Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How to Get Rid of Bacteria and Sulfur Smell in Well Water

Dear sir,

I want to get red of coliform bacteria and the sulfur smell in my well water. We have lived here for several years and now it is getting worse. I shocked the well with bleach, and tested again for bacteria and it came out clean, but my wife doesn’t trust it. As you can see from my well water report, we have iron, and some manganese.

We are on a budget and don't want to spend a lot. Our well has got plenty of water, but I figure we only pump about 6 gallons per minute.

What do you folks recommend?

-Frank H

Dear Frank,

For your application we recommend a Chlorinator, ContactTank and Greensand iron filter. The chlorinator will kill the bacteria and allow the greensand filter to remove the sulfur odor.

Greensand filters often use potassium permanganate to clean the greensand media, but no potassium permanganate powder is needed with this type of greensand filter, all it takes some chlorine bleach added once every few months, its very easy to maintain. An optional carbon filter will remove the chlorine.
Chlorination and the Stenner Pump Chlorinator System 
Chlorine is a low cost and safe method of eliminating odors and bacteria, and it works great in oxidizing iron, manganese and other contaminants in water so they can be filtered out.
Although there are other ways to eliminate microorganisms and odors in water, chlorination is the most commonly used because it is low cost and effective.  Often combined with filtration, chlorination is an excellent and cost-effective way to disinfect drinking water supplies, eliminate odors, and oxidize iron, and other metals.
Stenner Pump and solution tank system
For easy and accurate chlorine injection we recommend a Stenner Pump and solution tank system. The Stenner pump uses liquid chlorine bleach.  The system is reliable, easy to install, very easy to use.  It can be adjusted to get just the right amount of chlorine needed for the application.
The chlorinator can be adjusted so the chlorine levels are very low in the household (similar to city water) or a low cost carbon filter can be installed to remove any trace of chlorine tastes and odors.

Metering Pump & Tank: 45MHP-10 Stenner Pump with 15 gallon heavy-duty polyethylene solution tank; Pump output 0.5 to 10.0 gallons per day (1.9 to 37.9 liters per day); voltage 115 or 220V; 60 Hz. This is a complete system that comes with everything you need: solution tank; metering pump; tubing; fittings; and injection check valve.

Contact Tank
WellMate Contact Tanks
Gives contact time to allow chlorine to properly treat the water.
Contact provides optimal contact time after chlorine, soda ash, peroxide or other water treatment grade chemicals have been injected into the water.  By using a contact tank, the amount of solution needed is less and insures that the solution being injected is thoroughly mixed and dissolved in the water.  
These WellMate Contact Tanks are made of a seamless inner shell of molded polyethylene and are impact and corrosion resistance.  The tanks are high quality NSF/ANSI 61 certified tanks for drinking water.  Inlet and outlet connections are 1-1/4” but can be reduced to 1” or ¾” if needed. 

Greensand Iron Filter
One of the most heavy-duty iron filters on the market is the greensand iron filter.  Greensand iron filters are very effective at removing heavy amounts of iron and manganese from well water.  Greensand filters use potassium permanganate powder, which automatically cleans and restores the greensand filter media each time it backwashes.  One advantage of this is that the permanganate kills any iron bacteria that can foul iron filter.

If there is a strong sulfur "rotten-egg" in the well water, we recommend a chlorinator be installed in front of the greensand filter to lightly chlorinate the water first.  However, if there is no sulfur odor, or if the sulfur odor is present but slight, then the greensand iron filter would work great by itself.

greensand iron filter
Greensand Iron Filter
A 1.5 cubic foot size greensand filter works great for most homes and only requires 5 gallons per minute for backwash.  The greensand filter typically uses less water than other iron filters such as Filox, Mangox or air-injection iron filters.
These systems are easy to install by any plumber or person familiar with basic plumbing and very easy to maintain yourself. The system is fully automatic, just add some potassium permanganate powder every few months to the solution tank, the system does the rest.
If you have any sand or grit, or large sediment in the water, it helps to have a pre-filter strainer ahead of the greensand filter. 

Optional Carbon Filter
coconut shell carbon filter cws plus series 1.5
Coconut Shell Carbon Filter CWS Plus Series 1.5
Coconut Shell Carbon Filter CWS Plus Series 1.5: includes pipe connectors; by-pass valve; 1.5 cubic feet of Carbon filter media; and NSF-Certified 115v control valve. All the filter media you need for the system is included. Excellent for use in dechlorinating water and removing many tastes and odors. Much longer life and higher flow rates than carbon filter cartridges.
Unlike carbon cartridges which can trap sediment and dirt causing pressure drop these systems automatically backwash out trapped sediment alleviating pressure drop. For disinfected water only. Filter tank is NSF certified one piece seamless polyester construction for long life. Max pressure recommended is 100 psi. Maximum water temperature recommended 100F. Rugged heavy-duty NSF-Certified backwash control valve features fully adjustable backwash and rinse cycles saving water and allowing maximized performance. Time-tested hydraulically balanced piston seal and spacers provide years of trouble-free service. Non-corrosive high-tech material construction. Simple user friendly LCD display shows time of day, regeneration mode and gallons remaining. 
Flow Diagram
flow diagram for tank installation
Here is a diagram of a typical installation. These systems are designed to be easily installed by any plumber or person familiar with basic plumbing. 
To browse these and other systems, check out our online store. For more information about removing bacteria and other odors, read through our how-to guides. We hope this information helps you solve your problems, if you have any further questions, or would like to update us on the progress of your water treatment systems - we love pictures and testimonials! - you can reach us at or on Facebook. Thanks for the letter!