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How to Install a Whole House Water Filter

How to install a whole house water filter yourself

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.

Overview/ whole house water filter install

Project Supplies/ whole house water filter install

  1. Culligan HF150A Whole-house water filter
  2. Whole house water filter bracket
  3. Whole house filter 3M Aqua-pure AP810
    These are terrific filters!
  4. Silicone lubricant Dow Corning 111

Project Tools/ whole house water filter install

  1. Solder torch kit Bernzomatic TS8000
  2. Plumbing solder kit
  3. PTFE pipe thread tape
  4. Copper 3/4" threaded fitting
  5. Pipe wrench 10" aluminum
  6. Adjustable wrench 10", Crescent
  7. Tubing cutter Ridgid 101
  8. Tubing cutter Ridgid 15
  9. Copper pipe cleaning 4-in-1 tool
  10. Cordless Drill
  11. Drill bit set Dewalt 14 pc
  12. Screwdriver set Klein 5 pc
  13. Socket set Dewalt 23 pc

Project Steps/ whole house water filter install

  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.

    Main water line coming into our cabin showing the main shutoff valve.

    Located the main water supply pipe coming into your home and the main shutoff valve. This is the pipe to connect a whole house water filter to.

  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.

    Whole house water filter unit install - placement on main cold water supply.

    Plan placement of the water filter unit on the cold water supply just after the main shut off valve.

  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.

    Water filter housing install mounting bracket.

    Bolt filter housing mounting bracket securely to wall.

    Water filter housing install - mounting housing to mounting bracket and install of plumbing attachments.

    Plumbing attachments to the input and output side of the filter housing head. Mounting filter housing to mounting bracket.

  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.

    Well water filter install - filter body apart showing filter element.

    Water filter housing unscrewed showing filter element in housing basin.

 

13 comments

  • Adebo August 28, 2018   Reply →

    Hi, Im very happy coming across this informati ve site, I have a drilled hole water from which the water is pumped to a resavouir tank positioned at an height, and then piped from the tank to the house. a filter is connected between the resavoiur tank and the house, I experienced low water preasure until I remove the fillter catridge, meaning the gravitational force is not enough to push the water across the filter catridge, how best is to solve this problem, there is no constant suply of eletricity.
    thanks.

    • Cabin DIY August 28, 2018   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Adebo,

      Thanks for the question. Although not familiar with your specific setup, and at risk of sounding overly simplistic; you could raise the height of your tank or change the filter system to a lower resistance system – either by trying a different filter element, cleaning the one you have (if possible) or switching to an entirely new type of filter canister and element.

      Another option is to use a Well Pressure Tank. These tanks contain a pressurized air bladder that will store water under pressure for future use. You would need to have a pump that could pump the water in under sufficient pressure for this system to work. Here is an example of such a tank:

      Good luck!

  • Vic Hovell August 1, 2018   Reply →

    Hello,
    I am looking for advice. My cabin has a well with a drain back system. I want to install a Big Blue 5 micron whole house filter after the check valve and pressure switch but before the pressure tank. There is a snifter valve between the pressure switch and the pump. Goal is to keep the very fine sediment out of the pressure tank. Each time the pump starts it pushes air for about 20 seconds before water. Will the air mess up the functionality of the filter?
    I would appreciate your input.

    Thanks,

    Vic Hovell

    • Cabin DIY August 1, 2018   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Vic,

      I’m not very familiar with snifter valve systems. I assume you have a bladder-less water tank. From my limited understanding, I believe the snifter valve allows air movement back into your water tank to maintain the air “charge” and allow the proper function of a drain back valve.

      Placing a filter between the snifter valve and your well pump and drain back valve may very well cause problems, especially considering the two-way flow of water and/or air through the system. In addition, the filter represents resistance to flow and benefits from the pressurized water flow the pressure tank provides. I would install the sediment filter after the pressure tank, not before it.

      Gary

  • Deb July 22, 2017   Reply →

    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.

    • Cabin DIY July 22, 2017   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      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!

      Gary

  • John Carston October 31, 2016   Reply →

    I’m doing some research into what goes into a well water installation so this site has helped me quite a bit. It’s helpful to know that a house water filter would be good to have to remove sediment and other contaminants that would taint well water. I’ll need to have this installed once I have a well water tank installed.

  • Denis May 17, 2014   Reply →

    Our cabin is on pilings and it does flood a couple times a year, what is the best way to filter water from the well to the cabin when there is very limited space? Currently there is no pre cabin filter it goes straight from the well to the cabin. We just bought this property and the neighbor says the water is very cloudy and we should consider a filter. I appreciate any help you can give me.

    • Cabin DIY May 19, 2014   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Dennis,
      Congrats on the new cabin! It sounds like you would benefit from water filtration, and maybe more than just sediment filtration.

      At our cabin, we have mainly an issue with sand and other sediments. To filter these we use the whole house system described above.

      In addition to the whole house sediment filter, we use a small under-counter in-cabinet reverse osmosis system for our drinking water. This system is small enough to mount in the cabinet under a sink.

      The best system for your situation depends on your specific issues. If access to your water main from the well is difficult, and your are looking just for better drinking water, you could simply add one or more reverse osmosis units at the point of use (like the under sink units). Most of the these systems have a small reservoir tank that stores several gallons of filtered water. This type of system would only be useful for drinking or cooking water, as the water is not filtered in “real-time” in line, but slowly and stored in the reservoir.

      If you wanted to add some limited easy to add sediment filtering in addition to the reverse osmosis unit, there are single fixture in-line sediment filters that could be used for individual applications (like at the shower head).

      For your system, I would add an under the counter reverse osmosis system for drinking and cooking water to begin with. These systems are compact enough to fit most residential systems (see attached image courtesy of Omnipure) and fairly simple to install. We use a version that I purchased from our local Costco store.

      I would then add a whole house sediment filter by figuring out a to gain access to your main supply plumbing from your well. You could do this by diverting the supply plumbing in to a closet or accessible area in your cabin that would allow you to add a filter and service it. You should be able to tap into your system somewhere under the cabin adding a loop up through the floor into a close or similar.

      More information about your issues would be helpful. Feel free to upload an image or two if you have them.

      CDIY

  • John February 8, 2014   Reply →

    Did you put the filter in before or after the pressure tank? Seems to me if its after the tank, dirt will still get into the tan.

    • Cabin DIY February 8, 2014   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      The filter is after the pressure tank. You make a good point in that the pressure tank is exposed to the sediment from well. Unfortunately, there was little room before and lots of room after the tank. Maybe this reduces the life of the pressure tank some? Maybe not?

  • Pat Eckelberry October 19, 2013   Reply →

    I will have short runs of 1″ copper pipe on either side of the filter. Is the mounting bracket necessary?

    Great video!

    Thanks

    • Cabin DIY October 19, 2013   Reply →
      Cabin DIY

      Hi Pat,

      I my mind, the value of the mounting bracket is in its ability to control rotational stress when changing filters. In my experience, removing the filter housing body for a filter change requires a bit of torque and could, over time, compromise the connected plumbing.

      Obviously each install in unique and will require some judgement regarding the importance of the mounting bracket.

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