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How to Install a Whole House Water Filter

Whole house water filter install for well water sediment removal

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. Here is how we installed a whole-house water filter for our cabin well water supply.

Step by step how to install a whole house water filter.
Step by step, how to install a whole house sediment water filter

Whole house water filter install: install, costs and what you need

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 system.

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This is my installation of a whole house well water sediment filter inline on our 1″ house water main in the cabin.

OVERVIEW | How to install a whole house water filter unit to improve water quality and remove well water sediment

Difficulty: Intermediate
Time: 4 - 6 Hours
    Cost: $100 - 200

      SUPPLIES LIST | How to install a whole house water filter unit to improve water quality and remove well water sediment

      TOOLS LIST | How to install a whole house water filter unit to improve water quality and remove well water sediment

      STEPS | How to install a whole house water filter unit to improve water quality and remove well water sediment

      1. Locate your home's water main shutoff.
      2. To find the main water supply pipe and main shutoff valve coming into your home. If you have city water, the water main typically enters near the water meter and main shutoff valve. If you home has a basement, it often comes into the basement through the floor near a wall or corner.

        If you have well water, the main supply will be a pipe coming 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 hand wheel, turn the hand wheel completely to the right until the valve stops to close the valve.

      3. Plan placement of filter housing and mounting bracket and cut the water main pipe.
      4. Plan where you would like to install the whole water filter unit. Install the filter unit after the main shutoff valve and at a location upstream from the water softener, water heater and other appliances.

        For practical purposes, consider installing the water filter in a location that will be easy to access for filter changes and a location that will allow easy installation.

        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.

      5. Create the plumbing for the input and output side of the filter housing.
      6. The filter body will need to be added to the main water line at your desired location. When adding the filter unit to the water plumbing, it’s good practice to plumb the filter using unions or similar junctions to allow for easy removal and replacement of the filter unit if needed.

        I used 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.

        Prior to cutting into the supply plumbing, pick a location for the filter housing and install the filter mounting bracket and temporarily mount the filter body.

        Next, plan the plumbing run and decide where you would like to cut into the supply plumbing for the filter body connections. I cut the supply plumbing about 12″ before the inlet and 4″ after the outlet of the filter body. To these cut ends, plumb your connections for the filter body stubs. I used unions to make these connections.

        Now measure and plumb the stubs for the filter body connections. To the water-pipe-connection ends of these filter body stubs, connect (sweat) the other end of the plumbing unions. To the filter-body-connection side connect (sweat) a male threaded adapter to each.

        Now connect the stubs to the filter body using several wraps of Teflon tape. Use care not to over tighten the threaded fittings in the poly filter housing as it may crack. If clearance is an issue, disconnect the filter body from the mount and attache the short plumbing stubs to the filter body first, then re-mount and connect the water line unions. Disconnect the filter assembly.

      7. Install filter body, turn on water, bleed air and test for leaks.
      8. If not already installed, install the filter element within the filter body.

        First, remove the filter housing by turning counter-clockwise. Clean the inside of the filter housing with warm soapy water and rinse well to eliminate any contaminants of manufacturing. Then install the filter element into the filter housing.

        If not already in place, install the o-ring seal along the top of the filter housing and apply a small amount of silicon o-ring plumbing lubricant to help seal and avoid damaging the o-ring during tightening. Re-install the filter housing with installed filter element and top o-ring into the threaded filter cap by turning clockwise. Often it may be a bit tough to initially line up the threads of the filter cap with the filter housing. Once the threads mate, hand tighten. The filter housing should turn easy into the filter head. If not, the threads are likely mis-aligned and the process will need to be repeated.

        Once hand-tight, use the supplied filter wrench to tighten an additional 1/4 and 1/2 turn. Do not over tighten as you may damage the o-ring and prevent the filter housing from sealing.

        Now open the main shutoff valve and bleed any air in the filter by briefly depressing the filter air bleed cap at the top of the filter unit (often an red colored tab). When all the air is bled and water comes out of the bleed cap the air bleeding process is complete.

        Finally, check for leaks. Use a clean paper towel to wipe the filter body dry, then examine for leaks or wet spots. Also check the seal of your plumbing connections and unions. If no leaks, use the system, but return in 15 minutes to again check for any water leaks that may be developed.

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      1. hello, this may be a dumb question, but when you open the value to drain the water. when do you turn the valve back off?
        I’ve never change a filter before and everything I’ve read never mentions the valve again.
        thank you for your answer.

        • Hi Deb,

          Thanks for visiting our site and thanks for the question.

          I think you are asking about the valve in my system used to drain water out of the plumbing system prior to removing the filter for replacement. This step is not necessary, but because the filter housing in my system (and many others) is located lower in the plumbing system (similar to if your filter was in the basement), there will be trapped water in the pipes of the plumbing system that would need to drain out when you open the filter housing to replace the filter. This could amount to a large amount of water (several gallons or more), depending on your plumbing.

          To avoid this water spilling out when opening the filter housing for the filter replacement, I am simply emptying the plumbing in a controlled fashion via this drain valve. Once the water is drained, you may then close the drain valve at any time before or after opening the filter housing and replacing the filter. Just close the valve prior to re-pressurizing the system.

          You may not need to drain the system if there is a valve you could close that is located just after the filter unit. If you have a valve located there and close it, water in the system will not pass back through this closed valve and empty when you open the filter unit. Just remember to re-open the valve prior to using your system again.

          With my filter system there is also a small bleed valve located at the top of the filter unit. Press this valve momentarily after replacing the filter and closing the filter housing to bleed out air from the system. The air bleed is complete once water comes out of the valve.

          Hope this helps!


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