Where Better to Filter Your Water?
The best way to make sure your home water is as safe and pure as possible is to filter your water. When you filter your home water you can have peace of mind in knowing the water you drink and wash with is pure, safe, and as healthy as possible. Filtration reduces contaminants, removes odors to improve taste and the overall quality of your drinking water, and it also protects your appliances.
Since you no longer need to consume better tasting water in plastic bottles, installing home water filtration also helps the environment. And if you’re buying bottled drinking water, it saves you time and money from going to the grocery store and purchasing what is already coming out of your taps.
The question becomes, is it better to filter the entire house or single outlets? Which choice creates the best water filtration system for your home?
The answer depends on:
- What type of filtration system you are using
- How many outlets you have in your home
- Whether you need a water softener in addition to water filtration
Types of Water Filtration Systems
There are basically two kinds of water filtration systems:
- Filters designed to remove certain contaminants, e.g., sediment or minerals, or a multi-purpose home house filter to remove or reduce most kinds of contaminants.
- Reverse-osmosis filtration employs pressure to push water through a membrane to block contaminants. This can also be a whole house system, though only if your water has saltwater intrusion or high levels of silica.
Let’s take a look at each of these.
A filter is some kind of porous material designed to trap material when water passes through it. Different filters are designed to trap different kinds of materials. These filter types include:
- Cartridge filters
- Chemical filter systems
- Backwashing filters
- Sulfur removal systems
- Iron removal filters
- PH neutralization systems
- Sediment filters
- Stainless steel filters (for high-heat and increased pressure)
What type of filter do you need?
It depends on a number of factors.
One major consideration is the number of faucets and the size of your plumbing system. Filters also have different flow rates. The filter has a gallons-per-minute (GPM) rating that corresponds to the average water usage of your home.
Additional considerations include how long filters are likely to last. All other things being equal, most people opt for the filter that lasts the longest and is still effective.
Determining which filters are best for your situation can require some technical knowledge. For example, say you are considering a whole house water filter rated at 50 microns, which is equivalent to a strand of human hair. As good as that sounds, if the sediment in your water supply measures smaller than 50 microns, the filter isn’t going to do you much good.
Chances are you only need one kind of whole house water filtration. For example, if you have discolored water, but no dryness of skin when bathing or showering. Most likely you need a cartridge water filter that captures the sediments causing the discoloration. If your water tastes funny and your skin dries out after a shower, but the water is crystal clear out of the faucet, you probably need a different kind of filtration system – a water softener. (We’ll discuss water softeners more toward the end of this post.)
If you have all of these problems – discolored water plus funny taste and dried out skin – no worries. A system can be easily designed to address these multiple issues.
How do you know what type of filter is best for your needs? It’s always best to consult a professional plumber.
Reverse Osmosis: A Quick Primer
Osmosis is the process of moving a substance, in this case unfiltered water, through a permeable membrane, into another soluble substance, e.g., water. These membranes are typically made from cellulose or, for certain applications, a polymer.
In osmosis, water flows from a more concentrated side, the one with more contaminants, to the less concentrated side. In reverse osmosis, the membrane is put under pressure to block contaminants from the concentrated side from entering the less concentrated side. Purified water, also called permeate, results on one side of the membrane with leftover concentrated water on the other side.
Brine is what we call the leftover water, mainly because reverse osmosis is primarily used to remove salt and silicates, particularly in industrial applications. The brine is regularly flushed from the system. Typically you will flush four gallons of brine for every gallon of clean water produced. However, the brine water isn’t wasted; it’s reused again in the cleaning cycles.
A reverse osmosis system also employs various other filters to remove sediments, just as your typical water filter system would. Filters can aid a reverse osmosis systems to remove a number of dissolved solids in addition to salt and silicates. These include:
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs0
- Herbicides and pesticides
You can also add UV disinfection to remove living organisms, viruses and bacteria that might grow on the membrane itself. However, city water is already microbiologically treated, so this might be a case of literal overkill.
Reverse osmosis systems are commonly installed on a single point of use, such as a kitchen or bathroom sink, or even a refrigerator that dispenses drinking water and ice. Whole-house solutions typically do not use reverse osmosis systems as it doesn’t make sense from both a practical and cost standpoint.
Unless you have significant salt and silicate issues, upfront expenses for the unit and installation plus yearly maintenance is likely to outweigh that of a more basic home filtration system. Also, if you have high levels of water hardness (which is another whole discussion about water softening), lime scale build-up can cause the membrane to fail prematurely.
If you’re looking for the best quality drinking water, you might want to consider a reverse osmosis system at a kitchen sink. In most cases, however, we tend to side with a whole house filtration system rather than a point of use application.
Why Whole House Water Filtration?
The problem with single point of use filtration is it only treats one aspect of the potential problem. Contaminants can still invade other parts of the home, adding grit to already bad tasting/smelling water. You could install a filter at each and every water outlet. But a whole house filter is the more economical option.
To filter water before it runs into your plumbing and out of your faucets, your main water line will need a whole house filter. This allows you to have pure water to drink and wash with throughout your home.
You might think that for a small home with only one bathroom and a kitchen sink, maybe a filter at each of those locations would suffice. However, filtered water helps improve wear and tear on your washer and other appliances, possibly justifying whatever added expense for a whole house system. Plus, there’s only a single location where you have to change filters.
Water Filtration and Water Softeners
It’s important to note one thing water filtration systems cannot do. It cannot remove calcium and manganese contaminants that cause hard water. For that you need a water softener.
Filters remove impurities, while softeners employ a process called ion exchange to replace calcium and manganese ions in your water with sodium ones. Certain types of water softeners are also designed to remove chlorine and ammonia using activated carbon.
Although hard water is mostly harmless, it does diminish the taste of water. It can also dry out skin and hair when bathing and can carry an unpleasant odor. Hard water also reduces the lifespan of your appliances by about a third because it makes the internal work harder. Softening your water helps preserve your appliances and save money down the line.
How do you know if you have hard water? One sign is if your dishes have watermarks after coming out of the dishwasher. There is also a chance you have hard water if you see white build-up on your drains.
Ongaro and Sons Water Filtration Solutions
Ongaro and Sons can test the water in your home for mineral concentration and chlorine. In addition, our technicians inspect your home’s plumbing systems to see if any other problems are contributing to hard water issues. Once we have identified the issue, we provide a solution that addresses the identified issues that also satisfies your budget.
Whole house water filtration removes mineral buildup and sediment particles to make your water clean and healthy for drinking, cooking, and bathing. Knowledgeable Ongaro and Sons technicians are familiar with just about every kind of plumbing problem out there. We offer solutions for city water, municipal wells and private well water systems.
With the help of our highly trained plumbing professionals, your water will be as pure as possible. Getting a water filtration system provides you with peace of mind in knowing your water is clean and good for you. Even better, water filtration is more affordable than you think!
Contact Ongaro & Sons today to schedule your water quality consultation with one of our Water Filtration Specialists.