Fortunately, in the US, the water we receive from municipal services normally comes with high safety standards. That said, things are changing pretty fast. Misuse of water bodies, rapid industrial development, and overall degradation of environment—these are the prime factors behind the rising level of water pollution.
To give you an idea, while EPA’s safe water standards currently addresses some 80 different contaminants, research tells us that there is a growing number of emerging contaminants that are yet to be dealt with. This is why using filtered water at home is a safe and healthy choice that may help us avoid a number of potential health complications related to water impurities.
Do you own a private well? Visit this post on well water filtration systems
Whole House Filter or Point-of-Use Systems?
When it comes to water filters, you may choose a whole house water filter (also called point-of-entry or POE) or one or more point-of-use (POU) filter units. While the former is the more expensive option, it also offer the highest degree of protection since the water gets filtered at the point it enters your home’s plumbing and all the various water dispensers in your home will supply this filtered water at all times.
An additional benefit with a POE filter is that they keep your home’s plumbing safe from water impurities which mean that your pipelines will enjoy a longer life than usual.
How to Select the Best Whole House Water Filter
In order to choose the best whole house filtration system for your home, you will need to determine the following two things:
- The type of water filter to use
- The proper of size and flow rate of the filter
A. Determine the Type of Your Water Filter
Different filtration systems employ different technologies to remove or reduce water contaminants. However, the important thing to know that these different technologies work to remove different sets of water contaminants.
So, in order to choose the right water treatment system for your home, you will need to know the following two things.
1. What contaminants you want to remove
You can get a pretty clear idea of this by having your water tested at any state-certified water testing laboratory located near your home. However, before that, make sure that you obtain a copy of the Consumer Confidence Report or CCR prepared by your local municipal service. This is the annual water quality report that all water supply bodies need to submit according to EPA’s safe water requirements.
You can access this report at the EPA website by searching with your location or zip code. You will also find at the website a list of certified labs located near your residence. While the CCR is a helpful resource, the reason we suggest that you get your water tested anyway is that water can still catch impurities from the pipelines leading to your home.
For private well users, the test of course becomes obligatory. For wells, you should check your water for lead, bacteria and nitrates at least once a year.
2. What type of filter works best in removing contaminants found in your water
As we mentioned, different water filter technologies treat different water impurities. At present, NSF recognizes six different water filtration systems. These are:
- Water softeners
- Reverse osmosis systems
- Ultraviolet disinfection
- Water treatment technologies for emerging contaminants
There are also multistage filtration systems that combine two or more of the above technologies to provide higher amounts of safety.
Now, when choosing your own water filter, all you need to do is find a water filtration system that works best when treating impurities found in your well or municipal service water.
B. Determine the Proper Size and Flow Rate of Your Water Filter
This is the second important part of your selection process. Typically, water filtration systems are sized in terms of flow-rate—that is the volume of water passing through the system at any given point of time. The flow rate is typically given in gpm or gallons per minute.
Choosing a whole house water filter with proper flow rate and size according to your home water needs is essential. With an under-sized equipment, not only you will experience interrupted water flow and low water pressure (especially during peak usage time), but will also receive water that are inadequately treated. This is since water needs to pass through your filtration system for a given amount of time (referred to as contact time) in order to be properly treated. However, in an under-sized filter, the water does not get sufficient contact time and this results in insufficiently treated water.
In order to calculate proper flow rate of your filter, you need to make a list of all the water fixtures and appliances used in your home and their respective flow rates. The latter typically come in a particular range (for example, 4-8 gpm for bathtubs, 2-3 gpm for dishwashers and so on) but make your estimate on the basis of maximum flow rate so that you don’t suffer from interrupted water flow during peak usage times. Also, take note of the fact that the maximum flow rate of your water fixtures will be restricted by the size of your home pipelines. If in any doubt, make sure to consult with a water technician before you make your purchase.