How to Clean a Well Water Filter (Easy Step-by-Step Guide)

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For many private well owners, a whole home well water filtration system is an essential component of their complete well system.

To keep a well water filter system in good working order, the unit will need to be cleaned occasionally.

In this guide, we’ve shared the step-by-step process to clean a water filter system for your well.

๐Ÿ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • To clean a well water filtration unit, shut off your water supply and release the pressure, then remove the filters from the housings and soak, scrub, rinse, & sanitize the housings before returning them to the unit.
  • Depending on the type of filter, you should either clean and reuse or replace the filter.
  • Cleaning a well water filter system is essential to maintain a good filtration speed, maintain excellent filtered water quality, and prevent a buildup of bacteria in the housings.

๐Ÿงผ How To Clean a Water Filter For Well Water: Step-By-Step Guide

Follow these steps to clean your well water filter, including the filter housings and cartridges:

Step 1: Shut Off Your Water Supply

Locate your whole home water supply valve and turn the valve to shut off the water to your filter system.

Turning off the main water supply

Step 2: Relieve Pressure

Relieve pressure from the pipes by switching on a faucet and allowing the water to drain. If your water filter system has a pressure release button, press the button to relieve pressure inside the unit.

Step 3: Remove The Housing & Filter

Unscrew the housing from the filter unit and dump the remaining water. Place the cartridge in a clean location.

Removing the cartridge from the filter housing and dumping water into the bucket

Step 4: Soak The Housing

Well water that’s high in sediment or hard minerals can leave deposits that are difficult to clean with a quick rinse. Soak the housing to lift the caked-on debris and make it much easier to remove.

Fill a tub with warm water with soap. Place the housing inside, leaving it to soak for 5-10 minutes. Sponge off the housing, then rinse carefully and leave it to dry.

Step 5 (For Some Sediment Filters): Hose & Scrub The Filter

Some sediment water filters can be cleaned to prolong their lifespans.

Run the filter cartridge under a powerful faucet sprayer or a garden hose to remove the sediment. Then scrub the filter with a soft brush to clean away any leftover debris.

Once you’ve finished, rinse the cartridge with cold water, then let the filter air dry.

You could also let the filter soak for 20 minutes in a commercial cleaning solution or diluted bleach in water to lift the debris.

Step 6: Replace The Filter

If the filter is past its best and you don’t want to risk cleaning it, simply replace it with a new cartridge.

Most well filters last 6-12 months before they need replacing. Check your user manual if you’re unsure.

Inserting the new filter cartridge into the housing

Step 7: Reinstall The Filter & Housing

Once the cleaned filter is dry (or you’ve swapped the filter out for a new one), slot the filter back into the housing.

๐Ÿ“Œ Make sure the o-rings are properly fitted and in good condition. Take this moment to replace the o-rings if necessary.

Screw the housing back onto the unit, using the included wrench to tighten it.

Step 8: Repeat The Process With Other Filters

If you have a multi-stage well water filter system, repeat the above steps for each individual filter housing.

Step 9: Switch On Your Water & Check For Leaks

Finally, slowly switch your water supply back on and open a nearby faucet to send water through the system. Check the unit for leaks.

A leaking filter system suggests that the o-rings are misplaced or worn, or the filter housings aren’t tightened enough.

If you notice a leak, switch the water back off and resolve the issue.

Otherwise, switch the water supply fully on.

Rubber o-rings in a whole house filter cartridge housing

Optional Step: Sanitize The System

If you’re concerned about bacteria in your well water contaminating the filtration unit, make sanitization the final stage of your cleaning process.

Remove all the filters from the housings, then add 1 cup of bleach diluted in tap water to each housing. Reattach the housings to the filter unit, then switch on your water supply and open a faucet to allow water to flow through the unit.

Switch the faucet off and leave the sanitizing solution inside the unit for up to 30 minutes. Then shut off the water and remove the filter housings. Drain the solution and rinse the housings thoroughly.

Reinstall the housings and open your water supply. Open several faucets around your home and run them for a few minutes to get rid of the bleach taste in your water.

๐Ÿ”Ž How do Well Water Filters Get Dirty?

No matter how many well water filters you use, or what types of filters you have, one thing is certain: the filters will eventually get dirty.

Well water is typically more sediment-heavy than city water. Sediment, like sand, dirt, rust, gravel, and dust, builds up in the filter media and housings over time, leading to clogging.

Well water also contains high concentrations of hard water minerals, namely calcium and magnesium. These minerals coat the insides of the filter system with a chalky white substance called limescale.

Finally, well water is more likely to contain bacteria and other pathogens because it isn’t disinfected (treated with chemicals to kill these impurities) before it reaches your home.

All these impurities, along with metals and minerals like iron and manganese, can clog up a well water filtration unit and make the filter housings dirty.

Dirty black well water filter

๐Ÿค” Why Should You Clean A Well Water Filter?

You know the importance of replacing the filters in your well system – but is cleaning really necessary?

Yes. It’s essential to clean a water filter for your well, especially since well water is more sediment and mineral-heavy, and more likely to breed bacteria and other pathogens, than disinfected municipal water.

Here are just a few reasons why you should clean the filter housings in your well water system:

To Prevent a Drop in Flow Rate

Dirty filter housings can reduce water pressure by slowing down the flow of water through the system. The most effective way to prevent this is simply to keep the housings clean.

Cleaning your housing alone isn’t enough to restore filtration speed if your water pressure has dropped.

However, ensuring both the housings are clean and the filters are replaced on time should prevent your flow rate from dipping below the norm.

To Prevent Bacteria Buildup

The warm, dirty environment inside a well water filtration system is the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, mold, and other nasties.

Changing your filters will prevent germs from multiplying inside the filter cartridges, but it won’t get rid of the bacteria in the filter housing.

Cleaning the filter cartridge housing will prevent a buildup of microorganisms that could make your water unsafe to drink.

Algae growth on water filter cartridges

To Maintain High-Quality Filtered Water

A clogged water filter cartridge or an unclean filter housing will eventually affect the quality of your tap water.

Even if you replace your filters frequently, the dirt and bacteria on the inside of an uncleaned housing could recontaminate the filter media instantly.

To ensure the water leaving your filter system is clean and tasty, clean the housings when you replace the filters.

To Ensure Easy Filter Changes

Over time, if you continue to replace your filter cartridges without cleaning the inside of the housings, the dirty housings could cause the cartridges to stick to the casings, making it difficult to remove them.

Make this quick maintenance task as easy as possible by cleaning the housings every time you replace the filters.

๐Ÿ“† How Often Should You Clean A Well Water Filter?

You should aim to clean the housings in your well water filter system every time you replace a filter cartridge.

Different water filters have different lifespans. In a standard whole house well water filter system, the water filters need replacing every 6-12 months – so you’ll clean the housings at least once a year.

Otherwise, if you notice low pressure or a change in water quality, you might need to clean your filter housings ahead of schedule.

๐Ÿšฐ Can You Clean Well Water Filter Cartridges?

We don’t usually recommend cleaning the cartridge water filters themselves. If the manufacturer instructs you to replace these filters, you should replace them.

Well water is more prone to microbiological contamination because it isn’t disinfected before it enters your home. If you try to clean the cartridge inside a well water filter system, you might extend the lifespan of the filter by a few weeks – but cleaning won’t usually eliminate the risk of bacterial buildup.

At best, cleaning is only a temporary solution, and it’s much safer to simply replace your water filters as advised in the user manual.

Cleaning a sediment filter

โ” Clean A Well Water Filter: FAQ

How often should a water filter be changed in a well?

Most whole home well water filters have a 6-12-month lifespan. Sediment water filters typically have the shortest lifespans of 6 months because they’re the first filter that water encounters, so they trap the biggest range of impurities (and contaminants of the biggest micron size). Later carbon and KDF filter stages last 9-12 months.

Can we clean sediment filter?

In some cases, you may be able to clean and reuse a sediment filter. However, we don’t recommend doing this for well water because of the risk of bacteria buildup in the media. The exception is if you have a spin-down sediment filter. This type of filter is designed to be cleaned out and reused multiple times, giving it a longer lifespan than the average cartridge sediment filter.

How do you deep clean a water filter?

You can deep clean a water filter by adding a diluted bleach solution to the filter housings, running water through the system, then letting the solution sit in the housings for up to 20 minutes. This should clean and sanitize the unit, removing dirt, harmful contaminants, and bacteria from the housings.

How can you remove limescale from a well water filter?

The best way to remove limescale from the inside of a well filter is with a commercial limescale removal product. Sediment filters can also be cleaned with vinegar, which is harsh enough to cut through tough limescale stains. However, you should only use vinegar to clean sediment filters – it could damage other filter types, like carbon filters and reverse osmosis membrane filters.

  • 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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