Cleaning your irrigation components will help your farm run better for longer and reduces the risk of leaks, floods, broken pumps, and other farm issues. Today we’re showing how to maintain a Y-filter (or canister filter), and the pump skimmer.

The Y-filter (or canister filter) is one of the main components of the filtration manifold and is responsible for removing solids that could clog up your system’s irrigation or collect to cause anaerobic zones. Water is swirled through the filter’s cylinder-shaped mesh screen, where solids collect before the water is swirled back up and out of the filter.

To learn more about the parts of the filtration manifold, see this post and video.

The mesh screen eventually collects enough solids that it needs to be rinsed off, but we don’t want to turn off the system to do this. We can keep the system running while we clean the filter if we clean it by backflushing.

Learn how to backflush your system in this video.

Most backflushing is manual, but you can put in solenoids to have it backflush automatically a couple times a day.

Backflushing the Y-filter

To backflush manually, this is what you can do:

  1. Turn off the outgoing valve (valve A) (but leave the main pump on).
  2. Turn off the valve that shortcuts from the mail line to the other side of the filter (valve B) (you’re essentially shortcutting past the filter).
  3. Turn on the valve for the backflush line. (valve C)
  4. Hold a bucket under the Y-filter (where the backflush line exits) and open the valve (valve D). Let the backflush water run out until the bucket is about half full. This will push water straight through the filter, flushing out the solids that have collected at the bottom.

How to Maintain a Y-Filter in a ZipFarm - valves on manifold

If you want, you can connect a hose to the hose fitting on the backflush and send it directly to the drain.

After backflushing, close the valves that you opened (C and D) and open those that you shut off (A and B). Color coating these can be helpful, especially if you’re training farm hands to help!

You should be backflushing your filter every day. It takes about five minutes, so make it part of your routine when you enter the farm.

Backflushing will flush out the majority of build up in the filter, but small particles and things like algae will also build up a slime on the mesh inside the filter. To keep this from clogging the filter or encouraging pests, you’ll want to clean the canister as well as backflush it. 

Cleaning the Y-filter

About once a week, you’ll want to check the interior of the mesh canister to see if it needs additional cleaning. It’s a good idea to keep multiple screens around so that you can swap it out in just a few seconds.

First, turn off the pump. To reduce backflow and mess, turn off the outgoing valves (A and B), and unscrew the collar on the Y-filter. The canister will slide right out without the collar holding it in place, and you can remove the mesh filter from inside. The next step is cleaning the mesh. 

To clean the mesh, soak the filter in a bleach solution, put it through the dishwasher, or scrub it out. This will remove the fine particles that are stuck to the inside and will kill any possible biological debris (like algae) that is in there as well. We recommend keeping two mesh filters around so that you can simply replace the dirty one and toss it in a bleach solution while you continue farm tasks.

Don’t forget to open valves A and B again when you’re done!

Cleaning the pump skimmer

While you have your pump turned off, it’s a good time to check your skimmer too. If you’re using an inline pump, there will be a basket that collects large debris from the system. This might be wood chips, leaves, and maybe even a small fish if you’re running aquaponics. Empty the skimmer to maintain good flow through your pump.

First, turn off the incoming valve (valve E) to stop flow to the pump, and valve B to reduce backflow. The cap on the skimmer screws off easily. Remove the basket and remove any debris accumulated there.

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