Helpful Hints For Setting Up Your Berkey System

Posted by GetBerkey on 28th Jan 2014

I’m providing some helpful tips and hints that should help with setting up your Berkey system. This is not intended to replace the instructions that came with your system, but rather to clarify some common issues that our customers often ask us about when setting up their system.

Prime Filters

Please don’t skip this step. In order to work properly, the Black Berkey filters need to be primed. If you purchased Fluoride filters (PF-2 or PF-4) those need to be primed as well.

The box that contains the Black filters will have 1 tan rubber washer (also called the priming button) 2 black washers, and 2 wing nuts. To prime the Black filters, I find it easier to keep the wing nut on the stem. That will give you a “handle” to hold the filter. Put the tan washer on the top of the filter stem, then turn your faucet on to a steady stream, but not too fast. Push the filter with the rubber priming button up against your faucet. The water will fill up the filter, and then start to bead on the surface. I would recommend letting the filter sweat for longer than the instructions recommend. 30-60 seconds would be ideal.

Many people mistakenly think that the tan rubber washer is supposed to be used to assemble the Berkey. Please be assured that it is only used to prime the filters. It’s recommended that you keep the priming button in case you decide to store the unit and need to re-prime the filters at a later time.

If you purchased PF-2 fluoride filters, you will prime those in the same way as the Black filters. The only difference is that you should prime both sides of the filters. Again, I would recommend priming them for longer than what the instructions say. Priming will remove any manufacturing dust left over inside the filters.


Each Black filter comes with a black washer. Put the black washer on the stem of the filter and put it through one of the holes in the upper water chamber. The black washer should be on the inside of the upper water chamber. Secure the filter to the chamber with the wing nut on the other side. Repeat this step for your other Black filter(s).

Depending on which system you have and how many filters you bought for your system, you may have extra holes in the upper water chamber. Included are white blocking plugs to seal up those extra holes.

When attaching the spigot to the lower chamber, be sure to put one washer on the outside and one on the inside, then tighten securely with the nut. After you have attached the spigot, I would recommend filling the lower chamber with water and put the spigot side over your sink. This is to test that you have a good seal where the spigot attaches to the tank. If possible, I think it is a good idea to set the unit in your sink when running your first batch of water through it, especially if it will be unattended overnight. Occasionally we hear from a customer that ended up with a puddle of water on the floor when they got up in the morning, because the spigot was not attached securely.

If you purchased PF-2 Fluoride filters, screw those onto the stems of the black Berkey filters. It’s recommended that you only screw them on for 8 turns, otherwise the stem of the black filter may puncture the screen that holds the filtering media inside the PF-2 filter. When the unit is all assembled and setup, the fluoride filters will be hanging below in the lower chamber.

It’s recommended that you discard the first 2 or 3 batches of water.

When the lower chamber is partially full, be cautious not to overfill the upper chamber as this could cause the lower chamber to overflow. For example, if the lower chamber is 1/3 full the upper chamber can be refilled by 2/3rds. If the lower chamber is 1/2 full, the upper chamber can be refilled by 1/2 etc.