Finding the Best Whole House Water Filtration System
Water is essential to life, and a pure, clean water source is essential to life at home. When it comes to improving your health and bodily function, you will almost certainly benefit from installing a whole house water filtration system. One of the best models available today is the iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There’s so much to know about the specifications and equipment used in whole home water filtration systems. But I’ve researched all of that information so that you don’t have to! My goal is to make your water filtration shopping experience as easy as possible simply because I know how good it feels to have an expert on your side.
This article has a lot to offer you, from a Buyer’s Guide to a top 12 list of the best whole house water filtration systems. Read on and you, too, can learn all there is to know about these home-life changing water filtration systems.
Do You Need a Whole House Water Filtration System?
When making an upgrade to a crucial in-home system like your water supply, you should pause for a moment and consider whether or not the upgrade is truly necessary. For example, many municipal water users are quick to jump on the in-home filtration trend simply to remove a non-specific “unsafe taste” from their water.
While many municipal water sources carry some trace taste (compared to bottled water), you can generally rest assured that this water is safe and treated only with additives that are potable.
However, not all municipal water systems are built alike, especially in cities and rural areas where upgrades to piping infrastructure haven’t been made in several decades. The same can be said of homes that source well water, which nearly always carries some degree of distasteful smell and metallic taste. Among other situations, these are households that can make the best use of a whole house water filtration system.
While evaluating your home’s need for such a water system, you should definitely undergo a water source test in order to make a fact-based conclusion. These tests can be found at most hardware stores and tap only a small sample of tap water to complete.
Common Water Test Results
When you receive your water test results, you may notice several common factors about the water, both visually and chemically. If any of these factors are above acceptable levels, you may be a good candidate for home water filtration installation.
Chlorine is one of the most common elements found in sampled municipal water. Used for many decades as a disinfectant, chlorine generally dissolves over the municipality’s large water volume, leaving little to no ill effects or taste. However, some municipalities over-chlorinate their water, which may necessitate the addition of a filter system in your home.
Unusual tastes or smells are also a common result of even non-scientific water tests. Though nearly all municipal water carries a noticeably different taste than “purified” bottled water, such a taste isn’t always a sign of dangerous impurities. Instead, you should take action towards installing a filter if the unusual taste or smell would otherwise prevent you or a family member from enjoying your tap or shower on a day-to-day basis. A water filtration system can help you achieve great tasting water.
Bacterial contamination is rare, but serious if detected by a test. If you detect bacteria in your water (through a specialized test), you are definitely on firm ground for installing a water filtration system (ideally with a UV light component). Also, if you are hooked up to a municipal water source, be sure to report the bacteria’s presence to the public works department.
Unknown visible particles can leave a glass of water looking cloudy upon the first inspection. Though this can be caused by air bubbles that settle out after a few minutes, some well water sources contain diffused amounts of trace elements like iron, sulfur, and more. These elements can build up over time if you drink a lot of tap water, not to mention leave stains in showers and sinks. In these instances, a home water filter is well justified.
If you’re in a hurry to find your new whole home filtration system, keep these quick tips in mind as you shop from the leading models listed below. For more details and specification descriptions, read our “Buyer’s Guide.”
- Always run tests of your home tap water before committing to installing a home filtration system.
- Look for a filtration system that is best suited to filter out common contaminants in your water source.
- Be sure to only select a model that can fit in the allotted space near your home’s water main.
- Check each model’s water capacity to ensure that it can provide your home with an optimal level of purified water.
- More expensive does not always mean better quality, so be sure to purchase a filter system that balances value with productive features.
Before you jump in and buy the first whole house water filtration system you see, be sure that you are knowledgeable in the language and trade terms used to quantify each model’s performance.
For the most part, you should expect to see many of these terms on a filter system’s packaging or online listing. Knowing what each term means in context will empower you to make better decisions regarding your tap water’s taste and total water supply.
Here’s what you should consider before committing to a whole house filter system:
Just like any other long-term home installation, you can love every aspect of a model and still be out of luck if it is too big to fit into your allotted space. To this extent, dimensions play an important role in determining which models can and cannot be feasibly installed in your home.
In order to save yourself time, start by comparing each model based on its dimensions. If you find any that are simply too bulky for your allotted space, then you can immediately remove them from your consideration list.
Like the dimensions, weight can play an often overlooked role in choosing a new water filtration system. While weight itself does not usually inhibit a given model’s ability to take in, filter, and output water, weight can make a significant difference in how quickly and efficiently you install the appliance.
If you anticipate that your chosen water filter in will be heavier than you can handle alone, you should plan ahead and find a friend to help you complete the installation process. Better yet, call a local plumber who has both the strength and the skills to install your new water filter system without trouble.
Capacity refers to the amount of water a given filtration system is rated to handle over a pre-determined period of time. Though the precise volume is generally a quantitative estimate, a water filter shopper can use this figure to qualitatively estimate how capable a given filter is of providing optimal water levels to all necessary appliances (sinks, showers, washers, etc).
Capacity is nearly always measured in gallons, though some European-made models will use liters, instead. These gallon-based estimates can be applied to several common time periods, including gallons per day and gallons per year.
Capacity measurements can additionally give you a firm understanding of what each model considers to be a “normal” amount of use (for long-term optimization purposes). Using a water filter beyond its capacity tends to use up the filters’ effective life much faster than expected.
Filter type refers to the type of material used as a filtering medium within the various stages of the full house water filtration system. Different filter types are designed to draw out different kinds of contaminants, so a diversified arsenal of filters can go a long towards attaining the purest possible water.
No one filter type can do it all, so many major water filter manufacturers have continued to push filtration innovation through the creation of new water filter types. These are some of the most common types you’ll find in whole house filtration systems:
Activated Carbon filters (sometimes referred to as “carbon filters”, “charcoal filters”, or “carbon blocks”) are one of the most common filters types, owing to their ability to pull out common contaminants found in well water. Activated carbon filters are exceedingly good at pulling out undesirable odors and rust particles, leaving your tap water better tasting overall.
Activated carbon is used for this kind of water purification due to its naturally porous molecular structure, which traps contaminates without absorbing water. Often, activated carbon filters are not implemented alone. Because it only filters out considerably large particles, you will likely need a water filtration system that also uses a small particle filter type.
Granular activated carbon (GAC) is a specialized subset of activated carbon filters made from coconut shells. Though they often accomplish the same tasks as a regular activated carbon filter, they are often placed at the end of a water filtering regimen to give one final water treatment to residual chlorine and dirt particles.
Polypropylene is sometimes used as a specialize “pre-filter,” due to its ability to draw out contaminates often left behind by other filtering mediums. In particular, this type of filter is used to block dirt particles from traveling deep into the filtering system and causing congestion in filters with smaller pores. Using their multiple membranes, these filters also sometimes block chlorine and chloramines from filtering into the rest of the system.
Reverse Osmosis filters can tackle a wide variety of microscopic water contaminates due to their implementation of a reverse osmosis (RO) membrane. These membranes work at the molecular level to trap particles ionically bonded onto water molecules. Because of this attention to microscopic detail, this filter type is capable of blocking fluoride, chromium, arsenic, nitrates, copper, radium, salt, and more from reaching your home water supply.
While this filter type has become very popular, it requires a great deal of water pressure to function correctly. As such, water filtration systems that use this type of filter usually show marked decrease in output and water pressure to key fixtures like sinks and showers.
Sediment filters (sometimes abbreviated “SED”) are a broad collection of filtering mediums used filter out “large” water contaminants like sand, rust, silt, and more. These are one of the most common filter types, seeing implementation in many one and two-stage water filtration systems.
Ultraviolet filters (UV filters, for short) are often implemented as a final step in a whole house water filtration system. Unlike other filter types which physically “catch and hold” undesirable contaminants, a UV filter uses condensed beams of UV light to burn away microscopic organic matter. This includes germs, viruses, and other harmful microorganisms that can sometimes thrive in old pipes.
The ultimate effect of a UV filter is that it makes water sanitary, while other filters simply make potable water cleaner and softer by particle content manipulation. Used in conjunction with these other types of filters, a UV filter can really land the killing blow against microscopic debris that may harm those with weak immune systems.
When talking about whole house water filtration systems, a stage is simply one of the filtering media through which water passes before reaching your tap, purified and sanitized. Stages may also be thought of as steps through which your sourced water passes before it reaches superior purity at your tap.
In modern filter systems, stages are often implemented as interchangeable cartridges (not unlike those used in printers). These cartridges are generally cylindrical in shape and sealed (save for a hookup point) in order to prevent water from leaking out during the high-pressure purification process.
Every so often, you will need to replace a stage’s cartridge in order to keep your water filtration system running optimally. Depending on the stage’s filtering medium, this is generally because the filtering medium has become jammed with filtered-out debris and needs to be refreshed before the system will return to peak function.
Many whole house water filtration systems will list off what sediments and microscopic particles they are capable of filtering out of standard well water. Often, this list of sediments is determined by the types of filters implemented in a given filtering regimen, as well as how many stages are in the system overall. These sediments can range anywhere from relatively “large” dirt particles to microscopic viruses.
In all plumbing contexts, flow rate refers to how fast water can pass through a plumbed system and arrive at an output source (such as a sink tap, shower, etc.). When it comes to water filtration systems, the flow rate can measure how quickly the filtration system can take in, clean, and output a gallon of water.
Flow rate can be affected by a variety of factors, each of which can come into play for a water filter. First and most obvious, wide pipes with minimal build-up can create a greater flow rate. In the same vein, using few water fixtures at once can improve flow rate due to a decrease in concurrent demand.
“Fitting size” simply refers to the size of the water hook up that comes built into a given water filter system’s input and output piping. While these fittings can adapt to fit most needs, it is in your best interest to purchase a model that is compatible with your existing infrastructure. Otherwise, leaks and depressurization may occur over time.