As you’ll be well aware if you own a Berkey filter, these top-quality purification systems have a lot going for them. Berkey filters are up there with the best of the best in the water filter industry – and that’s not only because of their ability to remove more than 200 health-threatening contaminants at a time.
Whether you’re doing some research into the Berkey water filter or you’ve purchased a Berkey system but can’t find your user manual, I’ll be covering everything you need to know about how long the Berkey filters last in this guide.
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⚫️ How Long Do Black Berkey Purification Elements Last?
How long do Berkey filters last? Unlike some manufacturers, Berkey doesn’t hide away its filter lifespan information in the fine print – and that’s because the Black Berkey elements have a lifespan to boast about.
Each Berkey element is tested and proven to handle contaminant reduction for up to 3,000 gallons.
All Berkey systems require at least 2 Black Berkey filters to operate, giving a total of 6,000 gallons. Considering we should aim to drink half a gallon of water per day, it’s easy to see that the Berkey filter elements are some of the best of the bunch if you’re looking for filters that rarely need to be replaced after you’ve purchased the initial pair.
Let’s say that you used a Berkey unit with 2 filters, such as the Big Berkey. Imagine that your whole family used the Berkey for water for drinking, cooking, watering the plants, feeding the pets, and so on, and you used 5 gallons of water per day.
In this case, the Black Berkey filter elements will last for 1,200 days, or more than 3 years, if you fill and use the system every day. If you have a smaller family and use less water per day, you could get even longer out of your Berkey water filters.
⚪️ How Long Do Berkey Fluoride Filters Last?
The PF 2 fluoride filters provided by Berkey aren’t quite as impressive as the Black Berkey filter when it comes to lifespan – but they’re still pretty good.
The filters will last for 1,000 gallons or 1 year, whichever comes first. Berkey recommends that you keep track of how many gallons of water go through the fluoride filter by making note of how many times you have to refill your system every day.
You can then multiply this figure by the gallon capacity of your system to find out an average of how many gallons you use per week. Divide this figure by 1,000, which will tell you how many weeks you have before you need to replace your fluoride water filter.
Sounds too complex? If you’re not bothered about being to-the-point specific, you could note down a year from the date of your purchase as an estimate for buying a replacement fluoride filter. If your flow rate starts slowing down before the year is up, simply purchase a new filter change to fix the problem as and when you need it.
📆 How to Extended the Lifespan of a Berkey Water Filter?
There are a number of hacks and tricks that will help you to extend the life of your Berkey water filters, and the easiest to follow is to clean the filters.
Berkey offers instructions on how to clean its Black Berkey water filters. You can either clean the filters by scrubbing them in running water from your sink or in a bucket of purified water, using a low-cost Scotch Brite pad or similar.
It’s recommended that you clean the filters every six months, or at a minimum of every 12 months or 1 year. This helps to remove any sediment or debris and ensure the filter flow rate is sufficient.
Along with that, upon adding a pair of new, replaced elements to the system, make sure to flush and prime these replacement filters on the day of your purchase. Flushing and priming will prepare the filters for use. This is quick to do and can help ensure that using the elements is as safe and effective as possible.
While the Black Berkey purification element is designed to remove or reduce an impressive combination of contaminants, including bacteria and viruses, you should always try to use the cleanest water source inside your purification system to prevent clogging.
If you’re using lake water or pond water in the system, it’s wise to run the water through a cloth as a pre-filter before you add it to the top chamber. This will prevent the filters from having to put in too much hard work to purify your water, which would result in an increased need for cleaning and would likely shorten the lifespan per element.
A final tip for Berkey customers, for hygiene purposes more than anything, is to never leave filtered water in the stainless steel lower chamber for longer than 3 days. If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period of time, empty out your water purification unit before you leave.
I’ve produced a full guide on cleaning the Black Berkey water filter media here.
⏱ How Will I Know Its Time to Replace My Berkey Filters?
On a basic level, you’ll be able to tell that the Berkey water filtration elements need replacing when they’re filtering fewer gallons per hour than they’re usually capable of.
Remember, one Berkey filtration system with two Black Berkey filters usually takes 1 hour to filter 1 gallon of water, which is pretty standard for a gravity filter. If your filtration unit is taking longer to filter water, you may need to wash or replace your pair of clogged filters.
A more effective example of figuring out whether you need to install new water filters is to do the food coloring test. In this test, you simply add some red food coloring to the upper chamber of your system and wait for the pressure of gravity to get to work.
A pair of Berkey’s gravity filters are usually capable of removing red food dye entirely from tap water, so the water that’ll pass into the bottom chamber should be completely filtered, free of any color, and clear.
If you follow this method and find that your water still has a red or pinkish tinge, the filter pores aren’t working at a high enough quality – and if they’re not effectively removing all the red dye, it’s likely that they’re not removing all the contaminants in your water.
As for the Berkey PF-2 elements, aside from a slow flow rate, it’s not so obvious when these would need replacing, and there isn’t a test or process you can perform to figure out filter life. That’s why I’d recommend keeping a log of the date you installed your filters and approximately how much water you use on a normal day to have a better idea of when your filters need changing.
For the sake of your health, you should make sure to replace your filters when necessary to ensure they continue to remove fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, heavy metals like lead, and hundreds of other health-damaging contaminants from your water.
If you’re ever unsure, I would recommend you follow Berkey’s customer guidance, replacing the pair of Black Berkey elements approximately every 3,000 gallons and the fluoride filters every 1,000 gallons.