Top Quality Pump Service in Downingtown

Treating Iron Ochre in Sump Pump Pits

Iron Ochre Covered Pump
Iron Ochre Covered Pump

Iron eating bacteria or the “red stuff in your sump pit” is caused by bacteria in the soil that feeds on iron and magnesium. To keep your sump pump working, float switch clean and basement drainage system free of the iron ochre, is not an easy task. A chemical treatment can eliminate the ferro-bacterium or iron ochre. It can also control the pH of the soil. However, this type of treatment is expensive and must be repeated every year. If you want to save money and avoid using chemical treatments, there are other alternatives.

Chlorine shock

Chlorine shock is a chemical solution that kills iron ochre bacteria. However, it is not a permanent solution to the problem. It can also cause harm to the equipment in the drain, if not rinsed thoroughly. Therefore, you should consult an experienced waterproofing contractor like Sump Pump Gurus if you suspect your sump pump pit has an iron problem.

One of the most effective sump pump maintenance tips is treating it with a chlorine or oxidizing solution. It can be mixed with water and applied to the sump pump pit and components. Chlorine shock will remove the iron bacteria from the surfaces, but it may not remove all of the bacteria, accumulated in layers of sediment, it is difficult for chlorine shock to reach everything under your basement floor.

Oxalic acid compounds

Oxalic acid is an organic compound that is dissolved in water to remove iron from a sump pump pit. Oxalic acid is non-toxic but it is important to dilute the acid before pouring it down the drain. One cup of oxalic acid should be mixed with one liter of water. After mixing the solution with water, flush the drain with plenty of water.

Oxalic acid compounds are highly effective at removing iron ochre from a sump pump pit. Oxalic acid is the best acid for cleaning metals. Oxalic acid is a strong oxidizing agent, so it should be stored in a cool, well-ventilated place, away from water and combustibles.

Sewer Jetter

A sewer jetter may be necessary to rid your sump pump pit and discharge pipe of iron bacteria problem and keep the drain pipe working properly. This sticky deposit is difficult to remove, and can clog drainage systems. To prevent iron bacteria from accumulating, you should periodically clean your sump pump pit. Iron ochre bacteria are difficult to eradicate completely, but a sewer jetter can help.

Flushing With Hot Water

If you notice a layer of orange-brown slime on your sump pump pit, you might have an iron-containing bacteria. Iron bacteria naturally occur in the soil, surface waters, and shallow groundwater. They can form rust when they combine iron, oxygen, and manganese. Left unchecked, you will see a rust colored, oily sheen that attaches to the submersible pump, inside the drain pipe,and check valve.

To remove this buildup, you can use a chemical drain cleaner, such as Iron Out. It can be mixed with water and poured down the drain lines. After it’s done, the solution will break up iron bacteria and flush out the sump pit. Moreover, it can be used to clean filters, pumps, and other components that have become contaminated with iron bacteria.

Using Hazardous Chemicals

If you’re worried about your sump pump pit’s iron ochre levels, you may be tempted to treat the problem yourself, but you need to be careful. In some cases, using chemicals in a sump pump pit could be dangerous for your health and for the equipment in the drain. If you do try a chemical treatment, you run the risk of creating a mist of toxic chemicals that could burn your skin and potentially damage your drain equipment.


The pumps in your Downingtown basement are a vital part of your safe and clean home environment. If you have doubts about your pump’s performance, you can add a separate pump, (a backup sump pump, battery powered) in case of failure of your primary pump. 

You can keep them running safely and properly with DIY maintenance or by contacting one of our team at Sump Pump Gurus in Downingtown. Our technicians are expertly trained and here to serve you. Call Sump Pump Gurus, we’re standing by to help  you resolve your sump pump and sewage ejector pump problems.