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What is iron ocher?

The ferrous ocher is a chemical or biological reaction, or both, between the iron and the air. These two reactions can occur individually, but sometimes both occur at the same time. When this is the case, there is a much greater oxidation.

During the chemical reaction, it is a soil containing iron which will mix with water and air to create a kind of mud which is easily recognizable to the eye. Brownish and orange in color, it invades the edges of this colored material. In the case of a biological reaction, it is rather a bacterium which attacks the iron on contact with the air which produces a gelatinous substance. Sometimes a distinctive smell of sulfur, similar to rotten eyes, can accompany the presence of ferrous ocher.

The dangers of iron ocher

The problems caused by the presence of ferrous ocher are the most dangerous. This iron disease is not inherently dangerous for humans and can be compared to rust. However, this invasive substance gradually infiltrates into the drains of a building. If this is left untreated, the hoses become blocked and prevent water from flowing easily. We then risk seeing various problems related to this: water infiltration into the home, stagnant water, humidity and finally mold. It is mold that is the real danger, causing problems as much for the integrity of the building as for the health of the occupants.

Detect the presence of ferrous ocher

It’s the nature of the ground on which is built an house that will determine the presence of iron ocher. It is imperative, before buying a property, to carry out professional tests for the presence of ferrous ocher . These evaluations should be included in your inspection fees. See it as a preventive action that will save you many headaches and especially huge expenses. The tests usually done are as follows:
  • Inspection of the drains: using a specialized camera, the building inspector can enter the foundation drains and visually check for the presence of orange mud.
  • A water test: depending on the nature of the house that is desired, if it is under construction or is several years old, the expert will test the groundwater and deep soil samples.
  • It will also be necessary to find out whether the coveted sector is known for a high presence of ferrous ocher . A soil with a high presence of matter cannot be “cured”, that is, there will always be a presence of it. Some homeowners make the conscious choice to buy or build on soil with the presence of ferrous ocher. Be aware, however, that this condition will have an effect on the value of your property and that it could cause resale difficulties.
    In short, surround yourself with experts to make sure you make the right decisions. A couple from the city of Terrebonne, in 2004, explained to Protégez-vous magazine that they had called on the appraiser of their insurer, who had not detected the presence of ferrous ocher, although it had already caused problems with the previous owner , but had been, according to the new owners, hidden: “He told us that this was not the first water damage to occur in this house,” says Ms. Larouche. A false floor covered the basement; you couldn’t see anything. “ 

    What to do if there is ferrous ocher?

    Major measures must be taken if we want to bring about improvements to a situation of iron ocher infiltration, hence the importance of first ensuring its absence. The actions to require a major investment, couteu x financially and intrusive.
    For minor infiltration, we will favor spot cleanings of the infected area with high pressure jets . In the same way, it could be recommended to make an annual chemical and bactericidal treatment, but this one is expensive and polluting, can even infiltrate in the water table.
    The most durable jobs are also the most expensive and can amount to tens of thousands of dollars. We will then talk about completely replacing the drainage system, enhancing the house to move it away from the affected area, or even making the foundations of a building completely waterproof. These last two methods are drastic , but the only ones that guarantee results.
    Thus, many new owners will simply avoid buying a house in an area affected by the presence of iron ocher . Just make sure you are surrounded by subject matter experts who can give you the real answers!