Ideas from Ed: Water we gonna do now? (volume 4, issue 2)
My son homebrews beer, and has used an end-of-tap water filter for years. However, he noticed that other faucets and fixtures still flow with the water at the quality level supplied by our local authority. That leaves a lot to be desired, so he wanted a whole-house filter system to be installed. If you’re looking into this, you should probably start by seeing exactly what you’re trying to filter out. You’ll likely need a sediment filter, probably a charcoal filter, and especially if you have well water, some type of filtering medium for iron. This is not a one-size-fits-all scenario, and you need to find the right setup for the water you’re dealing with.
You should also consider such things as the availability of the filters, how often they need to be changed, their cost, and the flow rate through the system. It’s not a good thing to find out that your firehose system has been reduced to peashooter flow by installing a low-flow filter.
Okay. Let’s assume that you have found what you want. Your system will obviously come with directions, which may be different than those on the system I installed. Guess what? You should read them thoroughly! In my case, although the plumbing was absolutely routine, I learned that I had to reverse the bracket so the water flow (in the direction I wanted the plumbing to run) went through the sediment filter first, and then into the charcoal filter. The brand I used was Home Master, but as I always do, let me emphasize that I am in no way endorsing any particular brand or product. I simply show what I used.
With that out of the way, the next step is to locate where the system will be installed. For a whole-house system, that’s usually somewhere very close to the incoming water line. This picture shows the best location for my situation. If you’re trying to figure out what’s what, the water line comes in from the right, then there’s a shutoff ball valve, a pressure control, the meter, an anti-backflow valve, and another shutoff ball valve. The incoming copper line transitioned to PEX and is ¾ inch in diameter. The copper line snaking along the wall is a grounding cable from the breaker panel to the waterline.
The plan was to install the bracket at the window well above the PVC sewer piping that’s visible in the above photo. The stone wall is uneven, and these filters are HUGE, so a lot of planning had to be done to locate things properly so it would fit.
By the way, at a right angle to the above wall is the “water wall” showcasing the “home run” PEX system that supplies all the fixtures in the house. Here’s a picture of that installation. I might talk more about the pros and cons of such a system at another time.
The bracket for the filters is very heavy, and I reasoned that with the filters full, there would be a LOT of weight to all this, so the support had to be incredibly strong. I built a 2x4 frame that fit into the window space, rested on the sill, and was anchored (screws and nails) into the window framing. I installed a brace to even further prevent the bracket from moving out of position. I used a 1x4 against the backside of the front 2x4 to give me more depth for the screws, and to keep the longer screws I was using from protruding through the back. I shimmed it level in all directions. If you’re attaching to a more normal/finished stud wall, it would likely be a lot easier, and the bracket is designed for a 16-inch stud spacing.
Here’s the bracket, test-fit onto the frame I built:
I temporarily threaded the dual filters onto the bracket to make sure that they can be installed and serviced without interference from the wall or the sewer drain below.
A lot of miscellaneous parts were needed and not supplied with the filter, since each installation probably requires different combinations of things to put it all together. I needed PEX ball valves, elbows, tees, and PEX-to-threaded fittings, plus the pipe itself and crimp rings. Push-fittings (like Sharkbite) make everything even easier, but are more expensive than using the crimp rings. Using PEX is so straightforward, and I’ve shown it before, so I won’t go into details here. My only hassle was that the brass threaded fittings that go into the female inlet/outlets and adapt to PEX were quite finicky, and required a lot of Teflon tape to make a water-tight seal.
Here’s me cutting into the supply line for the return feed from the filters, which flow right-to-left in my installation. It goes without saying, I hope, that the main water valve was turned off during all this!
In the picture below, with the yellow-handled ball valve closed, flow in the water line below the sewer pipe goes to the right, up, then left through the filters and to the water wall and whole house. I can also shut off the blue-handled ball valves and open the yellow valve, allowing water to flow along the original path, unfiltered. This enables filter changing without disrupting normal flow. It also allows for sending unfiltered water through the system if you’re using a lot of water that doesn’t need to be filtered (perhaps like washing a lot of cars or watering the garden.) That potentially can prolong filter life, but with a system like this, it’s best to just use a timetable arrangement, like changing the filters once each year.
I installed some pipe clamps to hold the PEX securely in place, and called it a day!
I hope all your projects go well. Thanks for reading, and happy restoring!
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