In cases where contaminated tap water is a concern, in-home filtration systems can reduce concentrations of specific contaminants, depending on the filter type.
There is a wide range of filters on the market that use a variety of filtration mechanisms and range from $12 to over $600. Some filters require frequent filter replacement, which can increase the total cost.
While expensive water systems like reverse osmosis systems provide broad protection against several potentially harmful contaminants, cheaper alternatives can still remove commonly occurring contaminants, such as chlorine, copper, cadmium, and mercury, from tap water.
Identifying which contaminants affect your drinking water will allow for adequate protection.
WHICH FILTER IS BEST FOR YOU?
Click the button below, or find your water source at the Environmental Working Group's Tap Water Database.
TYPES OF FILTRATION SYSTEMS
There are two areas in the home that in-home filters can be placed: at the point-of-entry (POE), where the water flows into the house, and at the point-of-use (POU), where the water flows out of the faucet.
- Pitcher filters are perhaps the cheapest of the water filters. They filter water with a purifying sediment into a drinkable pitcher. Pitcher filters cannot turn out large quantities of water but can hold up to a few gallons at a time.
- Faucet filters are attached to a faucet and reduce contaminants as the water passes through the filter. This filter can process vast amounts of water, but must be connected at the nozzle and might not work with all faucets. This filter may also reduce the speed of water flow from your tap.
- Faucet integrated filtration systems are built into the faucet. These systems typically let you change from tap water to filter water.
- Below-sink filters are modified to take in large quantities of water much in the same way as faucet filters. This filter can turn out large quantities of water but takes up a lot of space underneath the sink.
- Refrigerator filtration modifications ensure that tap water can be converted to a purer level. Refrigerator modifications and filters also need to be replaced frequently to maintain water purity.
House-wide filtration systems are designed to distribute potable water throughout the household. This system is excellent for hard water and volatile organic compounds. Since it affects the plumbing, house-wide water filters are the most expensive filtering option.
It is important to understand that filters that regulate against chlorine might lead to germ growth within the pipes as this chemical is commonly used to control such outbreaks.
When the measure of the amount of dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, in the water is high. These high levels can potentially change the color, taste or smell of the water coming from a tap.
It is important to note that not all filters protect you from the same thing as they are all designed to have a different function. No filter removes all contaminants but understanding which contaminants your water source is at risk of being exposed to is crucial in choosing the appropriate filter.
- Pore filters have small microbial holes that swift out microscopic substances as water passes through the filtration component, much like how your window screen allows fresh air to enter your household while keeping out insects. Larger contamination particles become obstructed by the small microbial holes thus allowing for cleaner water to be filtered through the pore filtration material.
- Charcoal filters are typically comprised of a hollow core cylindrical block of bonded, activated charcoal. Water flows through the perimeter of the charcoal filter and into the center core through which it flows to the user. Usually, a porous plastic sleeve is located in the core to keep the charcoal from flaking off into the water.
- Ceramic filters use silver and small microbial holes within the surface to stop contaminants and bacteria from getting in.
- Carbon activated filters use water drawn from a source which is then pumped into two compression containers. The carbon inactivates some of the bacteria in the water.
- Reverse Osmosis filters remove nitrates, sodium, other dissolved inorganics, and organic compounds. They may also reduce the level of some pesticides, dioxins, chloroform, and petrochemicals found within drinking water.
- A distillation Unit removes nitrates, bacteria, sodium, hardness, dissolved solids, most organic compounds, heavy metals, and radionuclides. It does not remove some volatile organic contaminants, certain pesticides, and volatile solvents, and need constant maintenance against bacteria.
Water filtration differs between filter types. Some contaminants may be processed mechanically, and some may be screened through a pore filtration system.
The frequency at which filters need replacement depends on the method of filtration and the amount of debris within the water before the filtration process.
Due to these varying complexities, follow manufacturer recommendation for filter replacement carefully. If you are to change your filtration technology or buy a newer model of your filtration system, it is equally important to take the time to read and follow the new filter service cycle carefully.
Often drinks that are heated to certain temperatures, such as pasteurized drinks or hot tea, can kill bacteria and other organic compounds; however, this does not completely rid your drink of harmful contaminants.
Filters are often used to degrade and halt non-organic contaminants from entering your water in the first place.