC piping as it also clogs up, reducing to a diameter which maintains a flow velocity above which deposition of the iron bacteria can not happen. Glad to have a backup that takes over. After reading about OxyClean last December, I have been adding one cup of powder to each sump per month. I have seen a noticeable difference in the bacteria present. Sumps are still red, but the bacteria is not seeming to grow that much. I do wash the pumps and sumps with a pressured hose nozzle yearly and that helps to stir things up. Still testing the OxyClean method, but hopeful so far. Raised the pumping level of the main pump this year and that should reduce the cycling somewhat to reduce the clogging. I am sure next spring I will have to clean out the pump again, but hopefully not replace it.


                  • #54
                    I have had this problem since I moved in 15 years ago and I have some experience with this problem 1st hand. I have also tried many things to help alleviate the issue so here is my honest opinion:
                    1- No type of system installed is going to prevent this from happening. The ONLY solution is regular maintenance. Water proofing experts may tell you differently to get your business but it will just happen again in a short period of time. Even outside perimeter drainage systems will get clogged and require maintenance.
                    2- The sock type of drainage hose they add to the french drain system is the worst type to install. Yes it will prevent most debris and iron sludge from entering your pipes but at a cost of clogging the outside of the pipe. Now you would eventually need to break up all the concrete to replace. Best pipe to use plain flexible drain pipes with holes. This pipe will eventually build up with the sludge but this is where the regular maintenance comes into play.
                    3- These inside perimeter french drain pipes need to be snaked out PERIOD on a regular basis. I do mine annually but depends on your situation. I have 3" drain pipe. Smaller diameter pipes may require more frequent maintenance but I cannot see a water proofing company installing anything smaller than 3". Someone mentioned the Clog Hog. Absolutely the best device for this problem!!! You can also use the Drain king (appropriate size for your pipe) with a garden hose. Use Drain King (one with the brass end) not the junk they sell at Home Depot. Remember this method is not as flexible and may not make the bends that pass in the corners.
                    4- I also remove my sump pump and use an inexpensive water/sludge transfer pump to remove the water that fills up the pit while cleaning. If you rely on using the sump pump to discharge the water while cleaning you may burn out the pump (been there, done that)
                    5- Use the clog hog or any brand sewer jetter at each direction of the drain line opening in your sump pit or use your clean out. I use the jetter with the nozzle that has one forward jet and 3 going backwards. The jetter moves through the pipe on its own. Go back and forth to thoroughly clean the pipe.
                    6- Then I use the jetter on my vertical and horizontal pipes from the sump to the discharge pipe and out the house.
                    7- I installed a "T" on my cold water pipe right near the sump pit with a short hose. I use this hose to periodically clean the pit and the sump pit including the float on a monthly basis. I use a scrub brush to clean the pump and sides of the pit. This makes it much easier to perform the monthly cleanings instead of running a hose through a window.

                    So this is how I deal with this problem. I also replace my Zoeller pump every 2-3 years depending on how I feel its condition is and always have an exact replacement ready (discharge pipe and check valve installed) in case the pump goes. It absolutely sucks but it is the only thing to "solve" this issue.


                    • #55
                      Thank you xpert66 for sharing your experience. Very good information in this post


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by BasementQuestions View Post
                        Thank you xpert66 for sharing your experience. Very good information in this post
                        My pleasure!


                        • #57
                          One more suggestion. All above exposed PVC or similar pipes should have short sections combined with rubber/metal band connectors (fernco). This makes it easier to disassemble to clean. Duplicate pieces should be on hand to swap out and the dirty/clogged pipes can be cleaned later at your leisure to be stored to be used to replace the ones that will eventually get dirty in the future.


                          • #58

                            I have two sump pumps with vertical switches in a bit with two drain tile tubes running it.
                            The switches have separate chords so you can replace the switch if it breaks.
                            Water runs 10 months / year
                            Pipes clog with iron ochre and the sump always gums up with silty orange goop. Especially after heavy rains.


                            I use a hose from the hot water tank to flush the lines every 4-5 months. Every few years I call a company to clear the lines (drain tile).
                            It seems every 2ish to 3 years I have to re-run plumbing for the discharge pipes.
                            Ive found that toilet bowl cleaner works well on the orange staining in the fit and frees up hardened chunks. Hydro chloric acid is the active ingredient.

                            Have not tried oxy clean yet though.