Watermaker filters are expensive and often commuter cruisers like us choose to change them at the start of each season since they’ve typically been sitting pickled for six months while we’re away from the boat. Upon returning, the first thing we do is take all the filters out of their housings and inspect them. If they’re in good shape with no tears, we simply rinse them with fresh water and reuse them the next time we change the filters.
The process is simple — we take them out on the dock and flush them thoroughly with fresh water from the pressurized nozzle on the hose. Be careful though, pressurized water will remove all the buildup, but it also could potentially tear the filter, rendering it useless.
Then we let them dry in the sunshine. Once dry we put them into a storage locker to use the next time we change the filters. Generally we’ll buy a new set every 2-3 years and rotate the used ones through with the new set. This way the oldest filters get tossed every 3 years or so after being cleaned and reused at least once. Some cruisers keep cleaning and recycling filters much longer than we do. As long as the water production remains good, there’s not really any reason to throw them away.
Other cruisers we know put the used filters in a mesh bag and drag them behind the boat underway. We’re always afraid the bag or the attachment lines might break and we might lose the filters, so we’ve never tried this ourselves, but others swear by it.
One caution … we’ve also heard of cruisers that put a little bit of bleach in a bucket filled with water and soak the filters before rinsing them in fresh water. Since bleach can ruin an expensive watermaker membrane, we would never take the chance on putting filters back in that might have just enough bleach residue to weaken and eventually ruin the membrane, but that’s just us. Use your own judgement.
Another tip we learned from a Roving Spectra Rep, Chris in the San Blas Islands … the charcoal filter should be changed every six months since it is the first line of defense. Again, being commuter cruisers, we simply replace the charcoal filter at the beginning of each cruising season, unless, like last winter, we don’t use the watermaker more than a few times.
A bit of care and cleaning will extend not only the life of your watermaker filters, but also your cruising budget! Do you have a different method to clean your watermaker filters? Please leave a comment and share! Cheers! Jan