The quality of the average home’s drinking water can be suspect, and there seem to be an ever growing number of boil water advisories or contamination alerts. As we learn more about the effects of chlorine and other contaminants, it’s easy to see why more people are looking at getting household water filters. From jugs that go in the fridge, to under-sink units and indoor fountains, what kind of filter system is best for you?
These are a quick and cheap option to help clean up the taste of your drinking water. Obviously, they aren’t much help for larger water use like bathing or laundry. But for a quick drink of cleaner water, this can be a good option for those on a budget or if you have water that is already relatively free of problems.
They operate with a charcoal-based cartridge that removes and neutralizes the chlorine but not much else. You have to remember to keep the jug filled up, and it can take time for the fresh water to filter through the cartridge into the bottom of the canister. Otherwise, it’s handy and won’t involve any plumbing.
Now we’re talking about filters that are fixed to the plumbing system and that filter the water as it runs. It’s a little more convenient this way, instead of filling the jug up every few days. These models usually use a carbon filter as well, but may also include a “mechanical” filter in the form of a fine mesh material to remove solid particles (rust, sediment, some microbes).
Basic plumbing skills are usually enough to install one of these units, and some small ones may attach to the end of the faucet with no tools at all. They are ideal for a kitchen or bathroom where you use a single water source frequently, and it helps filter water used for drinking, cooking and washing hands.
Similar formats for these single point-of-use filters can be found in counter-top models as well.
A whole-house system operates where the water enters your house and will filter water for all purposes. That means all sinks, as well as laundry and showering fixtures, will all be providing cleaner filtered water. This where you can get the more sophisticated forms of filtering, along with the charcoal features. Ultra-violet lights and reverse osmosis are 2 popular features that will truly clean a huge range of contaminants from your water supply. They require a larger financial outlay and probably will need a professional plumber to get them properly installed.
Which kind of filter system you choose will depend on your budget as well as the quality of your water. Heavily contaminated water should be treated as a serious health risk, and a robust filter system should be used whenever possible. If you can, have the water tested at a local lab to see exactly what you’re dealing with before you try to make a decision.
If you can’t afford a whole-house system, try to go for the best under-sink or counter-top unit you can. At least then you can be sure to have clean drinking water at your fingertips.