Do You Factor In The Water Filter Cartridge When Buying Your Home Water Filtration System?
When buying a home water filter, you can't just think about the cost of the unit. You also need to think about the required water filter cartridge. You know ... that component which actually cleans the water inside that fancy stylish shell you want to buy. Too many people buy a top of the line water filtration system, then find out that the water filter cartridge gives them trouble. Then they end up removing the filtration unit and tying a muslin bag over the mouth of their tap as a replacement.
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter Cartridge
Buying a reverse osmosis home water filter which removes virtually every impurity and poison from your water is a great feeling. It sure does make you feel safe, doesn't it? Until you see the water trickling slowly out of your tap after you install the filter. Then you discover that the water pressure to your home is too low to support an RO filtration system.
Or maybe you suddenly find out the real cost of replacing the RO water filter cartridge in your second year of use ... because the first six months used the cartridge which came with the filtration unit, and the second six months used the complimentary water filter cartridge. Of course, "six months" is what most manufacturers tell you. Unfortunately, for those people who really need the performance of a reverse osmosis home water filter, "six months" can be a wildly optimistic assessment.
Oh! By the way, did you know that RO home water filters are only 5% to 15% efficient? That means that for every 5 gallons of clean water produced, up to 95 gallons is wasted. You potentially pay for 100 gallons of water just to drink 5 gallons of water. Are you sure you can still afford this water filter cartridge?
Carbon Water Filters (Granulated Activated Carbon Filter Cartridge and Powdered Carbon Block Filter Cartridge)
"No problem!" you say. Because you only considering the walter filters using carbon block filters or granulated activated carbon water filter cartridges. They are more efficient than the RO water filter cartridges. True, but they ARE still subject to the same limitations. For example, the high-end and more powerful carbon block water filter cartridges with 0.5 micron holes need more water pressure than the lower-end 50 micron granulated activated carbon water filter cartridges. If your home plumbing has low water pressure, you may need to buy the lower performing system to get a decent stream of water out of your taps.
Some water still gets wasted. Just how efficient is the carbon water filter cartridge used in the system you are looking at? Is it 50%? If that's the case, you'll be pay for 100 gallons of water just to drink 50 gallons of clean water. Can you still afford it? Or should you look for an alternative?
And if you bought your water filter because you were nervous about that nearby mining or smelting operation that you were afraid might be poisoning your water supply? Did you know that carbon-based water filter cartridges are NOT good at removing inorganic chemicals like heavy metals? For that, you need an RO home water filter. But if your water pressure is too low, what should you do, then? In this case, you have no choice but to rely on a bottled water dispenser.
Sediment Water Filter Cartridges
Don't forget that sedimentation can really reduce the lifespan of both carbon and RO water filter cartridges. So if you bought your water purifier to get rid of that brown water from your taps, you may find yourself forced to replace the water filter cartridges much sooner than you expected. Unless you made sure to buy a system with two filters - one cheap pre-filter cartridge to deal with the sedimentation, and a second filter cartridge (carbon or reverse osmosis) to deal with the chemicals.
Of course, if your only problem is water sedimentation, a.k.a. that horrid brown sludge from your taps, both RO and carbon home water filters are very expensive overkill. In this case, a two or three stage filter system using a progression of cheap sediment water filter cartridges is a better choice. Even this may be overkill. For some people, tying a piece (or three) of muslin cloth over the mouth of their tap is more than sufficient. It seriously lacks style, but is very cheap and works well enough for certain situations.
Disinfecting Your Water Supply
Are you buying your home water filter because you want to get rid of germs, bacteria and other micro-organisms? Many people buy their water filters because the smooth-talking salesman convinced them that the UV light system that comes with the water purifier can kill all germs. If you are one of these people, then you've been suckered. The ultra violet rays only prevent micro-organisms from from reproducing; they don't kill them. And this "infertility" only lasts a short while. Exposure to air or normal light eventually allows them to reproduce again. The only way to kill these bacteria, protozoa and other micro-organisms is to boil your water. So if you think that your water is contaminated with these things? The surest way to get rid of them is to boil your water. Not using any kind of fancy water filter cartridge (The high-end 0.5 micron carbon block filters can remove most protozoa and some bacteria, and the reverse osmosis filters can filter out all protozoa and bacteria, but the seals in home water filters is usually not tight enough to prevent some leakage).
Don't Forget Maintenance
Most people forget about maintenance issues. But never forget: replacing your water filter cartridge can be quite a challenge. Don't let the word "cartridge" fool you. The filter is not plug and play like modern computer peripherals. You can't just pull out the old water filter cartridge and plug in the new cartridge. The replacement process can get pretty complicated. Don't believe me? Just take a look at the following excerpt from the manual for the Aquasana AQ4000 filter system.
Two replacement O-rings. If the O-rings are not flat lay them out and see if they will flatten out on their own. This may take over night. If this does not work, put a book on them over night. The reason is if the O-rings are bowed from shipping, it makes them harder to make a good seal.
Bet you the salesman never told you about the importance of making sure your filters are flat before installing them.
... You can see on the filter caps are labeled A and B. Also arrows that indicate which way to turn to loosen each cap. Turn filter cap A to the right ... Filter cap B should unscrew to the left ... They should only be hand tight. If they are too tight to remove by hand ... Be careful not to do any damage to the inlet or outlet water lines.
So one water filter cartridge turns right, while another turns left. At least the Aquasana has arrows pointing the direction to turn. And what's this about damaging the inlet and outlet water lines? Just from replacing the filter cartridges?
Water filter cartridge A will be the most difficult to remove. The seal on the top of the filter holds the cartridge in place. There is not enough room in the filter housing to get a hold of it. I find it easy to use a pair of pliers ... Water filter cartridge B will be attached to the filter cap. Simply twist and pull the two apart. ... keep track of which filter is A and B ... Put a small amount of food grade silicone based lubricant on the exposed area of each O- ring ... The oil lets the caps slide easily on the rubber, which will make them seal easier. Installing them dry may let them kink and dislodge resulting in a leak.
Hmmm... So you need a pair of pliers handy. Somehow, I don't think that old rusty pair in your handyman's toolbox is going to cut it. Not unless you want to contaminate the water filter. And why do we have to keep track of which one is filter A and which one is filter B? And I'm pretty sure not many salesmen will demonstrate the use of the lubricant or tell you about not installing the water filter cartridges dry.
Replacing the water filter cartridge is not always an easy matter. Not all water purification systems will be as complex as this Aquasana model, but there will also be systems which are even more complex. Before you pull out your credit card to pay for your new home water filter system, you may want to do a couple of dry runs on replacing the water filter cartridge to make sure you know what to do.
NB: The above set of quoted instructions were actually rewritten into a more human-friendly format from the original technical gibberish.
So before buying a home water filter and its required water filter cartridges, make sure you think carefully about what you really need. And don't forget that just installing the filter on one tap is usually NOT enough for most homes. You'll have to consider whether or not you need to install water purifiers for the taps in your washrooms ... you know, those taps where you gargle your mouth after you brush your teeth ...
In other words, you MAY be able to afford one RO home water filter, as well as replace the needed water filter cartridges twice a year. But can you afford to do the same for the filters in your other two washrooms? Unless you want to change how your household uses its water, you are well-advised to re-think your budget for getting clean water.
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