How Often to Change a Sediment Water Filter?

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All sediment whole house water filters have a lifespan. Once the end of this lifespan is reached, the filter can no longer remove contaminants as effectively as it initially did.

Here, we’ve shared what you need to know about how often to change a sediment filter – whether it’s a pre-filter in a large water filtration system or a standalone filter installed separately from other water treatment systems.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • You should replace a sediment whole house water filter every 3-12 months.
  • The exact lifespan of a sediment filter depends on the filter type and size, and your water usage and quality.
  • Spin-down sediment filters have a longer lifespan than cartridge-based filters.

📈 How Often Should I Change My Sediment Filter?

You should aim to replace a sediment water filter every 3-12 months.

The exact lifespan of the filter depends on several factors, discussed in more detail below.

Some sediment filters last for 2+ years.

Check your user manual or contact the manufacturer of your sediment water filter to find out how often you should replace your specific filter type.

Whole house sediment filter install

📊 Factors Affecting Sediment Filter Lifespan

There are a few factors that affect how long a sediment whole house water filter might last:

Sediment Filter Type

The sediment water filter type affects its lifespan.

Most sediment water filters, especially those found in whole house water filtration systems, are cartridge-based filters. That means they have a filter media with a specific pore size (usually around 5 microns) and they remove sediments by trapping the particles in this media.

Once the media is clogged, the filter is unable to effectively continue to remove contaminants, and the flow rate drops. At this point, the filter needs to be changed. The average lifespan of a cartridge-based whole house water filter is 3-6 months.

Spin-down sediment filters work differently. Rather than trapping contaminants in a media, these water filters use centrifugal force to capture sediment in a trapper. A spin-down water filter can be flushed periodically to remove the accumulated sediment.

Most spin-down filters have a very long lifespan, but the filter mesh typically needs replacing every 1-2 years.

Spin-down and cartridge sediment filter explained

Filter Size & Purpose

The surface area of a sediment whole house water filter also affects its lifespan.

The larger the filter size and surface area, the more space there is for contaminants to accumulate. Bigger sediment water filters with a larger surface area should last longer than smaller filters with reduced surface areas.

The filter size and design are often linked to its purpose. A sediment pre-filter for a whole house filtration system is typically smaller and more basic than a standalone sediment water filter, which is typically larger and provides a more thorough filtration process. The basic sediment pre-filter cartridges usually don’t last as long as dedicated sediment filters.

Taking measurements for whole house sediment water filter install

Your Water Usage

Your water usage affects how quickly the media in a sediment water filter becomes clogged, which, in turn, affects its filter life.

If you use more water than average, the filter media will become clogged at a faster rate because an increased volume of filtered water is needed.

On the other hand, if your daily water use is below average, you might get longer out of your sediment water filter because it’ll be clogged at a slower rate.

If your sediment pre-filter is used in a large, multi-stage whole house water filtration system, you’ll need to replace all the filters (including carbon filters, sub-micron post filter cartridges, etc) according to your water usage – not just the pre-filter.

Your Water Quality

The quality of your well water also affects the clogging rate of the filter media.

Well water has more sediment than city water because it comes from an underground aquifer, which contains sand, soil, and dirt.

Your water may contain a lot of sediment if your well supply is running low or the pump is positioned too close to the bottom of the aquifer. Your local geology may also mean that your water is naturally higher in sediment.

Your sediment water filtration system will become clogged at a faster rate if it’s treating water containing a large number of sediment particles.

tap score example report

One-Off Factors

There are a few one-off factors that could cause a sudden increase in sediment in your water supply, causing the sediment filter to become quickly clogged and shortening its lifespan significantly.

These factors include:

  • Recent well work – This could create an opportunity for sediments to contaminate the well, and can usually be remedied by flushing.
  • Weather – Such as drought or heavy rainfall causing an influx of contaminants in your water supply.
  • New pressure tank – Installing a new pressure tank could cause sediments to get into your plumbing, temporarily putting extra strain on your sediment filter.

📑 Why Is Replacing A Sediment Filter Important?

So, we know how often you should replace a sediment whole house water filter – but why is replacing the filter so important?

Offers Continued Protection For Your Appliances

Replacing your sediment filter on time means you’ll have constant access to sediment-free water.

When you stick to a regular sediment water filter replacement schedule, you’ll allow the sediment filter to offer continued protection to your pipes, plumbing, appliances, and other water treatment units, preventing damage, staining, and clogging.

If you don’t replace your sediment filters on time, you’ll end up with periods when your water contains sediment particles, which could damage your appliances and plumbing.

Filling a glass with tap water

Prevents Water Safety Issues

If you leave a sediment filter for too long before changing it, there’s a risk that bacteria, mold, and other harmful impurities could grow on the filter membrane.

Even if you’re luckily unharmed by drinking water from a moldy or bacteria-ridden filter, it’s still not nice to imagine.

Replacing the filter on time will ensure you’re not putting your health at risk with your sediment filtration solution.

🔎 How To Know When To Replace A Well Sediment Filter

There are a few signs that suggest a new sediment pre-filter is needed in your whole house filtration system.

Reduced Flow Rate

A dip in water pressure or reduced flow rate is the most obvious sign that a new water filter is needed.

Most sediment filters by trapping fine particles in a filter media. Once the media becomes clogged, there will be less room for water to flow through the pores, and water flow in your plumbing will slow.

If your water pressure noticeably dips, change your sediment water filter.

Change In Water Quality

A change in your water quality also indicates that you need a new filter.

If your water has taken on a bad taste or smells unpleasant, it could be due to dirt particles in your water supply, or even an accumulation of nasty impurities on the filter media.

If you have other filters aside from a sediment cartridge, check to see if any of these need replacing too.

Water Staining

A sediment water filter usually does a great job of trapping rust particles and dirt. Staining in your pipes and appliances is a sign that the filter is reaching the end of its lifespan.

You might also notice floating particles or rust or dirt in your water, which are usually removed by a working sediment pre-filter.

Dark brown stains in shower

Visible Fouling Of Filter Media

Finally, visible fouling of the filter media, including specs of mold or a brown tinge, tells you that the filter has become old and worn and a new, clean filter is needed.

Don’t wait until you see all these signs before you replace a sediment filter. Your water might look and taste fine, but bacteria could still be growing in your old filter media.

It’s best to set – and stick to – a sediment filter replacement schedule based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. That way, you’ll keep your water safe for consumption and sediment-free at all times.

❔ How Often To Change A Sediment Filter For Well: FAQ

Can you clean sediment filters?

It depends on the filter type. You can clean and flush a sediment water filter if it’s a spin-down filter. Spin-down filters are designed to be flushed regularly to extend their lifespans. However, most pleated filters, spun filters, and other cartridge-based filters are only intended for single use, so once the media becomes clogged, you can’t simply flush it to remove the contaminants and start again. Flushing the media could damage it.

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

If you don’t change the sediment filter in a well water filtration system, the filter material will become saturated with contaminants, significantly reducing water flow and affecting the filter’s ability to continue to remove sediments from your water supply. At worst, bacteria and mold could grow on the filter media, potentially contaminating your drinking water.

How do I know if my sediment filter needs to be replaced?

You’ll know that your sediment filter needs to be replaced if you’ve been using it for X amount of months (usually 3-6) and it has reached the end of its lifespan. If you can’t remember when you installed the filter, look for signs including reduced water flow and changes to your water quality, which tell you that a new filter is needed.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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