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ronch
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Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:29 am

We have a water filter system like this one and recently we've been away for months, and when we came back we were shocked to see algae in the filter tanks. It's easy to rub them off but you see, I can't get to the nooks and crannies so I tried soaking the parts where there's algae in water and dishwashing liquid overnight, but the next morning the little bits of algae are still there. Is there a solution that I can soak the thing with that'll loosen the algae in all those little places, making them come off just by running water on it? I don't wanna get rid of this thing just yet and get a new one because it'll be a waste and mean more garbage.

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:33 am

Bleach should do the trick. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:37 am

Ok I'll try that. Thanks, bro. Other suggestions most welcome.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 8:39 am

Find your local homebrew shop, and get yourself a jar of this stuff. Follow the package directions for cleaning beer fermenters. If there's still residue after that, hit it with a dilute bleach solution, let it soak overnight, rinse and air dry until the bleach odor is gone. Replace all of the filter cartridges.

You can sub Oxy Clean for the brewery cleaner if it isn't available locally, should work nearly as well. Brewery cleaning is all about removing stuck-on organic residue with a minimum of effort... so PBW should be nearly ideal for this.

Note: If there are any metal parts, don't do more than a brief bleach soak because bleach will corrode most metals (including stainless steel).
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:36 pm

Titanium and platinum offer excellent performance in bleach service. Hastelloy C276 and C2000 also hold up well, but they may catalyze decomposition of strong bleach solutions. For tanks and piping in very strong NaOCl service, we use only Titanium and Teflon.

Combination detergents can be effective against algae, but be careful never to mix acids with bleach.
Last edited by JustAnEngineer on Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 5:49 pm

After you've cleaned everything, keep the filters in the dark to prevent algae growth in the future. Wrap them in black plastic bags or something like that.
 
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 6:56 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
Titanium and platinum offer excellent performance in bleach service. Hastelloy C276 and C2000 also hold up well, but they may catalyze decomposition of strong bleach solutions. For tanks and piping in very strong NaOCl service, we use only Titanium and Teflon.

Combination detergents can be effective against algae, but be careful never to mix acids with bleach.

I seriously doubt there are any titanium or platinum parts in his water filter, but point taken. And I did say *most* metals. :lol:

And yes, be careful never to mix bleach with any other cleaners; the results of failing to observe this rule can be deadly!
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:09 pm

Bleach + dishwashing soap +water should be okay, shouldn't it?
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Mon Jun 17, 2019 7:11 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
Bleach + dishwashing soap +water should be okay, shouldn't it?

I would NOT make that assumption. It will depend on what's in the dishwashing soap.

General rule of thumb is that if you want to use bleach as a final sterilization step, thoroughly rinse off anything else you've previously used to clean the items.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:09 am

IMO scrub the filters as best you can and then add some pond treatment (chemical algaecide) instead of bleach;

They're not quite as effective as bleach but it'll probably linger in the filter for a while and it's going to be less dangerous to you than drinking bleach if the filter is difficult to effectively rinse. chemical algaecides aren't great for fish and plants either, but it's not fatal at least.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Tue Jun 18, 2019 7:51 am

Yeah, don't get the bleach in the filter media. Maybe I misunderstood, but I thought we were just talking about the housing.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Tue Jun 18, 2019 8:47 am

Yeah, you definitely don't want to bleach the filter media. In my post above, I indicated that all of the filter media should be *changed* after thoroughly cleaning the housing.

As long as you rinse well, any remaining traces of bleach in the housing should be so minute that it won't hurt you. Any chlorine that doesn't get stripped out by the final filter stage (which I assume is some sort of activated carbon media - very good at removing chlorine) will be far below the amount you would ingest just from swimming a couple of laps around a swimming pool. Many municipal water systems also add trace amounts of chlorine to the water supply as a disinfectant; if you've ever consumed tap water in a big city you've probably consumed what amounts to really dilute bleach.

I can't say the same for pond algaicide. I have no idea what's in that stuff, or whether it is safe for human ingestion even in trace amounts. If it is some form of a chemical herbicide (as seems likely), I'll take the bleach!

Edit: And just so you don't need to take my word for it, the CDC actually recommends 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine bleach per gallon as an emergency measure for disinfecting drinking water: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinki ... ction.html. Any residual chlorine after thorough rinsing of the filter housing will be many orders of magnitude below this (probably in the PPM range, if not lower).

Edit 2: I'm also going to reduce the recommended bleach soak time from my original post. Go for an hour instead of overnight. This isn't about safety, it is an aesthetic issue. With an extended soak, the plastic may absorb trace amounts of bleach, causing a faint bleach odor in the water for several days; you probably want to avoid this. :wink:
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ronch
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:47 am

Hey guys, thanks for all the input. I soaked the affected parts in water with a tablespoon of salt for more than a day. Not sure it really worked. After rinsing I used a cotton swab with ethyl alcohol to try and get everything out. Failing that, I used a sharp pin to scrape off what remained while it's soaked in alcohol. Flushing the area with strong running water did most of the trick. Not perfect, there are still VERY SMALL bits in the tiniest places but I reckon it's safer than drinking straight from the tap. Who's to say all the plumbing under the ground are perfectly clean anyway? Also, as you use the filter the insides get all murky anyway, so I reckon you can't really expect perfection. Any thoughts?

I haven't tried drinking the water yet but I hope it's safe.

Again, thanks for all the help. I've learned quite a bit.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Thu Jun 20, 2019 5:51 am

Btw I was talking about the housing only. I replaced the filter and activated carbon media. It's a 3-stage system, with the first stage being the filter and you could either use a ceramic filter or one that's made of fibers or something similar. 2nd and 3rd are carbon but they're different. 3rd stage removes chlorine and other whatnots.

I simply used dishwashing liquid to clean the cylindrical covers. It was the easy part. The hard part is cleaning the main body that carries the filters.
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Thu Jun 20, 2019 7:34 am

Unless his water is extraordinarily clean, any residue in the filter housing after a soak in diluted bleach will be neutralized very quickly. If if there is any left, it wont make it past your tongue. There will be more chlorine and byproducts in a swimming pool, and that tends to not kill people.

If you have algae in your filter, you have some things to check:
1. Too much light on the filter.
2. Potentially high nutrients in the water.

in the case of #2, you MUST get your water checked. A lot of people get pretty sick by not realizing their water is contaminated. It may be as simple as getting a UV filter to sterilize the water on the way into the house.
 
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Re: Algae in our drinking water filter

Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:18 am

If you didn't kill all of the remaining algae, it's probably gonna come back. That was the reason I recommended the soak with PBW/OxyClean and bleach. The alcohol may have been sufficient, but it sounds like there are a lot of little nooks and crannies, so that's iffy. PBW/OxyClean will lift organic residues even from places you can't reach.
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