Successful Rural Living – Water System Part 2

Bye-Bye Stink

The sulfur smell that we had was a result of the natural decay of organic matter in the ground water. Though not detrimental to health, it was obnoxious to say the least. In my early research of filtration systems, I learned that a lot of filter companies want to sell a “special” filter to get rid of the sulfur smell. What I found was a simple cure, and it did not cost me a ton of money.

I learned that simply allowing the well water to be exposed to the air would dissipate the sulfur smell. The original water system had no ability for the water to be exposed to air, so the nasty smell/taste flowed right to our faucets. Though our water tanks have a vent, I installed an extra vent facing the usual direction of our wind to allow for more air to naturally enter the tank. This effectively got rid of the smell. It was a very inexpensive fix indeed. I just covered the vent with metal screen wire to keep small varmits out.

Air Pump, or Not To Air Pump

I ended up purchasing a special aereation unit (Koenders EL-2) to ensure air was thoroughly mixed into the water. This forced air “injection” caused any suspended iron or other particles to bind to the air and drop out of suspension to the bottom of the tank. This effort would allow cleaner water to enter the filters, thus extending their life.

The air injection system was originally designed to force air into stock ponds and smaller natural ponds to keep them fresh. The pump is a fairly simple diaphram pump that forces air to an artificial “air stone” containing lots of holes. We purchased a 5 gallon bucket, put the air stone and some rocks into it, and sunk it to the bottom of the tank. The first time the pump ran, the tank was filled with air bubbles like a frothing jacuzzi tub. So effective was this bubbling that it created currents on the side of the tank that stirred up all the accumulated sediment on the bottom. Within minutes, the water in the tank turned into a boiling bright orange caldron. It was too much, so I had to shut it down immediately!

I had to end up draining that entire 2500 gallons and refilling the tank. It was ugly, let me tell you. What I ended up doing was pulling the bucket off the bottom and tieing it with rope so it hung about 1/2 way into the tank. It still fills the water with lots of air, but the effect is reduced so as not to stir the whole thing up again. Success! When I added a second tank, I simply bought another 5 gallon bucket, airstone, and split the air line so it could feed both.

The manufacturer recommends running the pump continuously. Perhaps that is true for a pond, but I have a water tank so I decided to install an inexpensive timer to let it run only 12 hours. This not only saves electricity, but it also extends the service interval of the unit.

Though not required for most installations, I wanted to go the “extra mile” with our system. I have no hard evidence that this pump has helped, but the fact that oxygen binds to impurities and drops them out of suspension is proven. If your water has a nasty smell, try the easy fix (discussed above) first. If that does not fix the problem, consider getting an EL-2.

Water Filtration – The Wrong Way

We had to do something about filtering our water. I heard an ad on a local radio station for a filter system that required no electricity to operate. This system used a special metering device that monitored the flow of water through the unit. When the tank filtered X number of gallons, the unit would switch to the other tank and start backwashing. When the other unit needed to backwash, it would switch back to the first unit. I called the local distributor and told them what kind of filtering problems we had. They assured me that the unit they sell would work great for our needs. Though the two tank system was expensive, we took them at their word and bought it.

After about a year of use, I noticed that our water was no longer nice looking, so I called the local distributor who sold the system to us and asked how I could service our unit. I was told that the tanks had to be professionally serviced, so a tech was scheduled to come out. After waiting as long as we could for the tech to come, we had to leave for an appointment. When we came home, I found a note… and our filter tanks were gone! They took the system to their shop for service. While the filter was gone, they put our water system in “bypass” mode until they were returned and reinstalled 3 days later! Yuck! It would have been nice for someone to tell me that we would be without filtration before we were left with drinking that nasty stuff. I was really frustrated and felt like I had been lied to.

The charge to clean our tanks was about $300… and they did not even replace the media. They poured some sort of solvent into the tanks to loosen the iron so they could flush it out. It took several days to let the solvent sit, then a full day to flush the tanks. We spent tons of money on that system, and had to end up getting rid of it six months later (a total of 18 months of use) after it quit filtering a second time. Granted, we have lots of iron, but they said the system would work in our environment. After we noticed the filtration going south the second time, I purposed in my heart to REALLY do my research and find a system that would do the job. I had been burned by this system, and I was not about to get burned again!