Clogged Well Water Filter? Here’s What to Do!

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Dealing with well water is a different experience than dealing with city water. While city water is treated and monitored by the municipality, well water is not. It is entirely up to the homeowner to ensure that their well water is clean and safe.

One of the most important components of a well water system is the filter. A filter may help to remove sediment, bacteria, iron, chemicals, and other contaminants from the water. However, over time, these filters can become clogged.

In this guide, we will discuss what you need to know about clogged well water filters.

Key Takeaways

Here are the common causes for a clogged well water filter and what you can do about them:

  • Sediment – wash/backwash filter
  • Organic matter – use chemical cleaner
  • Minerals such as calcium or magnesium – use descaling solution to dissolve scale deposits
  • Rust – use rust removal product
  • Worn-out filter – replace

Why Does Well Water Clog Filters and How?

It is not uncommon for homes with private wells to encounter clogged water filters. There are several reasons why this might happen:

Too Much Sediment

Sediment can enter your well water from a variety of sources, including runoff from storms, erosion, and even the decomposition of organic matter. While some sediment is normal, too much can clog your well water filter.

Sediment problems are more common in older water wells due to the build-up below the submersible pump over time. This can cause the pump to overwork and subsequently shorten its lifespan.

brown whole house water filter

Bacteria and Algae

Well water that is not properly treated can be a breeding ground for bacteria and algae, organisms that thrive in natural, wet environments. These organisms can quickly multiply and clog your well water filter.

While some types of bacteria are beneficial, others like coliform bacteria which are often found in well water can cause diseases. Meanwhile, algae are not necessarily harmful but aside from clogging your filter, they can also make it appear green or brown.

Hard Water

Hard water is water that has a high concentration of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. Well water can become hard when it picks up minerals as it seeps through the ground.

While hard water is not necessarily harmful to your health, it can wreak havoc on your plumbing and cause limescale buildup inside your pipes. This can also eventually lead to clogged well water filters.

The Dangers of a Clogged Well Water Filter

Aside from preventing your water filter from working effectively, clogs can lead to a few other dangers. Bacteria and other contaminants in your water can lead to gastrointestinal illness, skin infections, and other health problems.

In addition, a clogged filter can cause damage to your well pump. When the filter is clogged, the extra strain can cause the pump to overheat and break down.

How Do You Unclog a Well Water Filter?

If you have a clogged well water filter, the first thing to do is identify the source of the problem. You can do this by having your well water tested. Once you know what is causing the clog, you can take steps to clear it.

Here are some common solutions:

  1. If your filter is clogged with sediment, the best way to remove it is by backwashing. This process involves running water in the reverse direction to flush out the trapped particles.
  2. If your filter is clogged with organic matter, such as algae or bacteria, you may need to use a chemical cleaner. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and always wear gloves and other protective gear when working with chemicals.
  3. If your filter is clogged with minerals, such as calcium or magnesium, you can try using a descaling solution. This will help to dissolve the deposits and make it easier to remove them from the filter.
  4. If your filter is clogged with rust, you can try using a rust removal product. These are available at most hardware stores and can be used following the instructions on the package.
  5. If your filter is old, it may be time to replace it. Depending on the type of filter you have, this may be a simple process or one that requires more expertise. If you are not sure how to replace your filter, consult a professional.

How Often Should a Filter on Well Water Be Replaced?

The best time to change your well water filter depends on the quality of the water supply, the type of water filter you use, and how much water is used in your home.

For example, if you have a carbon whole house filter, you may only need to change it once every few years. On the other hand, if you use a point-of-use drinking water filter, you may need to replace it more frequently.

A good rule of thumb is to check your filter monthly and replace it when it becomes clogged.

What Filter Type Is Best for Well Water?

The best well water filter for your home will depend on what problems you need to solve. So before shopping, you need to get your water tested. From here, you can narrow down your choices.

Here are the different types of well water filters available:

Whole House Water Filter

A whole house water filter is installed where your water line enters your home. It filters all the water coming into your house, so every tap will have clean water. This is a great option if you want to protect the health of your family as well as your home appliances and entire plumbing system.

Many whole house systems filter water at several stages. The pre-filtering stage, often assigned as the sediment filter, gets rid of larger contaminants, while the post-filtering stage, or activated carbon filter, removes smaller particles and improves the taste of your water. The main stage might take care of iron and manganese.

whole house water filter cartridges of different sizes

Point-of-Use Water Filter

A point-of-use (POU) water filter is typically placed at a specific tap or faucet. It is easy to install and use. This type of filter is a more cost-effective option for wells that don’t have serious contamination. It will simply filter the water you drink and use for cooking.

POU filters can still work in tandem with a whole house filter if you want additional protection for your drinking water.

Reverse Osmosis System

A reverse osmosis (RO) system forces water through a semipermeable membrane, which removes a wide variety of contaminants. An RO system can be installed under your kitchen sink or where your water enters your home (whole house).

Ultraviolet Water Purifier

An ultraviolet (UV) water purifier treats microbial contamination by using UV light to kill bacteria, viruses, and the like in your well water. They are a good choice if your well water only deals with pathogenic water issues.

But if your well water carries sediment and other particles aside from microorganisms, you may be better off with a filter capable of treating multiple contaminants.

Do You Even Need a Water Filter with Well Water?

Because well water can be contaminated by a lot of things, most homes with private wells require a well water filter. However, some wells contain water safe enough to even drink. To find out if you need one for your well, it’s best to have your water tested.

How to Get Your Well Water Tested

Getting your water tested will help you understand what exact contaminants you have in your well supply. To do this, you can contact your local health department or environmental organization to find a water testing laboratory in your area.

​​There are also DIY water testing kits available, but it’s important to note that these are not always accurate and may not give you all the information you need.

If you have any questions about clogged well water filters please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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