3 Causes of a Clogged Well Water Filter (+How to Fix)

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If you own a private well, you know the importance of keeping your well water filter properly maintained to ensure your water is clean and safe to drink throughout the year.

But what can you do if your filter becomes clogged? What are the common causes of a clogged well water filter, and how can you resolve the issue? We’ve shared all the information you need in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways

  • Sediment, hardness minerals, bacteria, rust, and organic matter are all the common culprits for a clogged well water filter.
  • You can unclog a well water filter by washing the filter, or using a chemical cleaner or another specialized product, depending on the cause of the clogging. You may also need to replace a worn-out filter.
  • The best filters for well water are sediment filter cartridges, iron filter systems, water softeners, reverse osmosis systems (with pre-treatment), and some water pitchers.

⚗️ 3 Common Causes of a Clogged Well Water Filter

We’ve listed the most common reasons for a clogged filter in your well below.

Reason 1: Algae or Bacteria

If your well water isn’t properly treated, it may have the ideal conditions for the growth of algae and bacteria. Over time, these contaminants may attach themselves to your well water filter and multiply, leading to clogging.

Not all bacteria are dangerous, and algae are typically safe to drink. With that said, most people would prefer not to drink brown or green-tinged water, and there are many types of bacteria that are harmful to health.

Iron bacteria in water

Reason 2: Sediment

Sediment is much more common in well water than in city water because wells often source their water supplies from underground. Your well pump will draw low levels of fine sediment and sand from the aquifer, but excess sediment indicates that there may be an issue with the placement of the pump – or your water may simply be sediment-heavy due to erosion or stormwater runoff.

Older wells are most likely to have issues with excess sediment because old aquifers collect sediment below the pump. A side effect of this is that the pump has to work harder, which may cause it to break down.

Related: 13 Causes of a Well Water Filter Turning Black

Reason 3: Hard Water Minerals

A high concentration of scale-causing minerals (namely magnesium and calcium) is known as hard water. Your local geology will determine the hardness of your well water, but for many well supplies, hard water is a given.

Hard water is safe – in fact, calcium and magnesium minerals are healthy – but high water hardness harms your home’s plumbing and pipes. Scale deposits may also form on your well water filter, causing it to clog.

Effects of hard water in a home

🚱 What’s Bad About a Clogged Well Filter?

Wondering whether a clogged well filter is really such a big deal? We would say it is.

The biggest issue with a clogged filter is that it won’t be able to work effectively. Plus, if the filter is clogged with dangerous contaminants like bacteria, these contaminants could have serious health effects if you end up drinking them in your water.

A clogged filter will add strain to your pump, causing it to work harder. As a result, the pump may overheat, shortening its lifespan.

📖 How to Deal With a Clogged Well Filter

To resolve a clogged well filter, you first need to know the cause of the clogging.

You might be able to tell by looking at the filter why it has become clogged. In most cases, though, you’ll need to test your water to find out which contaminants are the culprits. A basic water analysis should be enough to tell you this.

Dirty and clogged cartridges

Once you know why your filter is clogged, you can resolve it with one of the following solutions:

Backwash the Filter

If the clogging is caused by sediment particles, you should be able to unclog the filter simply by holding the filter under running water, making sure that the water flows in the opposite direction from the usual direction that water travels through the filter. This is known as backwashing, and should dislodge the sediment particles, unblocking the filter.

Use a Descaling Solution

For clogging that’s caused by hard water, you need a suitable descaling solution. A descaling solution is an effective temporary solution to hardness mineral buildup, causing the deposits to dissolve and making them easy to wash off the filter.

Use a Chemical Cleaner

A chemical cleaner can be used to clean a filter that has become clogged with algae and bacteria. You need a cleaner that’s strong enough to disinfect your filter and get rid of the microorganisms entirely. Make sure to follow the instructions carefully and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

Adding chlorine to springwell chemical injection pump

Use a Rust-Removal Product

Rust and iron buildup in your well filter can be remedied with a rust-removal product. You can buy rust-removers at most online stores and hardware stores. Just follow the instructions on the bottle to get rid of the rust from your filter.

Replace the Filter

In some cases, your well filter may be so clogged and worn that it makes more sense to simply replace the filter. Some filters are easier to replace than others. Contact your local well contractor if you’re not sure what filter you need, or how to replace it.

🚿 Which Water Filters Are Best For Well Water?

To know which type of water filter is best for treating your well water, get your water tested.

Getting your water tested will help you to pinpoint the biggest problem contaminants, and compare the best solutions to reduce these contaminants in your water supply.

Water testing with tap score

We’ve listed some of the most popular well water filters below.

🚰 Whole House Filter Systems

A whole house water filter system is installed where your water supply enters your home, upstream of your water heater.

There are numerous whole house water systems and add-ons available today, including:

  • Cartridge filter systems, which combine multiple filter cartridges to reduce numerous contaminants, including chemicals, dissolved metals, and sediment
  • Air injection oxidation iron filter systems, which inject oxygen into the water to remove iron, manganese, and sulfur
  • Sediment filter cartridges (either standalone or as a pre-filter in a larger water system), which remove sediment to improve water quality and protect later cartridge filters
  • Water softener systems, which aren’t technically water filters since they don’t remove contaminants – instead, they soften water by removing hardness mineral deposits
  • UV water purifiers, which kill pathogens like viruses and bacteria in water

A whole house water filter system might be the best choice for you if you want to treat all the water in your home, and not just your drinking water.

However, if you’re concerned about a water pressure drop or how a whole home system might affect your water flow, consider a point-of-use system instead.

Springwell WS well water filter system app and sediment filter

Read Our Reviews:

📤 Point-of-Use Filtration Systems

A point-of-use filtration system is a type of filter that’s installed at a specific point of your water line (usually at your kitchen sink).

Some types of POU filters available today are:

  • Reverse osmosis system, which uses a sediment filter cartridge, a carbon filter, and a semi-permeable membrane to remove sediment and TDS by membrane separation
  • Under-sink multi-stage filters, which combine a sediment filter with other filter stages (such as carbon and KDF) to reduce a range of contaminants
  • Water pitchers, which use gravity filtration to reduce common drinking water contaminants (only a handful of pitchers are suitable for well water treatment)

📌 Point-of-use filters are best for people who just want to treat the water that they plan to use for drinking and cooking. Make sure you do your research before buying a point-of-use filter for well water – many filters require some form of pre-treatment to protect the filter stages from sediment or hardness damage.

You might even choose to combine a point-of-use filter system with a whole home system for ultimate protection against well water contaminants.

Filling a Clearly Filtered water filter pitcher in the sink

❔ Clogged Well Filter: FAQ

Can a dirty whole house water filter cause low water pressure?

Yes, a dirty whole house filter can cause your water pressure to drop. That’s because the filters will be clogged, so water can’t pass through the media easily. With less water traveling through the system than normal, your water pressure will dip.

What happens if you don’t change well water filter?

If you don’t change your well water filter, you’ll experience reduced water pressure and increase the risk of bacteria buildup inside the filter, making your water potentially dangerous to drink. The filter could also become so worn that it forms holes that allow trapped contaminants to leach back into your water.

Can you clean a well filter?

Some well filters can be cleaned by backwashing (sending water through the media in the opposite direction), while others are designed to be replaced, not reused, once they become clogged. You should find information on your filter’s lifespan and maintenance requirements in your user manual.

How often should I change my well sediment filter?

You should change your well water sediment filter every 6 months to 2 years, depending on the type of filter you own. Certain sediment filters, like spin-down filters, are washable and reusable, so they last longer than other sediment filters, like cartridge filters. Check your user manual if you’re unsure.

Should I install a filter before or after my well pressure tank?

You can install the filter either before or after your well water pressure tank, depending on the type of system you plan to install. We’ve shared a complete guide on the subject if you’re looking for more information.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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