Sediment – including sand, silt, and other particles – can be a problem if your water comes from a well or you live in an area with groundwater that contains a lot of sand or silt. A quality whole house sediment filter can remove these particles from your water, changing it from cloudy and dirty looking into clean, clear, and great tasting. Finding the right sediment filter can be a challenge, but the experienced Certified Water Specialists at US Water Systems can help. Call us at 1-800-608-8792.
This 3-Stage filtration system is designed to filter the water supply for a whole house or other pre-filtration application for business or industry
One term that you’ll often hear when talking about water is “turbidity.” This is just another way of referring to the level of cloudiness or haziness that your water has. Turbid water contains particles that are large enough to be seen with the naked eye, and while it’s rarely a health hazard, more people don’t want to drink water that looks dirty. A good whole house sediment water filter can eliminate this problem.
Turbidity can be caused by a number of factors, but it’s most common if you’re getting your water from a well or if there has been a change in how the water is being delivered from the water treatment plant. City or municipal water is subjected to filtering and sedimentation processes to remove the majority of suspended solids. The U.S. standards for how turbid drinking water can be varies by the filtration method, but it cannot exceed 5 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU); most methods require that water have a turbidity level of 1 NTU or less.
If your water does look dirty, it likely contains small particles of sand, silt, clay, algae, and other types of sediment. It may contain various types of organic matter, including various microscopic organisms, and tannic acid, which is released when organic matter decomposes. All of these contaminants get into water at the source, be it a lake, reservoir, river, or well. Heavy rains often increase turbidity in these water sources, as shorelines and riverbanks are eroded. In some cases, you may have more sediment in your water if there is a change in how your water is delivered – if your local water treatment plant is doing maintenance on a water main, for example, changes in the water flow can stir up solids that might have settled in the pipes.
The best way to determine why your water might look dirty and whether or not you need a whole house sediment filter is to have your water tested. At US Water Systems, we offer a range of water testing kits that will not only provide you with information about how turbid your water really is, but what other contaminants it contains.
If your water is turbid, the easiest way to remove it is with a whole house sediment water filter. Both backwashing filters and cartridge filters can be very effective, and which type you choose really depends on your personal preferences and the type of sediment you’re trying to remove. One of the challenges in treating turbid water is that all of the different particles have different sizes, so filters are made with various micron ratings to indicate the size of particles that it will trap.
Sediment filters are physical filters, meaning that they don’t do anything to the particles in the water – they simply prevent them from moving through the filter. They are rated in microns, another word for micrometers, and the smaller the micron rating, the smaller the size of particles the filter can trap. For comparison purposes, a human hair is about 100 microns wide. Whole house sediment filters are available in a range of sizes, from 50 microns down to 1 micron or less.
It’s important to note that a sediment filter typically only removes relatively large particles from water. They typically cannot remove chemicals, dissolved metals, pesticides, and other contaminants. If your water contains these substances, you may want to consider additional filtering methods, including carbon filters, fluoride filters, and reverse osmosis systems. Take a look at our filtration spectrum chart to see common water contaminants and their sizes.
Just because a filter has a smaller micron rating doesn’t mean that it’s right for your home. If you have a lot of larger particles like sand in your water, a 50 micron water filter will remove it. A whole house sediment water filter with a 5 micron rating, on the other hand, can quickly become clogged with those larger particles. Finding the right filter and micron rating can be a matter of trial and error, and it’s often best to start with a larger micron size and work your way down. To filter out a range of solids, you may want a system with several filter sizes to progressively remove smaller and smaller contaminants.
The type of filter that you choose – backwashing or cartridge – is also a factor. These systems work differently to remove sediment, although both can be very effective.
A backwashing sediment filter uses a loose filtering media to trap particles in your water. The untreated water flows into a large tank and travels through layers of filtering media and gravel. The filtering media traps and holds larger particles, preventing them from traveling into the water supply. This type of filter is often rated at 5 microns. After a certain amount of water has passed through the filtering media, the system automatically backflushes the tank, passing water through the media backwards. This cleans out most of the captured sediment and rinses it down the drain, allowing the media to be reused for several years.
The filtering media in a backwashing sediment filter may be specially treated to do more than just physically trap particles. The internal pore structure may be designed to trap and hold smaller particles, and the media may be made to attract some contaminants that are dissolved in the water. Most whole house backwashing sediment filters are not completely effective against very fine particulates such as superfine silt, however.
A cartridge filter for sediment uses one or more removable filters made of materials like pleated polyester, spun polypropylene, or string wound polypropylene cord. As untreated water flows into the filter, the sand and other particles are trapped in the filter material and cleaner water flows out. Cartridge filters come in a range of sizes, down to 0.5 microns. Unlike backwashing filters, the cartridges typically cannot be cleaned and reused; they are usually removed and replaced with clean filters every few months.