Home Water Filter - Tips and Guidelines to Select the Best Home Water Filters For Your Situation
Are you looking to buy a home water filter? Why? Is it because some Amway distributor spouted his spiel at you about how your drinking water isn't safe? How the sediment in the water is proof that there is contamination in the water pipes? That the chlorine used to disinfect your water supply causes cancer? And then he'll give you a demonstration - he'll pour water with some form of dye in it to show you how well his company's home water filter works. He'll even open up part of the water filtration system to show you the carbon filter cartridge which does the actual filtering, and the UV light system which he claims will kill any residual bacteria and micro-organisms. And he'll offer to show you the unit he has installed in his own home.
When well-executed, this sales spiel can be very persuasive, so persuasive that most direct sales companies train their distributors to use something similar. And any halfway decent salesman in a home appliance store will also use the same lines and do a similar demo to try to get you to buy his home water filter system.
The problem is that many people do not need home water filters at all. And those who do, probably do not need anything fancy. In fact, if you are staying in an urban environment in a First World industrial nation, you probably don't need home water filtration. At least not for your drinking water. And if you live in a poor part of town, in some out of the way boondocks away from civilization, or in some hard up Third World developing nation, you probably either can't afford to buy a home water filter or your plumbing and water pressure can't support home water filtration systems.
But what if you still want a home water filter? Or still think you need home water filtration? If this is the case, you need to figure out WHY ... otherwise you may get a model which won't meet your requirements. The following is a list of valid reasons why you may want to get home water filters.
You want to get rid of the brown sludge coming out of your taps
Well, you probably don't have actual sludge pouring from your water pipes, but most people don't like to see yellow or brown colored water coming out of their taps anyway. The simplest and cheapest thing you can try is to tie one, two or three layers of muslin cloth to the mouth of your tap. For quite a few people, this is all that's needed to get clean water from their taps. It looks ugly, but it's unbelievably cheap compared to buying and maintaining a classy home water filter.
Of course, not everyone can be so lucky. If muslin doesn't work for you, you may need to actually buy a home water filter. There are actually several good cheap selections. You should just collect a large container of your tap water to the shop and ask to test their different brands of sediment water filters. There are only 3 types you need to think about - those with water filter cartridges made from pleated polyester, cellulose fibre or porous ceramic materials. Carbon water filters are usually much more expensive, and not necessary if all you want to do is to get rid of sediment in your water supply.
Just buy the model which gives you clear, clean water. Just keep one thing in mind - the smaller the rating of the water filter cartridge, the more effective it is at removing sediment, but the slower it works. Getting the home water filter with a 0.5 micron rating will give you very clean water, but it only gives you less than 5 litres (about 1 gallon) of water per minute. A 5 micron filter gives you 10 litres (2 gallons) of water a minute, while home water filters with 25 micron cartridges give you 20 litres a minute (about 4 gallons of water per minute). So you should only buy home water filtration units with the rating you need. Any finer and it will slow down your water flow unnecessarily.
You want to get rid of chlorine in your water
Frankly, you shouldn't get rid of chlorine in your drinking water. It serves a valuable purpose in killing and suppressing germs and other microorganism. Only boiling your water does a better job at killing microorganisms. That said, leaving your water exposed to air or boiling your water does a good job of getting rid of the chlorine smell in water. Boiling is better since it kills germs, while leaving your water to stand will expose it to contamination from air-borne bacteria and virii (plural of virus) which spread in the air.
Of course, a home water filter with carbon water filter cartridges will also do the trick, although I really don't see the point. Why pay money to increase your chances of getting sick? After all, no one has died from drinking chlorinated water, while many more have died from drinking water contaminated by bacteria, protozoa or other microorganisms. Many, many more people die from heart disease (due to too much fat in their diet), colon cancer (due to not enough fiber in their diet), lung cancer (due to cigarette smoke), skin cancer (too much exposure to the sun), liver cirrhosis (too much alcohol), car accidents, violent crime, etc. Why worry about the unlikely possibilities when you are more likely to die from some other reason?
You want to get rid of microorganisms in your water supply
Duh! See the section on chlorine above. If you live in a modern country, your water is chlorinated to get rid of nasty microorganisms. If you live in a Third World country which doesn't chlorinate its water, your water pressure is probably too low to use home water filters anyway. That said, boiling your water is the best way to get rid of germs.
If you want to filter out germs using a water purifier, you'll need something with a better than 0.1 micron rating. Your water pressure will need to be pretty high if you want a decent water flow.
Don't listen to the salesman when he says that the home water filter he sells has a UV lamp which will kill bacteria and other microorganisms. It is NOT true. Let me repeat: it is NOT true. UV doesn't kill germs. What does it really do? It deactivates the genes which allow many microorganisms to reproduce. Unfortunately, this effect fades with time. So if you do not drink the water immediately, the bacteria, protozoa and other nasty stuff will start reproducing again. I will say this: it is easier and cheaper to boil your water. If you want convenience, get an "airpot" which keeps your water near boiling point all day long.
You want to get rid of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in your water supply
Ummm ... that's a pretty serious accusation. Of course, if it's just a precautionary measure, then that's fine. For example, if you live in a farming community and you know that your water is coming from an underground artesian well that may become contaminated, then a home water filter might be a good precautionary measure. Unfortunately, the only home water filters that work on fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are reverse osmosis systems. They are not only the most expensive to buy, their water filter cartridges are the most expensive to replace, and they are the most expensive to operate (only 5% to 15% efficiency means that you waste up to 95 gallons of water for every gallon of clean water produced.) They are also the slowest of all the home water filters.
Carbon water filtration systems are cheaper (compared to RO anyway), but is only good at getting rid of the pesticides and herbicides, which are organic compounds. They are not good at getting rid of the nitrates/nitrites common in modern fertilizers. Sediment water filters only get rid of sedimentation, dirt, rust, etc. and are nowhere in the picture.
You want to get rid of metal contaminants in your water supply
If you live in a mining area, or there is a smelter nearby, or oil and gas drilling takes place nearby, it may make sense to install a home water filter as a precaution. Just in case an accident happens and your water supply becomes contaminated by heavy metals like mercury (common in smelting operations), etc.
In this case, you will need to get an RO (reverse osmosis) water filter. They are expensive, and they are slow, but no other water filter can get rid of inorganic chemicals. Unfortunately.
This case is a bit different from just getting rid of fertilizers and organic poisons in water. There is a strong possibility of metallic (or other solid) particles suspended in the water, so you'll want to get a multi-stage water filter. The first stage should be a sediment filter, which then feeds into the RO filter. Having a carbon water filter cartridge between the sediment pre-filter and the reverse osmosis filter can't hurt any, and can only lengthen the lifespan and reduce the cost of operating the entire water filtration system.
You want to get rid of that weird, nasty smell/taste in your water supply
If your water looks clear, and it really, really is NOT your imagination ... it is probably not a sedimentation problem, so a cheap sediment home water filter probably won't help you.
Have you tried letting the water stand in the air, or boiling the water? Does this get rid of the smell? If that's all it takes to solve your problem, then you don't need to spend money unnecessarily on a home water filter. Isn't that good?
You may want to ask around your neighborhood. If many other homes in your area suffer the same problem, you may want to kick the ball to your municipal council or local public utilities board for further (urgent) action. In the meantime, take a big container of your tap water to the nearest shop selling home water filters, and pour your water through their carbon and reverse osmosis water purifiers. Buy the cheapest one that works for you (if you are lucky, the cheaper carbon filters might do the trick) and don't take any lip from the salesman.
Consider your budget
Home water filters not only cost money to buy, replacing their water filter cartridges also costs money, and since they are not 100% efficient, your water bill will also increase. Reverse osmosis water filtration is the most expensive and least efficient (though the most powerful), while a coarse 50 micron sediment filter is relatively cheap and efficient by comparison.
If you live alone, get your drinking water from the kitchen sink tap and also brush your teeth and gargle your mouth from that same tap, then you could probably get away with a single point-of-use home water filter. You could probably find a good deal at your nearest Walmart or other large home appliance store. But if you have a large family, you may want to consider a so-called whole house unit. These are large water purification systems, and need professional installation. They basically connect to your water mains, filter the water then send it to the taps in your home. I don't think you can find large water filters like these in Walmart, although a large plumbing or home appliance store may be able to supply you with one. If not, you will need to search around the internet. A good system of this kind should recycle the run-off. For example, in an RO water filter with 5% efficiency, you normally get 5 gallons of clean water but waste another 95 gallons. A good water filtration system should recycle this 95 gallons, and help to manage your overall water bill.
Most people do not need or cannot use a home water filter system. However, for those who have valid reasons for getting home water filters, the seven main factors to consider when choosing your water filters were covered above. Don't just buy the most expensive system, or buy just because your friend or relative in Amway (or any other direct selling company) recommends it. Buy the one that actually suits your needs, whether that is just something minor like getting rid of sediment, or something as important as protecting your family from poisons and heavy metals. Make sure you can live with the reduced water flow, otherwise you may be better off getting a supply of bottled water.
Handy Checklist for Selecting Your Home Water Filter
Type of Home Water Filter
Get rid of the brown sludge coming out of your taps
Sediment water filtration
Get rid of chlorine in your water
Pointless, but a carbon water filter will work
Get rid of microorganisms in your water supply
Buy a kettle and boil your water, or buy an "airpot"
Get rid of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides in your water supply
Reverse osmosis water filter
Get rid of metal contaminants in your water supply
Multi-stage filter, with both sediment and RO water filter cartridges
Get rid of that weird, nasty smell/taste in your water supply
RO water filtration
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