Clean water is essential for good health. Everyone should have access to safe water when they need it, whether it is for consumption, cleaning, or washing. While our tap water is reasonably safe, many homeowners prefer to go the extra mile and install filters to ensure the safety of the water they use. A whole house water filter is often the best solution for keeping water safe to use and consume. Learn how to choose the best whole house water filter with this short guide.
What is a Whole House Water Filter?
A whole house water filter is a water filtering system that provides clean, safe water throughout the house. It is connected to the main waterline that enters the house, from which it filters the water of impurities before distributing it through the faucets and shower heads. Unlike spot or localized water filters, the whole house water purifies water at the point of entry before dispensing it to different outlets throughout the house.
What type of Whole House Water Filter do I need?
The type of filter your household needs will depend largely on the type of water you have. Tap water is treated water, purified by industrial-strength filters and chemicals to remove pollutants and pathogens. These steps have to be done to remove residue of pharmaceuticals, agricultural chemicals, sewage, heavy metals, disinfectants, industrial wastes, and other byproducts.
There are 3-stage and 2-stage water filtration systems, as well as under-sink and countertop filters.
To identify the type of filtration system you need, here are steps you should take:
1. Know what contaminants are in your water.
Know the specific contaminants that are found in your local water. Water companies are required by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to provide an annual CCR or consumer confidence report. The CCR contains an analysis of the quality of water where you live. You could obtain a copy from the local government website.
2. How much water do you consumer per day?
If you live alone or are a small family, a simple or basic filter will usually do but if you have a large family, you may require a larger system.
Water Softening vs. Water Filtration
The most common source of household water is underground water. This contains minerals, which in turn make water hard. A water softening system eliminates minerals from the water. However, producing soft water is all the system does. Water filtration systems, however, not only remove particulates (including some minerals depending on the type of filters they use), they also remove potential pollutants and microorganisms that might cause health issues.
Types of Common Contaminants
Water contaminants may be categorized as physical, chemical, biological, or radiological. Some of the most common types of contaminants found in public water are:
Sediment is a physical contaminant that is often filtered off in the municipal supply. However, water from either private or public wells may not have been purified to a scale that removes sediment. A filtration system that has a sediment filter will help protect your drinking water from this contaminant.
Chemicals in the water you drink or cook with is unpleasant. Some of these chemicals, such as chlorine, help disinfect the supply but many of them may have adverse health effects over the long term. Some may be even downright toxic.
Iron gets into the supply through seepage and corrosion. Although the amount of iron in the water may not be harmful to health, it will cause damage to your pipes and affect your food. It could, for example, stain your laundry and sinks, cause your pipes to clog over time, and add an unpleasant taste to your food and beverages.
What to Look For
The best whole house water filter must feature the following:
Flow rate – refers to the volume of water that pass through the equipment, often expressed as gpm or gallons per minute. A faster flow rate may sound ideal but not necessarily effective. Water has to have a minimum time of contact with filtration media so contaminants are removed. The best whole house filter for your home should be able to provide sufficient supply when and where it is needed. Of course, the more open faucets there are at one time, the higher the flow rate should be.
Filter size – will determine the system efficacy in eliminating contaminants from the water. Filter sizing is usually referred to as a micron rating and it could either be absolute or nominal. An absolute rating is necessary for removing microorganisms and parasites while an absolute rating is necessary for removing physical contaminants such as sediments. Dust, for example, has a particle size (in microns) of 2 while beach sand as 100 to 2000. Viruses, on the other hand, have a particle size of 0.005 to 0.3 while bacteria has 3.
How long the filter must be kept prior to replacement will depend on a number of factors, such as usage and water quality. In general, look for a system that has a reasonable filter life. The figures to look for: 3-6 months for pre-filters and around 9-12 months for post-filters.
Ideally, the port size for a whole house filter system is around 1″. Even if the pipes are smaller, the bigger port size will ensure that water will flow strong and freely, and that there will be no bottlenecks.