How to Clean a Whole House Water Filter

How to Clean a Whole House Water Filter

There are different whole house water filter systems that people use to clean and filter the water in their homes. They do require maintenance and cleaning from time to time.

Because the filter is removing elements and other contaminants from your water before it enters the house, your filter will grow dirty and can be clogged with items that have been filtered. For this reason, you will need to clean it.

What Is a Whole House Water Filter?

A whole house water filter is a filter that is installed where your main water line enters your house. It actually filters the water that goes to all of your appliances and faucets, and it will free your water of various contaminants.

There are different types of whole house water filters, and each one filters different contaminants. What you need is based on your water source, and you should have your water tested to determine the best system for your home.

Carbon-Based Whole House Water Filter

This type of filter system is the most affordable, and it uses a three-stage filter system:

  • Prefilter removes rust, sediment, and large contaminants
  • Blend of copper and zinc to remove chlorine, lead, mercury, nickel and dissolved metals
  • Carbon-activated carbon filter to remove dangerous organic compounds

This type of filter usually lasts 300,000 gallons before it needs to be replaced, and the cleaning process requires a process called carbon bed replacement.

Reverse Osmosis

This is an effective filter system for removing contaminants. These systems are expensive to buy and to maintain, but they are worthwhile. The largest benefit is that it is the only filter you need to remove contaminants from your water.

Next Generation Technology

A third type of whole house water filter is a Next Generation technology filter. These systems work better than carbon filters, and they are on par with reverse osmosis systems, but they are more affordable. They do not waste water, nor do they remove beneficial minerals in the water.


Why Do People Use Whole House Filters?

A whole house filter treats water to remove dangerous chemicals, molecular compounds, organic material, and other items from your water before it enters your home. If you don’t filter your water, there are hazards in addition to drinking water that is contaminated.

For example, certain chemicals that are in the water can become airborne when heated in the shower, bath, washing machine, or dishwasher. It can be dangerous to inhale these airborne chemicals.

When people install a whole house water filter, they will have cleaner, healthier water for drinking, as well as cooking, showering, bathing, doing laundry, and washing dishes.

Shower Filters from

How to Clean a Whole House Carbon Water Filter

A whole house carbon water filter uses carbon to treat the water. You need to turn off the water supply first. There are two parts to cleaning this filter. You will want to clean the sediment prefilter. It is easy to see when it is time because the filter is round and white.

When it needs to be cleaned, you will see dirt and debris in it when it gets dirty. One option is to replace it, but depending on what contaminants are in your water, this may not be cost effective.

You can also clean your prefilter. You will buy oxalic acid, and mix 62.5 grams into a full gallon of water. Turn off the water, and isolate your filter. Soak your filter in this solution. This will clean the filter.

Then, you should empty the mineral bed. You can clean the entire unit with water and bleach. Then, you need to replace the carbon bed.

How to Clean a Reverse Osmosis Whole House Filter

You will also need to clean your reverse osmosis whole house water filter from time to time. First, turn off the water supply to the unit. You then need to open the reverse osmosis faucet to relieve any pressure and drain it.

Next, you will remove the prefilter and the post filter. They can be cleaned with the oxalic acid solution listed above. You can set them aside. You need to clean the permeable membrane next.

This is the most important step because the semipermeable membrane is the actual filter that is keeping the contaminants out of your water. You can follow these steps:

  • Choose a cleaning solution that is appropriate for the contaminants that you have in your location
  • Make sure that the cleaning solution is recommended for your system
  • Force a low pressure water flow through the system to remove contaminants on the surface of the membrane
  • Add the cleaning solution to the pressure vessels that hold the membrane
  • Flush the water out
  • Shut the pump off
  • Allow the cleaning solution to soak through the semipermeable membrane for an hour
  • Drain the fluid
  • Rinse the system with a low pressure flush
  • Replace the prefilter and the post filter
  • Close the system up

General Filter Cleaning Process

When you are cleaning your whole house filter, the primary goal is to remove the dirt, debris, and contaminants that have accumulated on it.

When a filter gets dirty, it doesn’t do as effective of a job, and your water pressure can decrease. For most filters, you will start by turning off the water supply. Then, follow these steps for how to clean a whole house water filter:

  • If your system requires it, depressurize it.
  • Remove the filter. It will most likely be held in clear housing, and you will need a special wrench to remove it.
  • Place a bucket underneath it to catch any spills.
  • Some filters have plastic netting to keep the paper in the filter stable. Remove the plastic netting.
  • Use a hose to remove large debris and grime. Spray down all sides of the filter.
  • Shake the filter dry, and place it back in its housing.
  • Mix 62.5 grams of oxalic acid with one gallon of water.
  • Thoroughly soak the filter in this solution until it is clean.
  • Rinse the filter with water.
  • Add 1/2 ounce of bleach to small cup and fill the rest with water.
  • Pour it into the housing to remove bacteria.
  • Insert the filter back into the housing and center it.
  • Turn the water back on.

Why Should You Clean Your Whole House Water Filter?

You should clean your whole house water filter for several reasons. First of all, you have to clean it or replace it periodically. The filter works by filtering the contaminants, dirt, and debris from your water before it enters your home. Over time, it will build up, and the system will work less efficiently.

If you don’t clean your whole house water filter, you will start to lose water pressure because the debris will slow the water’s ability to flow through the filter into your house. This will inhibit your ability to do your laundry, wash dishes, and shower.

Cleaning your whole house water filter is much more affordable than replacing it every time it gets dirty. If you can’t clean it, you will have to replace it. No matter what kind of whole house water filter you have, it has to be cleaned and maintained so that the system will work.

Your sediment prefilter needs to be cleaned or replaced every three to six months, depending on how much debris accumulates. This filter is the first line of defense against contaminants, and it will get very dirty. If you don’t clean it, it can actually become so clogged that water is unable to pass through it.

The post filter removes microscopic particles from the water after it moves into the system. You follow the same process to clean this filter, but it only needs to be done every nine to twelve months.

You might want to consider having one replacement of each filter in your possession in case you are unable to clean the filter, or in case you damage the filter in the process of cleaning it. You never want to go without water, and you can damage your system by running it without a filter. It is a good idea to keep an extra filter on hand in case of an emergency.

Is a Whole House Water Filter Worth it?

Most of the time, it is. If you have a well, you need to have a whole house filter system. Well water without any filter can carry all kinds of chemicals, pesticides, minerals, and other items that are bad for you and your family. There are different types of systems that you can choose from, and they vary in price and function.

Whatever system you have, your filters will need to be cleaned or replaced as outlined above. It may seem overwhelming to go into the system to clean it yourself, but once you try it, you will find that it is not a complicated process.

Cleaning your whole house filter is more affordable than replacing it, but you will eventually need to replace it. For this reason, have a replacement on hand so that you are prepared when the time comes.

Jon Agarwal

Jon Agarwal works as an environmental consultant focused on water resources, and he volunteers his time for non-profit organizations. He lives in the heart of Melbourne with his beautiful wife, two sons, and three Persian cats. He particularly enjoys working part-time as it leaves him the time to work on his own writing and share his knowledge. Visit our About page to learn about the contributors of Healthy Buddys.

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