How Long Do Water Filters Last? 6 Lifespan Boosting Tips

how long do water filters last

Water filters are an essential part of modern life. They not only help to reduce the number of impurities in your drinking water but can also enhance its flavor and odor. But do you know how long do water filters last?

This is an important question, as you want to ensure you get the best performance from your filter. In this in-depth guide, you’ll learn how to maximize the lifespan of your filter and ensure that it’s working as effectively as possible. 

From understanding the types of filters available to discussing the maintenance requirements, this guide will provide the information you need to ensure how long do water filters last or whether your filter is performing optimally. 

Why Change a Water Filter?

So read on to learn how long do water filters last and how to get the most out of your filter.

Water filters only last for a short time before losing their effectiveness. As a result, bacteria and other contaminants may make their way to the filter and enter your water supply. That kills the primary purpose of installing a water filter, i.e., getting safe and pure water.

If the contaminants are large, they can clog your sinks and drain, causing flooding. More importantly, the contaminants in your drinking water can impact your health negatively. So, an old and expired water filter will be just as good as no filter.

To summarize, you must replace a water filter in due time if you want to avoid trouble.

Factors That Affect Filter Lifespan

Several factors affect the lifespan of your filter. And keeping these in mind will help you replace your filter quickly to get the most extended lifespan possible.

1. Amount of Contaminants in the Water 

The first element that will impact your filter’s lifespan is the number of impurities in the water it aims to filter out. For instance, a carbon filter removes chlorine and other odors from your water. However, eliminating heavy metals like lead will be less effective.

2. Type of Filter

As discussed above, different filters are better at removing specific contaminants. Some filters are better at removing chemicals, while others are better at removing minerals. Choose a filter that’s best for your water to maximize its lifespan.

3. Water Quality 

If your water is highly contaminated, your filter will likely have to work harder to remove the contaminants, decreasing its lifespan. If your water is low in pollutants, your filter will have a longer lifespan. 

So, if you have hard water, consider installing a water softener to increase the lifespan of your filter.

4. Amount Used 

The lifespan of your filter will also depend on how frequently it uses. Your filter will wear out more quickly the more you use it. Therefore, if you use your filter a lot of time, this will shorten its life.

5. Maintenance

Filters require occasional maintenance to ensure they work as effectively as possible. If your filter isn’t changed on time, it will become less effective and work more to remove impurities, shortening its lifespan. 

How Long Do Water Filters Last?

The lifespan of water filters varies depending on the type of filter. Generally, the lifespan of water filters ranges from a few months to several years, or even longer in some cases. 

The volume of water a filter can purify before needing to be replaced typically determines how long it will last. For example, carbon filters are good for around 6 months, while UV light systems can last up to 5 years. Of course, some exceptions exist, and water filters may last longer or shorter than these average lifespans.

However, this number varies between households and the severity of the water quality. So, it’s essential to pay attention to your water filter and get in the habit of replacing it before it expires. This way, you can avoid waterborne illnesses and keep your family healthy.

Different Water Filters and Their Lifespans

Some filtration systems have numerous filter stages, each with a specific filter replacement time. Below is a list of the most popular filter systems and their lifespans.

1. Whole House Water Filtration Systems

Whole-house water filters that use cartridges include three filter stages: a sediment pre-filter, a carbon cartridge (perhaps paired with KDF or another similar medium), and a polishing filter.

  • The average lifespan of the sediment pre-filter is 6 to 9 months.
  • 6 to 9 months are the carbon cartridge’s lifespan.
  • About 24 months will cover by the post or polishing filter.

With tank-based whole-house systems, the sediment pre-filter typically lasts 6 to 9 months, whereas the media in the tank itself can last 3 to 5 years.

2. Under-Sink Water Filters

Under-sink water filters typically consist of a sediment filter, a carbon or mixed carbon cartridge, and a post or polishing filter. They are miniature, point-of-use versions of whole-house filtration systems.

  • An under-sink water filter’s sediment filter can last up to 6 months.
  • The carbon cartridge typically lasts 4-6 months.
  • The polishing filter has a lifespan of 6 to 9 months.

3. Faucet Water Filters

Faucet water filters offer an easy and convenient way to filter out impurities from tap water. They attach directly to 24-inch faucets and are often compatible with most brands. The filter uses activated carbon, which is naturally porous and traps impurities smaller than the pores. 

This filter only lasts 2 to 3 months due to its small size.

4. Countertop Filtration Systems

Countertop filtration systems are becoming increasingly popular for households as an easy and effective way to provide safe drinking water

These systems filter out harmful chemicals, sediments, and other contaminants that can often find in tap water. Many of these systems come in portable designs allowing them to use wherever the user may go!

If a countertop water filtration system purifies around 1 gallon of water daily, the average filter life is 6 months. Some filtering systems last longer than this.

5. Reverse Osmosis Units

Reverse osmosis units (RO units) are water treatment systems that use a semi-permeable membrane to remove contaminants from water. 

The process occurs when pressurized water is pushed through the membrane, removing nearly all dissolved ions, bacteria, and organic molecules in the water that is not small enough to pass through. 

This type of filtration often creates clean drinking water out of brackish or saline water sources and produces ultrapure water for medical and other laboratory applications. RO units have a variety of filters, each with a different lifespan:

  • RO sediment filters last for 6 to 9 months.
  • Activated carbon cartridges last between 6 and 12 months.
  • The RO membrane lasts for 24 months.
  • Post-filters last for 12 to 24 months.

6. Water Pitcher Filters

Water pitcher filters are a great way to ensure your drinking water is clean and pure. They come in many different sizes, so you can find one that fits your needs. 

They work by using activated carbon filters to remove any unwanted contaminants from the water. The filters also remove chlorine and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause health problems. If you drink tap water regularly, installing a water pitcher filter would significantly improve your drinking water’s safety and taste.

Depending on the quality of your local water supply, a single filter cartridge in a water pitcher filter or gravity-fed water dispenser lasts approximately 3 months.

How Long Do Water Filters Last if Unused?

If you haven’t turned on a faucet in your home for months due to being away, do you frequently wonder if your water filter needs to be changed? 

Well, no because filters only have expiry terms; they don’t have an expiration date. They only spoil when they expose to water and contaminants. Therefore, a water filter will only need to replace if it has been utilized.

How is Filter Lifespan Measured?

Manufacturers determine the filter lifespans during the initial product testing. A filter’s lifespan describes in gallons or the amount of water it can filter before failing to complete its function.

Based on the manufacturer’s estimation of a person’s daily water usage and quality, this gallon lifespan will then converts into a timeframe, typically expressed in months.

Signs That You Need to Replace Water Filter ASAP

Water filters can become clogged and inefficient. Knowing when to replace your water filter is essential to maintaining a safe and healthy home, so it’s important to recognize the signs that it’s time for a new one. 


Here are 6 surefire signs that you need to replace your water filter as soon as possible.

1. Unusual or Unpleasant Odors or Tastes

If you smell or taste something odd or unusual from your water filter, it’s a sign that something is wrong. The buildup of minerals in your water filter often causes odors and tastes. These minerals can build up and clog your water filter, causing it to become inefficient and produce a foul odor and taste. 

If you notice an unusual smell or taste coming from your water, it’s essential to replace your filter immediately. If you have an under-sink water filter, you can test the water by turning off the filter and letting a glass of water sit for 24 hours. 

If a strong odor or taste is present, it’s a sign that your water filter needs replacement. 

2. Low Water Pressure

Another sign that your water filter needs replacement is a sudden drop in water pressure. A clogged water filter can minimize the pressure of your water and make it challenging to fill an entire bathtub or water a large garden. 

When replacing your water filter, it’s important to note the pressure of your water and mark it on your calendar. This way, you can keep track of your water pressure and know if it needs to replace. 

3. If the Water Filter is Old

Although the lifespan of a water filter varies from filter to filter, most water filters last between 6 and 18 months, if your water filter has been in service for over 6 months, it’s likely time to replace it. 

New water filters protect your water system from harmful bacteria and algae growth. If your water filter is over 6 months old, you can test it by running water through it for 10 minutes. 

If the water is cloudy or has a strong odor, it’s a sign that your filter is over capacity and needs to change.

4. Visible Mineral or Sediment Buildup

If your water filter has a buildup of minerals or sediment, it can cause your water pressure to drop and make your water taste and smell strange. An overfilled water filter can also cause excessive pressure on your plumbing and lead to leaks. 

If your water filter has a visible buildup of minerals, it’s crucial to replace it immediately. Mineral buildup can cause your water filter to clog entirely, leading to bacteria growth in your water system. 

In addition to increasing your water pressure, a newly replaced water filter can restore your water to a healthy, clean taste and smell.

5. Exceeding Water Filter Capacity

Each water filter has the capacity to filter in 24 hours. If you have a high-capacity water filter, it is essential to change your filter more often to keep it from becoming overfilled. 

If your water filter has exceeded its capacity by accumulating too much sediment, it can lead to an overpressure in your plumbing and cause your water filter to shut down. This can lead to bacteria growth, foul-smelling water, and an inefficient water filter. An overfilled water filter should replace immediately.

6. Discolored Water

If you notice that your water has a strange color, it’s a sign that something is wrong with your water filter. 

Many factors, including a buildup of minerals or a clogged water filter, can cause this color change. While a color change in your water can worry, most discoloration is not harmful to your health. However, a sudden color change in your water signifies that your water filter needs replacement. 

Water filters are an essential part of any home’s plumbing system. However, water filters can become clogged and inefficient over time. Knowing when to replace your water filter is vital to maintain a safe and healthy home, so it’s essential to recognize the signs that it’s time for a new one.

8 Maintenance Tips to Maximize Your Filter’s Lifespan

There are a few ways to maximize your filter’s lifespan and ensure it works as effectively as possible. This will help you avoid replacing your filter before its recommended lifespan is up.

How Long Do Water Filters Last

1. Run Your Filter For 30-60 Seconds Before Using the Water 

Filters are designed to remove contaminants from water, but they don’t do this instantly. Before using the water from the filter, run it through it for 30-60 seconds. Running the water through the filter for a short period will help remove impurities and make it safe.

2. Test Water Quality Periodically.

Testing your water quality is crucial for ensuring that your filtration system continues to produce high-quality drinking water for years to come. With proper testing and maintenance procedures, you can detect potential issues early on so they can address before they become serious problems requiring costly repairs or replacements.

3. Check Your Water Filter for Leaks 

It’s essential to check for leaks periodically inside and outside the housing unit. If a leak occurs, immediately shut off the main water supply line before attempting to repair or replace any damaged parts.

If you notice water leaking from your filter, this may indicate that you need to replace the seal.

4. Clean Out the Filter Housing System

Over time sediment can build up on the interior walls of your water filter housing unit, which can cause poor filtration performance or clogs if not cleaned out periodically. 

To prevent this buildup from occurring, use a brush or cloth to clean any dirt or debris that has accumulated inside the unit every few months.

 5. Test Your Water Quality Regularly

Testing your water quality is crucial for ensuring that your filtration system continues to produce high-quality drinking water for years to come. 

With proper testing and maintenance procedures, you can detect potential issues early on so they can be addressed before they become serious problems requiring costly repairs or replacements.

6. Clean the Water System.

Clean your entire system with vinegar every 3-4 months before replacing the filter cartridge. This will help prevent clogs and other malfunctions caused by dirt build-up inside the unit due to excess residue created during the filtering process. 

It’s essential to periodically clean your filter containers with hot water to keep them working properly. This will help clear away potential build-up from salts and minerals in most tap waters.

7. Change the Prefilter Often

It’s essential to change out the prefilter of your system regularly since these large trap particulates, such as metal particles, scale build-up, dirt sediment, and other debris, before they reach the main stage of filtration of your system. 

Depending on how often the system is used, it should be changed once every 3 to 6 months for optimal performance and durability of components inside the system that come into contact with the filtration media like piping and O rings seals.

8. Keep Track of Recommended Services

Since most systems require service by qualified personnel, periodically ensure you keep up with these schedules by setting reminders or writing dates down after each visit/service date, permanently marking them somewhere visible near the unit (stickers Etc). 

This will ensure the expected life span of years from manufacture, making replacement components available from vendors if needed.

By consistently implementing these 8 maintenance tips, you can guarantee efficient functioning while preventing unnecessary harm later on due to improper maintenance.

What to Look For When Buying a Filter?

When you’re shopping for a new filter, there are a few factors you’ll want to keep in mind. This will help you to choose the best filter for your water supply.

1. Size 

The first thing to consider when shopping for a new filter is the size of your water supply. Make sure you purchase a filter that is the right size to cover your water supply. Also, ensure that your filter is the right size for your home or office building. 

2. The Type of Filter You Need

As discussed above, the type of filter you need depends on your water quality, the level of contaminants, and the amount of minerals present. Consider installing a water-softening filter if your water is hard; to increase the filter’s lifespan and decrease maintenance.

For instance, If your water is high in heavy metals, you should purchase a filter designed to remove heavy metals. 

3. Filtration Rate and Capacity

Be sure to pay close attention to both filtration rate & capacity when considering which filter to buy; this information is often printed directly on the packaging but can also find in product literature from manufacturer’s websites. 

The filtration rate states how quickly particles will remove from incoming water flow, usually expressed as either gallons per minute (gpm) or microns per minute (µm). The capacity indicates the pollutants that retain over time until replacement.

4. Maintenance  

One thing many people overlook is properly maintaining their water filter according to manufacturer recommendations. 

Along with regularly changing out filters, some filtration systems will require regular cleaning or sanitizing and periodic replacement of certain components to keep running efficiently and effectively over time – depending on how much use it gets.

The amount of maintenance required by a filter will affect its lifespan, so keep this in mind when choosing a filter. 

5. Your Budget

Your budget will likely determine what type of filters you can afford. Cheaper filters might last less time than more expensive ones, but they are a better choice if you don’t have a large budget.


Water filters are essential to ensure that you drink clean and safe water. With so many types of water filters on the market, it can be challenging to know which one is right for you. 

One key factor is how long water filters last before needing to be replaced. Knowing how long do water filters last can help you make an intelligent decision, so you can be sure you’re getting the best product for your needs.

FAQs on How Long Do Water Filters Last?

What happens when the water filter gets old?

If you do not replace water filters on time, pollutants such as bacteria, pesticides, lead, fluoride, and many others, can build up inside the filter. 

As the filters clog, it becomes harder for the water to pass through the system. This decrease in flow can dramatically impact the water pressure inside your pipes.

Can water filters be cleaned and reused?

Cleaning & reusing your old water filter is better than replacing it with a new cartridge every month. The latter isn’t only more expensive, and it is also a burden on the environment.

Can water filters cause harm?

According to studies, water filters frequently fail to catch germs like salmonella and coliform, which are extremely dangerous to your health. So, drinking this water may result in health problems.

Which is the safest way to filter water?

It is appropriate to use a point-of-entry filtration system or a whole-house filter system for VOCs(volatile organic compounds- EPA-regulated contaminants present in the air you breathe and in your drinking water)since they provide clean water that can use for drinking, cooking, and other household chores. Some VOCs can remove using activated carbon filters.

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