One of the most important parameters for evaluating water filters is durability. It determines how sustainable they are in terms of cost and environmental impact.
Water Filtration Systems themselves can last for up to 25 years, but most filters only last between 3-12 months of typical use. Water filters are usually rated to filter a certain number of gallons based on their size and should be changed after that because they will no longer be effective at treating your water and removing contaminants.
Read on to learn more about how long water filters last as well as how often you should replace the filters, and tips for making them last longer.
How long will a whole house water filter last?
Whole house water filters typically last longer than point-of-use ones.
However, their components need regular replacements because they employ multi-stage filtration processes. One common feature of these systems is the pre-sediment filter, which must be replaced after three to six months of use.
If a post-filtration submicron filter is included, the replacement should be done between 9 and 12 months, and six years for a salt-free water softener. Nonetheless, it is recommended that the tanks of whole house filtration systems be replaced after three to ten years irrespective of the combination of filters used.
Obviously, there are still lots of factors involved with water filter replacement, let’s dive into some specifics.
How long will an under-sink water filter last?
Under-sink water filters are so named because they are typically stationed below the sinks to filter out contaminants from piped water. Like all consumables, these filters undergo wear and tear and must therefore be replaced periodically to ensure that they produce high quality water.
They also have greater capacities for filtration and last longer (usually hundreds of gallons or six months of use), compared to most pitcher or refrigerator filters that can only output approximately 40 gallons for up to two months of use.
Usually, filters are certified after being tested with more contaminated water than regular tap water and proven to work well past their anticipated lifetimes. Filter-replacement timelines are normally given by manufacturers in months instead of gallons as this is easy for consumers to measure and comprehend.
Even though there is no specific length of time that under-sink water filters should take to be replaced, each particular brand of filter comes with a definite lifespan. To be more precise, the filter’s longevity will depend on the frequency of use, output quantity, water quality, and specific filter type.
Filters that are used more often tend to require frequent filter changes. Highly contaminated water also means the filters get overworked and deteriorate quickly. Additionally, depending on material qualities and pore size, some filters will wear out or clog faster than others.
Under-sink water filters need to be monitored and changed carefully to maintain a given standard in water quality.
As a rule of thumb, it is recommended that commercial use filters be changed two or three times a year (4 to 6 months). Those used in homes can be replaced annually or semi-annually, while reverse osmosis (RO) membranes and ion exchange (IX) filters can take 2 to 4 years to change.
What about water pitchers?
How long will a water pitcher filter last?
The lifespan of most pitcher filters is 2 months or after 40 gallons of water (whichever comes first). This is because contaminants usually clog and block filter pores with increased use, while the ability of filters to adsorb odor-causing and taste-changing impurities also decreases with time.
A reduction in the rate at which water flows out of a pitcher filter is often a sign that the filter is clogged and needs to be replaced. On the other hand, when you start experiencing poor taste and bad smell in your water, it clearly indicates that your adsorptive filters are spent.
How often should you replace your water filtration system?
As we have already established, the lifespan of a water filter will depend on the type of filter, the amount of water filtered, the number of impurities in the water, and the brand of the filter. Some systems may also incorporate filtration media that usually need to be replaced as they are used up.
Please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to get the exact time needed for your specific filter. Filter change may also be needed when a significant change in flow rate, taste, smell, or turbidity is experienced in the filtered water.
Why do water filters need to be replaced?
Filters work either by physically passing water through their pores while trapping contaminating particles or by electro-chemically adsorbing particles to adhere to their surfaces and allowing water to pass through.
In the first case, the more particles are trapped in the pores, the more the pores get clogged until they become incapable of effectively letting water through them. In the second case, as more contaminants adhere to the filter’s surface, the surface area for adsorption fills up, thus allowing impurities that cannot find sites to be adsorbed to pass through.
These two conditions have two main consequences. One is the reduction in the system’s throughput, which is easy to notice in a substantial decrease in the rate of water flow. The next is the introduction of contaminants in the product water, which is not that easy to notice.
What happens if the water filter is not changed?
By trapping contaminants on their surfaces and pores, a filter accumulates impurities over time and becomes home to algae or microbes like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. These may soon eat into the filter and pass through it, contaminating the water.
As a result, those who consume the water thinking that it is filtered are still at risk of contracting diseases without knowing. Debris on filters can also block the pores and render them completely useless. To avoid these issues, filters must be changed every 3-6 months or as prescribed by the manufacturer.
Now, let’s cover some tips to get more life out of your filters!
How can you prolong the life of your water filter?
- Change the water filter regularly
Ensure that you change your system filters regularly to minimize the risk of blockage or breakage. Most filtration products come with recommended filter replacement timelines and this helps reduce the long-term costs of maintenance.
- Good maintenance
Regular cleaning of filters will help prevent contaminants, sediments, and debris from accumulating within your system and ensure that its yield is at its maximum. Most systems include instructions on how to do this in their manuals and may also provide the appropriate cleaning kits along with the system.
You may want to go with a filtration system that has a prefiltration stage to remove large particles before the actual filtration stage. You could also physically strain the water to remove suspended solids before using a water pitcher. This will protect the delicate filtration media from unnecessary damage.
- Proper storage
To avoid mechanical damage and breakage, position and store your filtration system in places where they are safe from knocks and falls. You may also want to protect the water filters from harsh weather including strong wind, freezing temperatures, and direct sunlight over prolonged durations to avoid damaging the filters.
- Less is more
If you aren’t using a whole-house system, do not filter more water than you need on any occasion. Conserve the already purified water to avoid the need to filter more which overburdens your system and increases the rate of wear and tear.
Because filtrations systems vary in design, structure, material, and purpose, there is no specific answer to how long a filter will last. The length of time a given system will take depends on several factors.
Firstly, source water quality determines the rate at which the particles or debris accumulate on the filters, the rate at which it wears down, and how often it will need to be scrubbed or regenerated. For instance, water that contains excessive levels of hardness and iron quickly forms scale and erodes the filter material.
Secondly, maintenance is crucial to extending the system’s life. This includes ensuring the filter cartridges are replaced properly and in time. The third factor is the nature of the materials used to make the system, which also follows the quality of water to be purified. For example, highly acidic water will corrode metallic parts very quickly, and too much chlorine may erode plastic and rubber seals or valves.
Additionally, well-designed and configured systems usually last much longer than simpler systems. For instance, a triple-filtration system will last longer than an ordinary RO system. So, when buying a water filtration system, it is a good idea to consider how long it will last.