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How Long Do Water Filters Last

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You change your car’s oil and oil filter every 3,000 miles or so. Doesn’t it make sense to regularly schedule a filter change for your drinking water? You have a home water filtration for a reason, and that’s to get rid of organic and inorganic components.

Your water utility company uses filters to help clean out the water that gets to your house. The regulations on minimum filtering differ from one jurisdiction to another. Most regulations are slack.

Here’s the information you need concerning your faucet, refrigerator, or whole-house filtration system. You’ll want to mark filter replacement dates on your calendar.

Water Filter Types
There are five major types of water filters in use today. Each has its own method of trapping contaminants. Replacing the filters on these units is vital.

Activated carbon filters are used to trap larger particles of sediment. Known as pre-filters, these are the type you see in tropical fish aquariums. The carbon attracts and holds onto inorganic particles.

Carbon pre-filters also help to remove strange odors from the water. Several of the common inorganic compounds found in city water are responsible for the unpleasant odor and taste. Pre-filters should be changed every six months.

Reverse osmosis filters are the most common type found in residential homes. These are usually servicing the water that comes to your kitchen taps. Water under pressure is lifted through the filtering membrane. 

The water passes through a pre-filtering system before entering the membrane. The pressure lifts the water out of the membrane and through a post-filtering scrubber. The membrane itself needs to be changed every six months. 

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for replacing or cleaning the post-filtering module. The pre-filtering system is usually a carbon trap, so change it every six months.

Electrolysis filters use an electronically charged plate to attract impurities. These are usually of the alkaline or ionizing variety. Acidic water is separated from alkaline water. 

The result is water of lower acidity. Most of these filtration systems have a pre-filtering scrubber, and this scrubber filter is what must be changed every six months or so.

Newer to the filtering industry is the UV filter. Ultraviolet light shines through the incoming water flow and kills bacteria. Most of these systems include a pre-filtering system using carbon.

Infrared filters are used mostly as a means to soften the water. The longwave radiation doesn’t filter out sediment, so a pre-filtering system is also required.

For Your Refrigerator
Most refrigerators that come with an ice maker or cold water dispenser have a twist-on filter located near the base of the unit. It’s loosened by giving it a quarter-turn. You simply pull it out, remove the filter unit, and stick in the replacement.

Signs of a dirty filter include an unpleasant taste in the water, an odor coming from the dispenser, and a decrease in outflow pressure. If you experience these problems, change the filter immediately.

Most refrigerator water filtration systems are good for processing a total of about 1,500 gallons. A typical family of four will use twice this amount in a calendar year. Replace the filter every six months.

If you cannot remember the model number of the filter, check the entire pull-out unit. You can also look at the refrigerator owner’s manual to get the model number of the filter.

The filters are inexpensive, and they save your money. If you use 3,000 gallons of filtered water from your refrigerator, you save several hundreds of dollars over the cost of buying bottled water.

For Your Kitchen Faucet
Reverse osmosis systems are the most popular type of kitchen faucet filters. You will need to change both the carbon filter and the membrane filter. These vary in efficiency according to the model.

If you installed the system yourself, you should have saved the owner’s manual. It will show the exact specs for the pre-filtering carbon unit and the membrane filter. Both of these are easy to replace. 

If you don’t have the owner’s manual, write down the unit’s model number. It will be displayed on the outside of the filter tank. Look up the specs online or ask a professional at a home improvement center for the proper replacement type. 

These membrane filters hold a great deal of organic compounds, some of which can be quite harmful. Once they become clogged, some of the organic compounds begin to lift up through the system and get back into the water supply to your kitchen taps.

As a rule, replace the carbon pre-filter and the membrane filter at the same time. Replacing or cleaning the post-scrubber system is easy, but make sure to follow the directions given in the manual.

Whole-House Filters
These supply fresh, clean water to your kitchen faucet, the intake tube for your refrigerator, and any other water line in your home. They generally use either a carbon filter or a reverse osmosis system. However, the filters themselves are quite different than what is found on a smaller, kitchen faucet filtration system.

A large container is packed with a tubular filter that looks a bit like soft Styrofoam. Because all of the home’s water is being fed through this filter, it must be replaced every three or four months. Whole-house filters often have a carbon pre-filter system, and this needs changing twice per year.

A sub-micron post-filtering system is often part of a whole-house water filter. It’s an optional add-on, but if you have one, you need to change this filter on a regular basis. Microscopic particles including some protozoa are captured by this filter. 

These protozoa can include Giardia lamblia. This is the feared organic contaminant in streamwater, and it can make you very sick. Replace your sub-micron filter every nine months regardless of the amount of water that passes through the system.

Buy Several Filters At Once
Don’t get in the habit of checking your calendar and reminding yourself to buy a filter. Instead, get packs of four or six filters. You’ll always have one on hand for quick replacement. 

Most of the carbon pre-filters and reverse osmosis membrane filters are sold in packs of four. When you’re down to the final filter, that’s the time to get a new four-pack!

Schedule your replacement on your calendar along with other home tasks. This makes the whole procedure more efficient and allows you to free up more time.

Your health is paramount, and that’s why you have a home filtration system to begin with. It’s certainly worth the cost to replace water filters on a regular basis. Once you set up a schedule, you’ll find it easy to stick to.

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