Water filters are highly recommended for all homeowners to protect their properties’ water supply. Most states treat their water with chlorine to ensure it is free of contaminants; however, by the time the water reaches your home, it likely has been exposed to harmful metals such as lead and arsenic, toxic waste, pesticides, and other chemicals.
The two primary sources of residential water supplies are groundwater, which collects through tiny cracks in the ground, and surface water from rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. Between the time the water leaves these sources and reaches your home faucet, it has travelled through pipes, pumping stations, and treatment plants. Rust, corrosion, and little cracks can allow unwanted chemicals and germs to seep through the plumbing, and old pipes can even become a source of localized contamination.
Have you ever noticed how tap or well water can sometimes taste metallic or look cloudy? Chances are it’s contaminated. The good news is a home water filter can easily take care of the problem. But how to select the perfect water filter for your home?
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Check the Quality of Your Water
Which water filter you should select depends on what is floating around your water supply. The first step to successfully identify your filtration needs is to understand where the water is coming from.
Regardless of whether your water comes from a private well, through rainwater collection, or a public water system, state-certified labs or at-home testing kits are an effective way to analyze what’s in your water supply. The EWG Tap Water Database of 2019 contains a list of pollutants found state-wise in over 30 million water samples.
If you share your community supply in the USA, you should receive an annual report highlighting contaminant levels and the overall quality of your drinking water (called a Consumer Confidence Report).
Regardless, you can opt to test a sample of your water at any time to decide which water treatment system is most suitable for your needs.
Depending on the results of these tests, a water filter such as a reverse osmosis system may be your ideal solution, giving you great-tasting, safe potable water.
Other Considerations that Impact Water Quality
We buy water filters to better the overall water quality and to specifically fight build-up on surfaces.
Contaminants and bacteria do not cause this build-up; instead, hard water is the culprit. It is a known fact that hard water damages skin and hair as well. It contains mineral deposits of calcium and magnesium, which turn into powdery rings of limescale – and filtration alone can’t combat that.
This is why some of the best rated reverse osmosis water filters come with additional water softening stages built in, to reduce the hardness of your water supply while removing contaminants.
Water Flow Rate – Why it’s super important!
Flow rate is super important. It measures the speed per minute at which treated water is dispensed from your faucets. When living in a large household with more people, it’s common to notice pressure dropping in one tap when the other is running. This is because the flow rate goes down at that time.
For a potential measurement of how many water gallons can flow in a minute, you can use your home’s square footage and find out how much water filter capacity you require. The average water pressure needed for a typical 2,300 square foot home is between 40 to 45 pounds of pressure per square inch.
However, no two homes are the same and consume water differently. Therefore, you can test out the flow rate at home yourself. Turn on your faucet on full for precisely ten seconds (use a timer) and collect all the water in a bucket or cup. Be sure to use cold water so that you don’t burn yourself.
Measure how many cups of gallons of water you have; sixteen cups of water make 1 gallon. Multiply the quantity of water by six, and this will give you the flow rate in gallons per minute. For example, if you collected eight cups of water, that equates to half a gallon. This provides us with a flow rate of three gallons per minute (0.5 gallons x 6).
It’s crucial to select a water filtration system with a flow rate of at least twice your requirement. This will reduce cleaning frequency and will turn out to be a cost-effective solution.
**Extra** Did you know the average GPM per person is up to 2 gallons per minute?
Water Filter Capacity
When buying a water filter, the specifications usually indicate a measure of your water filter’s capacity to purify. This is a measure for how long your chosen filtration cartridge can remove contaminants before it needs replacement..
For example, if your indicated filter capacity is 1 million gallons, it will clean and process this much volume of water. Of course, filtration will continue beyond this limit; however, it will no longer be as effective.
The water filtration capacity of your chosen purification system is also affected by hard water, which clogs up pipes. Consequently, due to the build-up, the filter could wear out sooner than indicated.
Smaller water filters do not have the capacity required to deal with all these problems simultaneously. A whole house water filter with an added softener is highly recommended to improve your household water quality in all aspects.
Whole House Filters vs. Drinking Water Filters
Depending on your home needs and budget, you can choose between a whole house water filter or one targeted at purifying drinking water only, such as a reverse osmosis system. Drinking water filters come as pitchers or systems, which you can add to your refrigerators, faucets, or under the sink. However, these do not treat all of your water.
Whole-house filters are connected to the point where the water supply enters your property. They purify water for drinking, faucets, and appliances. A single system rather than having several individual filters can reduce costs as well. Smaller water filters such as those for drinking water can’t eliminate all the different contaminants, which complete home systems can.
Do Your Research and Maintain your Filters
The aim of our checklist is to help you select the best home water filter. When you know what you want to filter out and at what scale, research all the different options available.
Lastly, don’t forget to check and change your filter cartridges regularly. Manufacturers’ instructions contain all the information you need for proper care and must be read carefully. Always remember, unmaintained water filters could harm your health.