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Finding the best whole house water filter for well water depends on your water quality. Many well water systems include multiple whole house filters and require a more complicated installation. After conducting a water test, the Dill family learned that their well water contained coliform bacteria and a low pH. The bacteria could make the family sick, and acidic water destroys plumbing pipes and fixtures. Here are the steps we followed to help them find and install a whole house water filter for their well water. 

How to install a whole house water filter for well water

How you install a whole house water filter system depends on what kind of treatment your water needs. Like most well water systems, the Dill family needed sediment filtration to remove heavy debris and UV purification with an inline prefilter to remove small particles and deactivate living organisms. The family's water was also acidic, so we used an up-flow filter system with calcite media to raise the pH.

The well water treatment solution

The Dill family's whole house filter system provides a great example for installing may different whole house filters since it involved a variety of filter options. Here are the steps we followed and the tools we used to install a whole house water filter for the family. 

Note: None of the filters used in this install require backwashing, so no drain connection was needed. You need a drain connection if you're installing a water softener or an upflow carbon filter.

Tools needed: 

For spin-down filter:

For calcite filter:

For UV system:

To flush the system:

  • Bleach

How to install a spin-down filter

Tools:

  • The filter housing
  • U-bracket
  • Fittings
  • Teflon tape for 3/4 valve connection

Installation:

  1. Use the U-bracket to mount the system to the wall. The mounting bracket keeps the system plumbed straight. 
  2. Thread the fittings into the outside of the filter. The U-bracket we used is designed to work with 3/4 inch and 1-inch Rusco filter housings. A larger housing can be glued directly on the plumbing pipe.

installing spin-down filterHow does the spin-down sediment filter work?

The Rusco spin-down filter is designed to capture heavy sediment and debris. As water flows in, it spins and throws dirt and debris to the outside of the housing with centrifugal force. The sediment accumulates in the bottom of the housing, and you're able to dump it out periodically by opening the flush valve. 

Learn more about spin-down filters

How to install a calcite filter

Tools:

  • The filter tank
  • Calcite media
  • Tape
  • Funnel
  • Tape measure
  • Fittings/ tubing 

Installation:

  1. Tape over the opening of the distributor tube, so no media gets down inside of it. The media will be able to move past the tape.
  2. To make transferring the media easier, pour the calcite media into a bucket.
  3. Place a funnel over the opening and load the filter with media.
  4. Use a tape measure to measure the level of calcite. The media should only fill 2/3 of the tank. Leave 1/3 of the tank empty for media expansion.
  5. Move the tank into place and put the bypass valve on.
  6. Install the tank with fittings and tubing. 

installing calcite filterHow does the calcite filter work?

Calcite is alkaline-rich calcium used to buffer the pH of acidic water. The filter we used contains a vortex distributor with a fan at the bottom of the distributor tube that spins incoming water and lifts the media to provide longer contact time with the water. This is why it's important to not overfill the filter tank with calcite. 

How to install a UV water purifier

Tools:

  • 5-micron prefilter
  • UV chamber
  • UV lamp
  • Quartz sleeve
  • Flex line
  • Mounting brackets (included with kit)

Installation:

  1. Mount the sediment prefilter to the wall with mounting brackets and fittings. Do not insert the filter into the housing yet. Wait until after flushing the entire whole house filter system.
  2. Mount the UV system. Make sure you leave plenty of clearance above the installation for lamp replacements.
  3. Connect the flex line to plumb the UV system. Do not use plastic fittings because UV light degrades plastic. 
  4. Insert the UV lamp into the quartz sleeve and into the UV system. 

installing UV water purifierHow to install a UV lamp

Tools:

  • Quartz sleeve
  • Cloth

Installation:

  1. Load the glass quartz sleeve into the UV chamber with a cloth. Do not touch the quartz sleeve with bare hands. Fingerprints could eliminate the UV light's ability to get through the sleeve and disinfect. 
  2. Insert the UV lamp into the quartz sleeve.  
  3. Connect the controller that comes with the Neo-Pure UV system. The monitor is splash-proof, but it's still a good idea to avoid installing it where it could get soaked.
  4. Mount the system's controller or power source.
  5. Insert the key into the controller and plug it into a power source.

installing UV lampHow does the UV water treatment system work?

The ultraviolet light does not kill living organisms; it deactivates their DNA. Once deactivated, the bacteria can no longer reproduce and make you sick. The UV water purifier is the last item installed in the whole house treatment system, so the water is clear and the UV lamp can disinfect effectively.  

Why do you need a prefilter before your UV system?

A UV water treatment system needs completely clear water to treat effectively, so all UV manufacturers require a 5-micron sediment filter before UV disinfection. The sediment prefilter eliminates shadowing. Shadowing occurs when living organisms hide behind debris to protect themselves from the UV light. Debris in the water allows bacteria to pass through the system undetected.

A UV prefilter is required to remove any dirt and debris that could obstruct the UV light from reaching the living organisms. Using ultraviolet water treatment is not required for treating a home on city water, but it is a smart choice. If the city water is ever compromised and a Boil Water Alert issued, then your home's water will remain safe to drink and cook with.  

How do you know when to replace the UV lamp?

The Neo-Pure UV system comes with a controller that provides adequate power to the lamp to supply just the right amount of germicidal wavelength. It alerts you when it's time to change the lamp or if the lamp fails. Whenever you change the UV lamp, insert the key into the side of the controller. Each time you get a new Neo-Pure UV lamp, you get a new key to signal the controller once it's time for a replacement. 

You should change the UV lamp every 12 months because that's how long the UV light remains effective. 

How to flush your whole house water filter

Tools:

  • Bleach

How to flush your system:

  1. Shut off the water and close each faucet. 
  2. Disconnect the flex line from the UV light.
  3. Slowly crack the bypass valve on the calcite filter to allow water to flow through.
  4. Remove any filter cartridges from their housings.
  5. Pour 2 cups of a bleach solution into the filter housings.
  6. Flush until the water is clear.
  7. Insert any filters back into their housings.

flushing water filterWhy should you flush your filter system?

Once you've made your final connections on your whole house water filter, flush the system with chlorine to sanitize your household plumbing. Particles and bacteria may have made their way into the plumbing while fittings were disconnected during installation. Before flushing the system, the water will have a milky color due to dust from the calcite media. The chlorine rinse removes the dust and clears the water.

Choosing a whole house filter for well water

The quality of the water coming from your well or city source determines which types of filtration your home or business needs. Testing your well water is the first step to installing the right whole house filter. Once you learn what's in your water, you can determine which options are best at removing the contaminants.

Well water systems are often more complex than whole house water treatment for city water because there are more contaminants that need filtering out. City water has already been treated for living organisms with chemicals. If you own a well, then it's up to you to disinfect your water for bacteria and viruses. Well water could contain all kinds of contaminants, which makes testing your water especially important. You'll want to find the right sequence of treatment systems particularly suited for your needs. 

The options for filters for your well water are endless, which is why it's important to know exactly what's in the water that shouldn't be flowing to your tap or shower. If your water contains high levels of calcium and magnesium (hardness minerals), then you may need a whole house water softener. To treat dissolved solids, then you may want an under-sink reverse osmosis system or a water distiller on your countertop. If your water is acidic, like the Dill family's, then your best solution is an acid neutralizer.

Browse all water filtration systems

Cost of installing a whole house filter for your well

A single whole house water filter can cost anywhere from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars. You may need multiple filters to adequately treat the water in your home. But a whole house water filter is certainly worth the expense, especially if the health of you and your family is at risk. Once installed, water filter systems last for many years with proper care and periodic filter replacements. The cost of installation depends on how involved the process is. 

Factors that influence installation cost:

  • Plumbing connections: The farther the installation is from the water line, the more tubing and fittings needed. 
  • Type of equipment: Some filters have more installation steps with more parts required than others. Backwashing filters require a drain hookup that adds to the expense.
  • Experience: If you're handy with tools and plumbing then you could install a whole house water filter on your own or with a buddy. Most homeowners, however, require the help of a plumber who could charge an installation fee around $100.

To avoid unnecessary expenses, make sure you find out exactly what your water needs treated for and find the most efficient solution for that problem. If you don't have hard water, for example, then you don't need a water softener. If you're on city water, then you may not even need a whole house water filter. A simple under-sink carbon filter may be the right solution for you. If you just want to filter your drinking water, then read our under-sink water filter buyer's guide to help you find the best fit for your home.

How long does installing a whole house water filter take?

Installing a whole house filter system could take an experienced plumber two to four hours. If you're installing it yourself, then it may take a little longer depending on your level of experience. 

How to maintain your well water system

You whole house water filter system needs periodic maintenance to ensure that the water in your home is always safe to use. Each whole house water filter in your well water system has different replacement filters with different lifespans. 

How often should you replace the Rusco spin-down filter? Spin-down filters are replaced once worn out, but they can last many years. Lifespans vary depending on the amount of sediment in your water. Proper maintenance for these filters requires opening the flush valve to release the sediment and periodic rinsing. The filter housing is clear, so you can see whenever the filter is loaded with debris. 

How often should you replace the calcite media? Whenever it falls below two-thirds of the tank height. You can check the level of the media by removing the dome plug and inserting a measuring tape through the opening. You can also shine a flashlight through the filter tank to check the level quickly. 

How often should you replace the UV prefilter? Every 6 months to 1 year. 

How often should you replace the UV lamp? Every 12 months or 9,000 hours.

How often should you replace the quartz sleeve? Every 2 years or sooner depending on water conditions.


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