Well water filtration systems are highly effective defenses against some of the most common drinking water contaminants – but only when they’re properly maintained.
A well water filter can only last so long before the filtration media becomes clogged or loses its effectiveness, or the filter housing becomes dirty.
In this guide, we’ve shared all the most important well water filtration unit maintenance tasks, and given an overview of how often these tasks should be carried out.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- The essential maintenance tasks for a well water filtration system are cleaning the housing, replacing the filters, and conducting annual water tests.
- To reduce the maintenance requirements for your filter, consider installing a pre-filter that traps sediment, removes hardness minerals, or targets other contaminants that clog the filters.
- Additionally, make sure that the filter is installed in a suitable location that won’t encourage the buildup of microorganisms.
Table of Contents
🧰 Essential Maintenance Tasks For Well Water Filters
There are a few essential maintenance tasks that apply to the majority of well water filters:
- Cleaning the filter housing
- Replacing each separate filter cartridge when it reaches the end of its lifespan
- Testing your well water to determine that the filtered water system continues to work as it should
Let’s look at these tasks in a bit more detail.
📌 Note: Your filtration system might require its own specific cleaning and maintenance tasks that differ from the general processes outlined below. Check your user manual or contact the manufacturer if you’re unsure.
Maintenance Task #1: Cleaning the Filter Housing
Filter housings are the components that hold the filter cartridges inside the system. In most cases, each filter cartridge has its own separate housing.
Over time, dirt, scale, and other impurities from your well water supply build up on the inside of the filter housing. The damp environment inside the housing also promotes the growth of algae, mold, or harmful bacteria.
You can prevent the accumulation of contaminants inside the filter housing by cleaning the housing about once a year.
Learn more about how to clean a well water filter properly in our complete guide.
How to Clean the Filter Housing
To clean the filter housing, follow these steps:
- Shut off your water supply
- Take apart the treatment system
- Place the filter cartridges in a safe location
- Fill a bowl with warm, soapy water and submerge the filter housing
- Leave the filter housing for 5 minutes to soak, then use a soft sponge to clean the inside
- Remove the housing from the water, rinse, and let it air-dry
- Put the system back together
Maintenance Task #2: Replacing The Filters
Proper maintenance of a filtration system always involves replacing the filters or filter media at some point.
All filters, from sediment to carbon filters, become more and more clogged with contaminants over time. Eventually, the filters in the water treatment system become too clogged to work effectively, and need to be replaced.
How to Replace the Filters
Whole home filters, under-sink water filters, reverse osmosis systems, and most other cartridge-based water systems require the same process for replacing the filters:
- Shut off your water supply
- Open your faucets to allow water to drain from the system
- If the filter has a bypass valve, shut it off
- Press the pressure release button to release the pressure from inside the filters
- Remove the filter housing and dispose of the old filter cartridge
- Install the new filter (and new 0-rings if necessary)
- Re-attach the filter housing
- Turn on your water supply and open the bypass valve
Maintenance Task #3: Testing Your Water
Finally, regular testing is a great way to check that your water filter system is working as it should. We recommend using a certified laboratory test for the most accurate results.
You probably already have a log of previous test results for your well water. You can either use your most recent test results or test your water again, before your water filtration unit, to get the most current insight into what it contains when it’s untreated.
Then, test your treated water downstream of the water filtration system. You should see that the contaminants the system is designed to remove are greatly reduced.
If they are, the system is working. If not, you might need to replace the filters or upgrade the system.
Make sure to test your water for contaminants that we’re only now learning the dangers of, like PFAS. According to the National Ground Water Association, you should test for PFAS in your well water, and take necessary treatment steps, if you haven’t already done so.
📖 How to Reduce Well Water Filter Maintenance Requirements
Follow these three steps to reduce your well filter’s maintenance requirements.
Install a Pre-Filter Stage
It’s common for a well water supply to contain impurities that aren’t found in such high amounts in city water, including hardness minerals, sediment, and iron.
These minerals will cause your filters to clog at a faster rate, making maintenance a more frequent requirement.
To counter this problem, install a suitable pre-filter stage upstream of your well filtration system:
- To treat iron, install an air injection oxidation filter, which oxidizes iron and filters it out of water
- To remove hardness minerals, install a water softener that uses the water softening process
- To reduce sediment, install a dedicated sediment filter, such as a spin-down sediment filter
📌 Installing some kind of pre-treatment is especially important if you use a reverse osmosis system to treat your well water, since a high sediment and mineral content will clog the reverse osmosis membrane as water flows through the system, and affect its ability to reduce total dissolved solids.
Ensure the Filter Is Installed in a Suitable Location
The location of the filtration unit also affects its maintenance requirements – so your aim is to install the filter in the most suitable location for minimal maintenance.
Don’t install the system in an area that’s exposed to sunlight, humidity, or heat. These factors all increase the likelihood of bacteria and mold growth.
If you have to install the system outside, build a unit around the filters to protect them from the elements. Ideally, the temperature inside the box shouldn’t fall below 50 °F. Insulate the box if necessary to prevent the filters from freezing.
Shock Chlorinate Your Well
Shock chlorinating your well is only necessary if you have a reason to do so (such as if you detect microbiological contamination on a water test), or if 3-5 years have passed since you last carried out shock chlorination.
You shock chlorinate a well by adding a disinfectant, like chlorine, to your well water, and letting it flush through your pipes to clean your entire plumbing system. This is a useful way to reduce the likelihood of microbiological contamination of your well filter system.
❔ Well Water Filtration System Maintenance: FAQs
Do water filtration systems need maintenance?
Yes. All water filter systems – including well water filter systems – need to be maintained. Even systems that have a long-lasting media, rather than filter cartridges, need regular cleaning and occasional media replacements.
How do you maintain a water filtration system?
Different types of filtration systems have different maintenance requirements. Most water filter systems have several filter cartridges that need to be replaced regularly. These systems also need to be cleaned occasionally to prevent mold, algae, and sediment buildup in the filter housing.
Related: Is it a good idea to rent a well water filter?
How often should well water filters be changed?
You should change the filters in your well water filtration system approximately once every 6-12 months . Check your user manual or search for your water filter online if you’re unsure how long the filters are designed to last.
How do you flush a water filtration system?
You flush a water filtration system by either holding the filters under running water for about 5 minutes, or submerging the filters in water for a similar time period. Your user manual should tell you exactly how to flush your filters before use.
How can you maintain a well water filtration system before vacation?
To maintain a well filtration system before a vacation, drain the filters completely (as long as none of your appliances need water while you’re away). To reduce the likelihood of freezing over the winter, turn on one of your faucets to a slow drip.
What happens if you don’t replace water filter?
If you don’t replace the water filters in your whole home or under-sink filtration system, the filter media will end up becoming so clogged that water can’t pass through as normal. As a result, you’ll probably notice a decreased flow rate or low water pressure. The filter media may also accumulate bacteria or mold, or become so degraded over time that holes form in the cartridge, allowing trapped contaminants to re-contaminate your water.