Berkey® Water Filter Maintenance, Filter Lifespan Reminders, and the Red Food Dye Test

Please read all the notes below for information on maintaining your Berkey®, calculating your filters lifespan, and the Red Food Dye test.  

Your Black Berkey® Elements will slow down when the micro pores become clogged with contaminants and/or dry out.  They need Cleaning and Re-Priming every 1-6 months depending on your source water quality.  Once completed, your elements will return to approximately their 100% optimal flow rate.

berkey water filter cleaning

1.  Remove the elements and scrub the outer surface all over and vigorously with a stiff kitchen brush or green Scotch-Brite pad under cold running water.

2.  Re-prime the elements as you first did when you set it up.  This is VITAL.  Use cold water and low flow from your tap making a seal between your element stem and tap with the brown priming button, (video help on this below).  You may see some air misting out of the elements, that is good.  That means they had dried out a bit, creating an air lock, which slowed the flow down.  Allow water to bead (sweat) on the exterior of the element for about 4 minutes ensuring all air is forced out.
***Do not use soap or vinegar***
***Do not use hot water***
***Do not clean elements in dishwasher***
3.  When the elements are fully primed they should feel heavy, full of water, and when you shake them, you should hear water sloshing around inside.  These are the indicators that you have primed them fully.
4.  Re-install the elements with your hands only.  Do not use tools and do not over-tighten as the plastic threads will strip.
5.  Perform the Red Food Dye Test as explained in detail below.

6.  You are good to go!

Here are some helpful videos:

If you would like to purchase the Black Berkey® Primer to make this process easier, you may do so easily and securely here:

https://www.consciouswater.ca/conscious-water-store/black-berkey-primer/

If you have lost your instructions, they are all available here:

https://www.consciouswater.ca/berkey-water-filter-instructions/

General Maintenance:
  • Wash the lower reservoir of your Berkey® and your spigot with soap and water once a month.  Use some vinegar if you have mineral build-up.
  • If you have the optional alkaline stones, boil them once every 3 months to sterilize them.
Filter lifespan reminders:
  • PF2 Fluoride Filters Lifespan, as a pair – 3,785 liters – About 1 year for most folks.  Divide 3,785 by your average daily usage in liters to determine how many days yours will last.
  • Black Berkey® Elements Lifespan, as a pair – 22,700 liters – About 4-6 years for most folks.  Perform the Red Food Dye Test explained below to know if they are still working 100%.
  • Berkey® Shower Filter Lifespan – 75,000 liters or 1 year, whichever comes first.
  • Sport Berkey® Filter Lifespan – up to 640 refills with municipal water, or 160 refills with untreated water.
  • Alkalizing Mineral Stones Lifespan – 2 years.  Boil these every 3 months to sterilize them.
If you need new filters, you may order easily and securely here:  https://www.consciouswater.ca/conscious-water-store

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The Red Food Colouring Test must be performed periodically as per the manufacturer’s instructions included with your Berkey®.

This is the method to determine if your Black Berkey® elements are working 100%.  Do not use organic or natural food colouring as it does not work for this test.

VIDEO:  Black Berkey® Purification Elements Red Food Coloring Test

  • If you have the PF2 Fluoride filters, remove them before doing this test.  The dye will damage them.
  • Place your upper chamber on 4-6 equal sized strong glasses so each filter and/or blocking plug is centered over each glass.  This way you can watch and see if/where any red water is leaking through.
  • If the food colouring is completely removed, your Black Berkey® Elements are working 100%.
  • If any red food colouring is leaking through, it is necessary to determine where, for it could be through one of the blocking plugs, leaking around a loose wing-nut, or you may have a cracked/faulty Black Berkey® element.
  • PLEASE NOTE:  The most common brand of Red Food Dye in Canada is “Club House”.  Unfortunately it seems they have recently changed the ingredients and this test is no longer working well with this dye. It is giving false positives. PLEASE CONTACT BERKEY HEADQUARTERS CUSTOMER SUPPORT DIRECTLY FOR HELP: https://www.berkeybynmcl.com/support/contact/
VERY IMPORTANT:
Is the red water coming through the end tubes of the filters where the water should drip from?
Or is it leaking from around the blocking plug?  If so, push the cork shaped white rubber plug in harder, or for older models, tighten the white screw plug and make sure you have one washer on either side of the steel.
Or is it leaking around the wing-nut area? If so, please tighten your wing-nuts slightly to make a better seal.
Ensure they are not stripped and slipping.  If they are stripped, you may order new ones here:  https://www.consciouswater.ca/conscious-water-store/berkey-replacement-parts/
Please let me know how it goes and we can continue our conversation if you require further troubleshooting or filter replacement.
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