This may be surprising to many people, but activated carbon is actually an excellent growth medium for bacteria. The bacteria grows, coating the activated carbon, reducing its effectiveness and introducing bacteria into your drinking water.  Let’s examine this problem in more detail and look at some ways to correct it. _85814776_c0260742-e._coli_bacteria,_sem-spl

The Properties of Activated Carbon: 

The very properties that make activated carbon an effective filter also make it a hospitable environment for bacteria. The surface is very porous to allow the cleaned water through the filter and this shelters the pores from a sufficient force of water that would wash away a growing colony of bacteria. Also, carbon has adsorptive properties that enrich oxygen and nutrient concentrations inside the carbon matrix, and this provides ample food for a bacteria colony. 

What Kind of Bacteria Are Present? 

The possibility remains that activated carbon filters could also be a fertile breeding ground for pathogenic bacteria should they contaminate a water supply.  While these bacteria rarely pose a health risk to end users drinking, cooking, cleaning or preparing beverages with filtered water, they do reduce the effectiveness of the filter as well as it produce wastes which are discharged into your water supply.

When bacteria colonize a water filter, they produce a slimy biofilm which reduces the activated carbon’s adsorptive capacity, so it filters the water less effectively, producing unpleasant tastes and odors.  Very often the components of a filtration system in a water cooler, refrigerator or in-line filter are difficult to access.

Reducing the Buildup of Bacteria:

Replacing your filter regularly can help to reduce the amount of bacteria growth.  Scheduling a regular maintenance in addition to changing the filters will also ensure that every aspect of your system is working to the manufacturer’s specifications.

What Does Maintenance Cover?

No matter how good the water filtration equipment is, it will regularly require maintenance in accordance with the recommendations set down by the manufacturer in your manual. Keep a note of the maintenance date and ensure that your maintenance is carried out regularly. Some local water treatment professionals will have a maintenance program that you can join; you will get a reminder when the service is due, and you may even save money. The activated carbon filter units will have the carbon changed, but smaller filtration units may be replaced entirely, and cartridge filters are easier to change. If you need a new water filtration system, ask for expert advice first on which systems are easy to keep clean and offer the best filter changing options.

If you’re concerned about bacterial growth on your activated carbon filtration system, talk to your local water treatment expert. Regular maintenance is often the key to getting the best out of your water treatment system. A certified water professional with WQA certification can help, and this will ensure that your water quality meets or even exceeds water industry standards.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.