Crystal Clear: A Brief Guide To Home Water Filtration

Clean water is no accident and it’s possible that even the clearest, best tasting water can harbor unexpected contaminants. If you’re worried what’s coming from your tap isn’t as pure as it should be, there is a solution – home water filtration.

Water Filtration Benefits

Most residential water is safe to drink. Municipal supplies are chemically treated and tested at the source for heavy metals and harmful microorganisms, but that doesn’t extend to aging underground pipes and old plumbing fixtures in your home. Wells are tested when a home changes hands, but may not be retested as often as necessary to ensure purity.

Other contaminants aren’t health hazards, but do cause water to taste or smell bad. Hard water contains minerals that stain laundry and fixtures, while both minerals and sediment can clog pipes and appliance filters, causing them to wear out prematurely.

How is water filtered?

Filters remove contaminants in a variety of ways, but because each method has its strengths, the best filters use a combination of two or more to combat a greater range of issues. These are the most common.

Charcoal Filters

Made with a form of active carbon, these trap chemical particles in large pores and are especially effective for fighting unpleasant tastes and odors. These are commonly used in water filtration pitchers and as pre-filters in more complex systems.

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic filters work by forcing water through small pores. Anything larger than the pore is trapped and stays out of your water.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

These force water through a membrane that excludes more large particles than other types of filters. Reverse osmosis systems usually include storage tanks to collect and purge contaminants, increasing the volume of water that can be treated and reducing the frequency of filter maintenance.

Ultraviolet Filters

UV filters use light to treat water as it flows through a glass tube. This eliminates disease-causing bacteria, but unless the system also has a mechanical filter to remove particles, it doesn’t address sediment, high mineral content, heavy metal, or chemical pollutants.

Types of Home Water Filtration Systems

From simple pitchers and faucet-mounted filters to countertop models and whole home units, there is a system for every need, but it’s important to understand how they work and what you can expect from them.

Filter Pitchers

Consisting of a glass or plastic base and a top with an integrated charcoal filter, water filtration pitchers remove many contaminants, but focus on eliminating unpleasant tastes and smells from common chemicals like chlorine.

Most pitchers don’t remove bacteria and won’t help you with hard water stains, but they do offer good drinking water without the cost or environmental impact of buying bottles.

Individual Faucet Filters

Available in a wide range of prices and filtration levels, these mount directly to a faucet or showerhead. Interior cartridges are generally ceramic and they can process substantially more water between filter changes than pitchers, however, they may decrease water flow.

Countertop Filters

Countertop water filters connect to your faucet via a hose and dispense filtered water through a spigot. If the unit is equipped with a bypass valve, the faucet can be used as normal for non-filtered water needs. This style removes more contaminants than pitchers and faucet filters, but does take valuable counter space and won’t help with most hard water or sediment problems.

Under Sink Filters

Filter systems mounted under the sink rarely affect water flow. They’re not portable, but stay out of sight and need no counter space. Better models use a combination of filtering methods to provide a high level of contaminant removal, but are still limited to just one faucet.

Whole Home Filtration Systems

Whole home systems are installed where water enters your home, giving you a filtered supply through every faucet. These range from simple sediment filters to highly complex systems for nearly every contaminant, but they are the only practical way to filter an entire household water supply.

Whether your water needs a just little help, or a lot, the right home water filtration system may be the solution you’ve been looking for.

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