Water treatment isn’t only about installing a water filter system. It’s also about making sure that the filter cartridges you’ve installed are producing high quality water at every moment in time.

Every type and brand of water filter on the market requires periodic maintenance. Filter cartridges are the single most important element in a water filter system since they are doing the hard work of purifying your water.

Filter cartridges incorporate the filter material responsible for purifying your tap water. Ultimately, the filter material is eliminating or reducing harmful contaminants, and the resulting filtered water becomes safe to drink and use.

To make sure that your water filter system is operating at peak performance, you must follow the maintenance requirements laid down by the manufacturer.

Replacing filter cartridges is the safest and easiest way to make sure your water filter system is doing its job as intended.

Yet, some users wonder whether they can clean filters and prolong their service life. In this article, we bring you answers to the most frequently asked questions about cartridge maintenance.

What is Filter Maintenance?

The maintenance of water filters means removing and disposing of old filters and placing new filters in their place.

With some filter systems, maintenance also involves the sanitisation of filter housings and other elements that may get into contact with filtered water.

Maintenance is something that should be done periodically. Unfortunately, it may be easy to forget to service your filter at the required intervals, especially if you have a multi-stage filter system.

An easy way to make sure you’re on track with filter replacement is to set a filter replacement or maintenance reminder.

Keep in mind that replacing cartridges is just as important as installing the right kind of water filter system.

To make sure that your water is being purified, never skip a filter replacement. Delaying or skipping filter maintenance puts the water purifying process at risk.

By being indifferent to filter maintenance, you might end up undermining the entire water purification process and put your health at risk.

Just like every other product on the market, each type of filter media has its own service life. And there’s a very good reason for that.

After prolonged use and constant contact with water contaminants, the filter material that’s in cartridges gets saturated with contaminants, where eventually bacteria will start to develop.

Besides bacteria, fungi can also develop and wash back into your drinking water, causing health problems.

Apart from bacteria and fungi ending up in your drinking water, it’s also important to remember that an old filter that operates with saturated filter material can no longer absorb contaminants, letting them pass into the water unfiltered.

Therefore, whatever you do, never use cartridges beyond their service life. Change the cartridges with new ones every time at the required intervals.


Is it Ok to Clean Water Filter Cartridges?

Some might think that cartridges can be cleaned by boiling them or rinsing them with water, which is false.

Generally, you should never clean the cartridges in your water filter. Trying to clean your cartridges instead of replacing them can have serious consequences.

We say generally, because there are a few exceptions. However, very few filters are cleanable or reusable.

Therefore, unless the manufacturer expressly states that the filters you’ve bought are cleanable/reusable, you should never attempt to clean filters instead of replacing them with new ones.


The Dangers of Skipping Filter Replacement

As we mentioned above, replacing cartridges on time is a must if you don’t want to put the process of water treatment at risk.

Let’s see the possible dangers of skipping filter maintenance:

  • Drinking contaminated water and thinking it’s safe. Because the filter material in an overused cartridge can no longer hold any contaminants, these may leach you’re your drinking water along with any bacteria and fungi that might develop in them if they’re not replaced.
  • Water high in sediments can cause clogging issues. For example, in the case of sediment filters, if too many sediments accumulate on the surface of the filter, water pressure may suddenly drop.
  • Expensive cartridges in multi-stage filter systems can become damaged. For example, if pre-filters are not replaced in reverse osmosis filters, the reverse osmosis membrane can get damaged by chemicals and sediments from your water.

Although there are cleanable filter cartridges, never reuse filters that aren’t marked specifically by the manufacturer company as cleanable filters. After the service life has passed, remove old filters immediately and replace them with new ones.

Make sure that you don’t store old cartridges close to new ones as there’s a risk of mistaking old filters for new ones. Also, be careful because there is a risk of contaminating new filter cartridges with spilled filter material.

Cartridges are easy to replace and can be replaced by anyone, especially quick-change filters that are designed as a fuss-free alternative to cartridges that need to be removed from their filter housings.

Quick-change cartridges are replaced in full and there’s no contact with the used filter material, which makes for a clean and easy filter changeover.


Are There Reusable Cartridges?

There are some cartridges that are cleanable and reusable. For example, ceramic filter cartridges in gravity water filters can be cleaned under running water in order to prolong their service life.

These can be reused for a limited number of times, and it is essential to follow the guidelines laid down in the user manual that was drawn up by the manufacturer.

In case you choose a reusable ceramic cartridge, handle them very carefully. Don’t drop them, because they can suffer invisible cracks. These small internal cracks can lead to malfunctioning issues that can affect the entire filtration process.


3 Warning Signs that it’s Time to Replace the Cartridges in Your Filter

It’s important to remember that guidelines related to service life aren’t set in stone. While you shouldn’t use cartridges beyond their service life because of bacterial build-up and fungi, you also shouldn’t ignore signs that may indicate that the service life of your filter has come to an end sooner than expected.

  1. Strange tasting water: As soon as the filter material becomes saturated, and it is no longer capable to absorb contaminants, you may notice weird tastes in your drinking water. This is a strong signal that it’s time to switch to new cartridges even if their recommended service life hasn’t passed yet.
  2. Strange odour: If your water suddenly smells bad, it’s time to consider carrying out filter maintenance ahead of schedule. Both strange taste and bad odour issues can be caused by other problems as well and you may need to get your water tested if replacing filters hasn’t solved the issue.
  3. Drop in flow rate: Flow rate drop is usually caused by sediments trapped in the filter material and it signals that it’s high time to replace your filter cartridges.  So, if you detect that the flow rate of your water has dropped, take it as a clear sign that you should change your cartridges.


How to Store New Filter Cartridges?

To stay on top of unexpected events, it’s best to store an extra set of replacement filters at home. Make sure that you store cartridges in a dry, cool place, out of direct sunlight.

Always store filters in their original packaging, which should stay unopened until you’re installing the new cartridges.

Manufacturer companies provide user manuals and they inform you about the intervals at which you will need to replace the cartridges of your water treatment system.

However, in certain cases, changes in the quality of your water and unexpected contamination issues (e.g. contamination that occurs at the source of municipal water treatment or while water is in transit to your home) can lead to more frequent filter replacements.

If you find that you’re replacing cartridges more often than expected, you may need to find a different cartridge with a higher contaminant removal rate or a different micron rating.

Don’t forget to monitor the quality of your water. Changes in taste, smell and clarity can mean that it’s time to carry out a filter maintenance sooner.

Pay attention to the warning signs we discussed and make a note of the next replacement to make sure you’re drinking contaminant-free water and that your water filter system is operating at peak performance.


Final Thoughts

To sum up everything we discussed, it is essential to understand that water filter systems require maintenance in order to function well.

All that’s required from you is to carry out the necessary maintenance tasks on time, monitor your water quality, and replace the filter cartridges periodically or as needed.

For the most part, cartridges are not cleanable nor reusable, unless they’re marked differently by the manufacturer. Therefore, replace regular filters with new ones and don’t attempt to clean them.

Strange odours, weird tastes and a low flow rate can be signs that your filters have become saturated and they require replacement.

If you follow the exact steps provided by the manufacturer, you shouldn’t encounter any unpleasant issues.