Troubleshooting Berkey®

We would like to emphasise that the installation of a Berkey® system should not be undertaken without having read the information provided. There is nothing complicated, neither to install the system nor to start it, but there is some prior knowledge that is imperative to know in order for everything to go well.

We have therefore decided to summarise below a number of things to check and do in order to solve these small problems.

Do you think your Berkey® system is not working properly?

Don't worry. The following troubleshooting tips will solve most of the problems you may encounter. You can of course contact our customer service department if you cannot find a solution or if it is a material defect. The Berkey® guarantee covers manufacturing and workmanship defects in the stainless steel tanks, the lid, the standard tap and the accessories supplied as standard. In this case we will replace them free of charge.

Before going into the details of the problems you may encounter, here is a list of precautions you should be aware of and apply to the various components of your system:

    • Never allow Black Berkey® components to freeze when stored in a refrigerator for conservation purposes.
    • Never clean your Black Berkey® elements in the dishwasher and never put them in a microwave oven to dry.
    • Never boil the Black Berkey® elements to clean them, never clean them with hot water.
    • Black Berkey® filters can be cleaned with clear, cold water and a Scotch Brite sponge, without the use of any cleaning products.
    • Never store your Black Berkey® elements on a long-term basis if they are not completely dry, as this can lead to the development of mould.
    • Your Black Berkey® filters should not be exposed to the sun for long periods of time.
    • Never tighten wing nuts with tools. Be sure to position them perpendicular to the threaded rod of the Black Berkey® filter and tighten them by hand only.

You have not found your assembly instructions or you only have the English instructions supplied with the system

The instructions, in your language, are available for download. You will find the link to download them in your order confirmation email and in your shipping email. Remember to download them before you start assembling your system.

Your Berkey® filter does not filter at all or the filtration rate is very slow

On average, for a Travel, Big or Royal model, the top tank should be filtered in 45 minutes. A little longer for Imperial and Crown models. This time may vary by about 10 minutes, but this is not evidence of a malfunction.
On the other hand, if the filtration times are really much lower or higher, several reasons can be given:

- The first is that the pores of your filters are clogged. Limescale, residual dirt in the filtered water, all reasons for the flow to be slowed down. To remedy this, a good cleaning of your filters with a scotch Brite sponge as indicated in your maintenance manual, then do a priming before replacing the filters.

- The second and most common reason is poor priming. If there is still air in your filters, gravity is not enough to expel it and your filter may be very slow, or not filter at all. In this case, proceed to a complete priming of your filters, following the different methods explained in your manuals.

- Using the Air Lock clip: It can happen that the upper and lower tanks fit together so tightly that air does not pass between them. As this is a gravity system, the water flowing from the upper tank must push out the air in the lower tank. If this air cannot escape, the flow stops. In this case, simply position the clip that is supplied in the accessory bag between the two tanks, allowing a sufficient and necessary flow of air to pass through for your system to work properly.

Does the water filtered by your Berkey® system have a strange, metallic taste?

Remember to discard the water from the first two filtrations, especially if you have installed the optional PF-2 filters. The first few litres filtered may taste of metal, chlorine or plastic. Also make sure you have cleaned and primed your filter elements before the first run.

Filtered water has a plastic smell

This happens when the black seals that seal the Black Berkey® filters are incorrectly positioned. These natural rubber gaskets can have a strong odour and can permeate the water if they are placed on the bottom of the upper tank and not on top as indicated in your installation instructions. If this is the case, position them correctly, this will solve the problem.

Your Berkey® system is leaking

A puddle or residual drops can mean that there is a leak somewhere. This may be an overflow between the two tanks or a leak at the tap.

In the first case, be careful not to fill the upper tank until the lower tank is completely empty. The Berkey® system is a gravity filtration system and the water filled in the upper tank will flow into the lower tank. If the lower tank is not able to collect the filtered water, there will be an overflow and leakage between the two tanks, and this is quite normal.

In the second case, it may be a poorly positioned or not tight enough seal at the tap. Check its assembly and possibly tighten the nuts a little more to perfect the seal.

Are the washers and wing nuts that allow the installation of Black Berkey® filter elements correctly installed? 

To properly install your Black Berkey® filter elements, the washer must be on the threaded rod of the filter element in the upper tank and the wing nut must be attached to the filter rod in the lower tank.

Beware: wing nuts should be hand-tightened without excessive force, just enough to ensure a good seal. If they are over-tightened, the threads can be damaged, which would prevent a good seal. Never use tools to tighten the various parts of your Berkey® system. All tightening should be done by hand only.

Your Berkey® system is damaged or missing parts

If any of the parts of your system are missing or damaged, you are eligible for a replacement under the warranty. Be sure to inspect your order immediately upon receipt. If you find any missing or damaged items, you must notify us within 48 hours. Any claims for missing or damaged items after this time will not be considered.

When to replace Black Berkey® filters

Black Berkey® filters should be replaced after 22,700 litres of use. To calculate the life of your filter, you can use this equation: 22,700 / number of litres filtered per day / 365.
Example for a Big Berkey® filled once a day: 22,700 / 8.5 /365 = 7.3 years.

Filters may need to be replaced earlier if used with reclaimed water.

Our systems are water purifiers and as such can filter water from a river, lake or well but we recommend that you only do this in an emergency to prolong their life.