Choosing Water Filters For Home Use

Finding water filters for home use presents many challenges. Our guide helps you to find the best water filter system for your needs by giving you the information to make an informed decision.

Enjoy the health benefits of water without the risks

The poor quality of our water supply presents an everyday threat to the well-being of even the healthiest of our communities. However, for certain other people this threat is even greater.

Young people, older people, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems are badly exposed to the dangers of poor or even toxic water. Choosing the best home water filter system for these people requires that we do our research.

Steps to find the best filters for your home

Before you buy a water filter for home use there are a few factors that you need to consider.

You need to think about your own local water quality, the cost and maintenance requirements of the water filter, filter performance, and certifications.

Following this process ensures that you get the best water filter to meet your needs.

  • Step 1. Water Quality Check Check the quality of the water being supplied to your home. The Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) was passed in 1974 and charges the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulating drinking water supply and the sources of drinking water.

    Water suppliers are now required to provide what are known as Consumer Confidence Reports which contain information on the quality of their water and any possible contaminants within the water.

    The levels of certain contaminants will remain consistent over the year, while the levels of other contaminants can vary according to factors such as the season, the local weather or even the build quality of your home e.g degrading lead pipes.

    If you are worried about contamination it is always best to get your water tested using a certified laboratory. Then you will have the necessary information to make a decision on the type of water filter for home use that your family requires.

    You can read about the quality of your local water on the EPA website at this address, http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/ccr/index.cfm

    Well Water Quality If you source your water from a well it is particularly important that you have your water checked for contaminants such as nitrates and coliform bacteria.

    This is especially important in areas of intensive farming. If in doubt check with your local ground water supplier for guidance on possible contamination. Your local health department may also be able to offer advice for your particular area.

    Now that you have that information you can make a decision based on your own specific needs for your water filter for home use.

    You will be buying a water filter to remove specific contaminants, to protect a member of your family with special health needs, to make the water taste better, or a combination of all the factors specific to you and yours.

    What type of filtration methods are used?

    Different types of water filtering methods

    Treatment Device What It Does Pros/Cons
    Activated Carbon Filter (including filters that remove heavy metals)

    Adsorbs organic contaminants that cause taste and odor problems. Some filtration units will remove chlorination byproducts.

    Some water filters for home use will remove cleaning solvents and pesticides

    Will remove metals such as lead and copper.

    Won't remove nitrate, bacteria or dissolved minerals.

    Ion Exchange Filter

    Removes minerals, especially calcium and magnesium that cause hard water. Some filters also remove radium and barium. Removes fluoride

    If the water contains oxidized iron or iron bacteria, the ion-exchange resin will develop a 'skin' or become clogged and lose its softening ability

    Reverse Osmosis Water Filter for home use, with Carbon

    Will remove nitrates, sodium, other dissolved inorganics and organic compounds.

    Gets rid foul tastes, smells or colors. May also reduce the level of some pesticides, dioxins and chloroform and petrochemicals

    Will not remove all inorganic and organic contaminants
    Distillation Filter

    Will get rid of nitrates, bacteria, sodium, hardness, dissolved solids, most organic compounds, heavy metals, and radionucleides. Kills bacteria

    Won't get rid of some volatile organic contaminants, certain pesticides and volatile solvents Bacteria can reform on the cooling coils during periods of inactivity

  • Step 2. Know the different types of water filters for home use Particular contaminants or variations of contaminants will be removed by particular filters. Not all filters remove all contaminations. Certain more advanced filters will employ differing technologies combined in order to remove a variety of contaminants.

    There are several types of water filtration systems available and within these filtering systems there are a variety of water filters for home use.

    Point of Use Water Filters

    Point of use filtration systems filter the water directly before you use it. Point of use water filter systems are superior to Point of Entry systems as they deal with many water-borne contaminants that come from the plumbing in your home such as, lead and vinyl chloride from the plumbing.

    These filters use materials such as fabrics,fiber,or ceramic screening to physically remove contaminants. The most common types of these water filters for home, use a molded block of activated carbon and are effective at filtering lead,protozoan cysts,and many other contaminants. They can also improve the taste of your water.

    These are the main types of point of use home water filters.

    1. Water Filter Pitchers

    These are basically water pitchers with an attached filter. When water is poured into the pitcher it is filtered as it passes through the filter into the pitcher. If you require cold drinking water you only need to place the pitcher in your refrigerator.

    If you only require a smalll amount of drinking water, these are adequate. For larger needs they would be time-consuming and costly as the filters would need to be changed more often. Countertop space might also be an issue. Water filter pitchers also do not provide you with clean water for cooking, cleaning, or showering.

    2. Mounted Tap Water Filter

    A mounted water filter faucet is easy to install and is attached to the tap by a hose. When you want filtered water you simply adjust and the water passes through the filter. These work well for providing filtered water for cooking and in homes with a substantial need for filtered tap water.

    3. Under Counter Water Filter

    Under the sink water filters save counter top space by placing the filtration system beneath the sink. often they will have more than one filter in order to deal with a selection of possible contaminants.

    They might be more expensive initially as they might need to be fitted by a plumber. However, this initial cost could be offset as they do not need to be replaced often.

    4. Water Filters For Refrigerators/Inline refrigerator water filter

    Inline refrigerator water filters offer filtered water for in-door water dispensers in refrigerators as well as ice-makers. These use charcoal filters and newer models should include an automatic shut-off valve for simple replacement.

    5. Shower Water Filters

    The best shower water filter is a must if you suffer from any skin conditions or if you just don't want to feel as if you just got out of the swimming pool.

    These are available with just the filter or with the filter and the shower head. They filter chemicals and chlorine

  • Point of Entry/Whole House Water Filter System

    The best whole house water filter systems treat most of the water before it enters your home. Generally they are installed after the water meter.

  • Step 3. Certification of the Best Water Filters for home use

  • To find the best water filter for your needs it absolutely must meet certain criteria. This criteria is certified by organizations that are accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).The label on your filter system must contain certification from at least one of the three organizations listed below.

    American National Standards Institute (ANSI),National Sanitation Foundation (NSF),Environmental protection Agency (EPA)

    To achieve certification to ANSI/NSF standard the manufacturers of water filters for home use must produce verifiable proof of contaminant reduction performance . The water filter manufacturer must also provide an evaluation of the filter system, as well as its materials and structural integrity

    A review of the product labels and sales literature for each water filter is also carried out. Certification from these groups means that water filters for home use must at the very least, meet or exceed ANSI/NSF and EPA drinking water standards.

    Standards set by ANSI/NSF relate to two different groups. A standard for health concerns i.e. the removal of contaminants and a standard for aesthetic purposes i.e.the taste or appearance of the filtered water.

    Certification will apply to at least one of those groups and very often two.

    Technology Certification What Does It Do?
    Home Water Filters (NSF/ANSI 42 & 53) This certification is for water filters that employ a filtration method that causes liquids, gases, dissolved or suspended matter to stick to the surface of, or in the pores of, an adsorbent medium. Carbon filters use this method.
    Water Softeners (NSF/ANSI 44) The certification is for water softeners.

    These water softening systems use a cation exchange resin, regenerated with sodium chloride or potassium chloride.Calcium and Magnesium in the water are the causes of 'hard water'. Water softening systems reduces the 'hardness' of the water by reducing the amount of Calcium and Magnesium in the water.

    The Calcium and Magnesium ions are replaced with Sodium or Potassium ions.

    Ultraviolet Water Treatment (NSF/ANSI 55)

    The certification on the left applies water filtration by use of ultraviolet light.

    Water is either disinfected or the amount heterotrophic bacteria present in the water is reduced by means of ultraviolet light.

    Reverse Osmosis Water Filters for home use (NSF/ANSI 58)

    This certification is for water filtration systems that use a filtration technique known as reverse osmosis.

    Reverse osmosis is when the water is forced through a semi-permeable membrane. As a result of this the water changes from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution as it leaves behind contaminants on the membrane.

    Pre- and post-filters are employed in many filtering systems along with the semi-permeable membrane, to aid increased filtering efficiency.
    Water Distillers (NSF/ANSI 62)

    This certification is for water filtration by means of a water distillation method.

    With this system of filtering the water is heated until it reaches boiling point. As the water reaches boiling temperature it creates vapor which is then collected.

    Employing this filtering method means that a lot of the contaminants, as well as heavy metals are left behind.

    Not all sources of contamination, such as volatile organic chemicals, that easily change into gases,are removed as they can be passed through with the water vapor.

    NSF uses a Water Treatment Device certification program that deals with water filters for home use.. The idea of this program is to ensure that water filters meet the requirements set down regarding design,material,and performance requirements of national standards.

    The program demands extensive testing as well as surprise visits to manufacturing facilities in order to carry out evaluation of best practices regarding the production of water filtration systems

  • Step 4. Some final points to consider before buying water filters for home use.

    1. You will need to know the flow rate of water coming from the home water filter system. This is measured in gallons per minute

    2. You will need to know how often the replacement filter cartridges will have to be replaced and the associated costs.

    3. Are warranties and/or guarantees offered for these water filter for home use by the distributor/manufacturer.

    4. How difficult or easy is the water filter installation process? Will you need a plumber? What are these costs?