One of the questions we get about our Berkey water filtration systems is what to do when you may not be using your system for an extended period of time. The Berkey filtration systems are designed to be easily disassembled if you need to store them or travel with them, so it’s certainly not a problem to do so, as long as you keep a few things in mind.
The main reason we offer proper storage guidelines is because of the moisture factor. If the inside of the unit or the filters are sitting for extended time periods without fresh water being cycled through, there is a slight chance for mold growth to occur. If you’re on a municipal water supply, the water is treated with chemicals that inhibit mold growth, but the filters are designed to remove those yucky chemicals, so any filtered water in the bottom reservoir can be more susceptible to it. If you think you may not be using your system for longer than a couple weeks, that’s when we recommend thinking about storing it.
The unit consists of 2 main sections. Lift the top chamber off and unscrew and remove all the filters. Set those aside and thoroughly dry the interior of both the upper and lower chambers with an absorbent towel. Leave both sections and the lid separated for a few hours (or more, depending on your climate) to allow airflow to dry any water droplets you may have missed. When it’s completely dry, it can be stored (for travel, long-term unuse, etc) by inverting the top chamber and slipping it down into the lower chamber. The lid can be placed on top of that. This way it takes up just a little more than half the space it does when fully assembled.
For the filters, they also need to be completely dry before long-term storage. For the Super Sterasyl ceramic filters, simply leave them out on a towel for a few days to dry out. For the Black Berkey filters, if you need to dry them out quickly, you can use the Berkey Primer Bulb to blow the water out of the pores (basically doing the opposite of what you do when you prime them). Otherwise you can simply place them on a towel and let them air-dry for a few days on a window sill or somewhere with good airflow. It will probably take a few days before they are truly dry all the way through. This will depend somewhat on your climate. For example, here in the US there’s a big difference between the moisture levels in the air in Arizona on the drier western side of the country and Florida on the very humid east coast. The higher your humidity, the longer it may take for everything to dry out. When you get ready to use your filters again, you’ll need to re-prime them so that any air is removed and the air tension won’t prevent water flow through the filters. When you’re sure they’re completely dry, you can then store them in a safe place where they will not get broken. To prevent the Black Berkey filters from taking on and retaining any type of odors while in storage (which they very easily can do because of the nature of the adsorbing carbon medium), you can seal them in a ziploc bag.
If the filters will not be used between 4 to 15 days, remove the filters from the system and put them in an air-tight bag or storage container. Put them in a refridgerator and ensure that the temperature is not low enough to freeze. This should maintain the water saturation of the filters so that when you are ready to put them back into the system, they probably won’t have to be re-primed. If the moisture does end up draining out a little and you find that the flow-rate isn’t optimal, just repeat the priming procedure.
Fluoride Filter Storage – PF-2 or PF-4
If you have a Berkey system that includes the secondary fluoride filters (recommended for use with any type of municipal or treated water supply), the PF-2 fluoride filters (the ones that go with the Black Berkey filters) may be removed and stored in a refrigerator short term (never place in a freezer and be sure that the fridge is not cold enough to freeze). Before using the filters again, flush them from both ends for up to 1 minute each. The PF-4 fluoride filters (paired with the Super Sterasyl ceramic filters) have a 6-month lifespan regardless, so they generally do not store as well.
If you’re disassembling the Berkey unit for travel, special care should be taken to protect the filters for transport, as they are fairly delicate. You’ll want to remove all filters and keep them well-protected with appropriate padding/wrapping/casing. Also when transporting, be careful not to bang the spigot on the exterior as it could break. It may be removed for transport if desired.
Questions? We’d love to hear from you! Send us a message or leave a comment and we’ll look forward to being in touch!