How Long Do Water Filters Last?

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Given the long journey your water takes before it arrives at your tap, it’s no surprise that it’s riddled with contaminants it has picked up along the way. Luckily, the City of Phoenix helps you out by processing your water through the Water Services Department’s five water treatment plants. Municipalities are regulated by federal and state law on how much of a contaminant they are allowed to let remain in your water before it is publicly distributed and finally reaches your tap. With that in mind, how long do water filters really last? Let’s find out.

Common contaminants found in water sources include:

– Microbial contaminants: virus and bacteria originating from wastewater treatment plants, septic systems, agricultural livestock operations, or wildlife.

– Inorganic contaminants: includes salts and metals resulting from urban storm runoff, industrial or domestic wastewater discharges, oil and gas production, mining, or farming.

– Pesticides and herbicides: from agricultural or residential use, and urban storm runoff.

– Organic chemical contaminants: industrial byproducts such as synthetic and volatile organic chemicals during processes like petroleum production, gas stations, septic systems, and urban stormwater runoff.

– Radioactive contaminants: natural or industrial byproducts of oil and gas production and mining.

clean drinking water

Before your water reaches your home’s tap, the City of Phoenix Water Services Department processes your water through its five water treatment plants, treating your water of potentially hazardous pollutants according to standards set by federal and state regulations.

Unfortunately, there still remain pollutants that can do great harm to your home’s plumbing system, giving your home hard water. This means your water has a significant amount of minerals such as calcium and magnesium that not only make your water unpleasant to drink, but can actually even damage your pipes, fixtures, and appliances!

This is why homeowners further filter their tap water by installing Reverse Osmosis filtration systems – to deal with those pesky pollutants still hanging out in your water, even after the city’s water treatment process.

From minerals to bacteria, these water filters do wonders for your home, not only reducing maintenance and upkeep on your plumbing system, but also benefiting your body and your health!

But how long do water filters last before your water is as bad as it was without one

Why changing your filter is important 

From the filter inside your refrigerator to the filters in your RO system, these filters are what keep pollutants in your water at bay – and they need to be replaced regularly to continue doing their job.

If you don’t replace them, then all those pollutants your system eliminated will return, and your whole water filtration system essentially becomes worthless.

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Measuring the lifespan of a filter 

Your water filters should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s guidelines (normally found in the manual provided with your system), but it may also depend on your water usage to know exactly when your filters become useless.

If you notice your water reverting back to its original, pre-filtered state (like maybe it’s starting to taste bad), then that’s a sign your filter isn’t effective anymore and likely needs to be replaced.

Comparing filtering systems 

RO systems can range from 3 to 5 filtration stages, requiring multiple filter replacements depending on your particular system.

3-Stage Reverse Osmosis Systems

  1. Carbon Prefilter: an activated carbon filter removing elements affecting the taste and smell of your water, including chlorine.
  2. RO Membrane: filters out any dissolved solids making their way through the carbon prefilter, such as lead.
  3. Carbon Postfilter: another activated carbon filter further purifying the aesthetic of your water so that it looks clear.

4-Stage Reverse Osmosis Systems

  1. Sediment Prefilter: filters out hard yet minuscule particles such as dirt, sand, rust and more.
  2. Carbon Prefilter
  3. RO Membrane
  4. Postfilter

5-Stage Reverse Osmosis Systems

  1. Sediment Prefilter
  2. Carbon Prefilter
  3. 2nd Carbon Prefilter: further emphasizing the aesthetic purification of your water, reducing the effects of chlorine on its taste and smell.
  4. 4. RO Membrane
  5. 5. Postfilter

When to replace water filter 

Every single filter in your reverse osmosis system requires periodic replacement in order to ensure the effectiveness of your system. Here’s an average of when you should plan to replace each type of filter:

  • Sediment Pre-Filters: should be replaced every 6-12 months.
  • Carbon Pre-Filters: should be replaced every 6-12 months  (this helps maintain the quality of longevity of the RO membrane).
  • RO Membrane: should be replaced every 24 months
  • Carbon Post Filter: should be replaced every 12 months 

Contaminants and other factors to consider 

Depending on the hardness – or turbidity – of the water is in your geographical location, you might need to replace your filters more frequently than the average recommendation.

For instance, the sediment pre-filter works to hold off the likes of sand, rust, silt, and dirt. But if your water is naturally heavy with sediment, then your pre-filter should be replaced every 6 months. This is more likely with well water than municipal water.

filtered drinking water

Consult with a Deer Valley Plumbing Professional

At Deer Valley Plumbing, we have been taming Phoenix water for decades, providing only the best service and water quality solutions for homeowners across Phoenix. We offer a variety of systems that are top-of-the-line and effective, ensuring you get great-tasting water that’s also easy on your home plumbing system.

If you’re considering an RO system, contact us anytime for a consultation and we’ll get you on your way to high-quality water in your home!

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