Whole-House Water Filter Install
A SImple, DIY Solution to Remove Grit from Your Water
Water comes from the ground. Mother Nature’s process of percolating rainwater down through many layers of soil to arrive at bedrock as clean groundwater is nothing short of a miracle.
However, when you open the tap, you don’t want to see any little bits of that same soil and rock in the bottom of your glass.
Far too often, our domestic water can carry in little particles of sand, silt, and iron.
While these are not necessarily harmful to us, they can clog plumbing fixtures, fill up water heater tanks with sediment, and spoil the appearance of drinking water.
Often, the easiest solution to this problem is to install a whole-house, or point-of-entry water filter to trap sand and sediment before it gets distributed throughout the house’s plumbing system.
These filters are relatively simple devices consisting of a filter head, a bowl, and a filter cartridge.
The filter head comes with fittings marked, “IN” and, “OUT” to be installed in-line in the main water line that brings the water into your home.
The bowl screws into the filter head, sealed with a big o-ring and holds the filter cartridge so that the water flows through it.
Installing one of these units is not difficult if you have basic plumbing skills.
Choose a Location for Your Filter.
Find a spot on the main water line before it splits off into different parts of the house, preferably near the main shutoff valve.
When the bowl is full of water, the unit will be heavy, so make sure it will be well supported.
Nothing looks so shoddy as a long run of ½” PVC pipe sagging down in an arc with a filter in the middle.
If your filter comes with a support bracket, choose a spot where you have a surface to screw the bracket into.
Otherwise, make sure the pipe is well supported near both sides of the filter.
This also keeps the system steady while you are screwing the bowl on and off.
Make sure your spot is easily accessible and you have room to turn the filter wrench when you have to change filters.
If you have copper pipe, make sure you have room to go all the way around it with a tubing cutter.
Make a Plan.
You will have different options for plumbing fittings depending on the fittings on your filter head, what kind of pipe you have, and what tools you have available.
PVC requires solvent welding, PEX uses crimp fittings, and copper is normally soldered or, “sweated.”
If you have a copper pipe and do not want to bother with the sweat joint, there is plug-and-go, solderless fittings available.
Make sure to use thread seal tape with all threaded joints.
Some people like to install a shutoff valve on either side of the filter to minimize drips during filter changing.
This is optional. You may have to get a reducer to match the size of the inlet and outlet on your filter head.
When you have all the necessary tools and fittings, it’s time to begin
Install Your Filter.
- Turn off the water at the main shutoff valve. Open faucets and drain the plumbing from the lowest point in the system you can get to.
- Dry-fit all the components that connect to the filter head, including any valves you wish to install in-line with the filter. Carefully measure the section of pipe to be cut away and mark the pipe. The filter may come with a template for this.
- Place a catch bucket under the cut and remove the appropriate section of pipe.
- Assemble all fittings permanently and install the unit into the main water line. Use two wrenches for threaded fittings. Make sure the IN and OUT markings on the filter head correspond to the direction of flow in your water line. A filter installed backwards will rapidly clog.
- Check for leaks.
A Special Note for Metal Pipe.
If you have metal pipe, double check that ALL your electrical circuits are grounded into the breaker box.
In some older houses, the electrical system is grounded into the plumbing. This isn’t a big problem, but a plastic water filter installed in a metal pipe breaks the connection to ground.
To bridge the gap, you will have to install a ground jumper: a short span of wire fastened to the pipe on either side of the filter with appropriate fittings.
What if a Sediment Filter Isn’t Enough?
For most people, a point-of-entry sediment filter will make their water clean enough for bathing, cleaning, and doing the laundry.
However, these filters do very little about the taste of drinking water, chlorine, or contaminants that can make the water unhealthy to drink or cook with.
There are several types of filters for improving the taste and safety of tap water, but my favorite is the simplest: a countertop gravity fed water purifier.
These units require no installation and deliver the best purification and lowest cost per gallon.
When I was shopping for one of these units, I picked the Berkey water purifier and I was amazed at how much the taste of my water improved.
Not to mention the peace of mind that comes from knowing you are not drinking harmful pollutants that get through a conventional whole-house filter.