If you’re a proud owner of your own water well, then you certainly want to make sure your water stays at optimum drinking quality, free of all contaminants. At the same time, you probably understand how complicated it can be to maintain this water, as most guides recommend calling in professionals to solve most well water problems that arise.

One of the most common of these problems is known as iron befouling, a condition also frequently called “iron bacteria”. Characterized by discoloration and foul odor, iron befouling is a widespread problem that can leave any well owner frustrated. This article will help you identify symptoms of this condition, understand its causes, and begin to fix the problem.


If you notice a slight sulfurous odor in your water or red coloration once in a while, iron befouling may be what you’re dealing with. While most of these unpleasant symptoms aren’t necessarily harmful, iron contamination can cause corrosion of steel and iron pipes, which can lead to more serious issues.

It should be noted that not all symptoms of iron befouling are problematic. In many cases, the buildup can serve as a preliminary filtration in wells. But if the negative symptoms become too much to deal with, then you should definitely look into treatment.


Before you start, though, it’s helpful to know what causes this problem. Like all types of befouling, the iron variety is caused by a biofilm, which is a layer of dead and living bacteria and the byproducts of their metabolism. Different strains of bacteria produce different minerals and metals, causing different kinds of befouling.

In the case of iron, bacteria can produce this metal at a much faster rate than it would build up through mineral encrustation. Colonies can build up very quickly and result in some very unpleasant water down the road.


Like all biofilms, the ones that cause iron befoulment can actually degrade certain types of filters such as resin beds, carbon filters, and reverse osmosis membranes. And while some types of filters such as aeration-type or backwashable filters can screen out biofiolms effectively, they can be difficult to maintain.

A simpler and equally effective solution we offer here at Clearwater is the Iron Shield with Toxin Guard. Rather than screening them off, this device oxidizes the iron contaminants and isolates them, where they’re able to be easily flushed away. In this way, the iron contamination is actually removed from your well rather than just kept out with a screen.

Whatever solution you end up going with, we at Clear Water of San Marcos would be happy to help you keep your well water clean in addition to all of your other water needs, from water softeners to salt-free water conditioners.