The best whole-house well water filters do a pretty good job of protecting your water supply from contaminants without needing much oversight. Thanks to innovations from filter manufacturers, tanks, cartridges, and casings can be left for months at a time to do their job without maintenance.
However, well water filtration systems are complex devices, consisting of multiple stages and meters of piping. As a result, some care and attention are needed to get the best from your filter and prevent any issues with clogging, cracking, or leaking.
Here are five tips to help you care for your well water filtration system:
- Correctly order your filtration stages
A simple but important tip for keeping filter systems in the best possible condition is to ensure that each filtration stage is set up in the correct order. Generally speaking, systems should filter in order of large to small contaminants, ending with any water conditioning units.
Beginning with a sediment filter to screen out undissolved particles means that later, more delicate stages of a well water system are protected from things like dust, silt, sand, and rust. This should help prolong the lifespan of filter membranes and even appliances further down the pipe in your home.
How important it is to set up a sediment screen before other filter stages depends upon your overall water quality and pressure.
- Ensure all threaded heads and pipes are correctly fitted
Many well water systems advertise themselves as appropriate for “DIY-install,” and it’s true that most people with basic skills and enough patience to carefully follow installation guides should have no problems.
However, a few elements of a filter install need particular attention to avoid pressure points and stresses on the construction materials that could lead to cracked casings and leaks—the most important being the threading used to screw tanks and cartridge cases onto the filter heads.
Here, it’s vital to make sure that nothing is over-tightened or unthreaded, and tricks such as Teflon tape, vaseline on o-rings, and spinning the housing backward to feel for resistance can come in handy. Some systems offer metal-coated screw threads on their tanks to help reduce the risk of leakages in this area.
It might sound obvious, but ensure water is turned off or running on a bypass before working on your system! Many people prefer to have a plumber install and optimize their filtration system. Always use a professional if in doubt.
- Follow cartridge replacement guidelines
The most straightforward (but often least-followed) tip for keeping filters in good condition is to religiously follow the instructions provided by manufacturers for replacing or cleaning filter media and backwashing filter tanks.
Whether media need cleaning, replacing, or backwashing depends upon the filter type. Sediment screens normally attract a lot of dirt and are often hand or machine-washable. Expect to clean them every two to six months depending on how contaminated your water is.
Carbon cartridges, on the other hand, capture contaminants by an irreversible process known as adsorption, which means that they need to be replaced once their surface is saturated. Most large carbon blocks last around six months.
The truth is that the effectiveness of filters largely depends upon three variables: the quality of the source water, the water pressure, and the condition of the filter media. While well pumps may aid in boosting pressure, keeping filter media in a clean, functional condition is the variable you can control the easiest.
- Create an observation schedule that matches your water quality
A great tip to take the stress out of maintaining your well water system is to work out a schedule for making observations and updates to the filter.
To do this, you’ll need an idea of just how polluted your water is on a daily basis, which will tell you how often you’ll need to check for clogging. This article on how to test well water explains how to buy or book a home water test, and the main contaminants you should be on the lookout for.
For most wells, a monthly check of each filter stage, pump, and well condition should be enough to keep on top of any emerging issues and new contaminants.
- Use an app!
Today’s well water systems are moving into the modern age with wifi and Bluetooth connectivity. These wireless filter tank heads are able to connect to cell phone apps that update users on key pieces of information such as filter cartridge condition and system function.
Most wireless tank heads will also allow you to schedule auto-backwashing so that there’s no need to head down to the boiler room (or make a trip to the summer cabin) to keep things running as they should.
Even the more low-tech filter devices often come with neat tricks to help with observation and maintenance. Look for sediment filters with clear plastic casings, so that you can quickly gauge the condition of the media without having to turn off your water supply and unscrew the tank.