Whole House Water Filter
Whole House Water Filter Installation
While revising much of the plumbing throughout the cabin, I figured it was a good time to add a whole house water filter. Our well water is very high quality, but like most well water, contains some sediment and sand.
Not only will the water filter remove most of this sediment and improve the quality of the water at the tap, it will protect many of the devices in the plumbing chain, including the hot water heater, the water softener, and all the fixtures and valves in the system. Whole house water filter systems also serve as an excellent pre-filter for reverse osmosis drinking water filter systems and can extend the life of the reverse osmosis sytem.
Read on to see my installation of a whole house well water sediment filter inline on our 1″ house water main in the cabin.
How to Install a Whole House Water Filter – Preparation
Preparation and Materials
- Level: Intermediate
- Time: Hours
- Cost: $100 – $200
Project Big Picture
- Plan placement.
- Cut plumbing.
- Fit new plumbing.
- Install unit.
- Check for leaks.
- Replace filter periodically
Whole House Water Filter – Materials and Cost
|Item||What I used|
|Whole House Water Filter|
|Water Filter Mounting Bracket|
|Solder / Flux|
|Teflon Pipe Tape|
Whole House Water Filter Install – Tools and Supplies
- Pipe wrenches
- Crescent wrenches
- Cutting tool for existing and new plumbing (pipe cutter, hacksaw, etc)
- Supplies and materials to connect plumbing (solder supplies, glue for plastic, connection system for PEX, etc)
- Drill – used to mount filter unit and plumbing mounts
How to Install a Whole House Water Filter – Step by Step
- Locate cold water main of the plumbing system.
If you have city water, the cold water main is typically be the pipe with the water meter attached that emerges from the basement floor. If you have well water, this will be the supply line that comes from your well. With well systems, there will often be a reservoir & pressure tank attached immediately following the well supply line.
Many well systems also have a “Well Tee” manifold to allow for multiple attachments (well tank, pressure gauge, drain valve, supply line, etc) just after the well supply line. If your system has a well Tee, plan placement just down stream from fitting if possible.
After locating the cold water main, find the main shut off valve and close valve. If you have a ball valve, the closed position typically indicated by a lever position perpendicular (at 90 degree angle) with the supply pipe. If your valve is a gate style valve with a handwheel, turn the handwheel completely to the right until the valve stops to close the valve.
- Plan placement of filter housing and mounting bracket.
When considering the eventual location of the water filter and mounting bracket, choose a spot that allows access for filter cartridge change and provides enough space to use the provided housing wrench.
- Mark the water main pipe for cutting.
Once you decide on a location for the filter, mark the pipe for cutting. When marking the pipe, make sure to allow space for fittings and unions you plan to add to the pipe. Most filter housings require a NPT (normal pipe thread) threaded male fitting on both the in and out side of the housing.
You should also consider adding at least one union and probablly two, to allow for service of the filter body. The location of these unions is often a good place to cut into the water pipe. For this install, I used a union on both sides of the filter and cut the plumbing at these locations.
The filter I used (Culligan® HD-950A) calls for 1″ NPT attachments, so for this filter I used a 1″ copper union and a 1″ copper threaded fitting to splice the filter into the supply line.
This particular filter model does not have a bypass mechanism, so if you desire a bypass circuit around the filter, you will need to plan and plumb this as well.
- Create the plumbing for the input and output side of the filter housing.
To splice into the main circuit, I used 1″ copper unions on both the input and output side of the filter. Using unions not only allows for future service or replacement of the filter unit, but simplified the task of sweating the new copper plumbing. With unions, I could sweat (solder) the input and out copper sections individually, connect them to the filter body then install the assembled filter body with pluming attachments into the main line “en block” using the unions.
Start the splice plumbing by sweating one side of each of the unions to the cut ends of the main supply plumbing. Next, pick a location for the filter housing and install the filter mounting bracket. Then, measure, cut and dry assemble the short connection pieces needed to connect the cut input and out side of the plumbing. Each of these connection pieces will have a threaded fitting on one end and the second side of the copper union on the other .
- Attach input and output plumbing to filter body.
Wrap the threaded fittings with ~ 12 inches of Teflon tape prior to attaching. Use care not to over tighten the threaded fittings in the poly filter housing as it may crack. Once the plumbing attachments are installed, connect the mounting bracket (may have to be purchased separately) to the filter housing and temporarily connect to the water main plumbing. Mark the mounting bracket position on the wall where you will mount the bracket. Disconnect the filter assembly.
- Mount the filter bracket.
Use the lag bolts supplied with the mounting bracket (usually not included with the filter body, and must be purchased separately).
- Connect filter body.
eassemble the filter assembly with the water main plumbing and tighten the coupling connections. Once the filter assembly is connected and tightened, check the position of the mounting bracket and adjust as needed. Avoid connecting filter housing to a improperly aligned bracket as this could stress plumbing connections. If you are satisfied with the bracket alignment, fasten the filter housing to the mounting bracket using supplied lag bolts or similar – do not over tighten.
- Install filter cartridge into filter housing.
Prior to installing filter cartidge, clean the inside of the filter housing with warm soapy water and rinse well to eliminate any contaminants of manufacturing. After setting the filter cartridge, place o-ring in grove of filter base. (This step can be completed prior to installing filter assembly)
Apply silicon lubricant to the o-ring to help seal and avoid damaging the o-ring during tightening. Choose your filter cartridges based on your needs and flow requirements. Most filters list intended application (sediment, odor, cysts, etc), filter material (polyester, synthetic fiber, etc), filter size rating (in microns), max flow rates and pressure drop specs and expected filter life. Most filters should be changed every 3 – 6 months depending on use and water quality.
- Screw filter body base into filter body head.
Align threads of body with head and make sure the body is properly threading into the filter head before tightening. Once hand tight, use the supplied base wrench to tighten an additional 1/4 to 1/2 turn — do not over tighten as you can tear the o-ring seal.
- Turn on water supply and check for leaks.
Once water supply is on, briefly depress red bleed valve at top of filter head to bleed any trapped air. Check for leaks and repair as necessary. Brass couplings can be difficult to seal and may need additional tightening. Flush system for 5 – 10 minutes. Enjoy your cleaner water! Remember to change your filter regularly. I use and recommend the Aqua Pure filters by 3M (Aqua Pure AP810 for this filter housing).
How To Change the Water Filter Element
- Change filter element periodically.
The ideal frequency of filter element change will be determined by; your source water quality, the amount of water you use, and the type of filter you are using. Most filters should be changed each 3 – 6 months and each filter will have recommendations from the manufacture regarding filter life. To change the filter, first shut off your water supply. If possible, drain the system from a low faucet or drain valve to reduce the amount of residual water in the system that will drain when opening the filter housing.
- Shut off water supply and drain system.
Most systems will have a shut off valve before the whole house water filter to shut off the system. If you have a well system, turn off the well power prior to closing the shut off valve to protect the well pump from pumping against a closed system.
Drain the system by opening a faucet or fixture located low in the system (first floor, garden hose) or use drain valve if present.
- Remove (unscrew) filter basin from filter housing head.
Open the filter housing by unscrewing (counter-clockwise) the filter basin from the filter head. Most filter kits provide a specialized filter wrench that will fit the filter basin. As you begin loosening the filter basin, some water will empty from the system if not totally drained – be prepared to catch it.
- Remove old filter element and clean basin housing.
Discard the old filter element and clean basin. Depending on your water supply, expect a significant accumulation of sediment and sand. Clear plastic filter housings (like this one pictured) will discolor from minerals in the water.
- Replace filter element with new filter.
Consult a filter supply website or supplier for the correct filter for your needs. I have a reverse osmosis drinking water filter system down stream from this sediment filter, so for me, I mainly need particle and sediment removal. I highly recommend the Aqua Pure AP810 3M filter elements. Here is a photo of the before and after filter elements:
- Place new filter element in basin and seat 0-ring.
Place new filter in filter housing. Many filters have neoprene or similar seals at the ends, check to see these are in place prior to placing filter. Clean the o-ring seat at the top of the filter housing with a damp paper towel to remove any grit. Clean o-ring by pulling it through damp paper toweling. Re-dress the o-ring with lubricant and place in groove.
- Replace filter housing on filter head.
Carefully line up threads on filter housing with filter body head and turn housing clock-wise to re-attach filter housing. Hand tighten, then carefully use filter housing wrench to tighten an additional 1/4 to 3/4 turn. The o-ring seal should seat and be slightly compressed to seal. Over tightening or tightening an unlubricated o-ring can tear the o-ring and prevent a water tight seal.
- Open water supply, purge air and check for leaks.
Once the filter basin housing is tightened, open water valve, turn on well pump power (if well pump). Purge air from the system by depressing the purge button (red on this unit) at the top of the filter housing head. Check for leaks and repair as needed.