UV water treatment is the most common type of water purification.
Domestic UV water treatment is preferred over chemical treatments because it’s reliable and simple to use with minimal maintenance and consumables. There’s also no wasteful by-products or chemicals associated with such systems.
UV systems use a UV water filter or steriliser to ensure safe drinking water for households using private supplies.
Domestic UV water treatment is essential in Scotland where 3% of the population use a private water supply.
If adequate water treatment systems aren’t in place, harmful viruses can breed in private supplies and affect the quality of drinking water.
What are UV water filters?
UV is one of the best and most effective disinfectants in the water hygiene industry.
UV water treatment reduces the number of harmful chemicals used in drinking water and provides an excellent and cost-effective solution for killing waterborne viruses.
Furthermore, UV filters don’t contaminate the water in terms of taste, colour or odor making them ideal water filters. A UV water filter is often called a UV steriliser. A stainless-steel chamber houses the UV lamps and controls.
How does a UV water purifier work?
UV filters kill bacteria through lamps that emit UV radiation. When using the public water supply a UV lamp isn’t needed, as the water is disinfected with chlorine.
UV Water purifiers expose bacteria, viruses and spores in water with germicidal ultraviolet radiation.
The 254 nm UV radiation can disrupt the DNA strands of pathogenic bacteria to prevent their reproduction.
Think about when you walk outside on a sunny day. Too much exposure to UV and sun can damage your skin and cause sunburns. Similarly, UV light can cause DNA damage on microorganisms.
When your water enters the filter, the bacteria in your water are exposed to ultraviolet light. The UV system kills 99.1% of all harmful bacteria in a single day without using chemicals in water.
A UV water purifier has a glass quartz sleeve that holds the UV lamp. The UV lamp then emits a germicidal wavelength of radiation scramble the DNA of living organisms.
The reason the glass sleeve is made from quartz glass sleeve is so that UV rays can penetrate the glass and disinfect the water.
The quartz sleeve protects the UV lamp from the water.
Don’t worry if you see beads floating inside the lamp. These beads are mercury vapour which is used to create fuel for the lamp.
UV radiation needs a reliable power supply in order to work properly. If you don’t have adequate power, then the filter will cease to disinfect water.
It’s crucial that UV radiation passes through the water to purify it. Cloudy water, coloured water or high levels of iron can disrupt the radiation process.
If the above is an issue you can contact a local water company to treat your water first.
UV filters are the safest and easiest method for disinfecting contaminated water. However, it’s always best to consult professionals before installing a water treatment system to ensure the health and safety of everyone in your household.
Do I need a UV water filter?
If your home’s water supply comes from public water supplies, you won’t need to bother with a UV filter because the water will already have been treated.
However, for those using a private water supply, UV filtration is crucial. Water that comes from a tank that needs cleaning, or from natural sources like springs and wells could contain harmful micro organisms.
A water filter ensures that you’re only drinking the cleanest water.
What bacteria does UV disinfection remove?
An important distinction to remember is that UV doesn’t ‘remove’ particles.
UV units work to change the DNA composition of pathogenic organisms that could cause severe illness in humans.
UV water treatment systems render such organisms harmless.
A UV purifier is effective against:
- Cryptosporidium (the parasites which cause cryptosporidiosis are resistant to chlorine)
- Dysentery bacilli
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis
- E. coli
- Hepatitis B
- Some viruses
UV water purifiers versus water filters
What’s the difference between UV water purifiers and water filters?
A water filtration system will remove contaminants, sediment, silt, and harmful minerals from the water. A sediment filter results in cleaner, tastier water that is free from unpleasant colour and smells.
Carbon media within the water filter attracts contaminants before they reach your tap.
Whole house water filters can reduce contaminants like chlorine and lead throughout your property’s water. A whole-house filter system can be adapted to suit your needs.
Shower filters, for example, will help with healthy hair and skin as drying chemicals like chlorine will be removed and you can get the pH balance just right.
UV filters alone cannot remove germs and harmful microorganisms. This is where you need a water purifier to kill nasty germs like Legionella and E.coli.
Purifiers work by reverse osmosis, distillation, or UV treatment.
Reverse osmosis purifies a private supply by using pressure to push water away from contaminants through a semi-permeable membrane.
Distillation is one of the oldest methods of water purification, relying on evaporation.
UV treatment is the most effective treatment, killing 99.9% of bacteria.
What’s the best UV filter?
As discussed, ultraviolet water treatment is the best method for sanitising water. Which model of UV purifier or filter system you use depends on your needs.
When considering a whole house approach, remember that a UV system measures flow rate in gallons per minute. A UV unit needs to handle the flow rates for your home to work effectively.
For example, the flow rate of 1 bathroom is 6 gallons per minute compared to 12 gallons per minute for 3 bathrooms.
Choosing the right uv unit or uv water filters is crucial to maintaining quailty.
We stock a range of water treatment products, including uv filters. Our expert team can help with fitting a new filter system in your home. Call today to find out more.
Are UV filters and purifiers safe?
UV filtration doesn’t use harmful chemicals and is safe to drink. The UV lamps kill germs but don’t affect the taste or colour of your supply.
When drinking UV-treated water you are not exposing yourself to UV light.
Chlorines can replace UV treatments, but ultraviolets are much safer. Ultraviolet light focuses on protozoa that chloroplasts cannot eradicate.
UV systems are much safer for maintenance than chemical disinfectants. Treating water with chlorine involves the use of a storage tank with precise injection.
What is the downside of UV disinfection?
The effectiveness of UV disinfection relies upon water quality.
If high levels of iron or manganese are present, then UV light will not be able to pass through the water to purify it.
One downside of UV contamination is that it won’t protect against contamination in other parts of your private supply (unless you opt for a whole house filter system).
UV treatment also requires electricity to purify your private supply, which means your drinking water will be unsuitable in an emergency when power is unavailable.
Are UV filters environmentally friendly?
UV filters are environmentally friendly because ultra violet is naturally occurring. Furthermore, ultra violet treatment creates no toxic by-products.
How to maintain your UV water treatment system
UV water purification units can last years with regular cleaning and maintenance.
Ultraviolet systems are easy to maintain and designed for continuous operation.
Maintaining UV lights
UV lights ought to be replaced every year. UV lamps use mercury to burn out incoming light wavelengths. Eventually mercury in lamps dissipates.
Generally, UV lamps last about 90,000 hours or 75 days in continuous use.
Dirt can also build up on UV lamps, therefore they need to be cleaned regularly. Dirty lamps will not be as effective.
You can call a professional or clean and change a UV lamp yourself. Simply follow the instructions provided by your manufacturer.
Replacement lamps can be obtained easily and cheaply online. If you’ve lost the instructions, here’s a quick guide from the Scottish Government website:
- turn off the power and let the UV filter cool down so you can touch the bulb safely
- remove the safety cap at the top of the UV system by squeezing the tabs
- remove the lamp sleeve (if there is one) along the sleeve bolt from the chamber
- unscrew the UV lamp
- install and secure the new lamp into sleeve
- secure the lamp and sleeve assembly
- insert the safety cap and plug the system in again
Cleaning of quartz sleeves
Glass quartz covers need to be cleaned to function properly. Check your quartz case when switching lamps to clean and replace quartz sleeves twice a year.
Ultimately, UV water treatment systems are a fast, safe, and reliable method of sterilising potable water and should be your first choice for purifying a private water supply.