What is a Water Sediment Filter?

Adam Hill

Water is highly vulnerable to pollution by a variety of contaminants. Almost all municipal water sources have been treated to some degree to reduce these contaminants, but additional filtration may be desired by homeowners, as people are generally becoming more conscious of the quality of their water. A water sediment filter is commonly used in a residential context, to screen out particulate matter such as sand grains and other visible particles.

A sediment filter may be used to ensure household water is clean and safe for drinking.
A sediment filter may be used to ensure household water is clean and safe for drinking.

Sediment is any particulate matter that can be transported by flowing water, and can describe any number of small, water-borne particles such as rust flakes from water pipes, small bits of organic matter, or clay particles that find their way into the water supply. Sediment can often be seen collecting in toilet bowls or in the bottom of dishwashers.

Larger particles can get stuck and collect behind the aerator of a faucet. Sometimes they can even be noticed settling at the bottom of a glass of water that has been sitting for a long time. Rust and other particles can be screened out of residential water through the use of a water sediment filter, which is easy to install to protect household drinking water as well as appliances that use water.

A water sediment filter can be one of two types: a bag filter or a cartridge. Cartridge filters are typically made of thin materials such as paper, cloth, or woven wire. They are best suited to situations where contaminants represent less than 0.01% of the total weight of the water. This makes them ideal for residential applications, and they are often used in particular to filter water for refrigerator-mounted icemakers. Cartridge filters are designed to be disposable, and must be replaced when the filter is clogged, because clogging stops or reduces the flow of water through the filter.

A bag filter is a type of water sediment filter that is frequently used for removing dust in industrial applications, and the particles are usually captured on the inside surface of the filter. These are not designed for replacement when they clog, and must be cleaned in order to be effective again. One thing that neither type of water sediment filter will affect is the amount of water-borne iron, which can leave red stains on household surfaces such as bathtubs. To treat this substance, the use of a water softener is required.

Water sediment filters are also classified by a micron number, referring to the size of the particles they will capture. They are classified further by “absolute” and “nominal.” For instance, an absolute five-micron filter can trap 99.9% of particles that measure five microns or larger. A nominal five-micron filter will capture 85% of particles measuring five microns and larger. For most purposes, including residential, nominal filtration is considered acceptable.

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