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When to Replace Your Water Filtration System: 9 Signs It’s Time

A water filtration system keeps impurities away from your water while giving you the most refreshing taste. If you leave your system without maintenance, however, it will slowly lose proper function.

So, how do you know when to replace a water filter?

The answer depends on several factors, including the size of your family, the age of your filtration system, and more. Look at the nine tips below to determine if it’s time to replace your water filtration system.

1. Check Your Regular Maintenance Schedule

This tip may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget basic maintenance checks between life events and a busy schedule.

Find your water filtration instruction manual and look for a maintenance timeline. The instruction manual will usually give you an estimated range of time since many factors affect the lifespan of your system.

This time range will vary widely based on the filtration type. In addition to checking your instruction manual and contacting your installation company, you can reference this timeline for each type.

Reverse Osmosis

The RO system is one of the most effective water filtration systems available and usually lasts the longest. You can expect to replace an RO system about once a year.

Activated Carbon

You should change your activated carbon filter every six months to a year. Don’t use this filter for more than a year without replacing it.


While UV lamps don’t burn out, they do polarize. You should plan to replace your UV lamp once a year.

2. Your Water Smells Weird

Smell is a good indicator that there are contaminants in your water, though they usually aren’t dangerous. If your water has a strong smell, your filter probably isn’t filtering out the contaminants in your water supply.

Your water may have an odd odor from the following:

  • Chlorine: caused by over-treatment from water-treatment facilities
  • Geosmin/2-methylisoborneol: caused by algae
  • Dimethyl disulfide: caused by water from soil with little oxygen

If your water comes from a municipal water system, you can expect some traces of chlorine. Chlorine is the most common smell complaint in tap water, and if you smell it, your water filter may be struggling to filter effectively.

A bad smell or any smell at all is unpleasant in your drinking water, so replace your water filter when you get a whiff of anything odd.

3. Your Water Looks Cloudy

Does your water look cloudy or rust-colored? Your water may have traces of ferrous sulfate, a water-soluble iron often found in groundwater. If you live off well water, you’re more likely to have this issue.

Colored water can look alarming, but ferrous sulfate isn’t toxic to people. It’s just distracting and off-putting since you want to have clear, refreshing water.

Good filters should remove ferrous sulfate before it reaches your cup. If you notice a difference in your water’s color, it may be time for a filter change.

4. Your Water Tastes Odd

Does your water taste metallic? This is another indicator of ferrous sulfate, the groundwater-dwelling iron. Usually, you’ll taste ferrous sulfate before you see it, so this is an early sign to replace your filter.

Drinking water should taste refreshing and subtle. If there is an unpleasant taste in your water, your filter isn’t doing its job anymore.

5. Odd Sounds Come from Your Faucet

When your filtration system is first installed, you may hear some sounds coming from your faucet. This is normal and should resolve quickly.

You may also hear a low hum if you have an RO system, which can signify pressure change as it processes more water.

If you hear a whining noise and you’ve had your filter for a while, then this isn’t a good sign. Either you need to replace your water filter, or there is another issue that needs to be checked out.

6. You See Black Specks in the Water

Black specks are a clear sign that contaminants are in your water. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your filter has stopped working.

Black specks can come from your water filtration system or your faucet. Look around the spout of your faucet for any grime or residue.

If you don’t see any signs of dirt or grime in your faucet, you should get your filter replaced.

7. Your TDS Level Is Low

As your water filter ages, it will become less effective. This can be reflected through your filtration system’s total dissolved solids (TDS) level.

The ideal level will depend on your filter type. For RO systems, you want the filter to remove at least 80% TDS from your water. If your TDS level hits under 80%, you’ll need a water filter replacement.

To check the TDS level, you’ll need a TDS monitor. This is an optional investment for your filter, but it is a helpful tool to show your water filter’s health.

8. The Water Pressure Is Low

Your water pressure can be a good indicator of your water filter’s health. Our first instinct is to check our faucets and drains, but water filtration systems also cause a low water pressure. This can happen as contaminants build up and clog your filter.

A clogged filter is more likely to happen if you have hard water. Hard water is high in minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can build up as mineral deposits in your filter.

Here are signs of hard water:

  • Spots on clean dishes
  • Mineral stains on clothes
  • Lower water pressure from mineral deposits
  • Feeling a film on your hands after using soap

9. You Can’t Remember the Last Change

If you can’t remember the last time you replaced your filter, it’s probably time or even past time to do it.

You can look back at financial records, text messages, and emails to see when your company installed your water filtration system. You can also call and ask since they may have service history records.

If you can’t find any of this information and still aren’t sure, be on the safe side and replace your filter. Old filters can stop functioning and even build up bacteria over time.

Is It Time to Replace Your Water Filtration System?

Your water filter gives you the best quality water, but it won’t last forever. If any of these signs apply to your water filter, it may be time to replace your water filtration system.

Do you have a reverse osmosis water filtration system that needs replacing?

At Just Plumbing, we offer professional water filter replacement with our high-quality RO systems. Make an appointment with us today or call us at 520-876-5878.