FAQ British Berkefeld Gravity Water Filters
Here are answers to common and frequently asked questions about the use, performance and maintenance of the British Berkefeld range of gravity water filters. How much water do they filter, how often do candles need replacing, what chemicals do they remove, how to clean them and what to do when they go wrong.
Description and Operation
The British Berkefeld gravity water filters consist of two polished stainless steel containers. The upper container has 4 holes in the bottom, is slightly narrower than the lower container and has a ridge just above its base. For transportation and storage, the open end of the upper container slides inside the lower container, protecting the candles and saving space. In use, the upper container is turned around and, supported by the ridge, sits securely on the top of the lower container. The 4 holes are for the filter elements called 'candles'. The holes are for the candles. The more candles, the more water can be filtered in any particular period. Unused holes are sealed with rubber grommets. The lower container has a single hole near the bottom for the tap and a rubber ring to stand the filter on. A lid covers the top of the upper container to stop dirt, insects and animals contaminating the water.
The upper container is filled with untreated water to a level covering the candles and below the top. Fill carefully! Don't let untreated water overflow or splash down the side as some may get into the lower container and contaminate the filtered water. Check the tap on the lower container is in the closed position. Water will filter through the candles and drip (hence the 'drip filter' term sometimes used) into the bottom container that collects the clean water. The clean water can be drawn off at the tap and either used immediately or stored in clean, sealed bottles for later use. Gravity does all the work and there is no pumping or electricity needed, just a little time. The filtration rate slows down as the level in the top container drops, this is normal. It's not important to keep the upper container topped up, but if you do you can filter more quickly. The bottom container will overflow if you keep adding water to the upper container and don't use the water from the lower container.
How long do British Berkefeld filters last?
The stainless filter body should last a lifetime, or more, - there is nothing to go wrong! The Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candle life depends firstly on the frequency of cleaning and secondly on the concentrations of the chemicals it is removing. Because cleaning removes a little bit of the candle material, the more you clean the shorter the life of the candle. Never the less, a typical life expectancy for a ceramic candle in continuous use is 6-12 months. Because the life of the carbon or carbon ATC core is dependent on the concentration of chemicals they are removing, it is generally recommended that Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candles be replaced after aproximately 2000 litres (440 gallons), per candle, for optimum performance. Even after the carbon fill has reached its absorption limit and the chemicals are no longer being removed, the candles will continue to work removing dirt and bacteria.
SS2 and ATC SS2 = 4000 litres (880 gallons)
SS4 and ATC SS4 = 8000 litres (1760 gallons) ....... roughly 50,000 cups of tea!
Tip: Work out how much water you need per day then see how long it will be before you need to replace the candles.
When should I clean the filter candles?
If the filtration rate has slowed right down yet the upper container is full, it is likely that dirt is blocking the surface of the filter candles and that they are ready for a clean.
How do I clean the filter candles?
Carefully remove the upper container and drain. Remove the candles being careful not to contaminate the plastic mounting screw with dirty hands or unfiltered water. Using a stiff brush or scouring pad (stiff nailbrush or pad similar to 3M Scotchbrite), clean the ceramic surface of the candles. The outside of the candles can be rinsed in untreated water. Any sludge or dirt can be wiped out from the inside of the upper container. Avoid contaminating the plastic mounting screws with untreated water or dirt from the filter and avoid breathing or injesting any dirt or untreated water spray. Using rubber or plastic gloves is recommended. Re-assemble taking care to avoid contamination of the 'clean' side/ends of candles and upper container. The surface of the ceramic candles is quite soft and cleaning will remove a little ceramic material from the surface of the candles. This is normal.
DO NOT USE SOAP or DETERGENTS!
I need to clean the candles too often. Why?
The dirtier the water you are treating the more often the filter will need cleaning. Try to improve the water you are using. Ways you may be able to do this include letting the water stand in a covered bucket so that some of the dirt can settle to the bottom. Then carefully top-up the filter from the cleaner water near the top. You may also be able to get cleaner water by changing the place the water is collected from, or in the case of sources shared by animals or other people, changing the time of day may help.
Do I need to sterilise Super Sterasyl candles?
Super Sterasyl and Super Sterasyl ATC candles are self sterilising and do not need additional sterilisation.
Can I leave the British Berkefeld filters unused for a period?
Yes. Drain the filter completely and leave it to air dry thoroughly before storing.
Tip: Don't hurry the drying - the core of the candles will still be damp after the outer ceramic seems dry.
Will it filter out eggs, flukes and other parasites?
Yes. These are relatively large and easily removed by the British Berkefeld filters.
Will it filter out Cysts and Protozoa?
Yes. These single celled organisms including Amoeba and Giardia are relatively large and easily removed by the British Berkefeld filters.
Will it filter out Bacteria?
Yes. The manufacturers lab test the filters using a bacteria called E-Coli and claim a 99.99% reduction. That's a lot of protection and is generally considered more than adequate for protected water supplies and the vast majority of moderately contaminated surface waters. If the water supply is very heavily contaminated though, then even at 99.99% there may still be more bacteria than you want. Furthermore, bacteria differ in size and shape, some may get past the filter in larger numbers compared to E-Coli, and some in smaller numbers. Most bacteria are not harmful. The risk from harmful bacteria is dose related, that means the less there are the less the risk.
Will it filter out Viruses?
Not directly. Viruses alone are much too small to be stopped by all normal filters. The British Berkefeld filter should still achieve a significant reduction because viruses are usually associated with infected cells or attached to other organisms and these can be stopped by the filter.
Will it clean the water?
It will remove most solid particles larger than 2μ (2/1000th of a milimeter) in the water. Some very, very fine sediments around 1μ and smaller can still pass through. Discolouration from disolved minerals and chemicals may not be removed. The unpleasant taste, smell or colouring from organic chemicals will be significantly improved by absorption into the activated carbon.
Will the British Berkefeld filter remove water hardness?
No. Water hardness is not removed by filtration.
Will the British Berkefeld filter lead out of the water?
Yes. All SS filters and Super Sterasyl candles will remove particles of lead metal. Additionally the ATC SS2, ATC SS4 filters and the ATC Super Sterasyl candles are also designed to remove disolved lead from the water.
Will the British Berkefeld filter remove aluminium?
Only particles of aluminium will be removed, not dissolved aluminium.
Will the British Berkefeld filter remove nitrates?
No. Nitrates in solution need an ion exchange filter to remove them.
Will the British Berkefeld filter remove fluoride?
No. Dissolved fluoride cannot be removed by ceramic or carbon filtration.
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