In this third installment of How to Choose a Water Filter, we’ll wrap up the sediment filter category by dealing with some of the more complicated sediment issues and by identifying some misunderstood water problems that really don’t belong to the sediment category.
Let’s begin by talking about micron rating. A micron is a metric unit of measurement, and it’s very very small. There are 25,400 microns in one inch. With regard to water filters, the smaller the micron number, the smaller the pores in the water filter. Don’t make the classic mistake and start too small. Many clients think to themselves if five microns is good, then one micron must be better. That’s not how it works. If you start too tight, you’ll suffer from rapid pressure loss due to cartridge clogging. Selecting the right micron size is entirely about your unique sediment size. If you have sand that’s grainy and big enough to visually identify the granules, then you certainly don’t need a 1 micron filter. A grain of sand is anywhere from 75 to 150 microns, so a 50 micron water filter should be good enough to handle your sediment issue. If, however, you have extremely fine sediment that feels slimy to the touch and is so small that you can’t visually identify a single speck, you probably need something much tighter. As a general rule, start loose and work your way tighter until you get the performance you want and need. For those of you installing new systems, buy a couple of cartridges with different micron ratings so you can experiment and nail down what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to experiment! If you have an industry standard size filter housing you are not married to a single type of cartridge. For complex reasons beyond the scope of this article, one media type may outperform another, so if you’re not happy with the performance of the cartridge, try a different one. Even if your water filter works, you can always experiment to try and find better performance. Remember, you can always go back to the filter that worked.
For more complex sediment problems you may need multi-stage filtration. By this we mean multiple water filter housings with decreasing micron rating cartridges in each successive filter stage. This is necessary in situations where there is a wide range of sediment particle sizes. Maybe you have a well that produces both sand (large particle) and silt (small particle), and though it may be possible to get by with a single water filter housing, you will obtain much better performance from a dual stage system like this water filter system for example. In some cases the particle size variance isn’t as obvious, but if you have large amounts of sediment in the 5-50 micron range, you may find a single 5 micron cartridge is the only way to obtain the level of quality you desire, but you are forced to replace the water filters frequently because they clog rapidly. Here again a dual filter system with a 25 micron cartridge followed by a 5 micron cartridge will give dramatically better performance. Another example would be water coming from a river that might require large organic matter to be filtered out with a RUSCO spin down sediment filter followed by a dual cartridge water filter. Each situation is unique, but complex sediment issues can usually be addressed with a multi-stage water filter system.
The sediment category wouldn’t be complete without a mention of automatic backwashing sediment filters. These are systems that are typically 40-50 inches tall with an electronic control valve on top of the tank. They look just like a common water softener. These systems do not use cartridges, and require very little maintenance. They exact filter media varies from brand to brand, but they all do essentially the same thing. They remove sediment down to a specified particle size, and then depending on the control valve they backwash the media based on time or total water usage.
In addition to real sediment problems, there are a couple of issues that are commonly mistaken as a sediment problem. The first is hard water, which contains high amounts of minerals that precipitate out of the water and form hard scale buildup. This scale then flakes off and clogs faucet screens and is mistaken as a sediment problem. It is possible for a sediment filter to successfully capture this flaked off scale, but it will not deal with the real problem. Hard water requires a water softener. For more information see this highly informative document, Water Softeners: What They Do & How They Work. The second is iron bearing water which is often mistaken as a sediment problem, but it really isn’t. For a really good explanation of iron bearing water see this video that I recently posted to our YouTube channel. If you prefer to read, see these documents; Problems Caused by Iron & Manganese in Household Water, and Water Treatment for Iron and Manganese Removal.
That’s it for the sediment category. In our next installment we will move on to the taste & odor category.
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Related posts:How to Choose a Water Filter Part 2 of 10: Sediment FiltersHow to Choose a Water Filter Part 4 of 10: Taste & OdorHow to Choose a Water Filter Part 1 of 10Iron in your Water? No Problem!Changing a Sediment Water Filter CartridgeTagged as: how to choose a water filter, sediment filter, water filter, Water Filters, water softener, whole house water filter