Depending on where you live, the water coming into your home could be perfectly healthy, with safe amounts of minerals that can your body requires for good health. Or, it could contain traces of lead, heavy elements, bacteria and other potentially harmful contaminants. It can be easy to filter drinking water while overlooking other ways for poor water quality to affect our lives, such as through cooking, brushing teeth, and showering. A whole house water filter system cleans your water supply as it comes into the home, and prevents any potential issues.
The Top Ten List
While a whole house water filter is worth it for the water purity and piece of mind, they can be expensive. Use our top ten list to make sure you get what you’re paying for.
What Is A Whole House Water Filter And Why Do You Need One?
Water filters come in a number of different shapes, sizes, and types. Some fit over the faucet, while others connect under the sink. There are special filtering shower heads, if the water quality in your area is bad enough for bathing with it to be a concern. If you’re considering that as an option, however, it might be a good idea to consider a whole house water filter instead.
A whole house water filter is placed where the water supply enters your home, most often, and filters the water there. Rather than having a number of different filters at every faucet and water device, a whole house filter allows you to use everything, from your dishwasher to your shower; confident that the water you’re using is clean and safe.
Contaminants can include heavy metals like lead, or radium, which have been found in high concentrations in some water supplies. Bacteria, which can cause illness and a variety of chemicals that have become increasingly prevalent, are also filtered out. All of these can be harmful, particularly over the long term. Most government authorities and local municipalities stringently treat most water supplies, however other chemicals, such as chlorine, are often used in the treatment process. Whilst a little chlorine is a small price to pay for healthy drinking water, it can irritate the skin and body.
Whole House Water Filter Prices
The best home water filters come in a range of prices that allow you to choose what works best for your needs and budget. Very small and simple filters can go for less than $50, more elaborate filters can cost over $1,000. Many are simple to install and maintain as well. Water filters can reduce the flow from your water supply to the rest of the house, leading to a reduction in water pressure. Be sure to check the specifications on the filter, and compare to your current plumbing. It can also be advisable, particularly if you draw from a well, to have your water analyzed before buying a filter. Knowing what contaminants your water contains will lead to choosing the right product, and the most effective filter.
The Different Types Of Water Filter For Your Home
Many manufacturers sell water filters as being able to reduce sediment. This sediment consists of minerals that collect in appliances like dishwashers and washing machines, and reduce water flow and efficiency, as well as potentially reducing water pressure to faucets. Because of this, you might assume that filters are similar to water softeners. Some water softeners do come with a filter, but they are not necessarily the same thing. A water softener does remove minerals, but they are specific types of minerals that inhibit the use of soap and can create lime scale. Filters remove a number of different contaminants, depending on the type of filter.
- Carbon Absorption. This is the most common form of filter. Frequently it is used in conjunction with another type of filter. There are a variety of different types of carbon filters, some using activated charcoal, some using a compacted brick of carbon as filter while others contain something closer to loose gravel. The efficacy varies with each type, but the basic idea is the same. The carbon is porous, and allows water to flow through it. Contaminants generally are large enough that they are caught in the filter. The filter has to be replaced on a regular basis. Carbon absorption is best at removing unpleasant flavors and smells from water, as well as removing most microorganisms. Heavy metals and chemicals are not filtered out.
- Microporous Basic Filtration. This works on generally the same principle as carbon absorption. Water flows through the filter, and contaminants are too large to pass through the microporous membrane. Generally, micorporous filters catch a greater variety of contaminants that carbon absorption. However, like carbon absorption, the filter does need to be replaced on a regular basis.
- Reverse Osmosis. Osmosis is a principle that describes how solvents in two liquids separated by a porous membrane reach equilibrium. It sounds more complicated than it really is, but the upshot is that reverse osmosis uses water pressure to push this process into reverse. Most of the stuff dissolved ends up in the water on one side of the filter, while the water on the other side is clean. This results in dirty water, called brine, that has to be removed from the filter and dealt with. Reverse osmosis, however, is the most efficient method, removing all contaminants to some extent. It is also the slowest, and requires a storage tank.
Home Water Filter Basics
The best place to install your whole house water supply is usually right where it enters your home. In many municipalities there is a pipe in the basement that supplies the house. Some places draw water from a well, and the connection will be near a pump.
A water filter meant to serve a whole household usually consists of several different filters all plumbed in-line, meaning that the water flows through each filter in succession with more and more contaminants being filtered out. The more expensive, higher end filters accomplish this by packaging the filters together, so that the installer, either a DIY-er or a plumber, only has to attach a pipe at either end and they are all set. It is certainly possible, however, to buy several smaller, less expensive filters and put them into your water line yourself, potentially having the same effect at a reduced cost. It is important to remember, however, that multiple filters and connections means there are more possibilities for something to go wrong and several more chances for a joint to fail.
This is a single cartridge filter, designed to be installed where the water supply enters your home. It comes with a basic carbon filter, though there are a number of different types of cartridge filters that will fit the unit. It is fairly straightforward to install several of these filters in series. The carbon filter is best for removing sediment and poor taste, but does not soften water or remove heavy metals like lead, chemicals, or some microorganisms. It is a cheaper unit, and a lot of the fittings and connectors are plastic, which can be difficult to tighten enough, leading to leaking.
The filter housing is big on this unit. The fittings are for 1” piping, to prevent a drop off in water pressure. It is designed primarily to remove sediment, foul odors, and poor taste. It uses a sediment filter and a coconut shell carbon filter. The big filters last longer, but, combined with the oversized fittings, they take up a lot of room. A brackets has to be mounted near where the water supply enters the house. Be sure you have enough room to hold these big guys.
It is important to note that this is a water filter, and not a water softener. It uses three filters; a sediment filter, a filter that uses a copper-zinc mixture and marble to filter and balance pH, and a final carbon filter. The minerals that cause hard water will be filtered out to an extent, but the water will not be totally soft. The carbon filter will do a good job of removing unpleasant tastes and odors, and unlike a water softener, it doesn’t create wastewater. It also does not require salt or a power source. The system has 3/4” fittings, which could reduce water pressure.
This is a single filter system designed to remove sediment and rust. It can be installed where the water supply enters the house. The fittings are plastic, which when used with copper piping can sometimes cause leaks. This filter comes with a shut off valve so that it is not necessary to turn off the water supply to change the filter. It does not have a pressure relief valve, which can make it difficult to remove the filter.
Like the 2 stage Homemaster filter, this filter is large big to keep water flow high and increase the lifespan of the filters. The fittings are a full 1”, and the filter housing is big enough to fit a third large filter. The first filter reduces sediment. The second reduces iron, manganese and sulfur and is particularly useful for filtering well water. The third is a coconut shell carbon filter to improve taste and smell. The 1-year life of the filter is an estimate. Water with more contaminants will shorten the filter’s life.
A whole house water filter can be a good investment, as it can help maintain your appliances and plumbing, as well as your family’s health.