How To Clean Berkey Filters

Berkey have established themselves as a household name in the world of water filtration manufacturers.

How To Clean Berkey Filters

Their filtration systems are some of the highest build quality in countertop water filters, along with their ability to produce clear and delicious water, something that most people who own one of their filters will be able to tell you.

Whilst these water filters have roughly a 6,000 gallon life-cycle, which translates to about 3 years, they will still need to be cleaned.

The good news is that for the most part, these filters can be left to do their own thing. When the time comes for them to be cleaned, it’s a straightforward process.

We’ll be taking you through this process in this step-by-step guide, along with answering some frequently asked questions surrounding the care of the Berkey water filter.

How Often Should I Clean My Berkey Filters?

One of the biggest selling points for the Berkey Filter is its longevity.

According to the Berkey Filter website, each filter element should be cleaned at least once every three to six months.

From new you should expect two Berkey elements to last for around 3 years. If you’ve ever used other brands of water filters, you’ll know that this is an impressive amount of time.

Even so, if you live in an area where the water supply is high in contaminants, the expectation should be that this will shorten the time between cleaning sessions.

In terms of cleaning the filters, there are a number of dictating factors that should denote when the filters need a bit of TLC.

We’ll talk about these factors in more detail in the next section.

Signs That The Berkey Water Filter Needs Cleaning

Another selling point of the Berkey Filter is the speed at which it can filter the water in the chamber.

If you notice that this speed of filtration has slowed down, this is a sure fire sign that the filters need a good clean.

The rate of filtration for a pair of Berkeley filters is around 1 gallon per hour and a set of four, naturally, is 2 gallons per hour.

Going with the premise that the lifespan of a pair of Berkey filters is roughly 3 years, it’s inferred that they need cleaning if they slow down before the end of their life-cycle.

A great way to determine whether the filters are performing at optimal capacity or not is to add some food coloring to the top chamber.

As Berkey filters are capable of filtering out food dye from water, adding a couple of drops of food coloring to the first chamber and seeing what state the water is in when it is filtered will tell you a lot about their condition.

If you add some red food coloring to the first chamber, and the water produced has a pink or red tinge to it, this is a sign that the filters need to be cleaned.

How To Clean Berkey Filters: Step-By-Step

How To Clean Berkey Filters Step-By-Step

We’ll now take a look at how to clean the Berkey filters, you’ll need the following items to make this process as easy as possible:

  • A flat, sturdy surface like a table/countertop
  • A Coarse Pad (3M Scotch Brite pads are ideal)

Step 1

Ensure that all water has been emptied from the Berkey Filter system (both chambers).

Step 2

Detach the top chamber and lay it on it’s top on a table/countertop.

Step 3

If you have a fluoride filter installed, remove it. Once this has been removed, take the Black Berkey element out by unscrewing the wing nut holding it in place.

Step 4 

Holding the filter firmly, place it under cold running water, with the exit hole facing upward.

Step 5

Using a coarse pad, gently scrub the black surface of the filter for around seven minutes. DO NOT USE SOAP/DETERGENTS.

Step 6

Set each element aside and clean your hands.

Step 7 

Follow Steps 2 and 3 in reverse to reinstall all filters in the system.

A more comprehensive Printable PDF Guide is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Water I Am Cleaning My System With Is Compromised, What Should I Do?

If you have no other choice but to clean your Berkey system with compromised water, it’s recommended that you add around 16 to 17 drops of household bleach or iodine solution to every gallon of water used to clean the system/elements.

How Do You Dry Berkey Filters?

The best method for drying Berkey filters is a two-step process.

  • Firstly, wipe off any excess water from the filters with a dry cloth.
  • Secondly, it’s important to let the filters air dry for as long as possible. Placing them on a window sill with good sunlight is best.

Can Berkey Filters Get Moldy?

There is a risk that Berkey Filters can become moldy, particularly in the upper chamber as this is exposed to contaminated water. 

If water is allowed to sit in the lower chamber for long periods of time, this can also encourage mold growth.

How Long Can You Leave Water In Berkey?

The longest water can be left in a Berkey system is around 3 days. After 3 days it’s recommended that the water be thrown out and replaced.

Summing Up

Despite the fact that Berkey Filters have an impressive lifespan, they do still need to be cleaned at least once every six months.

It’s also important to check the quality of the water being filtered, lower quality water will shorten the time between cleaning sessions.

Following the step-by-step guide above is the best way to keep your Berkey Filter System in tip-top shape.

Incorporating a deep clean of your Berkey Filters as part of the overall maintenance will prolong the life of the system. It’ll also ensure that you have purified drinking water all year round.

Mandy Anderson