How to choose your home water filter?
These days, it can be very confusing to make an informed decision with the excessive information present on the internet. I understand how you feel because I have been in your position. There is no need to panic because I have taken the liberty to research this topic and provide you with a complete guide on choosing your water filter system.
I promise to provide you with accurate and enriching information. If there is any inaccurate information, please let me know by either leaving me a message at the comment box below and if there is any question or products you will like me to review, leave it at the comment below.
Lastly, this post might contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
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Let’s get started.
Before you purchase any home water filter, there is specific fundamental knowledge you need to have to be successful.
When Choosing Your Home Water Filters or other Water Treatment Systems, here are the critical step you need to follow and the things you need to purchase the RIGHT type. A point of caution, you must follow these steps because this is not a “One type fit all” kind of thing except you have so much money to waste.
Step 1: Know your water source
Your water filtering needs to depend on:
1. your water supply QUALITY
your PERSONAL PREFERENCES when it comes to taste and odor, and
any particular health circumstances in your household.
If your drinking water source comes from a private well, there is no need to panic; it is not the end of the world. There are various ways you can still prevent yourself and your family from been exposed to contamination.
All private well water, you should have your water tested by a state-certified lab External at least once every year.
To get your water testing done, you might need to hire someone well qualified. During testing, ensure the person check for coliform bacteria, nitrates, total dissolved solids, pH levels, and other contaminants common in your area.
Also, please contact your local health office for information on contaminants in your area and for suggestions on water tests you should request.
You should get your water tested if someone in your household becomes pregnant or if a child joins your family.
Additionally, if you notice any changes in the taste, color, or odor, you should consider testing your water. Doing regular testing at a certified lab can provide you with information on levels of different contaminants in your water.
What will you do if you find out that your water has above the recommended contaminant level?
One thing to understand is that your home drinking water is not 100% contaminant free. There is a level that is safe for human consumption.
If there are any contaminants found in your water surpass the recommended levels, then you can decide to pick a filter that will reduce those contaminants. Make sure the filter is NSF certified. Don’t worry, more information on NSF below.
Drinking water source from a public system
Water from a public system? If your answer is yes, you will get a report on your water annually. The U.S. Environmental Protection Act (EPA) requires all Public Water Systems to send a report (Consumer Confidence Report) to consumers about the quality of drinking water and contaminant levels, to people whose water comes from public sources. This report (CCR) is sent every calendar year by July 1 as part of your water bill.
Approximately 17% of U.S. households get their drinking water from private wells. For more information, you can check my post on if your home drinking water is safe. These wells can become contaminated by pollutant pathogenic microbes (organisms) or radiation/chemicals, causing you to become sick. Although the US EPA and all states offer guidance for testing, construction, and maintenance of private wells, there is little regulation.
Step 2: Consider your lifestyle, budget, and how the filter fits your home.
Although, some of these home filters can be very expensive, or you might think that it is above your budget, or even overlooked things. Still, the benefits of obtaining certain types that are NSF certified, affordable, and easy to install might outweigh the risk of not having any.
There are different variations of filters available to consumers. First, determine whether you need a water filter system at all. As I mentioned above, choose which type is most suitable for you, which depends on what functions you want a filter to provide.
Note that If you choose No filter eliminates all contaminants, so understanding what water filters do and do not is essential. Now let’s look at the functions of filters.
What does the filter remove?
To answer this question, you need to read the label to see if it is NSF certified. If it is, you can search NSF’s database External to learn more about what a particular model is certified to protect you against contaminants. Don’t worry, please see the links are in the sources below.
Please check the labels on water filters, which typically tell you the reduced contaminants, which can guide your choice.
Please be sure to read labels carefully yourself and verify the manufacturer’s claims with an independent source, especially if you are shopping online. Even for in-store shopping, not all sales representatives will be familiar with your needs.
Please keep in mind that most brands include several different kinds of filters. If you are going to check out various reviews, my suggestion is that check more than one. Ensure that the product is NSF certified. Many review websites and salespeople might be able to help you make a proper choice, but remember that they are there mostly to sell a specific brand.
Please do me a solid, check the labels, and read the claims and fine print on water filter packaging yourself.
Caution: Don’t assume that if the filter removes one contaminant, it also eliminates the other pollutants. Most times, filters that remove chemicals do not effectively remove microorganisms (germs), and vice versa.
Some water treatment devices remove chemicals with reverse osmosis, ion exchange, distillation systems, and might also eliminate fluoride, which you especially children need for healthy teeth and gum. But don’t worry, get a supplement.
Children might need a supplement if the fluoride level for children is 0.6 parts per million. Please check with your child’s pediatrician or dentist for specific recommendations.
How much does the filter system cost?
The prices vary widely with different filtration systems, from under $20 for simple filtration systems to hundreds of dollars for complex filtration systems( might require professional installation).
You might want to consider other costs (maintenance, replacement filter) involved outside procurement and system installation costs. You are also going to need to maintain the system regularly if you want it to continue to work correctly.
Type of water filter system needed
Just note that some filter works fast while others slow to filter your water. The kind of filter system that you will frequently encounter in people’s homes and stores includes the following:
water filter pitcher
end-of-tap or faucet-mounted filters
faucet-integrated (built-in) filters
on-counter filters, under-sink filters
whole-house treatment units.
There is the one with No filters or treatment systems. They are 100% effective in removing all contaminants from water. Before making any decision, you need to know what you want your filter to do before shopping. Please see Steps.
I can’t stress this enough; not all filters of a particular type use the same technology, so you should carefully read the label. Now let’s look at the various kind in terms of their pros and cons.
Water filter pitcher. It has built-in filter water must go through before ready for drinking, and you filled from the top.
Advantages include: easy to use, inexpensive, and required no installation. While model and pore size varies the disadvantages, filters must be changed regularly, slow filtering
Most have a built-in filter that supplies water through the door and supplies an automatic icemaker.
Pros: Easy to use, come with several refrigerators, often enhance water taste, and filter water used for making ice.
Cons: Filters must be changed regularly
can be attached to a standard faucet and
can be turned off and on between unfiltered and filtered flow of water.
Benefits: Can easily switch between unfiltered and filtered water, relatively inexpensive
Cons: May slow water flows and does not work with all facets.
Faucet-integrated (built-in) or On-top counter filter system
Faucet-integrated filters are faucets innovated with built-in filters (instead of an attached water filter, like a faucet-mounted system).
They need installation.
Pros: Can easily alternate between unfiltered and filtered water.
Cons: Usually pricey, installation is required.
Underneath-sink filter system
Under-sink filters are installed underneath a sink and distribute water via a pipe system to the specially installed faucet with filters.
Benefits: A large amount of water can be filtered, and less space occupy
The downside is that it is usually expensive and may also need alterations to the housing pipe system.
Whole-house water treatment
It treats all water entering the house, not just the water used for drinking.
Benefits: Can be used for all water entering your home, suitable for volatile organic compounds (VOCs)and hard water
Downside: Expensive, may require alteration to the piping system and may require professional maintenance. So, filtering that removes chlorine might increase the growth of germs in all the pipes in your house.
This table from the CDC website shows some benefits and limitations of a few popular home water treatment technologies.
It does not include all filter types, including many of those that might eliminate germs through simple pore size filtration.
For this filtration system or filters, please see my Tap Water Safety post.
Step 3: How to Maintain your filters
It is vital to follow all manufacturers’ instructions for proper maintenance. Any filter that adequate support is lacking can do more harm than good. Every screen needs replacement regularly to keep your drinking water healthy.
Water softeners need to be flushed or regenerated on a regular schedule.
Proper maintenance is even more critical for immune-compromised folks.
Filters collect germs from water; at the same time, immunocompetent people should change the filter cartridges. Anybody changing the cartridges should wear gloves and wash hands afterward.
There are a countless number of recommendations out there about Reverse Osmosis Systems. So I decided to include a detailed review of what it is. There is no point for me to do a review on an individual brand, which I will explain why soon.
Reverse Osmosis Systems (your complete guide)
Usually, osmosis is when water moves from a solution with less solute +more water (more diluted) to where there are more solute particles +less water via a semi-permeable membrane.
Reverse Osmosis Systems (ROS) use a process that reverses the flow of water in a natural process of osmosis. That way, water passes from a more concentrated solution to a more dilute solution through a semi-permeable membrane.
Before- and after-filters often incorporated along with the reverse osmosis membrane itself.
A reverse osmosis filter has a pore size of approximately 0.0001 microns.
Reverse Osmosis Systems have very high effectiveness in removing protozoa (for example, Cryptosporidium, Giardia);
Reverse Osmosis Systems have very high effectiveness in removing bacteria (Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, Shigella);
Reverse Osmosis Systems have very high effectiveness in removing viruses (for example, Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus);
Reverse Osmosis Systems will remove common chemical contaminants (metal ions, aqueous salts), including lead, chromium, sodium, chloride, and copper. ROS may decrease arsenic, radium, and calcium fluoride, phosphorous, sulfate, magnesium, potassium, and nitrate.
What are NSF ratings?
NSF International External is an independent institutional body that establishes standards for any public health product.
To know the type of functions performs by any water filter, you have to look on the label for an NSF certification. Just like this one to your right.
You can look up specific products in the NSF Database External online to see what they are certified to protect against contamination.
Some of the NSF standards applicable to water treatments are:
1. Standard 58 for reverse osmosis.
2. Standard 41 for taste and odor.
3. Standard 62 for distillation.
4. Standard 53 for cyst reduction.
I took the liberty to look at the various ROS sold at Amazon. Among all the reverse osmosis system products in Amazon, only the Express Water with Model: RO5DX has an NSF symbol (not too expensive), Waterdrop R.O. Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Filtration System (very expensive), and a few others, are NSF Certified.
Please ensure whatever seller you choose; the product has the NSF, or you can use the link at the end of this post to check before purchase.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/home-water-treatment/water-filters.html
NSF Certified (CDC). Retrieved from
NSF database http://info.nsf.org/Certified/DWTU/