Select Page

Berkey Tips And Tricks

Here Are Some Helpful Tips & Tricks For Your Berkey Filter Systems!

Spigot Issues

If leaking occurs around the washers of the spigot, make sure you have washers on both sides of the stainless steel. (black inside, white outside for stainless systems) Tighten as much as you can and leave the spigot about 90 degrees out of phase. Then, grab onto the nut in the back with a wrench, and turn the spigot itself that last quarter turn using the spigot as leverage to get a tighter turn. If this is ineffective, please soak the washers in olive oil for approximately 1 hour. Sometimes the washers can dry out and get hard over time and the olive oil will soften them up allowing for a good seal.

One final tip to ensure you get the full life of your black berkey filters is to fill the upper chamber to the top (assuming lower chamber has the room for the water) every time. The bottom canister must always be at least to the spigot level before completely filling the top canister. Failure to have the bottom canister empty will result in the water overflowing between the two canisters and flooding your counter. The top canister must always be filled to the top of the black filters to get the full life of the filters. This will allow for the entire length of the filter to be put to use so that the media gets exhausted evenly

Cleaning Your Berkey Chambers

Berkey Stainless Steel Canisters – Since you are most likely trying to reduce your chemical exposure, I recommend using natural cleansers to clean your bottom canister monthly. If you don’t have access to natural cleansers, just fill your bottom canister ¼ of the way up and add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar. Scrub thoroughly and empty the water through the spigot on your system. This will clean the calcium buildup off the spigot. Clean your bottom canister once a month. It is not necessary to clean the top canister, but if you choose to, be sure to remove the black elements before cleaning.
Berkey Light (Plastic) Canister – Always use a mild dish-washing detergent (preferably a natural cleanser) to clean your Berkey Light. Clean your bottom canister once a month. It is not necessary to clean the top canister, but if you choose to, be sure to remove the black elements before cleaning.

Cleaning Your Black Berkey® Purification Element

Once you install the black berkey, the best thing you can do for them is just LEAVE THEM ALONE. This is a classic case of “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. Just leave them alone until they stop filtering or slow down so much that you are not getting very much water.

When and if they stop filtering, the first thing to do would be to re-prime them. This will help push out contaminants and minerals that may be clogging the pores.  Second, try a light and gentle scrubbing, but do not scrub them too strongly as this tends to clog them up by forcing the build-up back into the pores. Please use a scotch brite pad for cleaning your elements.

Berkey Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters

For priming the PF-2 filters, I recommend priming from each side by at least 2 minutes to wash out as much manufacturing dust from the filter as possible. DO NOT SCREW THE FLUORIDE FILTERS ONTO THE BLACK FILTERS MORE THAN 8 ROTATIONS. If screwed on more than 8 rotations you will puncture a screen inside the fluoride filter.  Also, once installed, it can take up to 10 full system flushes of water before all the cloudiness (manufacturing dust) has been rinsed from the water. Be patient as this will vary depending on the production run and dustiness of the granules used in the filter.

  1. To determine how long your fluoride filters will last depends on the quality of your water. Since the fluoride filters also remove arsenic and continue to reduce the heavy metals in your water they may not last 1,000 gallons for the set of 2. So don’t get upset if they don’t last as long as you expect, they are continuing to reduce other harmful things in your water.
  2. When the fluoride filters are used up you will find that they usually stop allowing any water into the bottom canister. If this happens just remove them and make sure your Black Berkey Purification Elements are working. If they are, you need to just replace the fluoride filters and you are ready to go.

Priming Your Black Berkey® Purification Element

When you first receive your Black Berkey® Purification Element
, it is important to prime them. A priming button (large beige washer) is included in the box with each set of elements. Be sure to keep this some place safe so that you can re-prime your element if needed.

To prime the elements, place the priming button on top of the threaded end of the element and place it firmly against your faucet. Turn the water on so that it is just a trickle. The water will go into the black element and the outside of the element will slowly bead up and around the element. When it has completely beaded up the element you can turn off the water and install the element into the Berkey water filter system.

We also have a new Berkey Primer for making this task even easier.

Be sure to throw out the first 2-3 batches of water you put through the system so that the tap water used for priming is completely out of the elements.

Alternate priming method is as follows:

STEP 1: If your system is assembled, remove the Black Berkey® Purification Element from the upper chamber. Next, fill the lower chamber with water, then place the Black Berkey Filters into the water in the lower chamber, upside down with the stems facing upward, and put a ceramic coffee cup (or something else that will hold them under the water) on top of each Black Berkey stem to force the element down under the water. Let the Black Berkey® Purification Element soak in the water for several hours. This will force some of the air out of the stubborn pores. NOTE: Make sure that the opening in the stems of the Black Berkey Filters are not underwater as we want the water to be forced through the pores rather than entering through the hole in the stem.

STEP 2: The inside of the Black Berkey® Purification Element should now be full of water and significantly heavier. Try to keep as much water on the inside of the Black Berkey Filters as is possible as you reassemble the Black Berkey® Purification Element into the upper chamber by keeping the stems facing upward. Empty the water from the lower chamber and place the upper chamber back onto the lower chamber. Immediately fill the upper chamber with water.

When the Black Berkey® Purification Element have water within the bore (inside core), more force is generated to draw water through the filters. This is because the water that drips out of the Black Berkey Filters also hydraulically pulls new water into the purification element as the Black Berkey® Purification Element begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the “Push” of gravity, there is also a hydraulic “pull” and this drastically improves the ability of the water to force the air from the micropores. The above method is less efficient than priming the Black Berkey Filters with the priming button but should be about 75-80% effective in clearing the blocked micropores.

Let the water in the lower chamber run to waste and refill the upper chamber with water. Your Black Berkey® Purification Element are now primed and ready for use.

Red Food Coloring Test

Every 6 months, I recommend you test your Black Berkey® Purification Element with a simple red food coloring test. It is important to use only RED food coloring as the other colors have minerals in them and will not be removed from the water.

  1. If using the white PF-2 Arsenic/Fluoride filters, remove them from the system.
  2. Empty both canisters and in the bottom canister place cups or juice glasses so that the elements will drip into each cup. If possible, use a clear or white cup/glass. You will need 1 cup for each element in your system.
  3. Place the top canister so that each element will drip directly into the cup below.
  4. The amount of red food coloring to be used depends on the size of your system. If you have a 2 ¼ gallon Big Berkey you will need to use 2 teaspoons of red food coloring and place it in the top canister. If you have a 3 ¼ gallon Royal Berkey you would use 3 teaspoons of the food coloring.
  5. After putting in the correct amount of food coloring into the top canister, fill it up completely with water. The water will be very red. Allow the water to filter down into the cups for several inches until the cups are at least one half filled. Then discard the rest of the red water in the top canister.
  6. Remove the cups/glasses from the bottom canister. Make sure you know which element goes with each cup. The water in the cups/glasses should be clear. If you are using a clear cup/glass, put a piece of white paper behind the cup/glass to get a good reading on the color of the water.
  7. If the water is pink, the element for that cup/glass is breached and should be replaced.
  8. If the water is clear, your elements are doing their job perfectly.

Drying and Long-Term Storing Your Black Berkey® Purification Element

After use and before your system away for an emergency, please be sure to dry the Black Berkey® Purification Element thoroughly. To dry the elements, place them on a towel in a sunny windowsill and turn them once per day for 2 weeks. If you don’t have a sunny area to dry them, please dry them for at least 4 weeks before storing.

Things To Do Before Leaving Town For More Than 4-6Days

When leaving town for a more than 4-6 days, remove your Black Berkey® Purification Element and your PF-2 fluoride filters, place them in baggies and put them in the refrigerator. When you come home, remove the filters and install them and they’re ready to filter. Leaving them for more than 5 days will start the drying process and you may have to prime them again when you return. Also placing the sealed bags in the refrigerator keeps them from drying and absorbing odors in your refrigerator.

Transporting Your Berkey System

When transporting your Berkey is it important to remove the filters so they do not get damaged and snap off from the stem during transport.  Please wrap them in a towel to provide adequate impact protection, and then place them in the lower canister. Then turn the top canister over and nestle it inside this same lower canister. When you arrive at your destination, re-install your filters and you are ready to purify water.

The water in the upper chamber of my Berkey® system does not drain all the way. Is this normal?

Yes, it is normal and not unusual for the last 1/2″ to 1″ of water to remain in the upper chamber. By design, the water must pass through very fine micro-pores within the elements in order to pass from the upper chamber to the lower. The lower the water level in the upper chamber, the lower the pressure available to force the water through the micro-pores. You might have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full. That is because there is more pressure. During each cycle, the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified. You should not be concerned about the excess water during normal use however if you discontinue using your filter for a period of time such as during a vacation, it would not hurt to empty the upper chamber before departing.

Recommendations for Optimal Filtration Cycle:

Fully fill the upper chamber covering the Black Berkey or Berkey Earth filters, (making sure the lower chamber is completely empty), and allow the upper chamber to completely empty.  Use the purified water and empty out the lower chamber before starting the process again.

Water Filtration Speed:

If you feel as though the water is filtering too slowly, please understand that the water will always filter faster when there’s more water pressure in the upper chamber. Also, priming the Black Berkey filters opens the pores up to allow water in. A priming that has not been fully completed will still have closed pores and thus filter slower. Try re-priming the filters to ensure priming has been fully completed.

Weird Taste to Water:

If you’re noticing a chemical taste to the water without the use of PF-2’s, please perform a red food colouring test on the Black Berkey filters to ensure that all are working to specifications. If any fail, please contact us and we will have the manufacturer send you a replacement. Also, try washing out the lower chamber with soap and water.

If using the Berkey PF-2 filters, make sure the manufacturing dust has been fully flushed out of these PF-2’s as this can cause a cloudiness or oily texture to the filtered water and will leave an unpleasant taste.

How should I store my Black Berkey® Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?

It is best to empty both chambers before storing because anytime water is still it becomes stagnant, which means it can produce bacteria. You may consider washing your chambers with soapy water before leaving them to dry. If you have used your elements, you should fully dry them before storing. We offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey® Primer™. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey® Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly and cleaned at the same time. Another option for drying your elements is to leave them on a window sill for one to three days and allow them to air-dry. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them, to prevent any bacterial growth.

For long-term storage, we recommend sealing the purification elements. This can be done with a storage bag such as a sealable sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odours and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they will not absorb any odours from the air. When you are ready to use your elements, they will need to be re-primed by lightly scrubbing them clean with a Scotch Brite pad or stiff brush.

To order our Black Berkey Primer™ please click here.