Micron ratings for sediment filters on well water?

Alex_LockhartMay 17, 2014

We just moved into a mid-century house in Ashland, OR. It's 3 beds, 2 baths, plus a small guest cottage with its own kitchen and bath with shower (and water heater). We're a young couple and will be renting out the cottage later this year, and hope to have kids soon, but we have low water usage habits so for now, we're not using a lot of water. It's near town but in a semi-rural area and on well water. The well is 70ft deep, tested last fall at 2.2gpm, feeds into a 1,000 gallon above-ground cistern, then has a separate pump to pressurize the house plumbing. We had a complete water test done in April before purchasing, and I can include the entire results here if necessary, but I read it all carefully and found that all contaminants which have an EPA limit are either not detected or very low - most are 1/10th or 1/100th of the EPA limit. So I'm not concerned about the safety of the water for drinking.

It's very hard water - 292ppm or 17GPG, and that is over the EPA limit of 250ppm, but doesn't pose any health problem. It does create lime scale anywhere it's heated, and contributes to a slightly mineral taste - not unlike some expensive European mineral water. But the water hardness is a topic for another thread, once we've fully moved in and have a break from installing new flooring.

Right now I'm just putting new cartridge filters in the well house. There are two of the 4.5 by 10 inch BB style filters, plumbed sequentially and directly after the pump, just before the water splits to run to the main house and guest cottage, both with the same 1 inch fittings as the rest of the plumbing in the well house. I'm trying to figure out what's a reasonable cartridge to install. Does it make any sense for one of them to be GAC or carbon block? I was thinking of having the Pentek dual gradient filters in both of them, running the DGD-7525 http://www.allfilters.com/sedimentfilters/10-big-blue/pentek-dgd-7525 in the first and the DGD-2501 http://www.allfilters.com/sedimentfilters/10-big-blue/pentek-dgd-2501 in the second. Theoretically, this would filter sediment down to 1 micron nominal with little danger of clogging the 1 micron final core filter. Both are rated for under 1psi drop at 10gpm, so it seems they shouldn't create much pressure drop. I haven't installed pressure gauges before and after the filters, but I'll get to that by the time they might need changing.

I know that 5 micron is often seen as overkill and a clog waiting to happen, and I'm not sure I need 1-micron level filtration, but here I have these two filter housings, so I should put them to use, and the DGD series looks like a good choice. Is there a way to know how much of what particle size of sediment exists in my water - without just popping in various filters and seeing how long till they fill up? Aside from the hardness of the water, I don't have any real complaints about using it, or concerns from the water test report, so I don't feel like filters other than simple sediment are necessary.

Also, there's a little Culligan under-sink filter in the kitchen, which supplies the kitchen sink and icemaker in the fridge. I just put a Culligan D20-A GAC cartridge in there. But we don't often drink or cook with the tap water - our previous house (on municipal water) had a possibility of lead and just tasted bad, so we got in the habit of filling a 7-gallon plastic water dispenser tank at the Glacier machines and using that for all our drinking and cooking needs, and we've continued to do that. We like the very neutral taste of the RO water (especially for coffee and tea), and Glacier machines are cheaper in the short term than getting a proper RO system under the sink.

So, given that I have these two filter housings for the whole house, what cartridges should I use?

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You can have a sediment profile done by a lab if you really want to know what you've got. Generally, however, that just isn't necessary.

SInce your water has been tested safe, there is no reason for a GAC filter. As to the type of cartridge to use, that depends a bit on what you see in your water. When you run water, do you see visible particles, cloudiness or color? Regardless, unless you have some reason why no particulate whatsoever can enter your plumbing system, don't go below a 5 micron filter. 20 micron is usually fine for most homes. You would be better off to replumb those cartridges in parallel with shutoffs on each one.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2014 at 10:13AM
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Thanks for the helpful reply! Here's some followup questions.

You said that since the water is tested safe, there's no need for a GAC filter. It was my understanding that GAC doesn't really remove contaminants and won't make water safer, just removes chlorine and various minor taste and odor-causing particles. If that's true, why would the tested safety of the water affect a decision to use GAC on the whole house?

Anecdotally, the water from the kitchen sink with a new GAC cartridge in the little Culligan under-sink filter now tastes noticeably better than from other faucets, which is what I expected.

The water looks perfectly clear, with no visible sediment even when sitting in a clear glass for over 24 hours. One faucet has, sometimes, produced cloudy water, but that clears on sitting and leaves little bubbles on the sides, so that's pretty obviously caused by a wonky faucet aerator - probably limescale. I plan to replace all the aerators since I'm sure they're all getting some scale buildup. The test returned no iron (below the minimum of 0.015ppm) and a low turbidity of 0.262 NTU, so those support the clear look of the water.

I'm not aware of a reason to get crazy about the sediment in the water system, except that it might make the limescale worse by giving the scale particles lots of sediment particles to attach to. Does that even happen? Anyway, it sounds like if I'm aiming for 5 or 10 micron sediment, maybe I should run a pleated filter with a single element instead of the dual gradient ones, since they hold more junk? I'm looking at this 10 micron pleated polyester Hydronix: http://www.allfilters.com/sedimentfilters/10-big-blue/hydronix-spc-45-1010 Between the dual gradient filters and the pleated ones, are there situations that are better for one or the other?

You said it's better to replumb the filters in parallel with shutoffs for each. Is that to increase the flow rate, or just to avoid the chance of pressure drop when one clogs? It seems to me that having them in series shouldn't be a problem for flow rate or pressure drop, since they're rated at Thanks again! I hope to figure this out now and not have to think about it later.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2014 at 3:54AM
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