How Long Do RV Water Filters Last? (by Filter Type)

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RV water filters offer a convenient, on-demand water filtration solution for your RV. But how long do RV water filters last before they need to be replaced? We’ve shared everything you need to know in this guide.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • RV water filters last about 3-4 months.
  • The exact lifespan of an RV water filter depends on the type of filter, the filter size, your water usage, and the quality of your water.
  • Replacing an RV water filter is essential to prevent reduced flow rate, bacteria buildup in the filter, or recontamination of your water supply.

πŸ“‰ How Long Does An RV Water Filter Last?

An RV water filter lasts about 3-4 months, depending on the filter type.

We’ve shared the most common RV water filter types, and their lifespans, below.

Filter TypeAverage Lifespan
Ceramic Filters12 -18 months
Sediment Filters3-4 months
Inline Filters3-4 months
Multi-Stage Cartridge Filters3-6 months
UV Lamps1 year

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic filters use ceramic media, often paired with other filter media (like carbon filter media) to reduce sediment, turbidity, bacteria, heavy metals, cysts, and other contaminants. Ceramic filters are most commonly found in a countertop RV water system that uses gravity filtration.

The great thing about ceramic filters is that they can be washed and reused, extending their lifespan to about 12-18 months.

Sediment Filters

A sediment filter is the first point of water treatment in an RV, with large pores that trap suspended sediment (such as dust, sand, rust, and dirt) in water.

There are a couple of types of sediment water filters, but for RV use, cartridge-based sediment filters are the most popular. Most RV sediment filters last about 3-4 months.

Clearsource premium water filter cartridges

Inline Filters

An inline water filter is a type of RV water filter that attaches to the hose connecting the outdoor faucet to the RV. This type of filter typically combines several filter media to reduce sediment and chlorine, including the taste and cleanliness of the water.

Most inline filtered water cartridges last 3-4 months.

Multi-Stage Cartridge-Filters

Multi-stage cartridge filters are installed inside the RV at the RV’s plumbing system, after the fresh water tank. These systems combine one or more filters, including sediment pre-filters, carbon filters, and other canister filters, to reduce a range of contaminants and produce healthier drinking water.

The average lifespan of multi-stage cartridge filters is 3-6 months, depending on the filter types.

UV Water Filters

A UV water filter is often used as a final filter stage after other inline water filters or canister filters. UV purification uses ultraviolet light to damage the DNA of microorganisms like bacteria, preventing them from reproducing.

The average lifespan of a UV bulb is 1 year.

Acuva arrow 5 under the sink UV purifier system

πŸ”Ž Signs You Need A New RV Water Filter

Wondering how you can tell when your RV water filter needs to be replaced? Here are a few signs:

  • Bad taste or smell – If your water takes on a dirty taste or smell, or it starts to taste and smell like contaminants usually removed by the filter, it’s time to buy a new filter.
  • A reduced flow rate – Most RV water filters cause water flow to drop slightly, but if your flow of water reduces to a trickle, a new filter is needed.
  • A change in the water’s appearance – Murky water or noticeable sediment in the water is the final sign that your RV water filter is no longer doing its job.

πŸ’‘ Don’t rely on these signs to replace your RV filters, though. You might still have clean-looking, fresh water even when bacteria are beginning to grow in the filter media. Always replace the filters at least as often as the manufacturer recommends.

πŸ“ Factors Affecting an RV Water Filter’s Lifespan

Some of the factors affecting the lifespan of an RV water filter are:

The Filter Type

The type of RV water filter is the biggest influential factor when it comes to filter lifespan. Some filters trap more contaminants than others, meaning the filters become clogged at a faster rate. Some use a different kind of filtering process that allows the filter to be used for longer before replacements are needed.

We’ve listed the most common types of RV water filters, and their lifespans, below.

The Filter Size/ Surface Area

The size and surface area of your RV water filter will also determine how long it lasts.

The larger the filter and the bigger its surface area, the more space there is for the media to trap contaminants. That means that, even when contaminants begin to build up in the filter media, there’s still plenty of space for water to pass through.

Small RV filters with small surface areas have less room in the media for contaminants to accumulate, which reduces the amount of water that can pass through and causes a dip in flow rate. As a result, the filter will need to be changed sooner.

Installing a waterdrop rv filter

Your Water Usage

The amount of water you use in your RV will affect the rate of clogging in the filter media – and therefore, how soon the filter will need to be changed.

The manufacturer will have worked out the filter lifespan in gallons, then estimated how many months this equates to based on average water use. If you use a higher-than-average volume of water every day, the filter might not last as long as advertised.

On the other end, if you don’t use much water at all, you might get slightly longer out of the filter before it becomes clogged.

Your Water Quality

Finally, your drinking water quality will also influence the rate of clogging in the filter, and how long the filter will last.

The poorer quality your water, and the more contaminants it contains, the faster the filters will clog. If your water is more contaminated than the manufacturer’s test water, you may need to replace the filter more frequently.

Opposingly, mildly-contaminated water will clog the filter media at a slower rate, and the filter will last longer.

Algae growth in water

πŸ“€ Why Is Replacing An RV Water Filter So Important?

Regardless of your water quality or usage, you should replace your RV water filters on time, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t try to get extra months of use out of your filter, even if you don’t notice any changes to your water’s appearance or taste.

Replacing an RV water filter is essential to:

  • Maintain a good flow rate. As a filter ages, it becomes more clogged. The more clogged the filter, the less space for water to flow through the media. A very old water filter may cause your water flow to drop by more than half.
  • Prevent bacteria buildup. Over time, the organic matter trapped in the filter membrane, coupled with the moisture in the filter, creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed and grow. As water flows through a bacteria-ridden filter, some of the bacteria may be carried away. You might get sick if you drink water from a very old filter.
  • Allow for continued filtration. An old, clogged water filter has less space on its surface to trap impurities as water flows through. Due to its decreased capacity, a filter may allow these contaminants to slip through with the water particles.
  • Prevent recontamination. If you leave an old filter for too long, it may start to degrade, forming holes in the filter media that allow potentially dangerous levels of contaminants back into your RV water supply. You can avoid this by changing the filter on time.

Related: How to Build a DIY RV Water Filter System

❔ How Long Do RV Water Filters Last? FAQ

When should I replace RV water filter?

You should replace an RV water filter every 3-4 months, or as directed by the manufacturer. Signs your RV water filter need replacing are reduced flow rate, poorer-tasting water, or dirt or cloudiness in the water.

Do you have to replace your RV water filter if you don’t use it?

Yes, you have to replace your RV water filter even if you go months without using it. As soon as the filter becomes saturated with water, the clock starts ticking until the end of its lifespan. Even if the filter doesn’t become clogged with contaminants, it’s still at risk of accumulating bacteria, so you shouldn’t use it in your RV for longer than recommended by the manufacturer.

Are RV water filters worth it?

Yes, RV water filters are worth it if you often visit campsites that have poor-quality drinking water and you want to improve the taste and safety of your water without having to resort to bottled water. The best RV water filter can reduce all the most common contaminants in an RV water supply, including heavy metals, fluoride, rust, and sediment.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

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