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My Berkey failed me again, other suggestions?


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I've purchased Berkey filters twice (from an authorized dealer) and both times they failed after filtering just a fraction of what they should have.   On to something else....  Has anyone tried a Propur pitcher?  They claim it removes fluoride and that appeals to me.  Any other pitcher suggestions?  I would love to see some independent test results of all these water filters  to see if they actually hold up to what they claim.

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Have you contacted Berkey?  We used a Berkey for years with bad, dirty and very chlorinated city well water and did have to replace the filters after about every 5 months, but otherwise no problems.

We just got a whole house filter plus undersink reverse osmosis.  It was spendy, but you can get under sink reverse osmosis at Costco for a good price.

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I suggest you contact Berkey.  

What exact Berkey set up do you have?  And 4 filters or 2?  Black carbon or white ceramic? In what way , after how long, and with what amount of contaminants did your filters fail?

I’ve been using Berkey with well water and have not had premature filter failure, other than 

1) a problem with the washers and wing nuts wearing out and leaking, which Berkey replaced

2) a problem with a dropped filter cylinder which was my fault and I replaced 

I don’t use the extra chlorine type filter cartridges because we are on a well, so if that’s what’s failing I don’t have experience.

I still do the red dye test system, but am shifting to a schedule of replacement rather than going out to point of failure.  Sort of like important car parts.  I’d rather change them periodically if I can afford it rather than wait for actual failure.  

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“health ranger mike Adams” is ... not everyone’s cup of tea... but sort of survivalist mentality and did do some independent testing.  You could try Natural News website, maybe, for results.

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It's a travel Berkey with 2 black filters and 2 fluoride filters.  We have very good tap water, not hard, not much chlorine.   I contacted Berkey, both the dealer and manufacturer, the first time the filters failed.  They had me do several tests but couldn't figure out the problem.  They started out perfectly fine but after about 500 gallons the water coming out of the filters was so bad - really foul smelling, cloudy, musty, and undrinkable.  The water that was going into the Berkey from the tap was clean.  They offered me a discount to replace the filters.  When I installed new filters, I did the red dye test and everything came out crystal clear.  I just did the same red dye test today after about 300 gallons filtered and both filters produced pink water.   From what I understand they should have lasted for about 6000 gallons, especially since the water going in from the tap is pretty clean.  The washers and wing nuts look good to me but perhaps that's the problem.  I looked at a video on the website that said a possible problem could be that they are over tightened and stripped so I checked that and thought it was ok.

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1 hour ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Is it possible that you are getting some kind of bacterial contamination in the filters that’s growing?   Not sure if that’s possible but just wondering?

 

That sounds very possible.  

We have the stainless steel type system, going all the time and cleaned pretty often.

maybe the travel type has added issues 

and @LadyR they’re only supposed to last around 1000 gallons max afaik 

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2 hours ago, Ausmumof3 said:

Is it possible that you are getting some kind of bacterial contamination in the filters that’s growing?   Not sure if that’s possible but just wondering?

 

It seems like that may have happened with the first filters that became smelly and cloudy.   I keep the canisters very clean so not sure how it happened.  With the 2nd set of filters, the water was coming out clean and tasted fine but when I did the red dye test today I found that neither filter was actually working.  We have pretty good tap water with just a bit of chlorine.  I didn't detect any chlorine but if the red dye is coming through then, according to the Berkey website, the filters are not working properly.  I'm wondering how long this has been going on because although I clean the system regularly I haven't done the dye test since I first installed them.

 

Edited by LadyR
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1 hour ago, Pen said:

 

That sounds very possible.  

We have the stainless steel type system, going all the time and cleaned pretty often.

maybe the travel type has added issues 

and @LadyR they’re only supposed to last around 1000 gallons max afaik 

 

1 hour ago, Pen said:

Also do you clean your whole system, not just the filters?

 

The Travel Berkey is the same stainless steel system as the Big Berkey, just smaller.  I read that each filter should last 3000 gallons, so two should have lasted for 6000 gallons.  But even if it is 1000, I had used less than 300 gallons so it's really strange why they failed so soon.  I do clean the whole system pretty often, taking everything apart and scrubbing inside and out and re-prime the filters.

Edited by LadyR
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The dye can come through if the filters aren’t working, but also if there is any leakage around / under the washers / between washers and filter cylinders.  

It’s very odd because we have pretty nasty water, a lot of iron and manganese.  When I clean it, there’s iron scum all over the filters fairly often (iron comes out of well in bursts, not a consistent amount), and so much iron that the inside upper canister has been stained slightly gold color.  Yet mine will last a year or longer with no pink / redness on the dye test, and no iron getting through which would also be pretty obvious.

I don’t reprime after the first priming— with constant use it has never  dried out. And I think instructions only called for initial priming.   But I don’t know that that would cause any problem.

I also only occasionally clean the lower canister.   And clean the outsides separately really just to shine it for prettiness—not part of the cleaning to make it work right.  

The upper canister inside I clean thoroughly with brand new clean 3m green scrubby (no soap) and water.  I take care not to contaminate the filter stems, and thoroughly clean the washers and nuts.   I predisinfect the surface I’ll be setting parts on during cleaning, and the filters don’t get to touch anything other than water, my clean hands, the scrubby, and a disinfected plate.  The washers sometimes get touched by a clean paper towel.  Even though they are small they seem to need as much or more washing/ scrubbing as the cylinders.  The bottom plastic of the cylinders where it will touch the washers also needs careful scrubbing (because any dirt or scum build up there not only contributes dirt, but can keep it from making a good seal).  

If I’ve thought I had some contamination (wrongly touched something, sneezed) I have used a very pure vodka as a disinfectant. 

Mine doesn’t have the extra lower filters on (I have some, but have never used them, in part because I want to reduce plastics exposure).  I guess if I had them, I’d be carefully cleaning them too.

You have everything in correct assembly order, I assume.   Washers with the black filter cylinders well centered and with good contact ?

I wonder if your water could have more in it, invisible, than you realize, such that the filters really are being used up quickly for legitimate filtration? 

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I wanted to come back and share the NSF website that has the filtration standards so that you could search for them by name/type. If you click around on the website, you can see who has been certified.  Most companies will link their testing documents on their own product websites.

I also wanted to link this from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/gen_info/filters.html   What I like about the link is the language that some companies use to get around the fact that they haven't been certified to meet the standard.  It's kind of eye-opening, iykwim.

I also wanted to post this link from wirecutter, which talks about some of the inconsistencies they found in using independent lab testing: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/big-berkey-water-filter-system/

The Black Berkey according to this website meets NSF 53 certification: https://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/tag/nsf-certification/  But when I search the NSF website: http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/Listings.asp?TradeName=berkey&Standard=&ProductType=&PlantState=&PlantCountry=&PlantRegion=&submit3=Search&hdModlStd=ModlStd it is not listed. Ahem.  Others on the 'net have made this same "discovery".

My point is, water is kind of one of those key safety things. Do your research.

 

 

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35 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I wanted to come back and share the NSF website that has the filtration standards so that you could search for them by name/type. If you click around on the website, you can see who has been certified.  Most companies will link their testing documents on their own product websites.

I also wanted to link this from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/gen_info/filters.html   What I like about the link is the language that some companies use to get around the fact that they haven't been certified to meet the standard.  It's kind of eye-opening, iykwim.

I also wanted to post this link from wirecutter, which talks about some of the inconsistencies they found in using independent lab testing: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/big-berkey-water-filter-system/

The Black Berkey according to this website meets NSF 53 certification: https://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/tag/nsf-certification/  But when I search the NSF website: http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/Listings.asp?TradeName=berkey&Standard=&ProductType=&PlantState=&PlantCountry=&PlantRegion=&submit3=Search&hdModlStd=ModlStd it is not listed. Ahem.  Others on the 'net have made this same "discovery".

My point is, water is kind of one of those key safety things. Do your research.

 

 

For years we have been dragging 5 gallon water containers down to the water "store" to fill with R/O water. But we've been lazy the last couple months and we've been drinking tap water.... but I'm thinking it's time to get a home filter.  I have never researched this and don't even know where to start. Where's the cliff notes version of the best filters? :)

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

I wanted to come back and share the NSF website that has the filtration standards so that you could search for them by name/type. If you click around on the website, you can see who has been certified.  Most companies will link their testing documents on their own product websites.

I also wanted to link this from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/parasites/crypto/gen_info/filters.html   What I like about the link is the language that some companies use to get around the fact that they haven't been certified to meet the standard.  It's kind of eye-opening, iykwim.

I also wanted to post this link from wirecutter, which talks about some of the inconsistencies they found in using independent lab testing: https://thewirecutter.com/reviews/big-berkey-water-filter-system/

The Black Berkey according to this website meets NSF 53 certification: https://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/blog/tag/nsf-certification/  But when I search the NSF website: http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/Listings.asp?TradeName=berkey&Standard=&ProductType=&PlantState=&PlantCountry=&PlantRegion=&submit3=Search&hdModlStd=ModlStd it is not listed. Ahem.  Others on the 'net have made this same "discovery".

My point is, water is kind of one of those key safety things. Do your research.

 

 

 

When I did the research, I found independent confirmation that Berkey black cylinders  filter as well as or better than the NSF certification.  I’m used to dealing with local farmers who do things equal to or better than organic certification standards, but do not get certified. I felt reasonably comfortable with it.

I also test our well water (and sometimes other water here) as it will be for drinking purposes from time to time personally.  The water out of Berkey had no contaminants that our lab could show other than salt—which I already knew Berkey was not a system able to desalinate water.   

ETA: Afaik, cryptosporidium is unlikely to be present in the first place in a deep water well.  It is more an issue with shallow wells and surface water. 

In our area where there was recent flooding, people whose well went under flood waters have been advised to boil their drinking water.  Ours did not go under flood water.   

If in “emergency circumstances”  I had to use surface water for drinking I would try to boil as well as Berkey filter it.     In the sort of emergency that required surface water use, RO and other such filters would not be likely to be working well (or perhaps at all) either since wells and pressure systems tend to be electric and the electric tends to go out for us in even pretty minor “emergency “ conditions,— such as 6” of snow can take it out.  

Edited by Pen
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We chose to go with multiple systems.

For the house, we have a APEC RO system. We have water filtration bottles (1 per person) in our emergency supplies. We were in hurricane country, now we are in earthquake country. I keep a couple of Lifestraws about as well, and I have a UV sterilization pen. 

Cliffnotes version: If you are filtering for more than aesthetics and you have a larger sized family, go for a RO unit and get an additional storage tank (we have a 5 gallon one) hooked up at the same time. Putting stuff through a RO membrane does more than straight filtering can. 

 

 

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12 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

We chose to go with multiple systems.

 

That’s probably a good idea!  In a way that’s my approach too-though different specific multiple choices than yours. 

12 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

For the house, we have a APEC RO system. We have water filtration bottles (1 per person) in our emergency supplies. We were in hurricane country, now we are in earthquake country. I keep a couple of Lifestraws about as well, and I have a UV sterilization pen. 

 

What are your personal walter filtration bottles? We have Seychelles highest filtration level squeeze/suck type bottles, but I don’t think they are very good insofar as they flavor the water with plastic, which must mean it has plastic in the water that gets drunk. I’d like to find something better. 

For your UV pen, what do you put the water in for sterilization?  I’d understood (perhaps incorrectly) that they sterilize half a liter at a time, but can only do so in a plastic container,  yet won’t fit into the openings of most plastic bottles.  

We have some iodine tablets for emergency water disinfection — they supposedly are more effective against giardia (and similar) than chlorine, (less so than UV or boiling), and don’t take batteries or other fuel sources if that were a problem.   When my son spent time camping in Cascades the group used chlorine tablets—which aren’t supposed to be very effective against giardia, but no one got sick using that plus the “clear and fast moving” concept.  

Tapeworm eggs (cysts?) is supposed to be another major problem—possibly with worms even affecting some municipal supplies. 

Have you tried any emergency/camping use “Sawyer” filters? 

12 hours ago, prairiewindmomma said:

 

Cliffnotes version: If you are filtering for more than aesthetics and you have a larger sized family, go for a RO unit and get an additional storage tank (we have a 5 gallon one) hooked up at the same time. Putting stuff through a RO membrane does more than straight filtering can. 

 

That’s true.  Not all systems can have an RO set up and they waste a lot of water, but they do filter a lot.   Possibly more than any other type of filtration.  

There has been some question about their effectiveness for pesticide/herbicide removal.  https://blog.wychwood-water.com/what-impurities-does-reverse-osmosis-not-remove

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We have a carbon filter stage in our RO unit to remove pesticides and herbicides (as suggested in the blog you linked).  It also does not require electricity.

We have the Seychelles RAD/AV bottles also, mostly because 1. It's hard to find water filtration bottles that remove harmful chemicals also, 2. glass in emergency situations is not my favorite, and 3. I don't plan on the water sitting in the bottles long between refills, so I'm not concerned about tangential bpa exposure. If things have gotten bad enough that we're using the bottles, then I have serious problems, iykwim. For everyday use, I just fill my stainless steel bottles with RO water. (My glass water bottle died this year.)

I got my UV pen for when I first moved to the PNW last year and we were living out of suitcases in a temporary apartment. I learned that the water district we were in does not treat for crypto. Like, it was just jaw dropping that they don't treat.  I just dunked my stern-pen  into my drinking glass every time until we closed on our house and got our RO set up.  If you want studies on the steri-pen + different types of water bottles, it's actually really reassuring news: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S147789391500174X 

We have a lot of hiking friends. Anecdotally, most of our friends have ditched their Sawyer bottles for Lifestraws. Lifestraws don't filter out viruses but they do do bacteria and protozoa. The Sawyer .02 with the adsorption foam do filter out viruses + some chemicals but the website says it doesn't remove pesticides or heavy metals.  We usually just day hike and carry the extra weight of water

I don't know much about this system, but you might be interested in this (glass bottle): https://www.amazon.com/Filtered-Water-Chemicals-Cryptosporidium-Contaminants/dp/B07HPD89JN

 

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34 minutes ago, prairiewindmomma said:

We have a carbon filter stage in our RO unit to remove pesticides and herbicides (as suggested in the blog you linked).  It also does not require electricity.

 

Are you on municipal water so that that water pressure comes from ... hunh... wherever municipal system water pressure comes from?  We are on an electric powered well and electric powered pressure system. When electric goes out so does our water.  

The main reason we didn’t go to RO was that we have extreme iron (sometimes) and some salt  — the RO , I was told, cannot handle the amount of iron as a reasonable under sink or portable countertop home type system.  

2 neighbors have a water softener for the iron followed by RO for just drinking water, but the results taste terrible.  And it creates a huge amount of added salt waste and water waste.  

I have considered trying to install an R/O whole house system.  And, it has been years since I looked into RO undersink or countertop... they may have improved iron handling capacities since I last checked.  

Quote

 

We have the Seychelles RAD/AV bottles also, mostly because 1. It's hard to find water filtration bottles that remove harmful chemicals also, 2. glass in emergency situations is not my favorite, and 3. I don't plan on the water sitting in the bottles long between refills, so I'm not concerned about tangential bpa exposure.

Maybe I’ll just keep mine packed for emergency. My son took one on camping trip and said it was horrible.  

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If things have gotten bad enough that we're using the bottles, then I have serious problems, iykwim. For everyday use, I just fill my stainless steel bottles with RO water. (My glass water bottle died this year.)

 

Yeah we have stainless bottles I like a lot.  We have reused glass bottles from bought bottled water successfully though they’re uninsulated and breakable.  

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I got my UV pen for when I first moved to the PNW last year and we were living out of suitcases in a temporary apartment. I learned that the water district we were in does not treat for crypto. Like, it was just jaw dropping that they don't treat. 

I heard that about municipal water systems in our area also, that there’s nothing special beyond chlorine.   Though I’m not particularly aware of there having been illness from crypto in the area, so maybe it is working well enough in practice.  

I don’t know if this is true, but someone also said a tolerance to crypto (and Giardia) can build up where being in area one doesn’t tend to get ill from it—- similar to locals in Mexico being able to drink unboiled water without getting La Tourista.  

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 I just dunked my stern-pen  into my drinking glass every time until we closed on our house and got our RO set up.  If you want studies on the steri-pen + different types of water bottles, it's actually really reassuring news: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S147789391500174X 

 

I’ll look .  I guess they do work in Glass then. 

Quote

We have a lot of hiking friends. Anecdotally, most of our friends have ditched their Sawyer bottles for Lifestraws. Lifestraws don't filter out viruses but they do do bacteria and protozoa. The Sawyer .02 with the adsorption foam do filter out viruses + some chemicals but the website says it doesn't remove pesticides or heavy metals.  We usually just day hike and carry the extra weight of water

 

I’ll look at that too. 

Quote

 

I don't know much about this system, but you might be interested in this (glass bottle): https://www.amazon.com/Filtered-Water-Chemicals-Cryptosporidium-Contaminants/dp/B07HPD89JN

 

 

I’ll look.  

I tend to focus on Giardia because we are in Beaver territory where Giardia becomes likely.    Enough to consider when swimming as well as drinking.  

We have a seasonal spring with excellent tasting water which tested high for biologicals.   But it may be that whatever can treat crypto can traet  Giardia. 

Edited by Pen
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Ps I was just looking at the Epic, which looks interesting as perhaps a travel water system for use when in city, etc.     It made me remember that I’ve used bubble wrap to help regular glass bottles be less breakable.  

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1 hour ago, prairiewindmomma said:

My old glass water bottle had a silicon wrap. I actually dropped it a few times (tile, concrete garage floor) and didn’t have any breakage. The mouthpiece broke off when a helpful child ran it through the dishwasher and it melted.

 

Oops!

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  • 10 months later...

It appears as though that may have occurred with the primary channels that turned out to be rank and shady. I keep the canisters clean so not certain how it occurred. With the second arrangement of channels, the water was telling the truth and tasted fine however when I did the red color test today I found that neither one of the filters was really working. We have truly great faucet water with a tad of chlorine. I didn't identify any chlorine yet in the event that the red color is coming through, at that point, as per the Berkey site, the channels are not working appropriately. I'm thinking about to what extent this has been going on the grounds that in spite of the fact that I clean the framework routinely I haven't done the color test since I previously introduced them.

Berkey water

 

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