If heard the term “potable” when it comes to treatment, what does this mean?
The term potable is given to drinking water that is of sufficiently high quality that it can be consumed or used with low risk of immediate or long term harm. In most developed countries, water supplied to households, commerce and industry is all of drinking water standard, even though only a very small proportion is actually consumed or used in food preparation.
After I changed the filter cartridge, the water is cloudy....why is this?
The process of change the filter cartridge has introduced air into the plumbing system. The air has mixed with the water creating microscopic bubbles that appear cloudy when drawn from the tap. This is a normal occurrence and will soon dissipate once the air is purged from the system.
I’ve noticed a drop in my water pressure after my filter has been running for a few months.....is this normal?
Yes, this is normal in the operation of the filter. All filters when installed with a cartridge exhibit some form of a pressure drop across the filtration cartridge. As the cartridge is used in begins to load (plug) by capturing contaminants inside (or on the surface) of the cartridge. This continues to happen until the point whereby the homeowner usually notices this drop in pressure. It is at this time that the cartridge is ready for replacement. The premature changing of a filtration cartridge (exclusive of carbon cartridges) is not recommended as the filtration cartridges typically become a better filter as they become progressively more loaded (plugged). You should only change a sediment removal cartridge when the pressure drop across the cartridges prevents the normal operation of your plumbing system. This does not apply to activated carbon cartridges which are typically used for taste and odour applications.
What does the term “turbidity” mean?
Turbidity can be seen as the cloudy, or hazy nature found in some waters and is caused by suspended particulate (solids) that are typically invisible to the human eye. Turbidity can be both organic and inorganic in nature and is a major issue when looking at filtration technology. Turbidity can be measure in different units including The most common form of turbidity measurement in water treatment is NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Units), however the JTU (Jackson Turbidity Units) and FTU (Formazin Turbidity Unit) may also be used.
I’ve heard the term “micron rating”......what does this mean in relation to my filter?
The term micron rating is used in filtration to determine the relative pore size of the filtration cartridge. The smaller the number, the finer the filtration. In physical terms, a micron is one millionth of a meter or 1/26000 of an inch. In relative terms, a single grain of talcum powder is approximately 5 microns, where the diameter of the human hair is approximately 80 microns. The human eye can distinguish a particle down to the size of between 30-40 microns. The symbol for the micron is the Greek letter “μ” (MU).
Some companies use a “nominal” rating while others use an “absolute” rating when referring to the micron ratings of a filter. What is the difference?
The difference lies in the % removal of the rated particle. In the case of a nominally rated 5 micron cartridge, the manufacture is stating that the filter will remove approximately 85% of the particles at a size of 5 microns and above. In the case of a cartridge rated at 1 micron absolute, the manufacturer is stating that the filter will remove approximately 99.9% of the particles at a size of 1 microns and above.
If the filter cartridge has an absolute rating, it must be a better cartridge........right?
The answer to this depends, if you are looking to remove a specific contaminant, for example the microorganism Giardia lamblia, then a filtration cartridge with an absolute rating of 1 micron is an excellent choice and in this case it is “better”. However, let’s also assume you have a great amount of turbidity (dirt) in your water. The likelihood is that this turbidity is much larger in particle size than the Giardia and the 1 micron absolute filter will do an excellent job of removing the dirt as well. The problem is that in removing the dirt as well as the Giardia, the filter will likely become prematurely clogged. This is a problem as typically the finer the micron rating, the more expensive the cartridge. In this case you are using a very expensive cartridge to remove simple dirt that can be removed with likely a much more inexpensive cartridge! In choosing a filtration cartridge, you want to first determine what it is you are trying to remove and then select the appropriate cartridge (and micron rating), based on what it is that you are trying to remove.
Why are some filter sumps (bowls) clear, while others are opaque?
From a functionality aspect, there is no difference between the clear and the opaque filter sump. The simple reason is that some people like to see the cartridge working and to see if it is in fact dirty and removing what it was intended to remove! Seems logical, however one must remember that the filtration cartridge flows from the outside to the inside. As a result, the outside of the cartridge becomes discoloured well before the inside does. The presence of dirt on the outside of the filter cartridge does not necessarily mean the cartridges is expired and needs to be replaced. One additional concern is that of sunlight. If a clear filter is installed, you must ensure it is not exposed to direct sunlight as the exposure to the sun can create a potential breeding ground for bacterial contaminants in a filter that has stagnant water in the bowl.
When I try to change my filter cartridges I have difficulty in removing the sump....why is this?
The simple answer to this is pressure. You must remember that the filter is part of your household plumbing system which is under pressure at all times. It is this force that is preventing you from easily removing the filter sump. Most water filters are designed with a pressure release, or relief valve, that is usually located on the top of the filter and likely looks like a red button. To easily change the cartridge, first shut the water off, or isolate the filter if there is a bypass system. Next, press the pressure release valve to vent the pressure inside the filter housing. You will notice a burst of air (pressure) being released when the valve is depressed and the filter sump will now be able to be easily removed. If your system does not have one of these pressure release valves, then opening a faucet closest to the filter will have the same effect.
What is the difference between a depth filter and a surface filter?
The term “depth filter” is used to describe a filter type whose internal pore structure is comprised in a manner that allows for particulate to be held in the internal pore structure of the cartridge. Typical depth filters also incorporate technology that allows for a gradiation of the internal pore structure. These “graded density” or gradient density” cartridges all of the capture of larger particulate matter at the outer core (which as a larger micron rating) and the capture of smaller particulate matter at the inner core (which has a smaller micron rating). The term “surface filter” refers to filtration technology that allows for the capture of particulate on the surface of the cartridge. An example of this technology would be a pleated pool filter cartridge.
When I remove my filter cartridge there appears to be a lot of dirt on the outside, can I simply wash this off and reuse the cartridge?
This answer depends on the type of filtration cartridge you have in your system. If the cartridge is a depth type filter, you can wash the exterior of the cartridge, however you would only be removing a small amount of the total amount of particulate matter that is actually held in the cartridge. Washing and reusing this type of cartridge simply is not effective. If however your cartridge is a surface type cartridge (i.e. pleated), careful washing and rinsing of the exterior surface can lead to an extended life of the cartridge. Extreme care must be given when doing this as you must ensure that no damage is done to the folds in these types of cartridges. If the pleats are cracked, the water, and the contaminants, will simply pass through the cracks rather than the filtration media. If the cartridge is damaged in any way, it should be replaced.
My carbon cartridge has the word “adsorption” written on the label.....is this different than absorption?
Yes, the term “adsorption” refers to the adhesion of atoms, ions, dissolved gas, liquids, etc. to a surface whereas the term “absorption” refers to process in which atoms, ions or molecules enter into some other bulk phase (gas, liquid or solid) material. Adsorption technology is commonly used when describing the process of activated carbon and its use in water treatment.
I understand that carbon is one of the basic building blocks of life, but what is “activated carbon”?
Activated carbon, also called activated charcoal or activated coal is a form of carbon that has been processed to make it extremely porous and thus to have a very large surface area available for adsorption or chemical reactions. It is this large surface area that makes activated carbon attractive for use in water treatment as there are many, many areas for the contaminants to be adsorbed into the carbon structure.
What is the difference between coconut based carbon and coal (lignite) based carbon?
The difference between the two is basically a result of the initial product used prior to the activation process. Coconut carbon comes from coconut shells that undergo a steam activation process. During this activation, millions of pores are created at the surface of the carbon thus increasing the overall toal surface area. Carbon pores can be divided into three general sizes Micro-pores (diameter in the range of less than 2 nm), Meso-pores (diameter in the range of 2 – 25 nm), and Macro-pores (diameter in the range of above 25 nm). Coconut shell carbon has mainly micro-pores to meso-pores and due to its unique distribution of pores diameter, coconut shell activated carbon are very popular in potable water purification industries.
What is the difference between a whole house (POE) filter and a single tap (POU) filter?
Both devices would use similar technology, however the whole house (POE) filter will likely be of a much larger size to accommodate the higher flow requirements of an entire dwelling. Additionally, the single tap (POU) device will likely contain additional treatment technologies designed to remove volatile organic contaminants (chemicals) from the drinking water supply. The removal of these types of contaminants is typically done at the point-of-use as opposed to the whole house as the water needs to have maximum contact time with the carbon which is more easily accomplished in a smaller POU device than in a whole home application.
How do I know when it is time to change the filter cartridge?
For devices containing activated carbon technology, the filter cartridges should be replaced after six months of use, or per the directions provided on the label. For sediment removal devices, the replacement of the filter cartridges is typically determined by a significant drop in water pressure. Filtration cartridges become loaded (plugged) over time and it is this loading that leads to a drop in water pressure. One typically changes these cartridges when the service pressure (the available water pressure when water is being drawn) typically reaches 20-30 psi. This end-point may be at different levels depending on the specific applications and/or individual.
When I install a plastic filter, do I need to worry about the grounding continuity of the system?
Yes, as the installation of the plastic filter head will break the grounding continuity of your system, the installation of a jumper wire is required. This can be easily accomplished by added to electrical grounding clamps (made for this specific purpose and available at your local hardware or plumbing supply retailer) and a wire with a gauge of at least 8AWG.
Can I install the filtration system outside?
No, these systems are designed to be installed indoors. If they must be installed outside, the must be installed with a protective cover or shed shielding the filer from the damaging rays of the sun. Additionally, any water left in a filter sump and allowed to freeze will crack the sump.
What if I need a part for my filter, where can I get them?
To obtain replacement components for your filtration system, you should contact the local retailer where you originally purchased the filter. They will be able to supply you with the part, or order one for you. If that option is unavailable to you, replacement parts can be obtained directly from the factory. Please click here for further information.
My water has fluoride in it which I want to keep, will the filters remove the fluoride?
No, typical water filtration cartridges will not remove the fluoride form your water supply. The exception is if you choose a technology like reverse osmosis as RO will remove fluoride (and other dissolved minerals) from the water supply.
I’ve been told to boil the water to get rid of the contaminants, is this true?
No, although boiling water will effectively kill any microbiological contaminants in the water, boiling does not remove any other contaminants. In fact, the process may in fact increase to concentrations of these contaminants as some of the water escapes as vapour, leaving the contaminants and the resulting smaller volume of water thereby increasing their concentrations.
The municipality put chlorine in my water to make it safe, why should I take it out?
The use of chlorine for microbiological protection of water has existed since the industrial revolution. It is true that the chlorine does eliminate the microbiological concerns, however chlorine is a chemical and although the chlorine works to protect my water while it is in solution, there is no need to consume the water with the chlorine in it. A simple carbon filter easily adsorbs the chlorine from the water, which is exactly what I want for myself and my family. The chlorine does its job while in the distribution system, but I do not want to drink the water with the chlorine in it so I have it removed with filtration.
Chlorine is said to produce disinfection by-products......what does this mean?
When chlorine mixes with the organics found in most water supplies, there is the creation of what is known as disinfection by-products (DBP’s). In the case of chlorine these DBP’s, are typically in the form of trihalomethanes (THM’s). Unfortunately, trihalomethanes are known to be carcinogenic and therefore require additional treatment to ensure that they are removed from the water supply.
Should I have my water tested? What if I live in the city?
It is always a good idea to have your water tested, especially if you are on your own, non-regulated supply (e.g. private wells). There are many water testing laboratories available to perform this evaluation and most can be found in your local “Yellow Pages” or on the web. All municipalities must follow a strict testing protocol on an ongoing basis. This information is available to the general public and the best way to find it out is to simply call your utility provider. In the US, beginning in 1999, the water utilities are required to notify their customers every year of the levels of regulated contaminants it has found in your water, as well as the presence of other suspicious, but as-of-yet unregulated, materials.
A carbon filter will remove taste and odour from my water, sounds like a perfect choice to make my lake water drinkable. Am I right?
Although the technology behind a carbon filter is designed to remove taste and odour from the water, these filters also have the potential to harbour and grow bacteriological contamination if installed incorrectly. The installation of a carbon filter on a lake water application or other potentially non-potable (drinkable) applications such as cisterns, wells, rivers, ponds, etc., is NOT recommended without some form of disinfection to accompany the filter. Most reputable companies will have a warning label affixed to the carbon filters that reads “Warning: do not use where water is microbiologically unsafe or of unknown quality without adequate disinfection before or after the unit.” In the case of the lake, a carbon filter is a great choice as long as it is accompanied by something like a UV system to address the microbiological concerns.
Lead seems to be a big water treatment issue. How do I know if I have lead in my water?
Lead can be a big issue and if you suspect your water to contain lead, you should have it tested. Lead is typically not found in natural water supplies and it typically finds its way into your water through a leaching process involving old piping, lead solder and aggressive water. Therefore, lead issues are typically found in older homes as opposed to new as most municipalities now mandate the use of lead-free solders in new home construction. If you live in an older home, you should have your water tested for lead.
I buy bottled water because I know it is better than tap water.......right?
You may assume that the quality of bottled water is superior to that of tap water, however there have been many, many studies that would prove this statement untrue. Bottled water is simply “water in a bottle”. There is nothing stopping someone from bottling the water from their home tap, affixing a fancy label to the bottle and selling that water to the public. Yes, they likely need to have the correct permit and they do need to ensure that the water is microbiologically safe, however the mineral makeup and the location of the source can be anything. With the addition of a simple treatment solution, you can take the quality tap water and make it even better for consumption than many of the bottled waters you will find in your supermarket. This translates into better water and money in your pocket, not that of the bottler!
I have a private well on my property, isn’t that safe?
The answer here is not necessarily! Your well may be located on your property, however the borehole of your well penetrates the earth to varying depths depending on the local geology. As a result, the source of the ground water that your well taps into does not necessarily means it is from directly under your property. The source could be from hundreds of miles away and could therefore be contaminated from many potential sources such as agricultural runoff, sewage intrusion, or from the local gas station which may have an old tank leaking gasoline into the ground water. The only way to ensure that your well is safe is to have the water tested on a regular basis and ensure its safety yourself!
What is the difference between microfiltration, ultrafiltration and nanofiltration?
In simple terms in has to do with the pore size of the media and ultimately the size of the particles removed by the applicable technology. Microfiltration typically uses membrane separation to remove particles in the range of 0.1 to 1.5 microns. Ultrafiltration typically uses membrane separation to remove particles in the range of 0.005 to 0.1 microns. Nanofiltration typically uses membrane separation to remove particles in the range of 0.0001 to 0.005 microns.
My carbon filter says it should be changed every six months. What if I barely use the cartridge during this six month period, should I still change the cartridge?
Yes, due to the potential for bacteriological contamination, carbon filters should not be left in an application for longer than six months regardless of whether or not the cartridge has reached its rated life capacity.
There seems to be many different types of carbon available on the market form many different sources, each of them claiming to be the best. Is all carbon the same and do I need to be concerned about where I get my carbon from?
Although carbon is carbon, not all carbon is manufactured from the same source, nor necessarily of the same quality. Some carbon is derived from coal, animal bones, coconut shells or from wood. Manufactures may decide to use only one source of carbon in their product or choose a blend of various sources. This is done to maximize the effect of the carbon’s adsorption capabilities on different types of fluids. LUMINOR uses only the best coconut shell based carbon products from reputable suppliers to ensure maximum adsorption.
Some sediment filters have multi-layers in their design. Why is this important?
The multi-layered aspect of the cartridge is designed for filtration efficiency. In these designs, the outer layer of the cartridge typically has a less dense media (higher micron rating for the removal of larger particles). As you progressively move towards the inner layer of the cartridges (its core), the cartridge becomes denser (lower micron rating for the removal of smaller particles). These designs allow for more efficient cartridges with typically less pressure drop.
I’ve heard the term “channelling” when it comes to carbon filters. What is this and why is it important?
Channelling is a term used to describe a condition in a carbon cartridge whereby an internal pathway is created within a granular activated carbon (GAC) cartridge that allows passage of the water with little or no contact time with the carbon. The water path in a cartridge that allows for channelling allows the water to take the path of least resistance. If the water is not allowed to have sufficient contact time in the carbon bed, proper adsorption (and ultimately the removal of the target contaminant such as chlorine) cannot be achieved. To eliminate channelling in carbon cartridges, LUMINOR uses prefiltraion media prior to the water entering the carbon bed that disperses the water to prevent this channelling.
What does it mean when someone says a filter “unloads”?
The basic premise of a filter is to capture contaminants within the core of the filtration cartridge thereby preventing the target contaminant from entering the effluent water stream. As filtration cartridges become more used, they become more clogged or “loaded”. As this process happens the filter actually becomes more efficient as there are fewer chances for the contaminants to pass through the filter. In a properly designed filter, this loading will occur to the point where the cartridge simply ceases to flow any water and is plugged and needs to be replaced. In a cartridge that is not structurally sound, variations in water pressure (water hammer), can cause the cartridge to fracture. As water takes the path of least resistance, it will quickly exit through this crack taking with it some of the contaminants that it had previously removed. This is defined as unloading.
What is a pre-coat filter?
A pre-coat filter is used to describe a filter that has a coating (caking) of usually diatomaceous earth, applied to the outside of a filtration media. This pre-coat must first be “activated” by pressurizing the cartridge and high flows and pressure upon start-up to ensure that the coating is applied to all surfaces of the filtration media. Pre-coat filters are typically used in very low flow and volume applications such as in the food service industry.