How Rust Stains Form on Landscapes and How to Target Them
Few things immediately make homeowners reconsider their curb appeal quite like the rapid appearance of unsightly rust stains. When a water source contains trace amounts of iron, it interacts with the air to form rust, which settles into surfaces like driveways and walkways depending on their porosity.
A wide variety of materials may be situated in the range of your customer’s sprinkler system, with different degrees of susceptibility to being stained by the rust formed from iron-containing water. That’s why a reliable method of removing these stains is required, one that is safe to apply on various materials.
How Does Iron Enter a Water Supply?
Iron occurs naturally in soil, sediments, rock, and groundwater. It can enter water sources from natural deposits, industrial waste, the refining of iron ores, and the corrosion of iron-containing metals. As a result, naturally occurring organic iron from various possible sources can be detected in shallow wells and surface water. Well water commonly contains elevated levels of iron.
Why Is Water Iron Content Important?
Whether iron-containing water is clear or not depends on the type of iron it contains. The iron in water can take two forms—soluble ferrous iron and insoluble ferric iron. Water containing ferrous iron is clear and colorless, but when exposed to the air, the water turns cloudy, and a reddish-brown precipitate—ferric iron—appears and forms rust. Your customers’ water sources likely contain soluble ferrous iron that leaves the water clear but creates unsightly rust stains on surfaces once exposed to the open air.
Preventing the pop-up of these pesky stains can save you from having to respond to frequent and potentially costly maintenance calls. While the stains are not attractive, they do not indicate a hazard. Iron has many beneficial effects on the body, and the chance of ingesting a toxic amount of iron from a home water supply is unlikely. Your customers may also be using water treatment products, filtration, and other equipment like reverse osmosis units to remove any impurities and excess iron from their drinking water.
What can happen with iron-containing water, however, is the flourishing of iron bacteria, which can produce a slime-like film that can clog pipes and screens, leave stains on laundry and fixtures, and cause an unpleasant taste or odor. Many irrigation-based landscape products designed to target elevated iron levels and prevent rust stains on properties cannot eradicate these bacteria. As a result, it is worth keeping in mind the effect that this film may have on the maintenance of sprinkler components and pipes.
How to Quantify the Iron Content of a Water Supply
TEST WATER TO CONFIRM IRON IS THE CULPRIT
STAINS CAN BE CAUSED BY FERTILIZERS AND TANNINS
TESTING PREVENTS BUYING PRODUCTS THAT WOULDN'T SOLVE THE PROBLEM
WE OFFER DIY KITS TO TEST WATER
KITS TEST FOR IRON CONTENT, PH LEVEL, AND HARDNESS
RECOMMENDED MAX OF IRON IN WATER IS 0.3 PPM
INPUT TEST RESULTS INTO OUR ONLINE DOSAGE CALCULATOR
Before tackling reddish-brown or orange stains on a property with the assumption that they are caused by rust, it is worth testing the water supply to confirm that iron is indeed the culprit. Similar stains can be caused by certain fertilizers and tannins in the water. Confirming that a customer’s water supply contains elevated iron will help to prevent the purchase of rust-preventing products that would not be effective for a particular problem.
There are various ways to test a customer’s water to determine the iron content. For example, we offer a DIY test kit containing all the necessary materials to conduct two tests each for iron content, pH level, and the hardness of a water supply, with easy-to-follow instructions included. You could also send us a sample of 4 ounces of water taken directly from the sprinkler head, and we’ll test it for you. Finally, you could have a local testing source conduct the testing.
The recommended maximum iron level in water is 0.3 ppm, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, to prevent its discoloration, changes in taste, and staining. The results obtained from testing a water source will not only confirm whether raised iron levels are the culprit behind property staining but will also inform the type and amount of rust preventing product needed. For example, you can easily input test results into our online dosage calculator to find out which formula of Rid O’ Rust is suited to your customer’s water supply, and the dosage required to prevent stains. Alternatively, you can send us the test results and we’ll make a recommendation.
Preventing Rust Stains With Rid O’ Rust
In addition to reducing unexpected maintenance calls by keeping properties free of rust stains, Rid O’ Rust also reduces the need for repair and replacement of sprinkler components. It achieves all this by neutralizing the iron in well water. In irrigation systems containing iron levels lower than 2 ppm, Rid O’ Rust formulas can be fed automatically into the sprinkler system using the GreenFeeder System, which also accommodates liquid fertilizer and pest repellant, with the potential to reduce hands-on property visits even further.
The importance of testing a water source is evident in the selection of a Rid O’ Rust formula, as the Extreme Water Rust Preventer is specifically designated to water sources with low or fluctuating pH levels. Rid O’ Rust will also not remove tannins from the water, so it is important to ensure that they aren’t the true culprit behind the stains. Rid O’ Rust must be injected into the irrigation system, via a Rid O’ Rust Feeder System or GreenFeeder System, at a point prior to the addition of any oxidizing agents like chlorine or air as these agents will antagonize the effects of the product.
Clearing Existing Rust Stains
If a property is already covered in rust stains, these will need to be removed before tackling the root of the problem with Rid O’ Rust preventer. Rid O’ Rust cleans away rust stains using surface action, not abrasion. So, it doesn’t require any scrubbing or the use of a pressure washer to be effective. It can be applied using a pump sprayer, cloth, roller, or gentle brush and left to act for several minutes. Thereafter, all coated surfaces should be rinsed thoroughly.
Rid O’ Rust is manufactured using organic acids that are safe for plants, provided they are rinsed, so no damage control will be required after its application. It can also be used on virtually any exterior surface, from wooden decks to vinyl siding. The only materials you would need to avoid are paint stains and bricks that contain iron pigments—for obvious reasons.
Despite its gentle nature, Rid O’ Rust is highly effective, and one gallon can be used to clear 400 square feet worth of rust stains. In irrigation systems connected to well water or other iron-containing water sources, rust stains are inevitable. But with the right combination of products and an automatic injection system to dispense them, you could end up with fewer maintenance calls.