How to Make a DIY Well Water Filter (for Iron & More)

The best well water filtration systems reduce a whole host of common drinking water contaminants, making water safer and tastier for consumption. If you’re trying not to use single-use water bottles and you’re keen to protect your plumbing from iron and other well water minerals, a whole house filter system is the obvious solution.

But store-bought systems are a lot of money, and you might want to save money by building your own filtration system – or you might just be the DIY type.

If you’re keen to know how to make your own at-home well water filter system, you’ll find all the information you need in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Test your water before you buy your filters. You can make better purchases when you know exactly which contaminants you want to remove.
  • To make a DIY well water filtration system, choose your preferred filters, then gather your tools and buy the filter housings, pipe fittings, and mounting brackets.
  • DIY water filters are cheaper than professionally installed water filtration systems, and you get complete control over the filters included – but building your own filter system takes time, and you can’t guarantee the quality performance of a store-bought system.

📖 How to Make Your Own Whole Home Well Water Filter: Step-By-Step

Below, we’ve shared the steps to take to build a DIY whole house water filter system for your well water.

Step 1: Test Your Water

Before you even start shopping for materials for your DIY project, test your water.

We recommend paying for a complete laboratory well water test, which detects a selection of the most common well water contaminants.

Water testing with tap score

If your budget is tight, buy an at-home well water test kit, which gives a less precise reading of your water’s pH, iron levels, total hardness, and nitrate and nitrite levels.

Once you know what your water supply contains, you can look specifically at water filters that can remove these impurities.

Taking a water sample from faucet

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

Next, gather your supplies.

For the installation itself, you’ll need the following tools and components:

  • Wrench
  • Drill bits
  • Pipe cutter
  • Plumber’s tape
  • Bucket
  • Tubing
  • Screwdriver

You’ll also need the following components for the DIY water filter unit:

  • Your chosen filters*
  • Filter housings to accommodate these filters
  • Mounting bracket(s)
  • Pipe fittings
  • Bypass and shutoff valves (to allow you to divert water around the DIY water filtration system during servicing)
  • Pressure gauges (to measure the water pressure in each filter stage and help you know when to change the filters)
  • Drain connection (for systems that require backwashing, not applicable to cartridge-based whole house water filter systems)

* Choose one or several of the following filter types:

  1. Sediment filters (ideally step-down sediment filters), which remove sediment like sand, dirt, rust, dust, and other debris. Sediment filters with a pore size range of 5-20-microns are ideal for well water.
  2. Activated carbon or KDF filters, which treat unpleasant tastes and odors, and remove chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and some dissolved heavy metals like iron, manganese, and sulfur.
  3. UV filters, which kill bacteria and other pathogens with ultraviolet light.

📌 We recommend choosing 2 or 3 filters, always beginning with a sediment filter, to target contaminants of various types & sizes in your well water.

Tools & equipment for DIY whole house water filter

Step 3: Install The System

Once you’ve gathered your tools, equipment, and materials for your whole house filtration system, you can get started with the installation.

Choose a suitable location for your DIY filter. A whole house water filter should be installed as close as possible to water’s entry into your home, downstream of the pressure tank and upstream of your water heater.

  1. Shut off your water supply and open a faucet to drain the water and relieve pressure in your plumbing.
  2. Then cut out a section of your main water line and attach your filter housings to the incoming end of the pipe, using the extra tubing if necessary.
  3. Connect the other end of your filter system to your plumbing, using plumber’s tape to create a seal.
  4. Install the filter cartridges in each of the housings if you haven’t already.
  5. Slowly switch on your water supply and check the unit for leaks. If you notice leaking, switch the water off and make sure the housings are properly screwed onto the unit.
Whole house filter installation

Step 4: Test The System

Finally, it’s time to test your DIY whole house well water filter’s performance.

Pour a glass of water and give it a visual inspection. Does it look cleaner than your unfiltered well water?

Compare both water samples if you’re unsure.

Take a sip of your water and see if you notice an improvement in its taste and smell.

If you want to know exactly how your DIY filtration system has made a difference to your water quality, take a sample of your water and send it off to the same laboratory that you used for your initial water test.

Bring up your test results for your unfiltered water. Compare both sets of results to see exactly which contaminants your DIY water filter removes, and by how much.

Springwell before installation vs after installation water test results scores

📝 How to Make Your Own Point-Of-Use Well Water Filter: Step-By-Step

Just looking to make a filtered water solution for your drinking water? Point-of-use filters are cheaper, and quicker and easier to make, than whole house water filter systems.

However, they’re only intended as a short-term solution, and you can achieve better results much easier with a store-bought filter (such as a water pitcher filter).

To make a POU well water filter, follow these steps:

Step 1: Test Your Water

Again, testing your water is the place to start. Find out which contaminants are present in your water, and make a list of the ones you’d like to remove, in order from most to least important.

Water testing with tap score

Step 2: Gather Your Tools & Components

Next, gather the tools and materials that you’ll need to make the filter.

You will need:

  • A 0.5-gallon clear plastic bottle
  • A glass or small jug
  • Scissors or a sharp knife
  • Stones
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Activated charcoal
  • A coffee filter

Step 3: Set Up The System

Now it’s time to assemble the system.

  1. Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the bottom off the clear plastic bottle.
  2. Then, turn the bottle upside down and place it in the glass or small jug.
  3. Finally, fill the bottle with the filter materials. Start with the coffee filter, then add the activated charcoal, the sand, the stones, and the gravel.

Here’s a complete guide on how to make this type of homemade filter yourself.

How to make an activate charcoal filter

Step 4: Test The System

To test the filter, slowly pour water into the top of the bottle, until the bottle is full.

Wait until the water flows through the filter layers and drips out into the cup or jug. Add more water when the water level in the bottle drops.

Pour the filtered water into a clean glass for taste testing. You could also use a DIY test kit or lab well water test kit to test the water for contaminants and compare it to your water quality before.

⚖️ Pros and Cons of DIY Well Water Filters

Pros

Cheaper Than Professionally Installed Systems

You can save hundreds of dollars by making your own water filter system. A whole house water filtration system for well water costs $1,00-$2,500+, and you can halve this cost by making a DIY filtration system. Plus, because you’re not stuck using proprietary filters from a single manufacturer, you can spend less money on replacement unbranded filter cartridges in the long term.

Complete Control Over Filters Used

When you make your own filter unit, you decide exactly which filters are included. That means you can tailor the filtration system to target the specific contaminants in your well water supply. No need to waste money on a unit that only targets a fraction of your water impurities.

Can Be Easier to Troubleshoot/ Maintain

You know exactly what materials were used to make the filter, and which components are installed there. That means you’ll find it easier to troubleshoot problems and perform maintenance because you have complete knowledge of the unit’s design.

Whole house sediment filter installation

Cons

Time-Consuming Project

Timing is one major setback in making your own whole house water filter for your well. You’ll need to dedicate hours to the project, compared to buying a store-bought complete whole house water filter system – which just needs to be installed as it is.

Quality Performance Isn’t Guaranteed

There’s no guarantee that a homemade well water filter will offer the same quality performance or reliability as a store-bought water filter. This is a problem if your water contains dangerous levels of contaminants that could be harmful to health, like bacteria or nitrates.

🤔 Are DIY Well Water Filters Worth It?

Making your own well water filter is a great option if you enjoy DIY and you want to reduce your upfront spend on a water filtration system.

However, it’ll take you hours to build a water filtration system yourself, and you might not have the time or expertise to take the job. There’s also no guarantee that a DIY water filter system will make your water potable.

👨‍⚖️ For most people, the convenience and reliability of a store-bought water filtration system make it a better option than a homemade filter. Read our reviews of the top whole house well water filters if you decide going that route.

❔ DIY Well Water Filters: FAQ

How can I naturally purify my well water?

You can naturally purify your water by boiling it to kill microorganisms. You could also make your own water filtration system to remove common drinking water contaminants. If you want to entirely eliminate contaminants from your well water, use the at-home water distillation method.

What is the best way to filter water from a well?

The best way to filter water from a well is to install a store-bought whole house filtration system that removes the impurities in your water. You might also choose to make your own whole house water filtration system for a slightly lower cost.

How do you make a homemade water filter for water?

You can make a homemade water filter by adding various filter materials (including activated carbon media, stones, sand, and gravel) to an upside-down water bottle with the bottom cut off. Pour water slowly into the bottom and catch the filtered water from the opening in a jug or bowl.

What’s better – whole house or point of use well water filters?

If you want to protect your entire water supply from contaminants, a whole house well water filter is best. But if you just want to reduce contaminants in the drinking water at your kitchen faucet, and you have less money to spend, a point of use well water filter is ideal. Whole house water filters are best suited to water supplies that contain impurities that could damage your pipes and fixtures, such as iron and hard water minerals.

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