UV Lamp Replacement: How to Change a UV Filter Bulb

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UV water purifiers are affordable, low-maintenance water treatment systems that target a whole host of waterborne pathogens. Bacteria, protozoans, and viruses are no match for a whole-house UV system.

A UV lamp is only effective for a certain period of time. Once this period has passed, the lamp will fail to purify your water, and you’ll need to buy a replacement lamp.

In this guide, we’ll be sharing everything you need to know about replacing a UV light bulb, including the average lifespan of a UV lamp, the step-by-step process of replacing the bulb and the quartz sleeve, and how to know when to replace the bulb.

📖 How to Replace a UV Lamp: Step by Step

Your user manual will explain the specific steps involved in replacing your UV bulb, so this should be your first port of call. However, the general process for replacing UV lamps tends to be the same for all systems.

To make a UV lamp replacement, follow these steps:

Step 1: Gather your Tools and Equipment

Luckily, replacing UV bulbs is far from a big job, so you don’t need much equipment. Before you get started, make sure you have:

  • Your new UV lamp
  • O-rings
  • Latex gloves (if you prefer)
  • A cloth and vinegar for cleaning

Step 2: Turn Off your Water Supply and Unplug the UV System

Before you do anything, you need to make sure it’s safe to replace your UV light. Shut off your water supply to prevent leaking during the lamp change. If your lamp is installed at your water’s point of entry, shut off the water supplying your entire home.

UV lamps are dangerous to touch or look directly at when they’re switched on. It’s essential to switch off and unplug your lamp plug before you remove the lamp from the sleeve. An alarm may sound to let you know that you’ve unplugged the system.

Note: Many UV systems are connected to a whole-house water filter. We recommend pressing the pressure release button on your water filter system to prevent a buildup of pressure in the cartridges.

Shut off main water supply

Step 3: Allow the System to Cool

UV lamps get hot while they’re in use. After you’ve unplugged the system, wait for at least 10 minutes to give the light time to cool before you touch it.

Step 4: Remove the Safety Cap and Lamp Plug

At the top of the UV system, you should see a safety cap or a protective cover. Carefully remove this cap by pushing the tabs in. Make sure you don’t disconnect the wires.

Once you’ve done this, you can remove the lamp plug. Again, make sure you don’t disconnect the strain relief wires.

Step 5: Remove the Lamp Sleeve and Lamp

For this next step, you’ll need to wear your latex gloves if you have them. These will protect your skin from the oils inside the lamp when you remove the sleeve.

Slide the lamp sleeve and sleeve bolt out of the UV chamber. Hold the sleeve bolt while you unscrew the old lamp. Set the lamp aside to sensibly dispose of later (like fluorescent light bulbs, UV bulbs are recyclable).

Uv lamp & sleeve diagram

Step 6: Clean or Replace the Sleeve

Depending on the age of the quartz sleeve, you should either clean it or replace it.

If you’ve only owned the sleeve for one year, you’ll just need to clean it with a cloth soaked in mild acid, like vinegar. Rinse the sleeve with water, then allow it to fully dry before moving on to the next step.

If you’ve owned the sleeve for two years, you’ll need to replace it with a brand new sleeve.

Step 7: Install the New Lamp

After cleaning or replacing the sleeve, replace the existing o-rings with new o-rings, and tighten the sleeve bolt. Carefully slide the new bulb into the sleeve and tighten it up. Don’t overtighten, as this could break the sleeve.

Replacing the uv lamp

Step 8: Install the Lamp Plug

Rotate the ring clamp to align connections in the system, then re-install the plug and put the safety cap back in place.

Step 9: Switch on the System

Plug the system back into a power outlet and switch on the water supply to your home. Check around the system for leaks.

📆 How Often Should You Replace the UV Lamp?

Most UV bulbs should be replaced on a yearly basis to maintain their long-term effectiveness. The average lifespan of UV lamps is 9,000 hours.

Ultraviolet lamps don’t ever burn out in the way that regular light bulbs do. Instead, they solarize, meaning that their UV rays gradually lose intensity over time. That’s why it’s important to buy a replacement light according to your manufacturer’s guidelines.

Don’t rely on what your lamp looks like when it comes to making a replacement. For one thing, you should never directly look at ultraviolet lamps, as the light can damage your eyesight. For second, a UV lamp might still be shining after 12 months of use, but that’s not a sign that it’s effective enough to carry on for a few months.

How to Know When a New Lamp is Needed

The best way to know when a new light is needed is to make a note 12 months in your calendar when you first install the UV system. That way, you can simply change the light according to your own instructions.

Some lamps have a controller or ballast, which gives a visual or audible cue, like a green light or an alarm, that lets you know when the old lamp needs replacing. This ballast follows a 365-day countdown.

Uv lamp controller

🔂 How Often Should You Replace the UV Quartz Sleeve?

Don’t let the UV quartz sleeve become a second priority. As the UV sleeve needs to be in perfect condition for the ultraviolet light to penetrate its surface and pass into the water, the sleeve is just as important as the UV bulb itself.

A well-made UV quartz sleeve will last for up to two years with regular cleaning. Once these two years have passed, the sleeve will likely be too degraded to effectively allow UV-C rays to pass through, and a new sleeve will be needed.

A word of advice: be very careful when replacing the sleeve. UV sleeves are made from glass, and one wrong move will shatter the sleeve and render it useless.


  • 4 Best UV Water Treatment Systems of 2024

🧠 How to Replace a UV Lamp FAQs

Why Should You Replace an Ultraviolet Lamp?

The UV disinfection procedure can only continue to be effective if a working lamp is used. You should change the lamp frequently to keep the UV system working as effectively as possible.

How long do UV lamps last?

UV lamps last for around 9,000-10,000 hours. This equates to about 375 days.

Can I extend the lifespan of my UV lamp if I switch it off overnight?

No. In fact, switching your UV lamp off overnight has no effect on the lamp’s lifespan, and will probably only wear out the controller. It’s not recommended that you switch your lamp off between uses.

How often should a UV lamp be replaced?

A UV lamp should be replaced approximately once a year. Check your user manual for product-specific information on your UV lamp’s lifespan.

Do UV light bulbs wear out?

Yes. UV light bulbs made with mercury eventually wear out. From the moment the UV bulb is put into use, the mercury powering the bulb begins to dissipate. Eventually, the mercury will dissipate entirely, and the bulb will have nothing left to power it.

How many gallons of water does a UV light treat?

This is a difficult question to answer because there is no specific answer. UV lamps have a set lifespan of around 9,000 hours, regardless of how much water they treat. That means that a family with a single bathroom that uses a lower-than-average amount of water will need to replace their UV lamp just as frequently as a family with five bathrooms and a higher-than-average water usage.

  • 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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