If you want clean and safe drinking water, you must know how often you need to change your RV water filter and how long do RV water filters last. The answer isn’t always as straightforward as most people would like. Luckily, filters are usually cheap and easy to replace when you start seeing the signs telling you when it’s time.
Today, we’re diving into everything you need to know about changing your RV water filters. Let’s get going!
How Often Do You Need to Change RV Water Filters?
The rule of thumb is to change your RV water filter once or twice every camping season. Most RV water filters last about 3 months with average use.
If you want a more technical answer, most basic filters will last approximately 500 to 2,000 gallons. But most people don’t track the number of gallons they use.
However, the real lifespan of water filters depends on a few things:
- The type of water filter: Enclosed, Canister, Under-sink or UV Purifier
- How fine a filter it is. In other words, how tiny the holes are.
- Water Quality. More impurities equal shorter life, better quality equal fewer replacements needed.
- 3 Signs You Need to Replace Your Filters ASAP
- When to Replace Your RV Water Filters – By Type
- How to Extend the Life of Your Water Filters
- Can You Clean An RV Water Filter to Re-Use?
- Where to Get Filter Replacements
- Is It Time to Check Your RV Water Filters?
3 Signs You Need to Replace Your Filters ASAP
Once your water filters have reached the end of their life, they’ll no longer do their job. This could leave you and fellow campers vulnerable to drinking contaminated and poor-tasting water. If you notice a few common signs, it’s time to swap out your filters for new ones.
- Decrease in water pressure: This occurs when the filters clog with minerals and other contaminants. The blockages restrict water flow and cause the pressure to drop at your faucets, showerheads, and toilets.
- Change in water taste or smell. The contaminants that these filters remove can significantly alter the taste and smell of your water. Carbon block filters in particular have a limited life of how long they can remove chemical contaminants.
- Doing a visual inspection of the filter and the water: If you notice dirt and discoloration on the filter or in the water, it could be time for a replacement.
Pro Tip: Don’t know which filter system is right for your rig? We uncovered How to Choose the Best RV Water Filter System.
When to Replace Your RV Water Filters – By Type
How often you must change your RV water filter depends on their type. Some require more frequent maintenance than others. Let’s look at each type and when you should replace them.
Enclosed Inline Water Filter Replacement
- Most basic filters in the RV community; known as “blue pills”
- Connect the filter to the water source and hose
- These systems typically have around a 20-micron filter
- Not great for drinking from your RV tank
- They’re cheap and straightforward to use
- You get what you pay for with this filter
How Long They Last:
- 2-3 months; replace them once or twice each year.
- Most of these devices will filter 500 to 1000 gallons of water.
How To Replace:
- Toss it in the trash and buy a new one
- No replaceable parts or filters on these devices
- If you have a low-quality water source and use several filters yearly, this can feel very wasteful.
Canister Inline Water Filter Replacement
- Canister appearnace
- Typically connect your potable water hose to the water source and then connect it to the canisters
- Some models feature multiple 10″ canisters to allow for various levels of filtration
- If you plan to drink the water from your RV’s water system, this is a great place to start
- More capable than standard enclosed inline options
- Typically use 5-micron water filters
- Replacing canister inline water filters only takes a minute or two.
How Long They Last:
- About 4-6 months; replace the filters at the start of each season
- The canisters that hold the filters can last several years without issues
How To Replace:
- Turn off the water supply, unscrew the canisters to access the filters, and unscrew the filters.
- Toss the old filters in the trash and install the new versions before reassembling everything.
- Turn the water on and thoroughly test the system to ensure it’s working correctly with no leaks.
Under-Sink Water Filters
- Only purify the water for one faucet.
- In most cases, the filter is for drinking water.
- Come in canisters and enclosed versions depending on the model
- Sizes can vary depending on the number of canisters and filtration abilities
- Single to triple canister systems
- Relatively convenient filter to replace
How Long They Last:
- Drinking water only means lower gallon ratings, shorter life
- If you have a multi-stage filter, the first stage will typically last three to six months, the second stage six to 12 months, and the third stage 12 to 18 months.
How To Replace:
- Turn off the water and remove the pressure from the lines
- Access the filter housing
- Unscrew the filter canister
- Dispose of the old filter
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing the new device before installing it
- Tighten everything and test the system while watching for leaks.
UV Light Treatment
- Most expensive – Many full-time RVers use the Acuva version, which can cost several hundred dollars.
- Most effective
- Uses UV light to remove dangerous chemicals and contaminants from your water.
- Requires a power source.
How Long They Last:
- Theoretically last indefinitely
- To ensure they last, you must drain and winterize them each season.
- If you don’t, they’ll break and you’ll need to replace them prematurely.
How To Replace: If you go this route, you may need to replace the UV light bulbs after several years. To do this:
- Turn off the power
- Access the UV chamber
- Unscrew the old bulb – Be aware that clips, brackets, or screws may hold it in place
- Install the new lamp
- Secure everything before testing the system
Because each brand and system is unique, consult the user guide that came with your system. This can help ensure you don’t miss critical steps or do more harm than good.
How to Extend the Life of Your Water Filters
If you want to make your water filters last as long as possible, you must take care of them.
- Dry your filters in between trips to avoid algae and bacteria growth
- Remove and store in warmth during freezing temperature – Because water expands when it freezes, cracks and permanent damage can quickly occur.
Can You Clean An RV Water Filter to Re-Use?
Cleaning is a great way to extend the life of many products. Unfortunately, you cannot clean all types of RV water filters. Typically, only ceramic filters allow you to scrub and clean them when they clog. We previously used AquaCera filters, which allowed us to scrub their exterior to remove algae, dirt, and other gunk that had accumulated.
Unfortunately, you cannot clean paper or woven filters. Instead, you’ll need to fully replace these items once they reach the end of their life. Properly dispose of them and don’t get a replacement RV water filter prematurely. This is a way to avoid creating unnecessary waste.
Finally, if you’re using canister inline water filters, you should thoroughly clean the canisters every time you replace the filters. Scrub them thoroughly with warm, soapy water and let them dry thoroughly.
Where to Get Filter Replacements
Luckily, there are plenty of options for getting filter replacements. Some of our favorite options are retailers like:
- Mobile Must Have – common to premium water filter offerings
- Rec Pro – variety of water filters
- Amazon – can find most types and brands
- Walmart – good for emergency basic inline RV water filter replacement
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We strongly encourage you to always have a backup filter. This way, you can quickly install the new version and not have your trip or adventures interrupted by something as simple as a water filter. Order a backup so you have one for the next time you need to make a change.
Pro Tip: Get the best water quality in your RV by discovering Should You Have a Reverse Osmosis System for Your RV?
Is It Time to Check Your RV Water Filters?
If you haven’t checked or changed your RV water filter often, now is a good time to do so. Whether boondocking on public land or set up in a state park, having access to clean and safe drinking water is essential. You don’t want to risk consuming contaminated water, which can cause digestive issues and health conditions.
When was the last time you checked your RV water filter? Let us know in the comments!
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