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About Carbon Backwash Filters

Q. How do the Backwashing Carbon Filters remove chlorine and sediment from water?

A. The Backwashing Carbon Filter is a large filter canister filled with activated carbon media. Activated carbon removes chlorine in a chemical reaction that oxidizes the carbon surface. Chlorine tastes and odors are removed. Sediment down to 30 microns in size is also removed by mechanical filtration.


Q. What maintenance is required with these backwashing filters?

A. Depending on the level of chlorine in the water, the carbon will need to be changed every 2 to 3 years. This is easily done without any special tools and costs between $100 and $300 depending on the size of the carbon filter.


Q. How can I tell when it is time to change the carbon?

A. You can use a simple chlorine test kit to determine when chlorine is leaking through the carbon and change it when the media starts to wear out.


Q. Will the Backwashing Carbon Filter reduce or remove chemicals other than chlorine?

A. Possibly but it depends on the chemical and size of the carbon tank.

If you have specific removal requirements, such as MTBE, or TCE or other organic compounds, contact our technical staff for more information. Note these systems are not NSF or certified for sale in California, Wisconsin or other states that require independent NSF or WQA certification. Some of our customers use our whole house carbon filters for dechlorinating prior to aquariums, and others use them to reduce the chlorine smell and taste of their water.


Q. What about chloramines?  My municipality uses chloramines and I want to remove this chemical.

A.  For chloramines, we only recommend ‘catalytic carbon'.   We use a type of high-grade coconut shell catalytic carbon. Catalytic carbon is a special type of processed carbon that causes a reaction to occur on the surface of the carbon. Catalytic carbon for chloramine removal costs more than standard activated carbon.   The filter tank holding the carbon generally needs to be larger as the reaction time to remove chloramines is slower.


Q. Is chlorine harmful or toxic?

A. Chlorine itself is poisonous but not in the levels found in municipally treated water. The huge benefit of chlorination which is the disinfection of our water supplies far outweighs the slight health risks associated with using chlorinated water over a lifetime.

Many people prefer to shower in de-chlorinated water, to avoid the taste, odor, and irritation that chlorine can cause. Some of our customers report an allergic reaction to chlorinated water, or that they have sensitive skin and found dramatic results after putting in a whole house carbon filter.


Q.  I plan to inject hydrogen peroxide to get rid of sulfur odor.  What type of carbon should I use?

A.  For peroxide applications, we recommend coconut shell catalytic activated carbon.  Catalytic carbon is a special type of processed carbon that causes a reaction to occur on the surface of the carbon.  This works much better than standard coconut shell carbon for removing hydrogen sulfide and other odors and is worth the higher price.  It lasts longer and works better for peroxide applications.


Q. Will the Backwashing Carbon Filter removes hardness minerals or help cut down on scale build-up?

A. No. The system removes sediment and oxidized iron particles, which may cause some spots, but the minerals remain the same. If scaling or spotting is a problem, a water softener is required.


Q. Will the Backwashing Carbon Filter make my water taste great for drinking?

A. This depends on the quality of the incoming water and on your own personal taste. Municipally treated water meets stringent USEPA standards for potability. However, many people drink bottled water for aesthetic reasons. Most of our clients drink home-purified water to remove chlorine after-taste and heavy tastes from minerals or salts.


Q. How do the total dissolved solids (“TDS”) affect the taste or potability of the water?

A. If the water has a moderate to higher total dissolved solids content, then merely filtering the water of chlorine could improve taste, but many people will say the water still tastes “heavy” compared to purified water.

Taste is very subjective, and the ability to taste varies widely from person to person. The higher the TDS level, particularly when it reaches over 500 ppm (the USEPA recommended aesthetic guideline) the more people will want to purify the water by using reverse-osmosis or distillation.


Q. Will the Backwashing Carbon Filter remove parasites or cysts?

A. No. Giardia and Cryptosporidium cysts can be removed by 1-micron absolute filters: see our line of drinking water filters and our ultraviolet/filter combinations for cyst removal.


Q. Is bacteria a problem with activated carbon systems?

A. Yes and no. We have tested many of our Backwashing Carbon Filters for bacteria counts over the years and have not found higher levels after the systems. Since the system backwashes with chlorinated water, bacteria growth is retarded.

For this reason, non-backwashing tank-type carbon filter systems should not be used. However, if the chlorine levels are very low in the incoming water, then a UV sterilizer should be used to disinfect the water after the Backwashing Carbon Filter.


Q. Will the Backwashing Carbon Filter remove iron, and can I use it on my well water system?

A. Generally, no. In some cases, we do use Backwashing Carbon Filters if the well water is chlorinated, and sufficient contact time has occurred to oxidize the iron or manganese. Even then, with chlorinated well water it is usually better to use a Pro-OX iron filter to remove the iron, then a backwashing carbon filter to reduce the chlorine in the household water.

Need more information? E-mail us: [email protected]

  • Clean Water Systems & Stores, Inc., Water Treatment Equipment,Service & Supplies, Santa Cruz, CA

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