Including some of the best whole house water filter systems in your plumbing system is something that is far from being a luxury these days, but somehow a priority. While the water crisis in Flint is a reality distant from everyone who doesn’t live in that city, it works as a reminder that disastrous scenarios like that are not impossible to happen in America or any other first world country.
A good whole house water filter system is a great addition to make the water that comes from the street into the water line really receives a rigorous filtering to remove any undesired contaminants that may come with the flow during its journey from a water treatment plant and residential areas.
Check our list of the best whole house water filtering systems available now in the market and also a complete guide on all you need to know about how these systems works and how to purchase the best products.
Best Whole House Water Filter Systems for 2017
Aquasana is a quite versatile manufacturer of whole house water filtering systems since the design of their whole house water filter net is flexible enough to include many different filtering stages in a row. They sell their set of filters in a default pack that includes a sediment pre-filter and post-filter, a copper-zinc filter and an activated carbon filtration stage. They work exactly in this order, (except for the sediment post-filter, of course), so the system cleanse the water firstly from debris, then the water is treated with copper-zinc alloys to remove most microorganism and the activated carbon finished the job removing many heavy chemical compounds. The sediment post-filter though is optional and is recommended by the brand as an extra filtering process for harder water lines.
The two latter stages include filtering tanks that, according to the manufacturer, last up to 10 years! This Aquasana system is considered a heavy duty filtering system as it can filter up to 1mil gallons of water before the replacement of the tanks is required. The pre and post filters though must be replaced every 6 months or so.
You can also additionally purchase extra filtering technologies: a water softener tank, an UV filtering to increase the elimination of microorganism, a reversed osmosis set as well as filter cartridges specific to well water and other different sources. Aquasana keeps their variety of filtering systems quite updated and you have a lot of options to purchase and set at your, making undoubtedly one of the best whole house water filter systems.
The brand Pelican also offers a quite complete set of filtering, but their whole house water filtering system is less flexible as they don’t give that much a choice on matching different filters. That is not bad because the default set comes with a 5-stage system that includes sediment filtration, copper-zinc oxidation filter, activated carbon and the water softener, which makes the difference here as you don’t have to purchase it additionally like the Aquasana model. This is likewise a heavy duty system that filters up to 1mil gallons. The brand though recommends replacing the tanks every 5 years, not 10 like Aquasana, OR, when you reach the 1mil gallons milestone. The prefilters here though are stated to last up to 9 months.
Pelican also has other additional systems like UV filtering and reversed osmosis.
The iSpring system also comprises many options, even though it is the most compact default system of our list, with a 3-stage filtering to remove sediments, the activated carbon filtering and a manganese dioxide filtering cartridge to remove iron. This system is considered a standard whole house water filtering as it filters up to 100k gallons until replacement of filters is required. The “cartridges” here also work like long tanks that can filter with efficiency the water for longer – the bigger the tank, more media cartridges included in the treatment net inside the tank are used to “wash” the water, providing a lot of contact with the contaminant removal surfaces.
One differential for the iSpring system is their reverse osmosis filtering that are quite robust and work even for commercial purposes as they can filter water for a whole facility. They are into included in this pack but they can be acquired and integrated to this default net.
What is a Whole House Water Filter?
As the name suggest, a whole house water filter is a system sturdy enough to filter the incoming water from the water line into your house, so it is a robust system that is capable of treating the water extensively even before it reaches the faucets of the house. There are basically two different types of whole house water filter systems:
Standard whole house filtering, which comprises a reduced capacity set of filters that will be able to filter up to 100k in general before the cartridges need replacement. Depending on the manufacturer, the cartridges may lasts from 3 to 6 months depending on how much water was treated – and how contaminated the water was.
Heavy duty systems includes bigger filter cartridges and the replacement will naturally take longer. These systems often come with a heavy duty carbon filter capacity that may last up to 10 years before you implement a replacement – though the other filters still have an usual reduced lifespan of months to one year. Heavy duty systems can filter millions of gallons.
These systems also differ in terms of how much water they can filter, while the standard is recommended for regular households, the heavy system is dedicated to large amounts of water streamed into a household, like the plumbing system of a manor, hostel and other large residential facilities. They are not though to be confused with industrial filtering system which require a much more comprehensive set of filtering mechanisms and technologies.
All in all, that’s not to say heavy duty systems cannot be implemented in regular houses since the lifespan of the filters is much wider and more interesting for those who are not willing to manage these system that often, but there is a cost for that as the heavy systems as a whole are more expensive, as well as the replacing filters.
How does a whole house water filter system works?
Regardless if it is a heavy duty or standard system, a whole house water filter system works in general with a multiple steps filtering method. Different from “on local” filters, the system is implemented at the root of the water line system so the whole house gets the water treated. The cartridges in each stage of filtering will focus on different kinds of contaminants to be removed. Depending on the manufacturer you may have several different filtering technologies into one product or they may be additional parts to be purchased alone to build a whole system.
Sediment Filter: also known as pre-filters, they are a set of basic filter grids that will work as a barrier to prevent substantial physical objects to get into the water stream, including rocks and dirt.
Carbon Activated System: The most basic whole house water filtering systems are comprised of a 2-stage system where the activated carbon filtering is at the end of the process. The activated carbon cartridge will remove most common chemicals from the water, including chlorine. The carbon here is a versatile chemical that can easily react with chlorine and heavy metals. The result of this chemical reaction clogs on the filter and the water keeps flowing free from it to the faucets of the house for free use. Depending on the capacity of filtering of the cartridge, they can last for a long a while.
Reverse Osmosis System: In addition to the debris filtering and the carbon activated filtering stage, the Reverse Osmosis includes an extra filtering stage based on a thin-film composite (TFC) membrane that will remove many organic and inorganic components from the water like the TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) that includes fluorides, heavy metals like lead, copper and even microorganisms such as parasitic cysts and most bacteria that is immune to chlorine. The previous filtering stages are not just an addition to the reverse osmosis stage as they are necessary to ensure this stage works because the TFC can be degraded by chlorine, so the activated carbon must perform before the TFC to remove first the chlorine. Reverse osmosis often are implemented “on place”, under the kitchen sink, because their main goal is to provide healthy drinking water. However, they can be implemented in strategic locations to provide this filtering for the bathroom water too.
Deionization (DI) System: This is often a final stage of filtering to finish removing remaining TDS particles, the DI system implements a filtering based on ions of Cation and Anion resins, H+ and OH- respectively. These ions remove most remaining particles that often affect the quality of the water color. This kind of 4-stage filtering is more commonly seen in aquariums, doesn’t make much of an impact for a house water system, but still is an extra that it worth to keep these remaining TDS particles from staining white porcelain or ceramic, improving the aesthetic results of bathtubs and sinks over the years.
Water softeners: This kind of filtering is recommend to treat hard water and make it “softer” as the name suggest. Hard water is actually rich on healthy minerals, like calcium and magnesium, but they also are related to a recurrent issue on plumbing systems: the clogging of limescale. Since the amount of these minerals is not significant to be considered essential for a healthy diet, water softeners will these minerals – and other commonly known elements related to limescale clogging – and release the water from clogging particles on the plumbing system. If your water issue is strictly related to clogging, you will just need a softener and nothing else.
Manganese dioxide filters: This kind of filtering deal with soluble iron released on the water stream. The common “orange water” or “water tasting metallic” issues are related to the release of iron on the plumbing system. The dioxide of manganese reacts with iron converting soluble ferrous iron into insoluble ferric iron that is sedimented on these filters and barred from flowing to your faucets. Beware though that, the release of iron can be related many times to iron pipes oxidizing inside the plumbing system, so a whole house filtering won’t help since the issue is coming from the inner net of pipes and not with the water stream from the street.
Bacteriostatic copper-zinc filters: This filtering technology is an important addition to remove many harmful bacteria from the water. Alloys of these elements create the oligodynamic effect, which is highly harmful to bacteria, fungus and algae even on low concentrations. This stage of filtering is often applied before the carbon activated and reverse osmosis stages due to the possibility of releasing soluble copper in the water stream – which is not healthy.
What are the benefits of a using a whole house water filter?
While it may seem obvious that a broad coverage for the whole plumbing system is better than just a basic filter in your kitchen faucet, implementing a whole house water filter system is important to ensure a healthy water consuming rather than just a tasty/clean water. Good quality water is important also for showering/bathing and any other hygiene uses as heavy metals and pathogenic microorganisms can be absorbed by the skin and not just via oral.
The quality of the water that is provided by this kind of system is also superior as there are more stages of filtering, so even if your main concern is the tap water on your kitchen, you get something much safer with this multiple stage system. People that live in zones that are considering suspicious due to nearby industrial activity or any other kind of history on chemical contamination will surely benefit much more from this kind of filtering that just a basic tap water filter. Note that cleaning the water in so many stages also has aesthetic results for your hair and skin. Many allergic episodes characterized by rashes, itching, eye redness and overall skin sensibility can be related to chemicals included in the water, either for treating it or due to contamination.
What the best whole house water filter must have?
This all depends on what you are looking for, depending on what you need for treating the water. The more suspicious or problematic the water is, the more filtering you should get and, the bigger your house, the better should be the life span of the system so you don’t have to replace filter cartridges that often.
Standard Reverse Osmosis systems are indicated for regular households where there are not evident water issues but there is a need to improve taste and overall quality of the water. They will filter up to 10k to 100k gallons of water before the filters need to be replaced. The Heavy Duty Reverse Osmosis systems are indicated for large residential areas and / or households where the water is somehow problematic. The capacity of filtering is quite large and surpasses the 100k rate, lasting for several years until a replacement is required.
Multiple Stages Trickery: You may see many products around sold as 3-stage, 4-stage, even 5-stage whole house water filtering systems, but that doesn’t mean necessarily at all that these systems have the related filtering technologies they were supposed to have. For example, a whole house water filtering system may have 3 or more stages but the filtering cartridges are comprised only of carbon activated filters. This is a deceitful way to fool customers to believe they are actually buying a reverse osmosis system just because you have a set of 3-stage filters. That’s not to say it is impossible to find actual multiple stage filtering systems where each stage in fact performs a distinct and unique kind of filtering, but you have to be REALLY SURE the system is providing the filtering technologies you need and not just numbers.
All Removal Magic Filters: Hardly you will find water filtering systems that can filter all imaginable contaminants in the water, but you will often see fantasy story telling advertising pieces like that. As we have seen, each filtering technology is responsible for certain kinds of contaminants, so pay attention to the filtering technology provided by the product and what the manufacturer is saying it does to match and check the accuracy of the information.
Filter Cartridges Lifespan: Since these water filtering systems have many different stages, each filter cartridge type usually has its own different lifespan and you should pay attention to that so you don’t feel fooled. Usually, carbon activated filters last for years, but reverse osmosis membranes and the debris sediment barrier have a much shorter life span, from few months to one year max. Unfortunately this is how things work, so just be aware that’s what you are going to find before you feel cheated as many advertising pieces will focus, of course, on the long lasting part of the system.