The most thorough way to have clean water for your family is using whole house water filtration. These filters are also known as point-of-entry filters. With a whole house filter, your entire house water supply is filtered for chlorine and disinfection byproducts. This means that the water you wash your dishes & bathe with is filtered too.
A whole house filter is going to be most effective for a house on city water due to the presence of chlorine & disinfection byproducts that alter the taste of water but also promote the growth of free radicals in your body.
If you are on a well, whole house filtration is still a good idea for removing sediment & the presence of other chemicals. The primary decision factor for a house on well water is contingent on the test results of your water sample. Whole house filters are also sold with UV filters that have can filter out certain bacteria if it is present in test samples.
Why Whole House Filtration Is Important
You might think that having filtered drinking water is all you need. Clean drinking water is important, but your skin is absorbing chemicals whenever you take a shower, take a bath & wash your hands.
You also inhale the fumes of chlorine and disinfection by-products. This is something overlooked or not even thought about by most people. Especially on municipal water, fumes are being released from every toilet flush, steam vapor from a hot shower or dishwasher, and even clothes in a washing machine absorb chlorine a certain amount of chlorine.
Before your municipal water source sends the potable water down your pipe, it’s chlorine levels need to be below a certain level to be considered safe for drinking. The chlorine & various disinfection by-products are still dissipating when the water comes out of your tap. So whether the water is hot or cold, fumes are released into your house.
What To Do
With 95% of American houses having 2 or more bathrooms, there are more vapors trapped inside the average home than one expects. Having filtered drinking water and a filtered shower heads are great options, but are not the complete solution.
There are two options:
- Ventilate The House
- Open the windows & doors for 5-10 a day
- Install A Whole House Water Filtration System
The question that might come to most people’s minds, besides cost, is how difficult is the installation process. Below is a brief video that shows installing a whole house system on a municipal water supply.
So installing the filter might not be as daunting as initially expected. Of course a local plumber can also install these filters.
What System Is Best
There are two different whole house system that can be used. They are carbon filtration & reverse osmosis.
Carbon filters last from 300,000 to 1,000,000 gallons or approximately 5 years. The sediment filter needs to ideally be replaced ever 6-9 months.
Filtration is a 3-step process:
- Step 1– Sediment dirt, rust, and sediment is removed to the size of 5 microns (20 times smaller than size of human hair).
- Step 2– KDF-55 copper-zinc oxidation removes chlorine & helps treat the water to be “spring water quality” so you don’t necessarily need a water softener.
- Step 3– Activated Carbon Filter that removes or reduces more chlorine and other chemicals (herbicides, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, etc.) in the water. These carbon filters are typically not certified to remove fluoride but are shown to reduce its presence.
Initial Cost Range : $700-$1700
Replacement Filter Cost: $9-$20 For Sediment Filters & $200-$700 for Carbon Filter [Cost varies if you need to replace filter or entire tank]
Pros of Carbon Filtration:
- Doesn’t waste water or require electricity (like reverse osmosis)
- Easy Installation
- No drain required for waste water
- Conditions water similar to spring water quality, so you probably will not need a softener.
Cons of Carbon Filtration:
- Not certified to remove fluoride (although naturally occurring, this is still added a majority of municipal water systems)
- Can only remove up to 98% of chlorine, chloroform, and disinfectant by-products
If you want a filter that will get rid of basically everything reverse osmosis (RO) is your choice. RO filters are very effective for municipal sources but are also recommended for well water systems if you have the following conditions: Brackish water, arsenic, nitrates, and sulfates to name a few.
RO is used for desalination (converting salt water to fresh drinking water) & by several bottled water manufacturers to remove the highest number of contaminants and microorganisms from their water sources.
Before water can undergo the reverse osmosis, it first needs to be pre-filtered by removing sulfur, iron, manganese, and tannins. If you have hard water, then it needs to be softened or have “anti-scalants” added to prevent mineral buildup on the filter membranes.
RO is a more involved filtration process that requires more equipment than a carbon filter system:
- Reverse Osmosis System (What filters the water)
- Atmospheric Storage Tank (Holds the filtered water)
- Re-pressurization pump (pumps water from the tank to you tap)
- UV Light (Removes any final bacteria with ultra-violet light)
RO Systems are sold in various capacities. It is recommended to buy a unit with more capacity than what you need. For example, if you plan on using 500 gallons per day, you should consider a system that filters 1000 gallons per day.
The sediment filter will need to be changed once per year. The membrane filter will last between 3-5 years. The actual RO system will last between 15-20 years depending on the quality of the pre-filtering performed.
The RO filtration system is the most complex but will provide the purest water available. As RO strips approximately 95% of nutrients from water during the filtration process. There are add-ons available that can put nutrients back in the water.
Average Initial Cost: $5,000 to $8,600
Replacement Filter Cost: Sediment Filter ($20-$30), Membrane Filter ($100-$200) & UV Light ($100-$130)
Pros of Reverse Osmosis
- Removes chlorine, fluoride and up to 98% of most chemicals & Total Dissolved Solids
- Best option if you have certain allergies or skin conditions
Cons of Reverse Osmosis
- Most expensive filter unit & highest ongoing cost
- Requires electricity if you have a pump & UV light as part of your system
- Lose water a ratio of 3 “bad” gallons for every “good” potable gallon
- Installation is more complex than carbon filter
- Removes 95% of minerals from water
There are two really good options for whole house filtration. It probably boils down to your budget & what you need filtered from your water. If you want the best, most pure water, RO might be the wisest choice.
If you want the peace of mind that all the water consumed in your house is filtered, a whole house filtration is the best option for you.
For whatever reason, you might only be interested in point-of-use filters for drinking water and bathing. These are excellent filters to have as well. Any filter is better than no filter.
Do you have whole house filtration? Are you interested in whole house filtration? Please drop a comment or send an email to email@example.com
If you are confused by all the various drinking water terms & want an easy reference, please visit our Glossary page.