What is Iron Bacteria?

iron-bacteria

New Hampshire Basements are prone to Iron Bacteria

Iron bacteria are a natural part of the environment. Iron bacteria are small living organisms which naturally occur in soil, shallow groundwater, and surface waters. These nuisance bacteria combine iron (or manganese) and oxygen to form deposits of “rust,” bacterial cells, and a slimy material that sticks the bacteria to well pipes, pumps, and plumbing fixtures. The bacteria are not known to cause disease, but can cause undesirable stains, tastes and odors

These microorganisms work to combine dissolved iron or manganese with oxygen and use it to form rust-colored deposits. In this combination and conversion process, the bacteria produce a brown slime that builds up on drains, pipes, and plumbing fixtures.

This sticky slime which is typically rusty in color, but may be yellow, brown, or grey. A “feathery,” or filamentous growth may also be seen, particularly in standing water such as a toilet tank.

The characteristics listed above are typical of iron bacteria. However, objectionable stains, tastes, or odors may be due to other causes including iron, sulfate, hydrogen sulfide, manganese, or other nuisance organisms such as sulfur bacteria.

Effects of Iron Bacteria

Iron bacteria in wells do not cause health problems, but they can have the following unpleasant and possibly expensive effects: Cause odors, Corrode plumbing equipment, clog pipes, clog drainage systems, and increase chances of sulfur bacteria infestation.

Iron bacteria can cause damage to pipes due to deposition of iron compounds, resulting in clogging tuberculation of pipes and red water.

Preventing iron bacteriaironoxide_yellowstone

Prevention is the best safeguard against accompanying problems. Iron bacteria are nourished by carbon and other organics, and it is essential that they not be introduced into any part of a drainage system. Because it is difficult to get rid of iron bacteria once they exist, it is best to isolate it and try to control it rather than trying to completely “cure” the problem.

 

 

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Common Basement Problems

Water Seeping into the Basement
Cracks in the Basement Floor or Wall Cracks
High Humidity in the Basement
Mold and Mildew Problems
Odors and Smelly Basements
What is Iron Bacteria?
Wet Flooded Basements in all Seasons
Some information courtesy of MN Dept. of Health