How to Clean a UV Water Filter Step by Step

Author: Rory Mullan - Published: 2022/05/25 - Updated: 2022/06/17

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A UV water filter will keep your water clean and free from pathogens so long as you maintain it properly. Luckily for you, maintaining such a filter isn’t super complicated. There are 3 things you have to do to ensure your UV filter operates at peak efficiency:

  1. Keep the UV lamp in good working condition
  2. Ensure that the water that goes through the filter is receiving enough light
  3. Fix and prevent leaks

If you don’t keep these in mind, your UV water purifier’s efficiency will quickly decline. But if you follow our maintenance tips, your system will work like a charm.

In this article, we’ll go over some essential maintenance work for UV filters, including how to clean them, how often you need to change lamp and glass sleeve, and some general tips.

So, here is our guide on how to clean a UV water filter.

How Do You Clean a UV Water Filter?

How to clean a UV water filter thumbnail

There’s only one part of the filter that you need to clean with regularity, and that’s the quartz sleeve that covers the UV lamp. In case you are unsure what that is, it’s the clear glass tube around the lamp.

The purpose of the sleeve is twofold:

  • It insulates the lamp from the water
  • and maximizes the UV transmission of the light due to being made out of quartz glass.

Before you start, you’ll need to shut off your home’s water supply and disconnect the UV purifier. You’ll have to wait around 10-15 minutes for the UV lamp to cool down, as it otherwise would be too hot to handle.

When you are going to clean the sleeve, you should always put on some gloves, and avoid touching the UV lamp directly unless absolutely necessary. The reason for this is that the oil on your skin can affect the lamp’s ability to transmit light once it heats up. You wouldn’t be able to see it, so better to be safe than sorry and wear gloves.

Once the lamp has cooled off, open the UV water purifier as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Following that, very carefully remove the quartz sleeve together with the lamp.

Once it’s completely out, remove the screws on the sleeve and its sealing rings, and separate it from the lamp.

What is a Quartz Sleeve, and What is it Used For?

The way that a UV water purifier works is by exposing water to UV light, thus eliminating contaminants. It does so by scrambling the DNA of a large number of microorganisms[1], which have no defense against UV light.

The quartz sleeve has two main purposes for a UV purifier: to protect the UV lamp from the water coming in contact with it and allow the UV light to easily pass through to the water.

The reason why quartz is used instead of regular glass is due to its purer composition. Regular glass has a lot of impurities that absorb UV light, such as sodium oxide and magnesia. While this is ideal for the normal applications of glass, such as windows, it’s not good for a UV filter.

Quartz, on the other hand, doesn’t suffer from the same issues and allows light to easily pass. But, in order to do that, it must be maintained clean and in good condition.

How to Clean a UV Quartz Sleeve

You’ll want to be really careful while cleaning the UV quartz sleeve, as they are very fragile. Avoid using rough fabrics. Instead, use a soft cloth. This will reduce the chance of leaving scratches on the surface.

You’ll want to avoid using cleaning chemicals too, as they could affect the sleeve. Water and a bit of vinegar mixed together should be more than enough.

Wipe the sleeve thoroughly with the mix until it looks clear, then rinse it with water.

Once you’ve cleaned, check the sleeve for scratches, cracks, or any signs of wear. Even the smallest scratch could affect your UV purifier’s ability to properly transmit UV light. Not to mention that the heat from the lamp can cause cracks to expand over time, eventually causing the sleeve to break.

If you see a crack, you should replace the quartz sleeve immediately.

How Frequently Should You Clean Your UV Quartz Sleeve?

There’s no universal answer for this, as it will depend on the hardness of your water as well as what other particles are left in it. Filtering your water before running it through your UV system will reduce the frequency with which you have to clean it.

Water with a high mineral content, also known as hard water, will leave more residue on your sleeve. This combined with other particles will cause grime to build up on your sleeve, affecting its ability to transmit UV light.

In most cases, cleaning the quartz sleeve once a year is more than enough. However, if your area has hard water you would need to clean it more often.

A good way to know how often you need to clean your glass sleeve is monitoring the grime buildup during the first few months after you’ve installed your UV water purifier. That’ll let you know what time frame you are looking at moving forward.

If the buildup happens too quickly, consider filtering the water supply more thoroughly before it goes into the UV filter.

How Often Do You Have to Replace the Quartz Sleeve?

Changing the quartz sleeve of your UV purifier is inevitable. This is because the sleeve fogs up over time due to UV radiation, and that’s not something you can fix. You should replace the quartz sleeve once every two years, on average.

Like with the sleeve cleaning, the frequency with which you’ll have to replace a sleeve will depend a lot on the hardness of your water, and the number of particles that aren’t filtered out. Harder water will cause your sleeve to wear out more quickly.

You might see claims from some manufacturers that their sleeves can last up to three years, but keep in mind that these claims are done under perfect conditions.

Tips for Cleaning Your Filter

Cleaning a UV water filter isn’t complicated, so long as you are careful. Remember the following tips next time you have to clean yours:

Use a Soft Cloth and Avoid Cleaning Chemicals

Rough fabrics can leave scratches on the sleeve, which affects its performance. Use only a mix of water and vinegar for the cleaning and rinse the sleeve after wiping it. Remember to handle the process carefully as the sleeve is fragile.

Wear Gloves if You Have to Touch the Lamp

Even in tiny amounts, the oil from your skin can damage the UV lamp once it heats up. You should avoid touching the lamp unless necessary, but if you have to remember to always wear gloves.

uv light bulb

Water Treatment and Softening Help Keep Your Filter in Tip-Top Shape

Water softening and other treatment methods can reduce how often you need to clean the quartz sleeve.

Conclusion

Keeping your UV filter clean and in good condition is essential to its proper functioning.

For most households, that means cleaning the glass sleeve at least once a year and replacing it every two years.

Remember to wear gloves while handling the UV lamp, use a soft cloth to clean the glass sleeve, and consider treating your water more if you find yourself having to clean the filter too often.

Further Reading

Resources

Meet Rory Mullan

Rory Mullan Rory has joined the Water Masterz team as a contributing writer. He has covered all sorts of topics in the last several years.

Outside of his writing work, Rory enjoys photographing the Irish landscape and making music!

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