Make Water Filters Accessories Work for You: A Quick Guide
So, you have decided to buy a water filter, and you are wondering whether there is something else you need to consider with a purchase of the new purification system.
There is a countless number of water filter accessories available on the market but which ones are important?
I know that for the first time buyers it might be overwhelming and you might not realize what to expect when buying a filter. In this article, I will talk through different types of accessories, and when do you need to consider them.
There are a few accessories you can get when buying simple pitcher or countertop filters. However, when you are purchasing more advanced reverse osmosis or whole house systems, you would definitely want to consider getting extra bits.
Some of these accessories are spare parts that I believe are absolutely necessary.
Let’s be dead honest about this. Water filters are prone to leak, especially when talking about filters that connect to the house plumbing. Usually, the package includes everything you need to install the system. However, often, there are very few spare parts that you will need in the future.
Imagine The Situation Where…
Your filter is working great, and you are happy, but suddenly water pressure drops, and you notice a tiny leak near filter or on the connector.
Now, you know that you would definitely need to replace the sealing ring or connector, but then you realize that it is not as straightforward because you don’t have any spare parts for it.
You would then have to stop using a filter until you get spare parts and replace them. Let’s be honest, this might take a couple of days and a lot of hassle, especially in today’s busy lifestyle.
This is exactly the reason why I always get a few spare parts.
Just imagine that you are in a situation like this and you have spare parts ready. Now it is a matter of minutes and filter is up and running again, and you have saved yourself a trip to Home Depot or Lowe’s.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about reverse osmosis, it’s specifics and what spare parts and accessories are must have.
Reverse Osmosis Accessories
Lots of RO filters often come with the new faucet and the way the unit is installed, is specific too. Unlike other filters, most RO units come with a tank which stores water inside and also reverse osmosis generate waste water.
Now, this creates lots of different connections as water passes through the system. Just have a look yourself on a diagram below.
There are so many opportunities for water to leak with such a system, and this is why it is so important to keep spare parts.
Push Fit Connectors
As you could have noticed from the diagram, reverse osmosis filters have lots of connectors. The most common type is called a push fit connection. It is straightforward to use, you just push the tubing hose inside, and it is all sorted.
Now, the most common size used in RO is a ¼ inch. However, I encourage you to check what size is piping of your RO just to be sure.
I have found and excellent set of ten push fit connectors with various shapes and additional 15 feet spare hose on Amazon – check it out here.
When connecting the hose to the connector ensure that the cut is clean and straight; otherwise, you might see the leak soon.
In fact, when replacing the connector, I encourage you to cut a small bit of tubing hose because this might be the real cause of leaks and not the connector itself.
Have a look at the video below on how to cut the hose properly.
It’s time to move on to another important spare part. To be honest, I think this part is as important for the whole house as for the RO unit.
O-rings are super important with water filtration as they seal the critical parts of the system.
The issue with O-rings is that over time and under pressure, the material loses its ability to seal, which leads to leaks. O-rings are predominantly used to seal the housing of each stage, and this is also the place where you would have to replace them.
There are various types of O-rings, but in filtration industry are mostly used rubber or silicone sealing, alternatively rubber with silicone lubing.
Personally, I prefer silicone because they offer excellent resistance to water and also have great tear resistance under pressure.
Unfortunately, the problem with O-rings is that each manufacturer is using a slightly different type of housing.
Yes, they have the same size, and you can use non-branded cartridges inside, but when it comes to the way housing is sealed, they are not standardized.
For you, this means that you have to search for sealing compatible with the type of filter you are buying or using.
This is another reason to get this sorted straight with the purchase because it would only create chaos when the time comes.
Amazon has a great selection of sealings for different filters, so have a look around. Usually, they come in a multiple per pack, but as I said, you need to ensure they are compatible with your unit.
By compatible, I mean that various systems use different thickness of o-rings. This is okay when you place a thin sealing into the housing with a bigger space, but it won’t work the other way around.
Have you ever heard about refrigerator kits?
Let me explain. Refrigerator kit connects your reverse osmosis or another filtration medium to your fridge, of course, this is only a case when you have a built-in water dispenser.
I personally think this is great. It brings a couple of benefits.
First of all, you get clean drinking water delivered straight to your fridge.
Second, some refrigerators have water filtration built within them.
Now, with this kit, you won’t need them anymore so if you are using a reverse osmosis system and refrigerator filter, you can leave the second one out and just connect your RO unit.
As a result, you will enjoy clean drinking water and saved money for replacing refrigerator filters.
Check out this great refrigerator kit with hundreds of happy customers.
Most RO units do not include any kind of a pump and filter operates entirely on the pressure in your plumbing. But there are a few systems which include pump as part of the package.
This could be an issue for someone who regularly experiences pressure drops or frequently has low pressure. Note that the minimal pressure required for RO filter to work is 40 PSI, anything smaller than that requires a pump.
Another earlier mentioned issue with RO systems is that they waste a lot and I mean A LOT of water. In essence, the lower the pressure, the more wastewater RO filter generates.
By installing a pump, you will improve the pressure and at the same time, reduce the amount of wastewater.
Absolute must have for RO owners, especially people living in drought areas like California.
Now, there are two types of pumps.
The first type is a standard pump that requires access to electricity. I like this one. It has a great capacity and what is more important auto ON/OFF operation to shut off when the tank is full.
Second would be great for people who don’t have access to electricity. This type of pump is called a permeate pump.
I absolutely love the way it works. The pump uses the hydraulic energy of wastewater generated by the filter to increase the pressure of filtered water that is going into a pressure tank.
As a result, you have lesser wastewater and improved RO efficiency and tank utilization.
This particular one has great reviews and is not expensive, so go ahead and check it out on Amazon.
If you want even further to improve the efficiency of your current reverse osmosis filter, getting a pump is an excellent way of doing so.
However, if you are just doing your research and trying to find out more about reverse osmosis, I have written a buyer’s guide and carefully selected products in my other article.
I believe I have covered all accessories for reverse osmosis filters so let’s talk about whole house systems and what add-ins are great options to have.
Whole House Filters
Although I would suggest you to get some of the accessories mentioned already, such as O-rings for whole house filters, certain add-ons are specific to this type of filtration.
I am not going to get into details about whole house filters, but I have written an article where I cover pretty much everything you need to know about these system.
Let’s see what these are.
Whole house units are installed at the point of entry to the house and operate in a way that should not slow down the water pressure in a house drastically.
However, some whole house systems have a built-in pressure gauge, the truth is, the majority don’t, which in my opinion is a shame.
Having a pressure gauge installed with the system gives you a couple of benefits.
You would be simply able to tell whether something is wrong with a filter or just water pressure dropped outside of your house.
Imagine a situation where the pressure of water in your house has suddenly dropped, and you are trying to figure out what has happened.
It might be tough, when you don’t have a way to tell whether it is something out of your control, such as ground works nearby your home, or if something is wrong within your piping or filter.
By having the pressure gauge right before the water filter, you could measure the feed pressure of the filter and directly tell whether it is worth your time to explore this further.
When the pressure in a house has dropped; however, the feed pressure hasn’t changed, this is a good indicator that it might be time to replace the cartridge in a filter as they might be clogged by contaminants and reached the end of their lifespan.
This pressure gauge comes with a pressure regulator in case you need to regulate the pressure.
This might come handy especially in a situation when the feed pressure is too big for water filter to handle.
Shut-Off and Bypass Valve
This is a must have for almost every owner of whole home filter.
Shut off valve will undoubtedly become handy when it comes to replacing cartridges.
Here is the thing:
You won’t replace the cartridge without stopping a water feed.
I mean you can try it, but in such case can you please message me the image of the mess you have made. Share it in the comments section so we can all have a bit of fun.
Right, let’s get back to the topic.
In this case people usually opt-in for two options.
The first option is to have a shut-off valve to stop water feed immediately. Whenever you need to do some work on the filter either fix it or replace the cartridges, just turn the knob drain the water in a filter and off you go, you are ready to work on this.
I recommend this SharkBite Valve (Amazon link). The valve is easy to install without the need for soldering or any special tools and the most important it is lead-free, so go ahead and have a look.
The problem with this is that it stops water feeding for the whole house, which is not ideal.
There is a better option I will talk about in a second, but this is better than nothing.
The second option and better, in my opinion, is to create another bypass route for water, and when the time comes, you can just turn a knob on the bypass valve, route water to the secondary pipe, and replace the filter.
This is also excellent prevention in case something goes wrong with the filter.
For example, the system starts to leak, and you don’t have all the parts to repair it so, you just use the second route without filtration for a couple of days. Once the filter is fixed, you just go back to the main route.
I have found this inexpensive bypass valve on the Amazon. It is available in various sizes that will fit to your house plumbing.
The combination of both would be ideal. Have a look at the diagram below of how I would approach the positioning of valves.
Speaking of leaks, I have mentioned that spare o-rings are an absolute must-have for water filter owners, but it doesn’t stop there.
O-rings usually protect the housing itself from leaking, but there are so many places, especially when installing a filter where water can leak.
Silicone grease is a must have when installing a whole house filter for the first time. In fact, I recommend to it on all connections you are creating when installing the filter, including valves, feed, and output connection.
I believe that we should seal everything properly at the point of installation. Otherwise, you almost certainly experience leaks, and trust me repairing them will be much more problematic.
I also encourage you to use silicone grease to lube o-rings to seal the housing even further.
So, make sure you add silicone grease to your basket. This Harvey’s plumber grease is non-toxic and specifically designed to seal plumbing products like valves, connectors and pipes.
Filter Changing Wrench
So, we are slowly approaching the end and last important accessories that I believe is a must-have when buying a new filter or even as an addition to your current systems.
Lot’s of units include the housing spanner wrench in a package, but because this part is not very critical, it can easily get lost in your garage.
Nonetheless, it is quite essential.
Usually, whole house filters are placed very close to the wall, and as a result, it is tough to get a good grasp to open the housing, especially when you have tightened it properly the first time.
The problem goes beyond just opening the housing, but you also need to ensure it is adequately tightened again after you have replaced the cartridge inside.
So, having a wrench to open and close housing is a good shout.
I mean you can use anything to open the housing and change the filter, but the truth is, you might damage the housing, and if this happens, it is not covered by the warranty.
Even if you don’t lose the wrench that has been given to you with the filter, the likelihood it is made of cheap plastic is close to 100%.
This is exactly the reason why I would encourage you not to underestimate this and get a good wrench so you can safely replace the cartridge and tighten the housing back.
My criteria for selecting a wrench are:
First, it needs to be metal, so it doesn’t split into two useless halves.
Second, I prefer to have a longer handle, so you need less force to open the housing.
The bottom line:
I have found exactly the one that matches both of these criteria. It is made of metal, has a long handle and you can check it out right now.
So, I have covered everything I believe you should consider for the whole house filters and if you are fancy to read my other article with my selection of best whole house filters simply click here and I will take you there.
Countertop and Travel Filters
Most of the accessories introduced today were for reverse osmosis and whole house water filters. This is because of the complexity of these systems and the fact that they are not as straightforward to install.
It usually has lots of connections and points where they can leak.
Nonetheless, there is one essential addition to countertop units.
Well, not for all of them but this is more specifically for dispensers with water filters.
Generally speaking, any countertop filters with a spigot.
During the course of researching countertop filters, I have noticed one similarity amongst them all. All of them are using cheap spigot which over time leads to leaks and a lot of people either stop using the filter or claim warranty.
Now, you can avoid both by buying the right metal spigot straight with the new filter. These are inexpensive and will save you a lot of headaches later on.
I have found this metal spigot on Amazon, with thousands of reviews of happy customers. The best part is that it comes with a lifetime warranty, so when you replace the filter, just take it off and use with a new one.
PS: I also have extensive buyers guide on countertop filters so, if you want to stay and read around here is the link.
All of these accessories will allow you to get the maximum out of your water filtration system and the best part?
They are not as expensive as you might have thought.
I would love to hear your experiences with these or if there is anything else you have used and found it extremely helpful.