A complete purchase guide for the whole house water purifier
Whether you pump your water from a well or rely on the local Municipal supplier, the water you are using is not 100% pure. With this comes the risk of water-borne diseases amongst other health complications.
Water purifiers have been around for a while, but most of the population has chosen to gladly ignore them. Either that or we have not taken the time to really understand why they are such a necessity.
In case you are part of this ‘population’, here’s a wakeup call for you. You need a water purifier and you need it quick. Most preferably? A whole house purifier to sort out your filtration needs on one go.
Why is it a necessity?
A whole house unit is connected to the main inlet pipe on the supply line, as water comes in from source. The point-of-entry arrangement ensures that water used anywhere in the house is decontaminated beforehand, be it for drinking, washing or taking those warm baths we all like so much. Here are 7 reasons why you should own one:
It’s not what it looks like
According to a study done by the Environmental Water Group, an estimated 85% of the American population used water that contained at least 300 contaminants.
Water purifiers filter out these contaminants that our naked eyes can’t see. Looks can be deceiving, as is the case with that crisp water flowing from your tap. You probably think “This water can’t possibly contain a single germ” because of how clean it appears, but you are wrong.
Water picks up many contaminants in the pipelines through which it flows. It is a long journey laced with traces of bacteria, lead, mercury and pesticides among contaminants. The Municipal water supplies may do their best in disinfecting this water but it does not guarantee full safety.
Boiling is not enough
This may come as a surprise to many but it is nothing short of the truth. For drinking water, we have often been told that all you got to do is boil it beyond 1000 C. This is not the silver bullet we’ve always thought it to be.
For germs to be completely eliminated, it takes a boiling period of 20- 30 minutes. Despite this, there may be other chemicals in the water that won’t succumb to the heat. On top of that, chances of boiled water being recontaminated are extremely high. A whole house water purifier is a safer bet if you want to be assured of not just safe but healthy water.
Keeps the bacteria, and the doctor away!
Some of the common water-borne diseases that are a result of drinking harmful water include cholera, diarrhea, typhoid fever to name but a few. These are treatable but have devastating effects in the event that medication is not provided immediately.
Lowers risk of Cancer
There is a large number of water pollutants that make way to our water supplies from car exhaust fumes to farm pesticides, plastic and industrial waste… These pollutants increase toxins in the body, making it susceptible to various forms of cancer.
When you consume the carcinogenic contaminants in water for prolonged periods, the effects on your body can be lethal. Studies have shown that there is a higher cancer risk among people who drink chlorinated water than those who do not use chlorinated water at all.
By using a whole house purifier, you are protecting the body from falling prey to colon cancer, bladder cancer as well as rectal cancer caused by the effects of chlorine and its by-products.
Improves smell and flavor
Nothing is as upsetting as drinking water that has a funny taste or strange smell! Metallic contaminants such as copper and lead have the habit of giving water that unpleasant taste. Whole house water filters can fix this problem, giving it that ‘natural’ taste you want.
Is Environmentally Sustainable
A water purifier makes for a more sustainable solution environmentally. It eliminates the plastic pileup that comes with buying bottled water while giving you clean water at the same time.
Helps you cut costs
Treating cancer or any other illnesses caused by consuming dirty water is definitely more expensive compared to investing in a whole house purifier.
You may resort to bottled water but this too is expensive in the long run. The cost of buying bottled water is likely to leave a larger dent in your expense. Acquiring a water purifier, however, is a sacrifice you only make once.
Another cost-saving aspect of water purifiers is that they prevent mineral buildup which clogs up pipes, damaging them in the end. Since all these pollutants are eliminated before water flows in, your drainage system is well taken care of for every day that your whole house unit is at work. Fewer replacements, more cash saved!
How to choose the best whole house water filter- the ultimate buying guide
Before we delve into the details of how to pick the best filter, let us first familiarize ourselves with the various types of whole house water filters out there.
Types of whole house water purifiers
The two major categories are:
- Carbon filter models
- Replaceable cartridge models.
Carbon filters use either activated carbon or carbon block resins to remove particles. An example of the carbon model water purifier is the Aquasana Rhino tank which is more long-lasting and can go up to 10 years still sturdy.
The replaceable cartridge models are an assembly of different types of filters ranging from metallic alloy filters, ceramic filters as well as reverse osmosis membrane filters. Because of the different properties of the material used in making these filters, they complement each other excellently in purifying water that’s highly contaminated. An example is the iSpring WGB32 whole house filter that requires that its cartridges changed after every 6-12 months a year. Cartridge models are significantly more expensive to maintain.
Another comparison is that the carbon filter models are quite rigid in functionality as they are most effective with chlorine but may fail to eliminate fluoride amongst other contaminants. The cartridge models are more ‘flexible’ in this regard as you can customize your filters to suit the contaminants you need to eliminate.
Factors to consider before buying a whole house water filter
Now that we are all good on the two filter types to expect, let’s move on to the next hurdle. There are still too many brands of the same in the market to pick from! It can be a daunting task- confusing, to say the least for you to pick a brand model that will be perfect JUST for you. But that’s why we are here…
Tip Number I: Know thy water
Think of this as a diagnosis to find out what ails your water before recommending a dose of antibiotics.
You may request a copy of your area’s water quality report from the local water utility department. In the case that is not available, send a sample to any local lab and explain that you want to know the individual chemical proportions in the water. If you feel confident about your chemistry, you can save yourself the hassle and get a home test kit. Run the tests yourself and look up for more information on the internet concerning your findings!
Once you have figured out which contaminants are present in high amounts, now you are ready to explore and identify the type of filters that would best help eliminate them.
If you identify a particular pollutant as being most persistent, the replaceable cartridge model is ideal in this case as it allows you to choose the type of filter to buy e.g metallic alloy filter for high quantities of lead. The carbon filter will reap you more benefits in treating water from the municipal. The water is usually not that contaminated except for the usual chlorine, chemicals from pesticides or phenols and sediments.
If your test results show unique components like arsenic, then you might have to consider distillation. This is a completely different type of purification system. Reverse osmosis purifiers also make for dynamic additions to your whole house unit.
You can always find out more by employing the knowledge of your local certified lab technicians or reading annual reports touching on the subject (Provided by the Environmental Protection Agency)
Tip Number II: How much water do I use?
Once you know what your water contains and have a list of filters that will work best to fix that, now you have to consider the size of the unit. This solely depends on the amount of water you want to filter every day.
If your household uses lots of water, a cheap filter may not be the best take-home. This is because the poor filter will be overworked within a short period and if it is the cartridge type, you are gonna be making more replacements than you anticipated. On another hand, if you’re living alone or you are a small household, an overly- expensive filter may not make financial sense.
Tip Number III: Slow, moderate or fast?
The flow rate is the amount of water that your filter will produce at any given time. Being clear on tip # 2 above will give you an easy time in knowing whether you will need a filter that pumps 2 gallons per minute or 20 gallons per minute.
The point is to buy a filter whose flow rate will match your consumption level while providing enough water for every outlet in the house. The recommended flow rate is usually anything between 5-25 gallons per minute, depending on how much water is coming in.
Factors to consider when selecting a whole house water filter
At this point, we are all settled on the basics. We are now online or at the store, about to make that big leap and purchase the best whole house unit in town (for ourselves). Here’s a checklist of things to look out for:
- Is it certified?
Before you add that water filter to your shopping cart, remember that there are fraud manufacturers out there that might lure you to buy fake products.
Check to confirm that the unit you are ordering is from a registered manufacturer, most advisably reputable household names. Check for the WQA Gold Seal, which is a mark that the product meets the public health safety standards. Other certifications include those given by the Underwriters Labs as well as the National Sanitation Foundation.
- Micron Rating
A micron is a unit that is equal to a thousandth of a millimeter and in this case, refers to the size of particles in water. Water tests’ results give better insight on the best micron rating that will suit the type of water you want to filter. It is advisable that the purifier you buy can block any particles larger than 0.35 microns. If your water is highly contaminated, you cannot afford to ignore the micron rating.
- Size of Port
A whole house filter is only that effective if it fits right into the main inlet. As a buyer, your main concern as regards this factor is whether the port size matches the main pipe inlet at home and can accommodate the amount of water you expect to pass through. Port size may differ in different states depending on the plumbing codes. This is a matter of rough estimation.
- Size of the unit itself
The larger the filter, the more the water pressure it can sustain. The smaller the filter, the lesser the water pressure and amount of water it can accommodate at any given time. This means that the unit size should match how much water you use daily.
It is also important to consider the space available to fit the unit before bringing it home. According to manufacturers, some clearance space around the filter is in order to facilitate easy installation and subsequent maintenance. We advise you to consult a professional in case you cannot do the installation yourself. They will most likely know the right amount of space to leave as well.
- Budget Vs Lifespan
Depending on the type of filtering system, a house filter may cost anything between $200 to $1000 and above. Besides the cost of purchase, there are long-term cumulative costs that arise mostly from the replacement of cartridges for type 2 purifiers.
Carbon filters hold out for longer since they do not need constant replacement. Something to note, however, is that there may be carbon filters that are cheaper to buy and keep, but whose lifespan is considerably shorter. When you are making that delicate balance between budget and lifespan, keep in mind that ‘cheap is expensive’ in the end.
Installation and Maintenance
Once you have applied the factors above in determining the filter that best matches your interests, you are probably wondering how you are going to set it up. There are experts who might help you with that, say plumbers, but if you are working on a tight budget or you feel like experimenting, DIY is the best way to go!
Here are some guidelines to see you through :
Watch the video below…
- Start by reading the user manual. Even if you have witnessed someone else do it, the model was probably different or they were more experienced-but you are not. Understand all the parts of the filter i.e what goes where
- Drain the entire system by opening one faucet. The water supply should be off as well.
- As instructed in the manual, cut the main inlet pipe using a pipe cutter. Remember to leave some clearance area under the filter tank(do not place it in direct contact with the ground). This will ease its removal whenever you need to move it around
- Use a compression nut to attach fittings where required. Use tape afterward to seal and tighten.
- Place the unit in such a way that water enters and exits correctly. Turn the main supply back on so that the tank fills and the unit starts working. In case they are leaks, tighten the fittings further
In case you have bought a replaceable cartridge model that allows you to change filters, then you need to know how to go about this as well:
- Ensure that the water inlet to the filter tank is turned off.
- Use a wrench to unscrew the fittings of the particular filter you want to change. Alert: You might want to have a container near for any excess water. Put your filter away.
- Replace with a new filter and tighten the fittings like you did during installation(you are technically installing a new filter)
- To confirm that there are no leaks, turn the water inlet on and check for leaks. If any, tighten further.
Customers who bought a whole house water filter were most grateful for the fact it is a one-stop solution. A whole house unit is a faithful friend, purifying your water every day of the week, throughout the year.
Remember that it does not remove all manner of contaminants that exist on the earth’s surface. In case your water has more chemicals than the common contaminants eliminated using this filter, it is best to supplement it with another mode of purification, such as distillation. It may also mean indulging your municipal water supplier to see whether they need to replace some of their pipes.
Some customers have voiced their concerns over the expensive cost of some models. Whole house units may seem like an unnecessary bargain but your family’s health should take priority. Once you consider that, you’ll see that it makes for a worthy investment after all!