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The Purpose of Using a Backwash Filter & Valve


pictured: the simplest type of backwash valve; even something this simple can save you a huge headache later!

Water filters are common among households since families want to ensure their water supply is clean. However, standard filtration systems aren’t enough to completely clean the water and remove unwanted contaminants.

Backwash filters are better at doing this job. What are they and how do they work? What are the important components to consider? 

We’ll answer those questions in this article. Let’s dig into the topic.

How does a Backwash Filter Work? 

Backwash filters work by reversing the flow of water to remove any debris, minerals, or contaminants. 

Its main components include a tank and the filtering media. Water flows through the tank, where the backwash filter reverses its flow and drains the water out of the filter. 

Then, it suspends the particles in the filter media and prevents them from leaving once the water starts to flow again. 

To be more familiar with how backwash filters work, it’s wise to read this Lifesource water review.

The Filter Media 

The filter media traps the contaminants and particles in your water system. The media can be made of sand, rubber, crumb, or even crushed glass.

You can get multi-media filters, too, where the filter media layer different materials to filter water. It’s wise to use multi-media filters if one type of filter cannot adequately keep your water clean.

Different filtering media remove different kinds of particles. For example, certain types of filters can remove iron, chlorine, sulfur, and sediment. 

The following are some of the most common filter media:

Granular Activated Carbon

Granular activated carbon is used to: 

  • Reduce the amount of chlorine and chloramine in the water
  • Improve the water’s taste or odor
  • Remove sediments 

Granular activated carbon is a versatile filter media, so it’s the preferred treatment for many chemical contaminants.

Catalytic Carbon 

Catalytic carbon removes chlorine, chloramine, hydrogen sulfide, and iron from the water. It’s a more expensive grade of activated carbon, but it’s popular for chloramine removal for city water systems.


Birm is used to reduce iron and manganese contaminants. It’s relatively lightweight, so it’s easy to backwash. It’s cheap, too, making it a popular iron medium. 

One drawback, however, is that a water pH level of at least 6.8 is often necessary to let Birm remove iron.

Backwash Monitor

Backwashing often leads to some amount of water loss. Using a monitoring system is a wise move. A monitoring system helps you learn just how clean or dirty your water is while also minimizing water loss. 

The sensor in the monitoring system measures the media level. It pushes the filter media to collide with the upward flowing water, letting the filter media eliminate any unwanted particles. 

The sensor also regulates the expansion rate of filter media. If the rate is too low, you can’t properly clean the filter, resulting in water loss. If the rate is too high, the filter media could flow out and escape through the filter.

Control Valves 

Many modern filters use control valves where an electric timer initiates and controls the filter backwash at a specific time. 

Meanwhile, some sophisticated setups start backwashing based on the pressure difference between incoming and outgoing water.

partnered post • cc-licensed image by Carlos Pacheco