Black Sediment in Well Water – Causes & Fixes

Many private well owners report black sediment in their water. It enters your water due to various reasons and destroys water aesthetics. However, the good news is that black sediment is mostly harmless and can be filtered with a standard sediment filter.

In this article, we will discuss the common causes behind black sediment in well water and how you can remove it from water.

Black Sediment in Well Water – Causes & Fixes

Black Sediment in Well Water – Causes & Fixes

Common Causes of Black Sediment in Well Water

Mineral Deposits

Mineral deposits are usually the culprit behind well water problems. Every well owner has seen stains on plumbing, toilets, bathtubs, and appliances. Iron and manganese are the common culprits behind black sediment in well water. Iron and manganese are essential for human health, but high insoluble concentrations result in black sediment.

Calcium & magnesium can also give a black coloring to your water. These minerals are also responsible for hard water stains and scale buildup on your appliances. These two, accompanied by iron and manganese, give your water a blackish look and a metallic taste.       

Silt & Sand

Silt & sand can add brown/black sediment to water. These contaminants tag along the water when it moves over rocks and soil.

Silt & sand are suspended particles and usually settle at the bottom of the well. Private wells with a powerful well pump or a pump too close to the well’s bottom often face issues due to silt/sand pumping. It is also dangerous for your well pump and water tank.

Soil & Mud

Soil & mud enter your well in the same way as silt & sand. However, they can also find their way into your well through broken well cap or damaged well casing. Moreover, a well pump sitting too close to the well bottom can also result in soil & mud contamination. Soil & mud add brown/black sediment to your water.

Organic Matter

Organic matter like leaves, twigs, and tree branches can find their way to your well’s bottom through underground channels. These entities soon decompose and release black debris in the water, which is pumped to your faucets.

Decomposed organic matter can also have a different color than black. Decomposing organic matter also makes your water smelly and undrinkable. It can also clog the well pump and well tank.

A New Well

Constructing a new well shakes up sand, silt, dirt, rocks, and minerals in the ground. These elements find their way into well water for a few days in case of a newly built well.

The good news is that black sediment will stop coming into the water in a few days. You can use bottled water for 3-4 days after building a new well.

Damaged Well

Black sediment in well water can also happen due to a damaged well. An old well with a damaged casing often delivers water rich in sediment and impurities. If you live in an old house and frequently witness water quality problems, it is time to get your well inspected for damages. Ensure you hire a certified well contractor for well assessment or maintenance tasks.

Sewage Contamination

Black sediment in water due to sewage contamination is the most severe and dangerous cause. Private wells dug without following the well construction rules are at higher risk of sewage contamination. The contamination chances are even higher when there is a septic tank, agriculture site, or animal dump near your well. Damaged drain pipes near a water well can leach human waste into water, and rains can sink the wastes further underground.

Rubber

Every appliance has rubber pipes, and most rubber pipes are black. The rubber in these pipes starts to melt and dissolve as hot water passes through them. The rubber particles can enter your water pipes, and you may notice black sediment in well water.

How to Identify Black Sediment Cause in your Well Water

There are various reasons behind black sediment in well water. You cannot select a treatment method unless you know what’s causing it..

The first step in identifying the reason behind black sediment is to get your well water tested. You can either test the water at home using a test kit or send out a sample to a certified laboratory. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends testing private wells annually to ensure healthy water quality.

Get your well inspected if a water test fails to point out the cause for black sediment in your well water. The best way to do it is to hire a private well contractor to assess what’s wrong with your well. They’ll also check if contamination is happening because of septic tank leaks.

Fixes for Black Sediment in Well Water

You can adopt the following measures based on a water quality report or well contractor’s assessment.

Sediment Filter

Most private well owners usually install a whole house sediment filter. A sediment filter catches suspended particles like sand, insoluble iron, debris, hair, dirt, and sand in well water. The filter traps the contaminants in a mesh when water passes through it. Clean water moves out of the filter, and the trapped particles are periodically flushed out of the filter using a flush valve.

Sediment filters come as standalone systems or as a part of multi-stage filters and lasts 2-3 years because the mesh can be washed and reused. A sediment filter mostly solves the black sediment issue.

1. iSpring WSP-50 Reusable Whole House Spin Down Sediment Water Filter

iSpring WSP-50 Reusable Whole House Spin Down Sediment Water Filter

iSpring’s WSP-50 is an excellent option for black sediment in the water. You can select the micron rating based on contaminant size in your well water ranging from 50 to 1000 microns.

The see-through housing lets you see when to flush the filter to remove the trapped particles. The flow rate is 20 GPM, good enough for a family of 4-5 people.

2. Rusco 1-1/2″ Spin Down Separator Sand/ Sediment Water Filter

Rusco 1-1/2" Spin Down Separator Sand/ Sediment Water Filter

Rusco’s sediment filter is recommended for large homes. It has a flow rate of 50 GPM. Most community homes use this filter for sediment removal because of its durability, strength, and powerful filtration.

It has a transparent housing for real-time monitoring and a flush valve for removing trapped particles. The 100-micron mesh size will capture almost all sediment particles from your well water.

Iron Filter

An iron filter is recommended for black sediment if a water test reveals high iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide concentration. Iron filters come in standalone or whole house variants. However, standalone is recommended for concentrations above 6 PPM.

A standalone iron filter uses the air-injection system to oxidize iron and remove it with a filtration media. The filtration media is then replaced after some time. Some filters use KDF media to capture iron, manganese, and other impurities in water. KDF filters also need cartridge replacement after 4-6 months.

The filtration capacity varies from one filter to another. Standalone filters can remove iron & manganese up to 15 PPM and 8 PPM hydrogen sulfide from well water. KDF filters (part of whole house filters) can remove iron & manganese up to 3 PPM.

1. Durawater Air Injection Iron Eater Filter

Durawater Air Injection Iron Eater Filter

Durawater’s iron eater can remove up to 12 PPM iron, 10 PPM sulfur, and 2 PPM manganese in well water. Most private wells don’t have iron concentrations above 10 PPM unless something is wrong with your well.

This filter is recommended for extreme iron contamination cases. It is easy to install and works great for small and large homes.

2. iSpring Whole House Water Filter System

iSpring Whole House Water Filter System

 

The filter can remove 3 PPM iron, 1 PPM manganese, and various other contaminants because it has two filtration stages. We recommend this filter for small homes because it has a limited flow rate (15 GPM).

Overall, the filter is useful when you have comparatively better quality water, and your main concern is sediment and iron. It is not recommended for removing TDS.

Water Softeners

Water softeners are commonly found in homes using well water. Since almost all wells across the country produce hard water, you cannot use well water without a water softener.

A water softener is best for softening water and removing black sediment if it is caused by calcium and magnesium. Only salt-based water softeners can remove black sediment from well water. A salt-free softener or water conditioner cannot remove black sediment because it doesn’t remove calcium & magnesium from water. It changes the way these minerals interact with other materials.

A water softener uses ion exchange technology to remove calcium and magnesium from water. Some softeners can also remove iron from water but using a softener to remove iron can decrease its productivity and effectiveness.

Some states don’t allow its use due to brine discharge and environmental concerns. Make sure you check local laws before buying one.

1. AFWFilters Water Softener 48,000 Grains

AFWFilters Water Softener 48,000 Grains

This softener is best for homes with moderately hard water. It comes with all the things needed to install the unit. It has a metered control head for usage-based regeneration, resulting in water and salt conservation.

2. AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener & Iron Filter

AFWFilters Iron Pro 2 Combination Water Softener & Iron Filter

You can install this system to deal with black sediment due to iron, calcium & magnesium. It removes iron effectively, but trapped iron gradually slows down the system’s performance, resulting in frequent backwash and salt replacement.

It is good for medium to large homes with extremely hard water. It can also remove iron up to 6 PPM.

Fixing your Well

So, what to do if the well contractor identifies problems with your well? Get it fixed. You can assign the same contractor or get quotes from others for the best price. Make sure you get all the problems fixed, like repairing the well casing, well cap, well pump position and well screen.

You may need to start extensive repairing work if you have a collapsed well. Mostly, digging a new well is a better option than repairing a collapsed well. You can plug and abandon the collapsed well. Make sure you check & follow local codes before structural changes to your well system.

Septic System

If there is a leak in a septic tank or drain pipes, get them fixed immediately. You’ll need professional help for this task. So make sure you hire an experienced well contractor.

Final Words

Black sediment in well water is a common problem and is usually fixed using a sediment filter. However, you must not jump to conclusions without getting your water tested. Once you know the culprit behind black sediment, you can deal with it in an organized manner.

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