Priming Black Berkey® Elements FAQ'S
I just purchased a Berkey® system but the system is hardly
filtering any water at all. Am I doing something wrong?
Typically the problem you are experiencing is due to high water
tension, which prevents the air from being purged from the micro
pores of the new purification elements. Water tension is higher in
certain parts of the country and can change from season to season.
The higher the water tension, the more difficult it is fot the water,
using gravity pressure, to force the air from the micro-pores of a new
element. Included with your Black Berkey® elements is a priming
button and instructions for use. Please remove and prime your
purification elements, reinstall them and that should fix the problem.
How do I prime the Black Berkey® Purification Elements, in the
field, when water pressure is unavailable?
The micro pores on the Black Berkey® purification elements are
extremely small, in fact they are small enough to filter food coloring
out of water. The benefit from having such extremely small pores is
greater efficiency at removing pathogenic bacteria and other
contaminates. The downside is that too much water tension can
require that the purification elements be primed before they will flow
properly. When you receive the purification elements, they are dry
and air is trapped within the tiny micro fine pores. In certain parts of
the world, water has more water tension than in other places and
this can change from season to season. The higher the water
tension, the more difficult it is for the water to force the air out of
the micro fine pores using gravity alone. The pores that have air
trapped within them do not allow water to pass through and
therefore become an inaccessible passage for the water. This then
can cause the system to either filter very slowly or not at all.
Before traveling to the field or using the system in an area without
water pressure, we recommend that the purification elements be
primed using the priming button method. If water pressure is not
available to use the priming button method, the elements can be
field primed approximately 50-75% by using the below method. In
other words by using this method, the elements will not purify as
fast as they will by using the priming button method however they
will run significantly faster than if the elements have not been
primed at all. The field priming method is as follows:
STEP 1: Fill the lower chamber with water, then place the purification
elements into the water in the lower chamber, upside down with the
stems facing upward. Put a ceramic coffee cup (or something else
that will hold them under the water) on top of each purification
element stem to force the element down under the water.
Or, install the elements upside down in the upper chamber so that
the elements are on the exterior of the bottom side of the upper
chamber facing downward. Then place the upper chamber onto the
lower chamber so that the filters are forced into the water within the
Let the purification elements soak in the water for 30 to 60 minutes
until they fill up with water. NOTE: Make sure that the opening in
the stems of the purification elements are not underwater as the
water must be forced through the pores of the element and not
allowed to enter the element through the hole in the stem.
STEP 2: When the inside of the purification elements are full of
water they will be significantly heavier. Next, assemble the
purification elements into the upper chamber while keeping the
stems of the elements facing upward. It is important to keep as
much water on the inside of the purification elements as is possible.
Next, fill the upper chamber with water as quickly as possible. Hint:
the fastest way to fill the upper chamber is to pour the water
from the lower chamber into the upper chamber. Then place the
upper chamber onto the lower chamber.
When the purification elements have water within the bore (inside
core), more force is generated to draw water through the purification
elements. This is because the water that drips out of the purification
element also hydraulically pulls new water into the element as it
begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the "Push" of
gravity, there is also a hydraulic "pull" and this drastically improves
the ability of the water to force the air from the micro pores. The
above method is less efficient than priming the purification elements
with the priming button but should be about 50-75% effective in
clearing the blocked micro pores.
Let the water from the first purification cycle that is collected in the
lower chamber run to waste. Next, refill the upper chamber with
water. Your Black Berkey® elements are now FIELD primed and your
Berkey® system is ready for use.
Note: If the water used to field prime the elements is from a
contaminated or suspect source, if possible use a container other
than the lower chamber to immerse the elements. If this is not
possible then use the water that collects in the lower chamber from
the first purification cycle to make a soapy dishwater. Then wash
thoroughly the inside of the lower chamber and discard the soapy
water. Next, purify more water and use it to rinse any remaining
soap from the lower chamber. Your Berkey® system is now ready for