When considering a water filter system for your home, it is important to consider the available options. There are five different types to choose from, serving different purposes. Depending on your water system, be it a city-provided or well system, a unique system may be needed. It is recommended to call in a professional to analyze your system and determine the most effective way to treat your water needs.
The following are the five available types to choose from and their main usage:
These filters contain media, such as carbon, which traps particles in the water system and waterborne contaminants. This type of filter is useful to help remove impurities and clarify the taste of the water. There are larger systems that utilize this method, but you will most frequently find this style in smaller units such as Brita water jugs and other brand name systems for in-home use. They are changed based on how much usage they get and if the taste or smell of the water changes over time. The downside to this system is the need to change the cartridges on a regular basis, so monitoring them is required more frequently.
Ion exchange softens hard water by exchanging magnesium and calcium ions with other ions like sodium or hydrogen ions. This type of water filter is effective in removing hard water and radioactive material. You will frequently find this type of filter system in homes sold by independent softener companies. This technology utilizes a softener and a brine tank. The only downside to this type of filter is that you might want to use it along with other filters because it does not remove organic matter, particles, or bacteria as effectively as some other options.
Reverse osmosis (RO) gets rid of dissolved inorganic solids, such as magnesium and calcium ions, by pushing water through a semipermeable membrane under pressure. This forces water to pass through without any contaminants. This is the most popular filtration method, as it removes a large amount of toxins, producing the “cleanest” tasting water on the market. This type of filter is commonly teamed up with a sediment filter to remove larger particles before going through the RO system, increasing its efficiency. The main downfall to this system is the drop in water pressure that will occur in using it, as it requires up to four times the amount of water.
This is a system that uses chemicals with the focus of controlling issues caused by iron and magnesium without removing them. Food-grade polyphosphate is commonly used in scale inhibiting filters to sequester the calcium and magnesium minerals that cause limescale and corrosion. This type of filter is most used where a water softener is not used, but instead, the option to control the scaling is chosen. Many commercial facilities choose this option to reduce scaling in their boiler systems due to water conditions and budgetary restrictions.
Untreated water is passed through a filter media, such as a mesh material or cartridge, designed to trap suspended particles in the water on the surface of the material or inside depending on the media. This is one of the most frequently used and cheaper water filter systems. It is also the easiest for the household consumer to maintain as the cartridges are easy to remove and replace. However, it is only minorly effective in filtration, as particles smaller than the media will slip by and it does not filter out smell or taste in the water. These filters are graded by their micron unit, which is commonly 0.5, 1, and 5. The cartridges need to be replaced based on the situation in which they are used (i.e., well water will require more frequent changes than city water).