How To Tell If Your Water Filter Needs Replacement

When you invest in a water filter you expect clean and safe drinking water. The last thing you want is to have to deal with the consequences of contaminated water. Unfortunately, you might be in such a predicament if you do not properly replace your water filter. See, it has been scientifically proven that drinking from tap water is safer than drinking from an expired filter.

As such, you must be on the lookout for tale-tell signs that your water filter is due for replacement. Before we go through the signs, let us first look at the factors affecting the life of your water filter.

  • Water quality

The more contaminated your water is, the harder your filter will work and the quicker it will wear out.  For instance, hard water will most likely reduce the lifespan of your filter more than soft water will.

  • Mineral content

If your area has a supply of hard water with heavy mineral content, your water filter is likely to clog faster.

  • Water usage

It makes perfect sense that households that use more water will replace their water filters more often than those that use less water. It is just good old wear-and-tear at play.

8 Signs you Should Replace your Water Filter

Like everything else, water filters eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Usually, an old filter has too many contaminants (filtered out of the water) on the filtration membrane that it becomes a health hazard. Old filters are also less efficient and can be such a pain due to reduced flow rates. Here are some common signs that your water filter needs to be replaced ASAP.

1. A decrease in flow rate or pressure

When your water filter gets old, your faucets or pitcher will exhibit a decrease in flow rate. When the cartridge absorbs contaminants and suspended solids, it will likely get clogged up over time. This makes it hard for water to pass through. As such, the flow rate of the water will be significantly reduced.

2. Light Indicators

Most manufacturers have added an inbuilt indicator on their water filters. Just watch out for the light – it will let you know when it’s time to replace it. Yellow, red, and green are the most commonly used colors, but the exact color will depend on the manufacturer. When you buy the filter, the usage instructions will include instructions on reading the light indicator. Once the “change water filter” comes on, change your water filter immediately.

3. Noises

You should consider replacing the water filter when you start hearing odd noises in your filtration systems. This is especially common with reverse osmosis filters. Additionally, if your refrigerator starts getting louder than usual, it could indicate that your filter is faulty and needs to be replaced.

4. Turbidity

Turbidity is how well light penetrates through your water. As water filters age, they start losing their ability to filter contaminants from water, resulting in cloudy water. Always watch the clarity of your water and if it starts to get cloudy, you should replace your water filter immediately.

5. Bad tasting water

Your taste buds can be your best friend when it comes to determining when to replace your filters. When your filter stops working, you will notice an odd taste. Of course, this can arise from other problems. If your water still has an odd taste after replacing your filter, it might be your water source or plumbing.

If your water starts to taste salty, scaly, or metallic, your filter needs replacement. Scale and contaminants build up in filters will change the taste of your water. However, the salty taste might also be coming from sodium if you have a water softener installed. The softener releases a lot of sodium if the hard water mineral content is high.

6. Calendar

Filters usually come with instructions on how long you should use them. At times we can forget when we previously replaced the filters. It is wise to replace your filter if it has been more than a year. Depending on your manufacturer and how much water you use, water filters should be replaced every 3-6 months.

7. Bad smell

Clean filtered water is not only colorless but also odorless. If your water starts smelling like fish or if you pick any other distinct smell, it is a sign that your filter is no longer working. The smelly water is a sign that your water is no longer getting purified and you should stop drinking it right away until you have replaced your water filters.

8. Conduct a test

Fill a glass of water and leave it for the night. If your filter is not working properly, you will find sediment at the bottom of the glass.

Some of these signs may stem from your water source or plumbing. This is why it is important to know the condition of your water. Regular lab tests come in handy in such situations.

Why isn’t my Water Filter Working?

The first obvious reason for a faulty water filter is age. But there are other possible scenarios to think about. Here are some common reasons why your water filter might stop working.

  • Your water might be encountering contaminants after filtration. This is likely to happen when you are using a point-of-entry filtration system. The pipes taking water from the filter can re-contaminate your water. Consider flushing your pipes with equal parts of baking soda and vinegar to try and solve this.
  • Your choice of filter might not be the best for the contaminants in your water. There are filters meant only for bacteria removal. Others only remove sediments. It is crucial to know what contaminants you have and how to best deal with them.
  • Your filter membrane might be damaged. This might be the reason why your water is no longer purified. If so, replace your filter immediately.
  • Microbial growth. Bacterial could be growing in your filter, causing bad taste and odor. The solution for this would be to replace your water filter immediately.

How to make your water filter last longer

Wear and tear are inevitable. However, you can still take some steps to lengthen your water filter’s life. Below are some of the practices you should embrace.

  1. If it is at all possible live in areas with clean water. There are several US states with quality water, like Hawaii and Rhode Island.
  2. Try pre-filtering water. This is especially useful when filtering visibly dirty water (suspended solids and other contaminants). For instance, if you are using pitchers to filter your water, you can strain your water through a cloth to remove large particles.
  3. Store your unused water filters in a clean and dry place. If your unused water filter gets in contact with moisture, bacteria will start growing on them and they will no longer be good to use.  

Final thoughts

Bad taste, turbidity, and decrease in flow rate are some of the common signs of a faulty filter. Some filters also have light indicators making it easy to know when to replace them.

You’ll also want to replace your water filter if it is leaking.

But even without any sign, make sure to replace your water filter every 3-6 months or as the manufacturer recommends. If you do not do this, you will end up drinking contaminated water which could expose you to all manner of water-borne diseases.

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