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How to Choose the Best Whole House Water Filter

Image by giovanni gargiulo from Pixabay

Regardless of whether you have a private well or use public water, you might want to consider installing a whole house water filter for your personal needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution because it’s so important to match your system and filter with a compatible treatment strategy.

The main purposes of a water filtration system is to reduce water contamination, improve taste, eliminate odors, soften hard water and remove impurities. It’s necessary to choose the right filter and treatment based on an analysis of your water’s chemical composition.

Important considerations for installing a whole house water filter include some important questions to ask your plumber or dealer. These include the following:

• Do I need a whole house filter, or can I get by with a point-of-use filter for drinking and cooking water?

• What contaminants do I need to eliminate or neutralize?

• What are the maintenance costs associated with a water-filtering system?

• How easy or difficult is the installation process?

• Do you need to treat well water or enhance the purification of city water?

• Does the capacity of the system treat enough water for all my bathrooms and family members?

• Do I need multiple tank systems to reduce channeling, an effect of water finding the path of least resistance, which reduces filtering efficiency.

First Steps to Install a Water Filtration System

The first step to take includes testing your water’s chemical makeup to determine what kind of filtration system is needed. At this point, you need to compare prices and read water filtration reviews on point-of-entry and point-of-use systems – see this guide here. It might only be necessary to treat your drinking and cooking water with a simple filtering system, which is usually installed at the kitchen sink. These are considerably less expensive, but they can leave some big vulnerabilities.

Most families drink some water from bathroom sinks, and water contamination often results in scale buildup that damages appliances, sinks and bathroom fixtures. Water contamination can generate odors, chlorine in the air and ineffective lathering. That’s why whole house water filters are often the better choice for peace of mind.

Hard water minerals and other contaminants can generate offensive odors and leave your skin feeling slimy after bathing. Odors can affect your clothing, causing them to wear out faster and carry unusual odors. If you have very hard water and multiple contaminants in your water supply, choosing the whole house filtering option makes the most sense.

Is Your Water Unsafe or Highly Contaminated?

If you use well water, your water could be contaminated by spills at local industrial sites, gas stations or agricultural pesticides and fertilizers. Statistics show that 40% of well water is contaminated with E. coli and other bacteria, viruses, organic matter and microbes.

High concentrations of living organisms require certain types of treatment and filters. Hard or very hard water needs special treatments using salt-based, salt-free or magnetic water softeners to neutralize the hard water. Depending on what is revealed in your water’s analysis, there are many different treatment options.

Private wells are often contaminated with volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which are generated by fuel-related and industrial chemical compounds that find their way into the water table and groundwater.

City water is generally safe to use, but there are more than 650 boil notices issued by water authorities each day. The goal of cities that disinfect the water supply is the elimination of pathogens that can transmit waterborne diseases, but no city can completely sterilize water. Accidents, spills and broken pipes often result in cities issuing “boil drinking water” notices as a precaution.

City water often comes out discolored, and many people can taste hard minerals and other contaminants that are within safe drinking limits. That’s one of the reasons that you might choose to further protect your water supply by installing a treatment and filtering system for all your water.

Estimating Your Total Filtering Needs

Depending on your maximum water usage at any given time, it’s best to choose a system that can adequately process and treat the total water flow into your home. Some systems are designed to treat enough water in a 24-hour period, based on your contaminants and average daily water usage.

Estimating water use takes into account appliances that use water and the number of bathrooms, water fixtures and people in your home. A useful average is to allow 80 gallons of water per person per day. The amount seems high at first, but some people take two or three baths daily. Each person also has a percentage of household water used to wash dishes, laundry, water lawns, etc. Most people run gallons of water every time they get a glass of water.

How to Test Your Well Water

Water composition can vary depending on rain, runoff and other impurities finding their way into your well water. Your test might reveal dissolved solids, minerals, heavy metals, nitrates and organic compounds. Some chemicals are odorless and tasteless like arsenic.

You should test your well water after moving into a new house and any time you notice discoloration, odor or an off-putting taste. Your water should be tested annually for safety. Many companies offer free water tests as part of their services, but you can also buy home testing kits. You can collect a water sample and send it off to the lab for a formal analysis. If you suspect your local water supply isn’t as pure as you would like, you can also test your tap water.

Tap water from local water systems is carefully tested and treated as mandated by the EPA, but there are hundreds of contaminants for which the EPA doesn’t require testing. Your community water system is required to issue an annual report, which is called the Consumer Confidence Report.

These reports analyze the quality of local drinking water and breakdowns of contaminants, mineral content and maximum allowable content of certain substances found in water. You can get a copy of your local water report at https://www.epa.gov/ccr. 

Choosing the Best Whole House Water Filter

Armed with knowledge of your pumping system, water flow rate and maximum water treatment needs, you can select one or more methods of water treatment and choose the media beds necessary to filter your water beyond the minimum safety requirements.