Top Frequently Asked Questions
How does the Berkey® Systems work?
Berkey® systems are designed to work without the need for electricity or plumbing. They are “off-the-grid” water purifiers and are gravity fed. You can use several sources for providing water including:
· Ponds & Stagnant Ponds
· Tap Water
· Water Storage
The key to the Berkey® systems are the Black Berkey® Purification Elements, commonly referred to as Black Berkeys or Purification Elements. Black Berkeys are the primary filters, able to purify contaminants from the water. Elements are sold in sets of two. One set of Black Berkey® Purification Elements is rated to purify 6,000 gallons of tap water.
Except for the Sport Berkey® Water Bottle, Berkey® systems include an upper chamber which rests upon a lower chamber when assembled. Think of these as two large open-top canisters. The upper chamber (or canister) has holes in its base into which the Black Berkey® Purification Elements are housed. The upper canister is designed to rest on top of the bottom canister. Essentially, the top chamber is where the water-to-be-purified is poured. The bottom chamber serves as the reservoir for the water that has been purified in the upper chamber, by passing through the Black Berkeys.For individuals wanting to address fluoridation in their water source, please see the paragraph on the PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements below.
· Travel Berkey®……….holds 1.5 gallons, holds a maximum of 2 Black Berkeys & 2 PF2 Elements
· Big Berkey®……….holds 2.25 gallons, holds a maximum of 4 Black Berkeys & 4 PF2 Elements
· Berkey® Light……….holds 2.75 gallons, holds a maximum of 4 Black Berkeys & 4 PF2 Elements
· Royal Berkey®……….holds 3.25 gallons, holds a maximum of 4 Black Berkeys & 4 PF2 Elements
· Imperial Berkey®……….holds 4 gallons, holds a maximum of 6 Black Berkeys & 6 PF2 Elements
· Crown Berkey®……….holds 6 gallons, holds a maximum of 8 Black Berkeys & 8 PF2 Elements
Except for the Sport and Go Berkeys, all of the bottom chambers of the Berkey® systems contain a spigot which allows the user to access the purified water from the reservoir.
How many Berkey® systems are there?
The total number of Berkey® systems available is eight. The smallest two Berkey® Water Purifiers are the Sport Berkey® and Go Berkey® Kit, and the remaining six are larger sized systems with spigots in the bottom chambers. The smallest two purifiers can be considered personal water purifiers, due to their volume of output and compact size.
The Sport Berkey® is made from BPA-free (bisphenol-A) plastic and contains a miniature Black Sport Berkey® Element which has the same purifying power of the Black Berkeys.
The Go Berkey® is a miniature version of the larger stainless-steel Berkey® systems, with the top and bottom chambers made of 304-grade stainless steel, although it does not require a spigot to access the water. The bottom reservoir serves as a large stainless steel cup. The Go Berkey® uses only one Black Berkey® Element: the Short-stem Black Berkey®. When re-ordering a Black Berkey® for the Go Berkey® kit, be sure to order the short-stem element. Short-stem Black Berkeys are only sold in sets of two and cost the same as a set of regular Black Berkey® Elements.
The larger systems, from the Travel Berkey® up to the Crown Berkey® hold volumes of water relative to their dimensions, but each purifies water to the same great quality. The Berkey® Light system is made of copolyester not stainless steel, and like the Sport Berkey®, is BPA-free.
How long do the Black Berkey® Elements last?
Black Berkeys are the primary filters which are able to purify contaminants from the water. Elements are sold in sets of two. One set of Black Berkey® Purification Elements is rated to purify 6,000 gallons of tap water. Since the qualities of raw water sources vary, even among different samples of the same source, tap water is the standard of reference used to establish the 6,000 gallon mark. Water which is free of sediment and low in contaminants will perform closer to the 6,000 gallon lifespan for the Black Berkeys, maybe even surpassing that amount. The key in determining the lifespan of the Black Berkeys is in the production and not their age.
How do I maintain the Black Elements?
Black Berkeys are easily maintained by re-priming and scrubbing with a stiff brush, toothbrush, or slightly abrasive pad, similar to a green/white Scotch-Brite™ pad.
Maintenance is made much easier with the new Black Berkey Primer. Never use warm or hot water or freeze the Black Berkeys as this will likely damage the integrity of the compressed carbon and proprietary impregnated media.
All carbon filters will eventually require replacement, although the life of the Black Berkeys can be extended with routine or necessary maintenance.
How do I know when it’s time to replace the Black Berkey® Elements?
The easiest way to determine that the Black Berkey® Elements are still working properly is to add 1 teaspoon of McCormick’s regular RED food coloring per gallon (only McCormick’s red will work, cannot be organic) in the top chamber and make sure the water collecting in the bottom chamber is clear and free of the food coloring. It is best to place a glass under each Black Element in the empty bottom chamber so as to differentiate if one/more Black Berkeys is still working properly.
If you are using the optional PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements with your Berkey® system, please be sure to detach them from the Black Berkeys and remove them from the bottom chamber before performing the Red Food Coloring test.
How do the PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements work?
The letters P and F in PF2 denote the fact that these are post filters, or additional filters that work in conjunction with the Black Berkeys by attaching directly to them, although the PF2s hang in the bottom chamber of the Berkey® systems. PF2s are designed to be used exclusively with the Black Berkey® Elements and not with any other filters. An equal number of PF2 elements should be used to the number of Black Berkeys used in each Berkey® system.
Example: If a Berkey® Light is configured with 2 Black Berkeys, then an equal number of 2 PF2 elements must be used by attaching one PF2 to each Black Berkey®.
The PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements contain activated alumina oxide, media recognized and documented by the EPA (amongst others) to remove and reduce fluoride and arsenic, as well as heavy-metals, from contaminated water. Activated alumina oxide is a non-toxic media.
For more details about alumina oxide in the PF2s, read the manufacturer’sFAQs Here
How do I know when it’s time to replace the PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements?
The PF2s are similar to the Black Berkeys because they are sold in sets of two elements. One set of PF2s is rated to address 1,000 gallons of water. The key in determining the lifespan of the PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements is in the production and not their age.
How long will the Sport Berkey® Water Filter last?
The Sport Berkey® Water bottle was designed to provide on-demand water purification, equal in purity as the larger multi-element systems. The Sport element is rated to purify 640 refills (~110 gallons) of tap water, or 160 refills (~28 gallons) of questionable quality (i.e. creek, pond, lake water, etc.). An individual using her Sport Berkey® for everyday use might refill her bottle up to three times a day. If she was using it for tap water around the city, taking it to work, to the gym, and at home, at the rate of three refills per day, she could expect to change the Sport Berkey® Element at 7 months of use. She would only need to purchase a Sport Berkey® Replacement Element, not replace the whole water bottle.[/toggle]
What is it that makes Berkey® so effective? What’s the Berkey Secret?
Have you ever wondered how Berkey® purification systems remove pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites while extracting chemicals including herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOCs, detergents, cloudiness, silt, sediment, foul tastes and odors? Or, how Berkey® systems are able to reduce heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, aluminum and other dangerous heavy metals, as well as nitrates and nitrites without removing the healthful and beneficial minerals that your body needs?
And finally, how is this system is able to remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs?
The unique Berkey® design combines the age-old process of micro-porous filtration coupled with modern state-of-the-art technology and the highest quality materials to bring you the finest water purification system available anywhere. The micro-pores within the self-sterilizing and re-cleanable Black Berkey® purification elements are so small that pathogenic bacteria are simply not able to pass through them.
The media within the elements remove contaminants by a surface phenomenon known as “adsorption” which results from the molecular attraction of substances to the surface of the media. The exclusive purification elements are also impregnated with proprietary “absorbing” media that promote IONIC “absorption” of pollutants within the micro-porous elements.
Another reason Berkey® systems are so effective in removing contaminants from water is the extremely long “contact period”. Other filtration systems rely on water pressure that forces water molecules through the filter elements at 60-90 PSI. These water molecules come into contact with the filter media for a mere fraction of a second. By comparison water molecules, passing through the “Tortuous Path” structure of the Black Berkey® purification elements, are drawn gently by gravity and stay in contact with the media for a long period of time. This allows the filter media to be more efficient in capturing contaminates. For example, if you were to hurl 100 steel ball bearings at a large magnet, some would stick but most would bounce off. However, if you were to walk over and gently place the ball bearings on the magnet most, if not all, would adhere to the magnet. Berkey® systems fully utilize this principle.
This advanced technology was developed, refined, and proven through years of diligent, investigative research and testing performed by water purification specialists, researchers and engineers. The flow rate or time of exposure through the exclusive Black Berkey® purification elements has been calculated to yield the greatest volume removal of toxic chemicals and pathogenic bacteria found in nature and caused by pollution from industry and agriculture.
Black Berkey Elements Viruses Removal FAQ
I thought that to have a filter with pores fine enough to remove viruses, there should be frequent clogging problems. Is that why some used a bacteria size pore and a secondary disinfectant step (e.g., iodine resin) to kill viruses?”
The proprietary filter formulation used in Black Berkey® purification elements makes up for the incredibly small pore size by utilizing an exponentially greater number of micro pores in each purification element than that found in other filter elements. This is the reason Black Berkey® purification elements produce approximately 8 times more water per hour than do other elements. Therefore, while some of the surface pores will clog up from contaminates, it is difficult for such contamination to overwhelm all of the pores and so clog up the filter. Eventually the majority of surface pores may clog up slowing down the flow rate of the Black Berkey® purification elements. When this happens the filter can be refreshed by simply brushing the outside of the element with a ScotchBrite pad or toothbrush. This will remove the surface pores that have become clogged. Therefore, in answer to your question, even though the filters have such small micro fine pores, the element will not clog up prematurely.
How does your filter in the Berkey® system deal with viruses? Possibly with a series of filters with graded pore sizes.? Or is the virus filtration due to the tendency of viruses to clump with bacteria and debris in the water?”
The micro fine pores are so small that they prevent micro fine particulate such as bacteria, virus and even food coloring particulate from passing through the tortuous path that water is able to pass through. These contaminates are trapped in the microfine pores while the much smaller H20 molecules are not. Therefore, in answer to your question, this method separates the contaminates from the purified water.
Is the MS2 – Fr Coliphage still known to be a good indicator of virus filtration? At least one article suggests that it might not be. Do you have tests on any other viruses?”
MS2 and Fr Coliphage are two separate virus with two different removal characteristics. That is why they are used as surrogates for other types of virus. These virus were selected, by both the EPA and the Military, because of their small size relative to other virus strains and the difficulty in removing both strains. They each are approximates 24-26 nanometers in size which makes them among the smallest of virus. To see their relative size we would suggest that you watch the video below, featuring The University of Utah Cell Size and Scale Chart. These virus are comparable in size on that chart to the Rhonivirus. Therefore, in answer to your question, yes MS2 and Fr Coliphage are the ideal virus for use as indicators of a purification systems ability to remove virus.
Do you have more info on virus or bacteria filtration?
To understand the difference between the size of path bacteria and viruses, we suggest the following web link as it will give you a great visual of the difference: The University of Utah Cell Size and Scale Chart.
Slide the scale at the bottom to see the size of virus vs bacteria vs other potential contaminates and magnify to greater levels.
The fact that Black Berkey® purification elements have been tested to remove viruses to greater than the EPA purification standards suggests that contaminates larger in size, such as bacteria, should also be removed.
The MS-2 virus is 24-26 nm in size.
The Fr Coliphage virus is 25nm in size.
In other words, they are smaller than the hepatitis virus at 45mn and the rhinovirus at 30nm both referenced on the chart.
For more information on the MS-2 virus: MS-2 – Wikipedia
For more information on Bacteriophages in general: Bacteriophages: Update on application as models for viruses in water
USA Berkey Filters Business Policies
Lifetime Warranty by USA Berkey Filters
Our Exclusive Lifetime warranty for Berkey Water Filtration Systems ensures replacement of all Berkey canisters, spigots, washers, and wing nuts that fail due to faulty materials or workmanship. These items may be returned to us and we will send you new replacement items. There is no need to register with us; this warranty applies to any system purchased on our web site at www.usaberkeyfilters.com or over the phone.
This warranty does not cover damage caused by carelessness, accidents, or abuse of the system. Filters have a separate warranty. This Exclusive Lifetime warranty exists in addition to all other stated warranties on Berkey Systems.
To take advantage of your lifetime warranty on Berkey canisters, spigots, washers, or wing nuts, contact us at 888-213-3394. If possible, please have your receipt handy. Once you have reported the issue, you will be asked to ship the damaged parts to us. We will process the claim and, if it’s approved, ship the replacement parts to you. All shipping will be at the customer’s expense.
All other items have a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 90 days, and some are up to a year. If an item breaks due to a manufacturer defect, please call us at 888-213-3394.
We want your purchase to meet your satisfaction. To this end, we offer the following:
- Full refunds or exchanges for items that arrive damaged.
- A warranty on Berkey spigots, chambers, and knobs for the lifetime of the filter system.
- Refund of the purchase price (minus a restocking fee) within 90 days of purchase if you wish to return an unused, working item that is in resalable condition. We consider returns on a case-by-case basis, and are flexible to take into consideration the individual circumstances of each case.
Returns are processed within 1–2 weeks. Refunds are issued to the original credit card that was used to complete the original transaction.
Items that are used or damaged by the buyer will not be eligible for returns, credit, or a refund. Furthermore, promotional items and giveaways may not be returned or exchanged for refunds or credit.
Question: My purchase arrived damaged or not in working condition?
If the item you purchased arrived damaged or otherwise in non-working condition, we will work to have the damaged item replaced, or covered under warranty service. In situations where we are unable to reasonably replace the damaged product, or when warranty service is not possible, we can issue a refund. Whether a full or partial refund is issued depends on many factors. In order take advantage of this policy, you must inform us of the damage or defect within 7 days of having received the item. We will contact the shipping company or manufacturer as necessary to resolve the issue and craft the solution.
I haven’t used my purchase and would like to return it
If you want to return an unused, undamaged, working item that can be resold, you may do so for any reason within 90 days of purchase. We will provide a refund of the amount you paid, minus a restocking fee (15% of the product’s full retail price, capping at $75). We charge a restocking fee in order to cover our costs involved in shipping, administration, and the manufacturer’s restocking fees.
In order to return an unused item, it must be sealed in the original, unopened packaging and include all original content. Once the item is evaluated and determined to be in resalable condition and free of manufacturing defects and damage, your refund will be applied to the credit card or PayPal account used to complete the original purchase. If an item is not received in new and unused condition, then a return/refund will not be processed for the item and it will be returned to the customer.
How to make a return:
- an item that arrived damaged or not in working condition
- an item that is unused, undamaged, and resalable, or
- an item that is covered under our warranty,
please contact us at 888-213-3394 to place your return request. If possible, please have your receipt handy.
Once you receive confirmation to proceed with the return, we will email you the return shipping address. Shipping costs will be at your expense.
Returns are processed within 1 – 2 weeks. Refunds are issued to the original credit card or PayPal account that was used to complete the original transaction.
Still have a question not answered here? Feel free to call or Contact us for more info.