How to install a whole house water filter
Installing a whole house water filter will improve the taste and smell of the water, and extend the life of the entire plumbing system and water-using appliances. Follow these simple steps to install a whole house water filter.
Selecting a whole house water filter
A whole-house filtration system consists of main filter housing and at least one filter cartridge. This basic one-stage filtration system will remove sediment, rust, and larger particles. Adding a second-stage filter, and sometimes a third-stage filter, will remove other impurities, including odors, bacteria, hydrogen sulfide, and chlorine.
The next thing you need to install a whole house water filter is to decide the filter size and type. Whole-house systems can filter 10,000 to 100,000 gallons of water between filter cartridge changes. To pick the right filter for the job, estimate the water requirements of the household and determine the types of contaminants that need to be filtered.
A wrench is provided with whole-house filters to make it easier to remove and replace the cartridge portion of the filter. Be sure the system you install complies with any state requirements for a whole house water filter.
Preparation and location
Before beginning to install a whole house water filter, shut off the hot water heater and any other appliances that require water pressure, and turn off the water to the house at the street connection or at a downstream valve that is accessible. Open the faucets in the house. In some municipalities, you are required to contact the water department, to gain access to the valve and meter box.
A typical location for installing the filter unit is next to the hot water heater, before the incoming water piping splits off between the cold water pipe that feeds the rest of the house, and the cold water pipe that supplies the hot water heater.
Installation near a shut-off valve is ideal, plus the location should be easily accessible, as the homeowner will have to change filter cartridges several times over the life of the filter system.
Step 1: Screw a plywood panel to the wall where you plan to install the filter assembly and make sure the panel spans between two studs or is otherwise securely fastened to the wall. Attach the filter unit mounting bracket to the plywood panel.
Step 2: Wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the outlet fitting and tighten the fitting to the outlet side of the filter. This fitting has threads on one end, and the compression type or “push” fitting on the other.
Step 3: The inlet side will usually require an adapter, because the inlet port of the filter unit is usually 1 inch in diameter, and most houses have ¾ inch diameter water piping. Verify you have the correct adapter size, and then, after wrapping the threads with Teflon tape, screw and tighten the adapter into the inlet side of the filter.
Wrap Teflon tape around the threads of the inlet fitting and tighten into the adapter. This fitting is the same type as the one on outlet side. When tightening any fitting remember to use two wrenches. In this installation, use one wrench to grasp the fitting and the other to grasp the filter.
While whole-house water filtration systems don’t require it, it’s a good idea to add a ball valve to both the inlet and outlet sides of the filter unit. These valves will allow you to isolate the filter, so the cartridge can be changed easily and without having to shut off the water to the entire house.
Step 4: Cut out a section of the existing pipe to allow for the new filter and related piping to be installed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to be sure you remove enough pipe to accommodate the filter, the new shutoff valves, and any connecting fittings.
Remember: you are cutting out a section of pipe at a point after the incoming service enters the house, but before that pipe distributes to the rest of the plumbing system. A close-quarter hacksaw may be your best choice depending on the accessibility of the existing piping. Once you have made both cuts, clean the first 1 inch of the inside and outside surfaces of each cut end with an emery cloth.
Step 5: Mount the assembled filter/cartridge unit to the mounting bracket with the bolts provided. Assemble the two valve/pipe sections to connect each side of the filter to the respective cut pipe ends. This part of the installation will vary from house to house depending on where the cut in the existing pipe was made and where you are mounting the filter unit.
Step 6: Measure, cut and assemble the valve/pipe sections. If you are using “push” type couplings on the cut pipe ends, make a mark 1 inch from the end of the cut pipe to ensure the pipe is fully inserted into the coupling. Install each assembly between the coupling on the cut pipe ends and the inlet and outlet side couplings on the filter.
Step 7: Typically, the electrical panel is grounded to the water meter with a bare copper wire. Installing the filter assembly will interrupt that ground circuit. So once all piping is in place, you will need to connect a bare copper jumper wire from the inlet side to the outlet side piping to re-establish the ground. Install grounding clamps on either side of the filter, run a thick wire from clamp to clamp and secure tightly.
Step 8: Shut both valves and turn the water back on. Open the inlet side valve and allow the filter to fill up with water. If no leaks occur, open the outlet side valve. If no leaks appear, the project is complete. Allow the trapped air to bleed out through the house faucets before closing, and flush the entire system for about five minutes.
—By Bruce Webb