How Long Do Ceramic Water Filters Last?

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Ceramic water filters must eventually be replaced.
Ceramic water filters must eventually be replaced.

Ceramic filters are used in a variety of water filtering systems. Installed reverse osmosis filter systems often include a ceramic cartridge. Ceramic filters can also be in filter pitchers or in the filter system of a refrigerator water dispenser. Over time, ceramic filters eventually stop filtering water and must be replaced.

  1. Ceramic Filter Function

    • A ceramic filter is a specially produced piece of ceramic formed to include very small pores and channels. The channels through the ceramic allow water molecules to pass but stop and capture particles of sediment or organic material. A filter is rated by the largest size particle that can pass through the filter as measured in microns. A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter and most ceramic filters filter particles to less than one micron, typically 0.3, 0.5 or 0.9 microns.

    Filter Stops Filtering

    • A ceramic filter stops filtering water when the pores and channels through the filter become too clogged with particles. No or very little water will pass through a clogged filter. At that point -- depending on the filter style -- a ceramic filter must be either cleaned or replaced. Ceramic filters enclosed in a cartridge will need replacement. If the surface of the filter is accessible, the filter may be cleaned several times before becoming too clogged to function.

    Useful Life

    • Ceramic filters are usually sized to provide about six months of filtering based on the typical use for the application. An under-sink mounted reverse osmosis system may filter significant amounts of water and will have larger filter cartridges. A filter in a refrigerator water dispenser or a water pitcher-based filter will filter less water over time and will be equipped with smaller filters. If you filter less water than average, a filter will last longer than six months. If you filter a lot of water, the filter may stop filtering in a couple of months.

    Cleaning a Filter

    • A ceramic filter with an exposed surface can be cleaned to remove the material blocking the surface pores. Clean a filter using water and a brush or non-metallic scouring pad. Scrub the surface of the filter to loosen and wash away trapped material and particulates. A thin amount of the actual filter material may also come off, exposing less contaminated filter material. Eventually, the interior channels of a filter will clog and exterior cleaning will not rejuvenate the ability to filter.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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