Another common question we get is
How long do my Berkey filters last?
That’s a great question!
Let’s start by clarifying that we carry two different types of primary filters for the Berkey system: the Black Berkey Elements and the Berkefeld Super Sterasyl ceramic filters. (Read more about the differences between the two here.) These two types have very different lifespans.
For the Black Berkey Elements, which are a very popular choice, the manufacturer recommends that they be changed out after approximately 3,000 gallons of water goes through them. So, when you use 2 filters in your system, that means you should replace them after they have filtered an estimated 6,000 gallons. Under ideal circumstances each filter will effectively clean 3,000 gallons, so if you have two, each is only filtering half the water that goes through your system. If you use 4 filters, you would change them out at the 12,000 gallon point. With a Royal Berkey which holds about 3 gallons, that means you would change them out after about 4,000 refills (yes, that is a LOT).
The Berkefeld ceramic filters have a significantly shorter lifespan. They clock in at approximately 1,000 gallons per pair.
Many people use the add-on fluoride filters, as well, and we highly recommend that you do if you’re on a municipal water supply where the water is typically highly treated with all kinds of chemicals. A pair of the PF-2 fluoride filters that go with the Black Berkey Elements will last for approximately 1,000 gallons of water, while a pair of the PF-4 fluoride filters that go with the ceramic filters will last for 500 gallons of water or 6 months, whichever comes first.
A standard estimate for water consumption is 1 gallon per day per person. So as an example, if the Black Berkey Elements are being used in a household with two individuals, the filters would function for approximately 8 years before needing to install replacement filters. The fluoride (PF-2) filters, at the same water consumption rate, would need to be replaced after just under a year and a half.
In a nutshell:
Black Berkey (pair) – 6,000 gal.
Berkefeld ceramic (pair) – 1,000 gal.
PF-2 fluoride (pair) – 1,000 gal.
PF-4 fluoride (pair) – 500 gal. or 6 months, whichever comes first
We recommend that once you do some approximate calculations and have a ball-park date for when you will need to replace your filters, go ahead and write that down on a sticker and affix it to the underside of your Berkey unit.
All this being said, these numbers are estimates, and the lifespan of your filters depends heavily on what type of water is being run through them. If your water has a higher level of contaminant, either visible or invisible, it could significantly shorten the lifespan of the filters, due to the fact that they micro-pores will eventually get clogged with the sediment build-up.
There are a couple things you can do to extend the life of your Black Berkey or Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters. First, make sure the water you put into your system is as clean as possible. For tap water, this is usually not a problem, but if you use your system to filter out creek or pond water, we recommend that you use a T-shirt or other cloth as a pre-filter. Simply put the cloth over the top chamber when you fill it up and it will filter out all of the “big stuff” such as algae, mud, etc. This allows the Berkey filters to focus on the small stuff.
You can also clean your filters using a very simple procedure. Stayed tuned – we’ll be putting instructions on how to do that, right here on the blog tomorrow!
Send us an email any time if you have any questions! We’d love to get in touch with you!