How Long Do Berkey Filters Last?

A common question we get is, “How long do my Berkey filters last?”. That’s a great question!

The manufacturer recommends that they be changed out every 3000 gallons. So, when you use 2 filters in your system, that means you should only change them out every 6000 gallons. Each filter can handle 3000 gallons and since you have two, each is only filtering half the water that goes through your system. So, 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). So, figure out about how often you refill your Berkey and do the math. And yes, we are happy to help with the math if numbers hurt your brain. :-) Once you figure out that approximate date, we recommend that you write that down on a sticker and affix it to the bottom of your Berkey (on the dry side of course).

Now, all that being said, there are some things you can do to extend the life of your Black Berkey or Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters. First off, make sure the water you put into your system is as clean as practical. For tap water, this is 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.

Next, when you see your flow rate decrease through the filters, clean your filters using a Scotch Brite pad under running water. This will get much of the particulate off the outside. However, you’ll never be able to clean the inside of the filter. So, when you’ve done this and the flow rate does not increase to an acceptable level, then you really know that it is time to change the filters. They simply have too much “gunk” clogged up in them.

Realize that two different companies manufacture the two different filters, so they each carry a different warranty.  The Black Berkey filters carry a 2-year prorated warranty, while the Super Sterasyl ceramic filters only carry a 6 month warranty.  All warranty work is handled via the manufacturer, but we are happy to help facilitate that for our customers!

So, if you have any questions about whether you should change your filters out, please just give us a call or send us an email. We’d love to help you out!

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15 thoughts on “How Long Do Berkey Filters Last?”

  1. I have two filters. That means I have 6000 gallons of use. As a single person using approximately 1 gallon a day, does that mean that my filters should last 16 plus years? (6000 gallons divided by 365 days) That doesn’t seem possible. Could that be right???


  2. Yes, that’s right. Those numbers are the manufacturer’s recommended change intervals. Your actual longevity will vary depending on what is in your water. Hope that helps!

  3. I bought a second set of Berkey filters though my first set is still going strong. As the second set has never been used, how long can I store them (in a cool, dark, dry place)?

  4. Great question, Nancie. New Black Berkey purifiers that have never been used (or exposed to water) can be stored indefinitely. As you mentioned, just make sure they are protected from extreme temperatures and moisture. Hope that helps!

  5. I recently purchased a big berkey with 2 ceramic filters and 2 fluoride filters. After further research I see the black berkey filters remove more heavy metals. Sine my unit has room for 2 more filters can we use the black with the ceramic or should we remove the ceramic and install the black for optimum filtration?

  6. It’s best to use either one or the other in your system at a time. That is what the manufacturer recommends. Also, the Black Berkey purifiers take a different type of fluoride filter than the ceramic filters.

    Hope that helps! Let us know if you have any other questions!

  7. For dirty or muddy water, I would recommend using a coffee filter to clean it up before putting into the Berkey.

  8. Has Berkey tested the life of the filter (preferably in a University or government lab)? I know tests have been done on brand new filters but have they been done on the life of the filter? I’m particularly interested in the Black Berkey filter

  9. The manufacturer conducts “end of life” testing on the elements. Labs are expensive and it would be cost prohibitive to pay a lab to test 3,000 gallons of water through a gravity filter. In the alternative, they produced a filter that was only 10% of the normal size with a media that contained only 10% of the normal amount of reduction media contained in our elements. In this way they were able to perform a test on filters that were 1% (10% X 10%) as powerful as our normal Black Berkey elements. Utilizing this method they could conduct the test and then multiply the volume of water by 100 to get a fair idea of how the filters performed over time.

  10. The fluoride filters last between six months and a year, or 1000 gallons per pair, whichever comes first.

  11. Berkey’s knowledge base states that optimally, the elements should last 3,000 gallons per element, meaning 6,000 gallons per pair of filters. You can see their statement on their knowledge base site, here:

    In practice, this can vary depending on the quality of the water being filtered. I.e., water with more contaminants (such as murky pond water) will wear out the filters faster than using municipal water with more subtle contaminants.

    Hope that helps!

  12. I purchased my Berkey 6 months ago. I have cleaned the filters 3 times since then. Now they’re filtering very slow (almost a whole day) and, the water still doesn’t filter all the way out of the top chamber as it did at first. I also have fluoride filters. Am I missing something during the cleaning process? I also prime the filters once cleaned.

  13. Much will depend on several factors, including: the quality of the water being filtered (i.e. is it lake water, vs municipal water? Dirtier water going in would require more frequent cleaning of the filter elements), as well as how long the filters go between refills of the upper canister (if they sit very long, they will begin to dry out, and not filter as quickly). You might also try backing the fluoride filters off of the primary filter stems slightly. Sometimes if those are screwed on too far, it can block the flow of the water. No seal is required on the fluoride filters, so backing them off will not affect the filtration.

    If you continue to experience problems, the manufacturer has a good troubleshooting site you can visit now –

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