What Is a Sediment Filter and How Does It Work?


Have you wondered why your morning glass of water often appears cloudy? This could be because of sediments – tiny particles of sand, dirt, rust, or debris. Unfortunately, these sediments are the most common pollutants in reservoirs, as shared by the EPA.

Although they may not be harmful in small amounts, they impact your drinking water’s taste, clarity, and even odor. That is why sediment filters are a simple and effective solution to improve your home’s water quality.

In this article, we will answer the question: what is a sediment filter? and see how it works to provide clean, enjoyable drinking water.

What is a sediment filter? 

A sediment filter is a filter that holds and eliminates solid particles, including dirt, from your water supply. Other examples of sediments are rust debris from corroded galvanized plumbing lines and clay, silt, or sand from rainwater.

This filter is the first stage of filtration that captures and removes this solid dirt to ensure the integrity of your filtration system.

How does a sediment filter work?

Sediment filters employ mechanical filtration. This process keeps solid particles of debris from continuing in the water lines to your home. They work like teapot strainers, trapping the larger tea leaves while allowing the desired tea to flow out of your teapot. 

They function in two ways – wider surface area to come in contact with more debris or depth gradient to trap smaller particulate matter as the water progresses towards the core.

Where are sediment filters used?

Sediment filtration is the initial point of contact in whole house filtration systems. So, what does a sediment filter do?

They eliminate the solid particles from the water that flows out of your faucets and showers and ensure that other filters last even longer.

Restaurants and coffee houses also employ sediment filters to separate solid particles and maintain the food and beverage quality. The filter cartridges also use filters to prevent dirt or clay from compromising the aesthetics of clear pool water.

What does a sediment filter remove? 

These filters eliminate physical solid particles, including sand, silt, dust, or clay. They also eliminate turbidity that causes the water to turn brown, orange, or yellow.

However, they do not remove chemicals, bacteria, dissolved particles, or heavy metals, so they do not impact the smell or taste. They are mainly defensive against physical solid matter and perform effectively as prefilters when paired with other thorough filtration methods like reverse osmosis.

What are sediment filters used for? 

Sediment filters are employed to trap debris or fine particles in water. They are often paired with other filtration systems to ensure efficiency and longevity. This is how they work in these systems:

Reverse osmosis: RO systems employ the sediment filters as a pretreatment stage. They eliminate debris and protect the flow restrictor from clogging.

Ultraviolet Purification: UV systems are efficient in clear water. A 5-micron filter eliminates the turbidity to improve the efficiency of a UV system.

Carbon system: These trap chlorine and chloramines to improve the taste. The carbon filters can trap solid particles. However, the sediments may clog the carbon, reducing the filtration system’s efficiency. Sediment filters can be used here as prefilters to trap the debris and increase the carbon filter lifespan, especially since changing the sediment filters is more cost-effective.

Whole house sediment filtration: They capture the sediments in your supply to prevent clogging of your pipes. These could damage your washing machines and other appliances in the home. So the filters are used to ensure good water pressure in the faucets and showerheads in your home and the longevity of your appliances.

Types of sediment filters

While sediment filtration systems are designed to trap solid particles from the water, the filter cartridges function differently. They are often pleated, melt-blown, string-wound, bag, and spin-down filters.

Pleated: Also known as surface filters, they are shaped like accordions and made of thin sheets of filter material like polyester or polypropylene. They are washable and reusable and offer more surface area to trap solid particles. As the pleats trap dirt, these dirt now function as a part of the filtration process to eliminate larger particles.

Melt-blown: These employ depth gradients as they filter water sediment. The melt-blown filter traps increasingly finer particles as water reaches the inner core. They can filter below 10 microns and are perfect for fine dirt of different micron sizes thanks to the gradation.

String-wound: The string-wound filters are tightly wound cotton, polyester, or polypropylene string wrapped around a core. This creates graded density to trap particles as water flows down the string layers.

Bag: Bag filters are made of polyester, or polypropylene felt, with a micron range size of between 1 and 200. They function by removing dirt through the small permeable pores. They are used in prefiltration for reverse osmosis to process paints, solvents, or resins.

Spin-down: Spin-down filters do not use cartridges. They employ centrifugal force to remove particulates from water. As the water passes to the top of the filter, it is moved to a chamber where it is spun. The centrifugal force eliminates the larger particles before the mesh screen further traps debris between 100 and 15 microns.

What micron size does my sediment filter need to be?

Sediment filter capacity is measured in microns, short for micrometer or one-millionth of a meter. The micron rating represents the size of particles your filter can eliminate. This means that a 10-micron filter can trap particulates 10 microns or more. To know how to make a water sediment filter work for your home, get a filter micron depending on the sizes of the particles in your water. If your sediment filters are paired for prefiltering with an RO or UV filtration system, at least they should be 5 microns.

How often should I change my sediment filter?

You can change your sediment once or twice (every 6 months) in a year. But, you can also tell when your filter is due for a change by watching the water pressure. As filters continue to trap dirt, it will become more difficult for clean water to pass through. Then you will notice a drop in water pressure. You can now change it or wash it (for the pleated filter.)


Sediment filters are the initial point of contact that filter for sediment in your water. Even though they don’t trap chemicals or dissolved particles, they improve water clarity. For thorough water filtration, you can pair it with other systems. So, include a sediment filter in your filtration system as a simple yet effective method of improving your home water quality.