Priming the Black Berkey Filters

Priming the Black Berkey Filters


 Before using the Black Berkey Filters, they must be primed. It is imperative for optimal water flow. Priming is running water through the filters to saturate them thoroughly. The priming process should only take a few minutes to do.

How to Prime Berkey Filters with the Prime Rite Tool

The blue silicone tool allows for a quicker and easier way to prime the Berkey Black Filters and Fluoride Filters. The Prime Rite is included in the Quick Start Kit, free with every system purchase. It can also be purchased in the Berkey Maintenance Kit.

1. Attach Prime Rite to a faucet and put it up the water spout as possible.
2. Remove wing nut and washer from Black Berkey Filter.
3. Hold the filter in one hand and gently put the stem of the filter into the small opening of the Prime Rite.
4. Hold the filter and slowly turn on the water until it's a low but steady flow. Use cold water.
If the Prime Rite inflates or forms a bulb, turn the water pressure down. 
5. Run water through the filter until beads of water appear on the sides of the filter—approximately one minute.
6. Turn off the water and remove the filter from Prime Rite. Prime all filters before installing them in the system. 

How to Prime Berkey Filters with a Priming Button

Included with all systems and filters, the Berkey Priming Button is a thick tan washer. It can be used with either of the filters. It funnels water into the filter interior to saturate the media and flush out air and manufacturing dust.

1. Place the washer, wing nut, and tan-colored priming button on the Black Berkey Filter.
2. Place the stem of the Black Berkey Filter between the fingers, and using the wing nut for grip, press the priming button against the faucet.
3. While holding the priming button against the faucet, turn on the faucet slowly, allowing the water to fill the inside of the Black Berkey Filter.
4. Allow the exterior wall of the Black Berkey Filter to sweat beads of water for about 10 seconds.
5. The Black Berkey Filter has now been successfully primed.

How to Prime Berkey Black Filters by Soaking

When water pressure is not adequate or available, use this method to Prime Black Berkey Filters. The priming method can also be used if PrimeRite isn't compatible with certain faucets. Filters must be left overnight or for an extended period of time to become fully saturated.

Fluoride Filter cannot be primed effectively without water pressure.

1. Place the filters upright (stem up) in a container such as the bottom chamber. Place a mug or glass over the filters to weigh them down.
2. Let soak for at least eight hours.
3. Remove mugs. If filters float, they may need additional priming. If they sink, they are now primed.

How to Prime Berkey Filters with Black Berkey Primer

The Black Berkey Primer is hand-powered priming and purging bulb that allows you to prime your Black Filters without water pressure faster than the soak method. The Black Berkey Primer is an accessory that can be purchased separately.

Berkey Fluoride Filters cannot be primed with the Black Berkey Primer.

1. Attach the valves to the plastic tubes and bulb.
2. Connect the threaded piece of the tube onto the stem of the filter.
3. Place the filter in enough water to cover the filter media, such as the bottom chamber filled with water.
4. Squeeze or pump the bulb until water comes out of the other end.

Why is Priming the Black Berkey Filter Elements important?

Priming the Black Berkey Filter before first use is part of the initial setup process. Priming is necessary for the filters to function properly and get adequate water filtration flow. The media inside the filters are very dense and has a lot of surface tension. Water has a hard time penetrating this dense medium the first time the filter is used. Forcing water through the Black Berkey filter relieves this surface tension.

The micropore structure of the Black Berkey Filters is minute in size. They are so small that red food coloring will not pass through the filter. The downside is that too much surface tension means that the filters require priming; they can't be used immediately right out of the box. However, the priming process is well worth the benefits of the filters. The Black Berkey Filters are dry from the factory, and the air is trapped within the tiny micropores. In some places, water has more water tension than in others, which can change from season to season. The higher the tension, the more difficult it is for the water to force the air out of the micropores of the filter using gravity alone. This trapped air does not allow water to pass through the filter. This causes the system to filter very slowly or not at all.

Before traveling to and using the Berkey system in an area without water pressure, we recommend priming the filters using the priming button or prime rite. If this is not possible, the filters can be primed approximately 50% using the below method. In other words, using this method, the filters will not produce flow as fast as they would using the other methods; however, they will filter significantly quicker than if the Berkey elements had not been primed at all. This alternative priming method is as follows:

STEP 1: If your Berkey system is assembled, remove the filters from the upper chamber and set aside. Fill the lower chamber with water, then place the elements into the chamber stem side up. Place a ceramic coffee cup (or something else that could help to hold them under the water) on top of each element stem to force the element down under the water. Let the elements soak for several hours. Submerging the filters will move trapped air out of the stubborn pores. NOTE: Make sure the stems of the elements are not submerged so that it allows the air to escape.

STEP 2: The inside of the Berkey filters should now be full of water and significantly heavier. Try to keep as much water on the inside of the elements as possible. Reassemble the element into the upper chamber by facing the stems upward. Empty the water from the lower chamber and place the upper chamber back onto the lower chamber. Immediately fill the upper chamber with water.

When the Berkey filters have water within the bore (inside core), more force is generated to draw it through the element. This is because the water that drips out of the elements also hydraulically pulls new water into the element as the element begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the "push" of gravity, there is a hydraulic "pull," which drastically improves the water's ability to force air from the micropores. The above method is less efficient than priming the filtering cartridges with the priming button supplied with your filters but should be about 75-80% effective in clearing the blocked micropores.

Let the water in the lower chamber run to waste and refill the upper chamber with water. Your Black Berkey Filters are now primed and ready for use.