What is Iron Ochre?

iron orche west island

Does your home have an Iron Ochre problem?

If you’ve been living with rusty colored water in your sump pump pit you already know what it is and the headaches it can cause. Iron ochre can result from either a chemical reaction or a biological process, and both may occur either individually or simultaneously:

  • Chemical reaction: When the soil contains iron, it migrates with the water towards the drainage system. When it comes into contact with the atmosphere, it forms a sludge of iron hydroxide.
  • Biological process: When iron bacterium is present within the water table, this bacterium, following oxidation of the iron upon coming into contact with the atmosphere, produces a gel-like mass.

When the biological process adds up to the chemical reaction, the oxidation effect is considerably increased. Both cases result in the formation of a viscous deposit on the corrugated wall of drain pipes. This deposit is what we call iron ochre. Simply put, iron ochre turns into a gel like substance and can block your French drain and all its components.

Given that this can be a serious problem in many regions of the province, the Quebec government has posted some additional information here.

Is it possible to eliminate iron ochre or prevent this bacterial growth?

No. Iron is naturally present in the soil; thus, it is very difficult to eliminate altogether. Even if one would replace the soil surrounding a building, iron originating from the neighboring soils would still migrate towards the drain of the property through natural water runoff. The only way to prevent bacterial growth would be to eliminate two natural elements from the soil- water and air – which is impossible. It is therefore not feasible to prevent the chemical reaction giving rise to iron ochre.

What are the consequences of iron ochre?

Iron ochre causes several issues with buildings including flooding and water damage:

  • It causes ocher-colored slimy sludge deposits to accumulate in the rain water catch basin and in ditches.
  • It creates reddish deposits on the concrete slab of basements. These deposits give a sulfur-like odor.
  • It obstructs agricultural tile drains: since runoff water is no longer channeled at a distance from the foundations, it infiltrates the basement, at the junction between foundation walls and slab.
  • It obstructs the backflow valves.
What can be done to eliminate damage to my basement? The Hydro-Jetting Solution!

Hydro-Jetting. The only procedure that can clean iron ochre from pipes and French drains is high pressure water cleaning. Once done, a camera inspection confirms that all has been cleaned properly. Usually the homeowner will do another inspection in 1 or 2 years. This allows the homeowner to determine the frequency of subsequent cleanings and organize with your drain specialist a maintenance plan that will keep your iron ochre at bay.

Hydro-Jetting can be done throughout the year; however, May thru October are the most cost effective months.

For more information on iron ochre, or to schedule a consult with one of our technicians, visit Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking or call 514-869-7779.

Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking

Mike Cassidy

Drain Specialist & Business Owner at Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking
Mike has spent most of his life working in the customer service industry, starting back when the term customer service actually used to mean something. Finally fed up of having to follow the lead of others, Mike and his son Sean started their own company Cassidy & Cassidy Déblocage/Unblocking. Together, they are quickly becoming the #1 company for customer service within their industry.

Mike and his daughter started these blogs as a way to start connecting with their customers. With all his years of experience, Mike has a wealth of information many people would find useful. So with this in mind, we created our first, educational Cassidy & Cassidy blog posts.

Still wanting to bring the customer service issues of today to light though, Cassidy Quips was then created. These quips are intended to help people realize that they deserve better when it comes to customer service, and offer them some tips and tricks to perhaps start feeling as though they're not constantly getting screwed with their pants on.

These quips may be rants, they may be fun, and with any luck, they may leave you coming back for more!
Mike Cassidy