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Which Direction to Unscrew a Water Filter? Super Easy to Follow Steps

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

which direction to unscrew a water filter

In changing a whole house water filter or any maintenance procedure, there is a proper way of doing things. However, not all of us are experts, so we’d be clueless on some matters. But in order to cut costs, some of us prefer to be practical and go DIY.

Perhaps in the middle of a filter change, you wondered, “Which direction to unscrew a water filter?” Like any standard screw cap, you can unscrew a filter counterclockwise.

Table of Contents

Which Direction for Unscrewing Water Filter

Keep in Mind: “Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty”

Whether it’s your first time changing a whole house water filter or you just don’t recall what direction you should unscrew a water filter, there is a popular mnemonic that will help you remember how to unscrew a filter: “Lefty loosey, righty tighty.” This mnemonic actually applies to most threaded things like a screw, nuts, or bolts.

Basically, turning threaded things to the left would loosen them, while turning them to the right would tighten them. As water filter housings are also threaded, that mnemonic is also applicable to them. Therefore, keep it in mind, so that when undergoing filter changes, you will know what to do.

The Proper Tool for Unscrewing a Whole House Water Filter


Apart from complying with the proper way of doing things in maintenance procedures, there are also proper tools that you need to use in performing them.

For unscrewing the water filter housing, whole house water filters usually come with a water filter removal tool or water filter wrench, which allows quick and easy unscrewing without causing any damage. The use of this tool also allows the loosening of even the most stuck filter housing.

Designed especially for gripping and turning the water filter housing, attached to the wrench’s handle is a ring with teeth for a perfect fit on the housing. Filter wrenches are usually made of a sturdy plastic material. But there are also tougher ones made of metal.

How to Unscrew a Whole House Water Filter Housing

Removing the whole house water filter housing may seem as simple as gripping and turning the housing with the wrench. But there are actually a few necessary steps to take before you can unscrew the housing to finally remove water filter. Below, you can read the steps leading to unscrewing the housing and replacing the water filter:

Step 1: Turn off Your Water Supply

There would usually be a shutoff valve for the water supply line positioned right before the water filter system. To turn it off, turn it to the right. But if you don’t have it, you can turn off the pump at the hydro panel by pulling the power switch down to the off position.

Step 2: Relieve Water Lines of Pressure

To relieve pressure from water lines, you have to turn on a faucet in your house. Let the water flow until it lessens to only a trickle.

Step 3: Shut off the Water Valve After the Water Filter

After the water filter, you can find another valve, and you have to shut it off. This will prevent the water from your house from draining back.

Step 4: Prepare a Bucket Under the Housing

Before unscrewing the water filter, you need to prepare a bucket for dumping in the water that is in the housing. It has to be placed under the housing for you to get rid of the water quickly.

Step 5: Release Pressure in the Housing

Water filter systems usually have a pressure release button at the top. Just push that button down until there is no longer any hissing or water coming out or until the water lessens to a trickle.

Step 6: Remove the Water Filter Housing

You first have to make sure that the housing is fastened securely on a wall and then grab onto the water line so that you’ll be able to put full force on the housing as you open it.

Take your filter wrench and fit its toothed ring around the housing and turn the housing to the left. Once you’ve unscrewed the housing, you can finally clean it and replace the used filter.

What to Do When a Whole House Water Filter Housing is Stuck


With the aid of a filter wrench, you can easily unscrew a filter housing. But it’s not always the case that the housing can be unscrewed in a snap. Sometimes, it gets stuck.

One reason why a housing gets stuck is that there may have been an o ring or two left at the bottom of the housing from the used filter or filters that had previously been taken out. So it is important to always check the bottom part of the housing to make sure that there are no o rings left behind.

Another reason is that it may have been over-tightened. Filter housings don’t necessarily have to be screwed super tightly since they would be sealed with an o ring at the rim, which helps prevent leaking. They should be screwed just enough to be closed and fastened at the cap but not too much.

In such cases that a filter housing is stuck, below are some options you can do:

1. Heat up the Outer Side of the Housing With a Blow Dryer

This trick helps expand the outside of the housing, which would help make unscrewing easier. Sometimes the outer part would be the cap, sometimes the canister. Heat up whatever the outer side is at all the sides until you can feel it get warm and use your wrench to unscrew the housing afterward.

2. Fit Two Wrenches Around the Filter With Handles Opposite From Each Other

With the wrenches positioned that way, you can unscrew the housing with two hands. If it’s too hard to unscrew, two people may unscrew it.

3. Put Together Two Wrenches and Slide Their Handles in a Pipe

You can reinforce a wrench by putting together with it another wrench and a pipe. This makes a stronger grip for the housing and a longer handle wherein you can apply more force. This method allows you to get more leverage.

4. Make Use of a Metal Wrench

A metal wrench is much stronger and comes with a longer handle. So using this can make unscrewing a stuck housing easier.

5. Make Use of a Lisle Strap Wrench

If your filter housing is very difficult to unscrew, you can use a lisle strap wrench, to wrap your housing tightly.

Attach to it a wrench extension for a ½-inch socket wrench, and to the extension, attach the ½-inch socket wrench. Once they are attached, you can then unscrew the housing with more ease, as they add more force to the housing.


Now you know which direction to unscrew a water filter housing. It also helps to keep in mind the mnemonic, “Lefty loosely, righty tighty.”

Another helpful thing would be a water filter housing wrench, which would enable you to quickly and easily unscrew a water filter housing. But if ever you have difficulty in unscrewing a filter, you can try any of the different solutions presented earlier.

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