Iron Ochre & Bacteria in Basements

iron ochre bacteria flooding in basement

Iron ochre (bacteria) seen pictured above.

Iron ochre results from a chemical reaction or a biological process that can happen in wet basements, within clogged pipes or sump pump pits.

The last thing you want to hear is in your basement or in your home is bacteria. Unfortunately, iron ochre may occur in wet basements, within clogged pipes or sump pump pits. Iron ochre can cause damage to your plumbing system and may leave stains on anything it comes in contact with. 

What is Iron Ochre?

Iron bacteria occurs when there is a high level of iron or manganese in ground water and wells. Iron bacteria is a living microorganism. They attach themselves to the sides of the pipes and/or pumps and use iron ocher as a food source. This will typically create a reddish ooze that can be very thick. Since it is so thick, it affects drains and plumbing systems.  

What Causes Iron Bacteria in Wet Basements?

Iron bacteria can be found in all parts of the world. Depending on the circumstance and environment, it can either be an issue or not. When it comes to your drains and plumbing, it is usually a problem you want to solve. 

Some common places iron ochre is found in basements are: 

  • Blocked drains
  • Rotting Pipes
  • Clogged Plumbing 

How Iron Bacteria Affects Your Home and Family

Iron bacteria can have many unpleasant side effects. 

  • Smell: A musty or sewage-like smell can occur.
  • Stains: Iron ochre is reddish-brown and will stain any surface it touches. It is extremely difficult to remove.
  • Drinking Water: If it is in the pipes that supplies drinking water, this may create a strange taste to your water. 

Testing for Iron Ochre

There are two different ways you can test for iron ochre. In the morning, you can take a glass and fill it with some water. After a couple of days, examine the sediment that built up at the bottom. If the sediment has a 3-dimensional appearance and has strands of cotton looking fibers, you probably have iron bacteria in your water and pipes. 

If you are looking for a more concrete answer, samples of your water can be taken to a lab and tested. Lab tests can confirm or deny the presence of any bacteria and can help determine what steps to take next. 

What Kills Iron Ochre?

The good thing about iron ochre is that you can get rid of it. The first thing you have to do is flush away the thick residue that the iron bacteria creates. This residue can be in your drain, sump pump, or fresh water supply line. Professionals, such as a basement waterproofing company, can use a hot water flush that can often kill all the bacteria. 

Tips for Preventing Bacteria Build Up in Your Basement

There are a few things at you can do to prevent bacteria build up in your basement. Adding a water repellent coating to the foundation can prove effective since it keeps moisture away. You can also have a professional add a waterproofing membrane to the foundation. 

Contact Basements Plus for Iron Ochre Removal in Michigan 

Like most projects, contacting a professional is usually the best way to go. Whether you are trying to avoid iron ochre to begin with, or need help removing build up, contact Basements Plus for a free consultation. Contact – Basements Plus (


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