While whole-house water filters last longer than point-of-use filters, the filters will eventually need to be changed. To ensure that your family always has access to clean, safe drinking water, you must maintain a regular schedule of whole-house water filter replacements. But how often to change a whole house water filter?
In this article, we’ll go through all the variables affecting how often you need to change your whole-house water filter.
How Often to Change A Whole House Water Filter
The replacement schedule for a whole house water filter depends on several factors. Generally, a whole house water filter needs to be changed every 6 – 12 months. The exact replacement frequency will depend on water use, water quality, and type of filter. We discuss these variables in more detail below.
One helpful piece of advice is to review the directions provided by the manufacturer to determine how frequently it should be changed. You can make a note on your calendar or smartphone to ensure you don’t forget about your replacement filters. Some brands even offer auto-ship functionality where the filters are automatically shipped to you on a fixed schedule, and usually at a discount!
Factors That Affect How Long A Whole House Filter Lasts
The lifespan of whole-house filters can be affected by a variety of factors. Let’s go into more detail about each one that follows.
If you live in an area where the water quality is good and there is not a lot of contamination or sediment, you can go longer between filter replacements. If you live on a well where the water is dense in magnesium, dirt, or iron, you will need to replace the filters more frequently. In that case it’s best to have a filter designed for well water. That’s why I always recommend testing your water to not only know what’s in it but how it impacts your filter replacement schedule.
The longevity of your filter is determined by its type. Individual sediment filter cartridges, for example, can require replacement every 2 – 3 months. A carbon block filter is able to last approximately 12 months. A tank-based system with filtration media can last up to 10 years.
The more water your household consumes, the more quickly your filter will become congested and need to be replaced. Filters are typically rated for the number of gallons they can effectively treat. If your household is above-average in water usage, it will go through filters faster.
A smaller micron-rated sediment filter will need replacement more frequently. A filter with a pore size of 1 micron or smaller can remove many microorganisms. Whereas 75 – 100 micron ratings are typically for whole-house solutions and sediment for well water.
It’s a fact that not all filters are created equal. When it comes to removing contaminants, some are more effective than others. For example, water filters that carry the NSF certification are tested and manufactured to the highest standards possible.
The way you maintain your system is a significant factor in its longevity. Your whole-house water filter will last longer and perform better if you regularly maintain it. Neglecting regular filter maintenance can lead to hazardous water conditions and costly repairs.
Pro Tip: Many sediment filters have the ability to wash and reuse the filter so its filter life is much longer. When shopping for a sediment filter, see if you are able to rinse it several times before replacing it.
What Filters Need To Be Replaced?
Whole house water filters come in various types, each designed to remove a specific impurity from the water supply. Because of this, you must be familiar with the kind of filter you have to replace at set intervals.
- Sediment Pre-Filter: A sediment pre-filter needs to be Replaced every 3 to 9 months. The pre-filter, which sits between the main water shut-off valve and the water filtration system, is the first line of defense as unfiltered water enters the home. The pre-filter is a filter in the form of a cartridge, and it may capture particles as small as five microns. A pre-filter to catch sediment is standard in all setups.
- Activated Carbon Filters: Activated carbon filters need to be replaced every 6 – 12 months. These filters are especially good at absorbing chlorine from water treatment plants and removing bad tastes and odors. A sour, acidic, or chemical odor indicates that your carbon filter is fouled and needs to be replaced.
- KDF Filters: KDF filter media needs to be changed every 6 to 12 months. If the water in your area has a high sediment content or turbidity, a sediment pre-filter may be an option to extend the life of your KDF filter and prevent fouling.
- Filtration Tanks: Filtration tanks are relatively low maintenance and the media needs to be changed every 5 – 10 years, or after 600,000 –1,000,000 gallons of water has been processed through them.
- Reverse Osmosis Whole House Filter: A reverse osmosis membrane needs to be replaced every 12 months. This is done so that the entire reverse osmosis system functions efficiently. If this is not done, the semipermeable membrane will not remove contaminants from your drinking water.
- Ion Exchange Whole House Water Filters: Ion exchange filters need to be changed every 1 – 3 years. Ion exchange water filters have the potential to be efficient and long-lasting, and they can soften water while also removing a wide range of contaminants from the water supply.
- UV Purification Filter: UV lamps need to be replaced once a year or as needed. The ultraviolet (UV) filter is an artificial light source that destroys nearly one hundred percent of viruses and bacteria, including E. coli, giardia, and cryptosporidium, in water.
The caveat to the average filter replacement cycle depends on your water quality and water usage. Make sure to consult your filter’s specific user manual to know the replacement schedule and how these variables can impact it.
How Do I Know When My Whole House Water Filter Needs To Be Replaced
Since filter replacement cycles can very from house to house, here are some signs it’s time to replace your whole home filter:
- Weak water pressure in the shower, sink, or shower
- The water filter is no longer white, and has a dark brown or black color
- There are unpleasant odors in the water
- Unpleasant tasting water
- If you test your water and find contaminants are not being removed
What Happens If You Don’t Replace Your Whole House Filter?
These filters will inevitably become clogged with debris as time passes. If you do not replace your whole house filter you may notice mold developing on the filter. This can have serious health consequences, especially in children. You may also notice a decrease in efficiency throughout your hoes plumbing which will increase your utility bills.
Filters become increasingly ineffective the longer they go without being changed. After all, filters remove impurities from water by removing particles as small as a few microns and chemicals as small as a few parts per billion.
Benefits of Replacing a Whole House Filter Regularly
Better quality water can be obtained by changing the filter used for the entire house. Many harmful contaminants, such as chemicals, heavy metals, VOCs, can be eliminated from drinking water by installing and maintaining a whole-house filtration system.
Protect Your Appliances
A high-performing whole house water filter will block contaminants from getting into your home’s appliances. For example, eliminating dirt and debris from entering your water heater can save thousands in maintenance and repairs.
Enhanced Water Flavor
Better-tasting water is one benefit you should experience after regularly replacing your whole-house water filter. This is because chlorine and other contaminants in the water are best removed while the filter media is still new. Getting rid of the chlorine in your water supply can improve its flavor significantly.
Can I Change My Whole House Filter Myself?
Assuming you have the right tools, swapping out a whole house filter can absolutely be a DIY task. In many cases, changing a cartridge whole home filter can take as little as 5 minutes. Changing a tank-based whole house filter is more involved, as that requires replacing the filter media. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure that your filter system and plumbing remain intact.
Where Is the Whole Home Water Filter Located?
A whole house water filter should be installed close to the main water line of the home because they are a point of entry system. They are typically found in the basement or, if there isn’t one, in a utility closet or similar location on the home’s exterior.