How to Choose the Best Water Filters for Your House
Easy Water Filter Guide - Single Filer to Whole House
There has been a lot of press in the past year about how bottled water is often nothing more than local municipal tap water that has been filtered and processed. If that's the case why not just drink tap water or better yet filter your own? While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates bottled water (Not very effectively actually), it’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that regulates tap water. Visit the EPA Safe Water Site for specific drinking water safety information.
There are arguments for one being better than the other. Frankly, I don’t care who regulates what, I only care about the water I drink each day. And I choose not to drink Fluoride or Chlorine whenever possible. I’m not interested in the arguments for or against; I am simply interested in the cleanest, purest, water I can find. How about you?
Do You Need to Worry About the Safety of Your Drinking Water?
Maybe, it really depends on where you live and your source of drinking water. There was a recent story that hit national news stations about Unsafe Toxins found in Drinking Water at 1,000’s of Schools in the United States. I read another study that proclaimed using extra water filters can reduce the number of stomach illnesses in the elderly, even though drinking water meets all EPA Standards. A Story in the New York Times reported that 10 percent of Americans “have been exposed to drinking water that contains dangerous chemicals or fails to meet a federal health benchmark in other ways” The EPA does NOT guarantee water safety, what they do is regulate the amount of contaminants water can legally contain.
Many contaminants are not regulated by the EPA. In my area The Las Vegas Valley Water District conducts detailed analysis on approximately 30 additional, unregulated contaminants, including percholrate. One more reason to filter your water! The EPA does not require municipal water to filter “everything”. You probably have no idea what unregulated chemicals (e.g. prescription drug residues) pass through your own city drinking water supply? Maybe they are safe, maybe they are not, but if you remove them you don’t have to worry about them.
With this in mind I decided to do some in depth online water quality research on filtration systems. I began by reading company claims for their products, and combined this with what I have learned about water filtration by following the bottled water debate over the past year. I have written about this briefly in other articles. So with this I present to you the Quick and Easy Guide to Selecting Home Water Filters.
What you need to know Before Choosing a Water Filter
- What do you need to remove? If your local municipal water supply does not use fluoride then you don’t need to spend the money on a system to remove it. Makes sense right? If you have a home well you’ll need a different system than if your water comes from a municipal water treatment facility.
- Call your local water utility (Or Search for them online) and ask for a copy of the Annual Water Quality Report. Here is where I found mine: https://www.lvvwd.com/wq/quality_reports.html All I did was a simple search online.
What Kind of Water Filters are Available?
- Particulate Filters – These filters are simple screens that block large particles and are typically used as “prefilters” to protect the filtration equipment.
- Adsorption/Activated Carbon Water Filters – These are the most common filters on the market. They adsorption process removes the particles by causing them to stick to the surface of the carbon material. The most common use is to remove Chlorine, and VOC’s such as pesticides and herbicides. They also remove bad odors and tastes.
- Softeners/Ion Exchange Units – this process “softens” the water by removing hard metals and is typically used in combination with carbon water filters and/or reverse osmosis filters.
- Ultraviolet UV Treatment Filters – Ultraviolet light kills bacterial germs that may be present in water.
- Reverse Osmosis Filtration – Reverse Osmosis is a process where water is forced through a membrane which filters out molecules that are physically larger than the water molecules. Reverse Osmosis filters are effective in removing minerals (Which may not be a good things as our bodies need minerals) but are not very effective with VOC’s or Chlorine.
- Distillation – Water Distillation heats water so it turns into steam which is then collected and returned to it’s water form. Distillation does not remove chlorine or VOC’s.
As you can see there is no one perfect way to remove all the contaminants while leaving intact valuable minerals our bodies need. This is why the most effective water treatment filters are not really filters, but systems of filtration.
What Else is there to Know About Water Filtration Systems?
How much water do you need to filter? Do you want just drinking water or do you want to filter your entire house (Called “Pointe of Entry” systems). Maybe you only need a simple under sink water filter in the kitchen, but not the bathrooms? Many questions only you can answer. Each of course has its own corresponding price tag. And you’ll need to budget for replacement parts, and upkeep over time. If money is not an issue you’ll probably utilize several systems. Finally and as crazy as this may seem after the system is installed its probably a good idea to have your water tested by an independent laboratory to make sure your filtration system is actually working properly.
One final word of advice. In nearly all the literature I read it’s recommended that you should purchase equipment that is certified by an independent agency like Underwriters Laboratories Inc., the National Sanitation Foundation International, or the Water Quality Association.
What Water Filter System Should You Buy?
You probably thought I’d just have an article with a list of water filters to buy, but there would be little point in that, because I can’t tell you what is best for your own needs. All I can do is provide you with some good information so you can now investigate intelligently water filtration systems that work for you.