Identifying Black Berkey Filter Problems

When your new Black Berkey filters arrive (maybe in a shiny stainless steel Berkey unit!), it’s definitely cause for excitement! You know you’re about to experience some of the cleanest water on the planet. We don’t want any little glitches that may occur in the set-up process to discourage you; it’s good to remember that they’re easily remedied.

Black Berkey Filters

Today we’ll be discussing how to do a basic test after your filters are installed to see if everything is working as it should. This test is for the Black Berkey Elements only. We recommend that you do this test in the following instances:

  • When you first set up a new Berkey system
  • When you suspect your filters are nearing the end of their lifespan
  • Any time you remove and replace filters (such as for cleaning)
  • Any time you install new replacement filters

All you need is:

  • Red dye (food coloring from the grocery store is perfect…don’t get anything organic or all natural)
  • Water (hopefully you have some on hand)

The goal is to see if the filters remove all the dye, which should indicate that your system is functioning properly. The dye must be red and not any other color because the substance that makes the color red is what the filters will recognize as needing to be removed from the water. Other colors such as blue or green (besides being much harder to detect in the water!) derive their color from minerals which the Berkey filters will allow to pass through (just another great thing about Berkey filters – they don’t rob your water of beneficial minerals!). Additionally, you should NOT use anything all natural or organic, as many of those also will pass through. The test primarily works on the artificial red dye found in the ordinary red food coloring.

  • Start with an empty system (upper and lower chamber) and remove any PF-2 fluoride reduction elements (if installed).
  • Place the upper chamber only (with the elements installed) on similar-sized cups directly underneath each Black Berkey filter. This will help isolate which filter may be exhausted and which is still filtering effectively.
  • Fill the upper chamber with water and add 1/8 teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water.
  • Allow the water to run through to the cups.
  • If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your system is working properly.
  • If the water in any of the cups is red or has a pinkish tinge, then that particular black filter is exhausted or you may not have them installed correctly.

If red food coloring is detected, please check the following:

  • Are the wing nuts on securely? Please do not tighten the wing nuts using any tools; they should be hand tightened to a snug fit, but not more. If the wing nuts are on too tight, this could cause stripping on the threads of the stem, preventing a correct seal.
  • Is the washer for the stem inside the upper chamber and is the wing nut secured at the bottom? If the washer is on the outside of the chamber with the wing nut, you will not have a proper seal, which will cause your system to fail the test. Place the washer on the inside of the upper chamber and re-run the test.
  • Are the blocking plugs properly sealing the unused holes without elements? Are the plugs installed tight with a washer on each side? If the plugs are leaking, this will cause the system to fail the test. Tighten the plugs more securely and re-run the test.

Any questions? Comment below or shoot us a message!

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