Unfortunately, some tap and well water carries contaminants, and even when the water is cleaned correctly, unwanted additives can come from old hardware in the pipe systems. At-home filtration systems can improve water quality. They remove chemicals and pollutants, improve the smell and taste of water, and protect home plumbing.
The most affordable and popular options are pitcher and faucet filters that clean cooking and drinking water, but you might need a more robust system. A whole-house water filter purifies water where the main water line enters your home. It ensures that water flowing from every tap, faucet, or showerhead is freshly filtered.
Because whole-house systems work throughout an entire home, they are expensive. Before buying one, you need to know how it works and its limitations.
- What Is a Whole-House Water Filter?
- Where Drinking Water Comes From
- How Whole-House Water Filtration Works
- Different Types of Whole-House Water Filters
- Factors to Consider When Choosing a Whole-House Water Filter
- Do You Need a Whole-House Water Filter?
What Is a Whole-House Water Filter?
A whole-house water filter is a filtration system that removes specific contaminants from the water that enters your home. It is typically positioned near the water shut-off valve to your home so it catches water at the source of your existing plumbing line. Different types of water filters target common contaminants in your home’s water.
For example, you may want to reduce water hardness, remove sediments, or eliminate chlorine smell. A whole-house water filter allows you to hone in on these specific problems and correct them directly at the point of entry (POE).
Where Drinking Water Comes From
Drinking water that reaches your faucet begins from a natural source such as a river, lake, aquifer, or stream. Municipal water derives from these sources and rainwater catchments. Some homes are serviced by private wells connected directly to underground reservoirs.
Municipal water goes through a treatment centre that cleans and filters before distributing it to you and your neighbours. However, many treatment centres aren’t set up to treat all contaminants, especially those not yet regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Also, clean water can pick up pollutants from ageing infrastructure and old lead piping as it travels from treatment centres to your home.
If you use well water, your water is pumped directly from an underground aquifer to your home’s pipes. Well water can contain iron, sediment, silt, arsenic, and other contaminants. Also, it might need to be pH-balanced. The best solution for some of these water concerns is a water filtration solution, like a reverse osmosis system. Even so, hard water in your laundry and shower hookups can damage your plumbing system. In such cases, a whole-house filter can help.
How Whole-House Water Filtration Works
Unlike under-sink and countertop filters, which focus on specific faucets, a whole-house water filter is placed at the plumbing entry point. Most people need a plumber to install these complex systems properly in locations that are accessible and in line with the manufacturer’s clearance requirements. A section of the existing pipe must be removed and replaced with the filter units.
Current whole-house filter models typically have a pre-filter and a carbon filter unit. Additional shut-off valves, pipe connections, and electrical grounding might be needed to ensure the system works properly. The filtration system is mounted on a wall or floor, and the filter must be replaced every 6 to 12 months.
Different Types of Whole-House Water Filters
There are several types of whole-house water filters.
Arrange for a home water testing kit or a lab water analysis to determine the exact contaminants in your water. Then, select the best-suited water filter for the problems the test indicates.
These are the most common types of filters:
A water softener removes hard water, which typically has a high concentration of dissolved minerals, including calcium and magnesium, that leave your dishes chalky, laundry stiff, and water heater struggling to work. Hard water causes scale deposits, clogged pipes, and reduced water pressure. Both significantly shorten the life of your appliances. Water softener filters remove the minerals through ion exchange. With proper maintenance, they have an average lifespan of 15 years.
These maintain a clean and refreshing water supply through mechanical filtration. They physically trap and remove many contaminants, including dirt, soil, and rust flecks. Sediment filters have tiny pores for particulate matter to pass through. They are usually the first line of defence for a whole-house filtration system since they typically enhance the effectiveness of other filters.
Ultraviolet Purification Systems
This is the go-to filter if you are concerned about disease-causing microorganisms, such as bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi. Ultraviolet purification systems use UV light to damage the DNA of living organisms, and they lose their ability to reproduce or spread. These filters do not use chemicals.
However, this purification system is most effective if the water is first treated with a different filter. When the water is pre-filtered, the ultraviolet whole-house water filters can neutralize 99.9% of living organisms in your water.
The primary function of such filters is to remove chlorine and the chemical taste and smell from your water. When water passes through the activated carbon, organic matter and chemicals are captured through absorption, and clean water emerges from the other side.
These are ideal for acidic water. Acidic water can cause severe damage to your home appliances and health. Acid neutralizers utilize calcite to reduce water acidity. When water enters these filters, the calcite dissolves, neutralizing the water and raising its pH.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Whole-House Water Filter
The water source is an important consideration, and the type of contaminant in your water determines the filter system best for your family. Other factors to consider are the filtration capacity and water flow rate. Filter capacity refers to how much water your household uses daily; water flow measures gallons per minute.
Check whether the system you want has been independently tested or certified by reliable certification agencies. If a licensed professional installs the filtration system, it might be backed by multiple warranties and guarantees.
Cost is an essential factor. The price of a whole-house water filter system varies widely, so you must choose a model that fits your budget. Remember to price out the installation and the cost of replacement filters and parts.
Do You Need a Whole-House Water Filter?
You know you need a whole-house water filter when water quality tests show that some contaminants and problems in your water can’t be addressed with pitcher and faucet filters alone. You may already see some clues around your home. Repeated plumbing problems, appliance breakdowns, and health concerns are signs that a whole-house water filter might be helpful.
However, there are other—possibly better—choices if you only need to filter drinking and cooking water. An under-sink or countertop filter is more cost-effective.