Dirty Sediment Filter? Here Is What You Need to Know!

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To enjoy pure and clean water, you often need to have a proper sediment filter in place.

However, what if that sediment filter gets dirty itself?

This article will discuss dirty sediment filters and what to do about them.

Key Takeaways

  • You shouldn’t worry about a dirty sediment filter unless it stops doing its job properly and doesn’t remove particulates anymore.
  • Plumbing issues, well maintenance, weather conditions, and water quality are some of the issues that cause a sediment filter to become dirty.
  • Testing your water, calling a professional for repairs, and cleaning/replacing the filter are some of the recommended solutions.

What Is a Sediment Water Filter and How Does It Work?

Sediment filters trap and remove matter from water, like dirt, sand, silt, and rust. Removing these particles protects your entire water system. In other words, a sediment filter is essentially the first line of defense against debris and dirt.

For instance, stormwater carries clay, soil, silt, and sand grains into your well water supply. Then, water flow changes bring this sediment into your home. Additionally, flakes of rust can enter the water supply from corroded plumbing.

If you have a sediment filter in place, it will prohibit all of this solid matter from entering your home. The result: Longer life and fewer repairs of pipes and water-using appliances.

Is a Dirty Sediment Filter Anything You Should Worry About?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that catching dirt, sand, clay, rust flakes, and other debris is what sediment filters are designed to do. You should worry only when your sediment filter has accumulated a lot of dirt, which may impact its performance, not allowing it to do its job properly; that is, removing particulates.

replacing dirty whole house sediment filter

What Causes a Sediment Filter to Get Dirty Fast?

There could be several reasons your sediment filter or water treatment system gets dirty faster than anticipated. And it’s paramount to investigate each one. Sure, it’s challenging trying to find the issue, but don’t stop until you do. Besides, there may be more problems down the line.

Issues with Your Plumping

Is your home’s plumbing old? If so, then there’s a high chance there’s a leak in your pipe system that enables contaminants to enter your water supply, causing the sediment filter to get dirty fast.

Depending on the size of your house and the location of your pipes, it can take a while until you identify the leak’s location.

Do consult an expert when it comes to plumbing issues if you’re not an expert yourself.

It Might Be Your Well

Working on your well can cause problems with your water supply. Thankfully, these issues are temporary and will go away in a few weeks. In most cases, they should not even persist for more than a few days. For a quick fix, flush your system.

Now, there’s also a chance you have a broken pipe in your well. If that’s the case, contaminants will enter. This isn’t an easy fix unless you know where the exact issue is.

What’s more, ensure your wall’s water level isn’t too low. It should be a buffer of water between the bottom and the pump of the well, preventing sediment from being sucked by the pump. When your water level is too low and the pump is very close to the bottom, excess sediment will enter the water supply.

Well Maintenance

When you don’t maintain your well, it could fail into a bad state of disrepair and allow high amounts of sediment and contaminants to enter the water. Therefore, have a professional inspect your well every few years or so to ensure everything works as expected.


Sudden changes in weather conditions can cause issues and, at times, significant ones. In fact, both drought and heavy rain can negatively impact your well’s operation.

Your water level should be just below or above average for optimal pump and other components’ performance. If the water level exceeds the average, then you just have to wait it out. And if it has been a drought, check if you can adjust the water level to accommodate this.

Water Usage

Living in a house with lots of people (i.e., think of joint families) means you will consume a lot of water so that any sediment filter will have to work more than expected. Overworking your filter may cause it to become overly dirty, decreasing its lifespan.

Remember that sediment filter life estimates are based on average water consumption. So, when you’re using more water than expected, you have to replace the filters more frequently. The only thing you can do about this is not to use much water; however, this is not a realistic option.

Too Small of a Filter for the Water Flow Rate

When you use a filter with a super small micron rating, finer and finer particles will be captured. Generally, this is great since dealing with small sediment that larger filters cannot catch means purer water. However, this also decreases your filter’s durability in the long run.

Sediment filters with small micron ratings have to be replaced more often when used in polluted environments.


Some solutions to consider if you’ve identified a dirty sediment filter are:

Remove The Filter and Flush

If you’ve done work that might result in more deposited contaminants into your well, try flushing the entire water system. Sometimes, the problem will just go away after a flush.

brown whole house water filter

Test the Water

Testing water quality is a surefire way of finding if your water simply contains a lot of sediment.

If that’s the case, then it will cause extra wear on your house filters and decrease their lifespan very fast. There is nothing you can really do here except flush and replace filters more frequently.

Call a Professional for Repairs

Reaching out to professionals for repairs is always a good idea if you can’t identify or fix a plumbing or well issue yourself.

And if you’re unsure how to fix the issue, don’t try to be the hero. You might cause even more damage and more contaminants deposited in your water supply.

How to Clean or Replace a Dirty Sediment Filter

Sediment filters can be washed and reused, especially pleated sediment filters. That said, it’d be wise to replace your filter cartridge at some point.

So, let’s stop wasting time and see how to clean or replace a dirty sediment filter. However, before we begin, it’s important to mention that the process of cleaning and replacing is similar. Besides, all you need is to get access to the filter cartridge.


  1. Begin by turning off the water supply. Close the valve at the main water line or the inlet valve before your water filter if you have installed an extra one.
  2. Next, open any water outlets to drain the remaining water. Once you notice a great drop in the water pressure and flow rate, it means most of the water has been removed from your plumbing system.
  3. At this point, close your outlet valve to stop water from draining back from your home.
  4. Hold and press the pressure relief button on the water filter to ensure there’s no overpressure.
  5. Unscrew the housing with a wrench. Use a bucket to collect spilling water.
  6. Remove the cartridge from inside the housing and place it in the bucket. If you want to clean it, wash it well to remove sediment. Otherwise, feel free to throw it away.
  7. When it’s clean, add the cartridge or place a new one inside the housing and screw it back on.
  8. Slowly turn the water supply on and open all valves.
  9. If there’s any leak, turn off the water supply and tighten any loose connections.
  10. Open faucets to flush your new filter and to purge any air away from your plumping.
  11. Once the water pressure and flow rate are normal, close all faucets, and drink a glass of water!

How Often to Change Sediment Filters

You should change your sediment filter every three months to a year. That said, there’s only one way to know if you really need to change your filter: by observing the water pressure. When it starts to drop, it’s time for a filter change.

Alternatively, change your sediment filter when you notice it has stopped doing its work well. When water appears dirty, despite having the filter in place, it means that the effectiveness of your filter has deteriorated. So, go ahead and replace the filter cartridge with a new one.

If you have any questions about dirty sediment filters please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Alexandra Uta

Alex is a content writer with an affinity for research and a methodical attention to detail. Since 2020, she has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Alex has been using water filters and similar products for years which has gained her lots of hands-on experience.
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