The whole house water filtration system treats the water as it enters a residence (POE – Point of Entry). Usually, POE systems are located near the well water pressurized storage tank or municipal water meter. The best whole house water filtration system includes water softener, UV microbiological system, whole-house chlorine filter, filters for odor, taste, and particulates eliminating. Choosing the best home water filtration system is one of the most important purchases when investing in a healthy environment. There are many manufacturers, filter types, and models available. Among them are reverse osmosis, distillation, solid block carbon systems. We will help you to choose the best system for your home in four simple steps.
1. Analyse Water Quality
Before choosing a whole house water filtration system, you need to find out, what is in your water. If you do not know what contaminants may be in the water, you can get a copy of your water quality report (consumer confident report – CCR) from your local water utility. If you have a private well or you are unable to get the report, you may order an independent test. Do not forget to ask your neighbors for information on contaminants in their drinking water. Test the water yourself with an
2. Choose the Type of the Whole House Water Filtration System
Activated carbon filters, remove heavy metals (mercury, copper, lead, etc.), pesticides, chlorine and some VOCs. Chlorides (not chlorine), perchlorates, fluoride, nitrates, nitrites, radium 226/228, selenium, total dissolved solids, can be removed only by reverse osmosis water filtration system. NSF International has a comprehensive chart of contaminant and filter types here.
Carbon filter water filtration system: Activated carbon (charcoal) is an absorbent filter, it works by trapping contaminants in the pores. Activated charcoal has low-volume and small pores that perform LARGE surface area for adsorption. One gram of it has a surface area about 32,000 sq. ft.
Reverse osmosis water filtration system (our review here): A reverse osmosis system uses a semipermeable membrane to eliminate from drinking water contaminant’s molecules, ions, and larger particles. As a result, pure solvent (but not all water) passes to the other side of the membrane. Reverse osmosis systems produce water waste. Some systems send concentrated water waste to the sewer, others push concentrated water waste into the hot water line (ends up on your skin) or use a pump to circulate the water back into the system (wears down the filter components). Usually, RO systems waste about 4 gallons per 1 gallon purified (water supply with good pressure), or about 1:1 with the permeate pump.
Distillation system: Distillers boil the water leaving contaminants and collect the vapor-condensing water. Contaminants that convert to gas will remain after distillation.
The reverse osmosis end distillation processes are non-selective and remove all component of the solution, including ‘good’ magnesium and calcium. As a result, the water has an unpleasant taste and due to the lack of dissolved minerals have some of the adverse effects. To eliminate the negative aspects apply the process of remineralizing to back some of the good minerals. You can do this by after-filtering with a special calcium carbonate and a magnesium compound unit. The water passes through the unit and it dissolves some of the calcium and magnesium. Corosex (magnesium oxide) will bring the pH above 7 – ‘alkaline’ water.
Whole home water filtration system is usually used to remove unpleasant odors, tastes, and mineral deposits. A cost-effective solution is supplementing a whole house filtration system (point of entry water filtration) with another one for drinking water (point of use) to remove other contaminants. If the water in your region is hard, you could consider using a softener.
The type of filtration system you choose depends on the water quality and contaminants composition. Carbon filters eliminate most of the common pollutants and are the cheapest solution. Even if your water contains some perchlorates, fluoride, nitrates, etc., economically feasible solution is point-of-entry (POE) carbon filter whole house water filtration system combined with point-of-use (POU) reverse osmosis drinking water unit.
3. Choose Whole House Water Filtration System Stages
A whole house water filtration system includes one to five stages, there are many both stand-alone and combined filter units on the market. To exclude unnecessary costs you need to choose, how many and which filtering elements you need.
3.1 Sediment filter (optional)
A sediment filter works as a sieve to remove any particulate matter that can be transported by water flow. The filter is easy to install and inexpensive, eliminate lots of silt, sand, dirt, algae, etc. They do not remove heavy metals or chemicals and do not change the water smell or taste. Sediment filters are rated by a number in microns that refers to the particle size that will be trapped. The filters are made of wound cord or string, polyester, polypropylene, ceramic, cellulose, etc.
3.2 Water softener (optional)
Water softeners remove magnesium, calcium, and other cations from hard water (do not provide any filtration or removal of other contaminants). The resulting soft water has some health benefits, extends the lifetime of plumbing, and is more compatible with soap.
Ion-exchange resin softeners use an ion-exchange resin in which Mg2+ and Ca2+ ions are exchanged for potassium or sodium ions (K+ and Na+). Ion exchange resins are also available to remove bicarbonate, sulfate and carbonate ions.
3.3 Carbon filters (actually the whole house water filtering system)
Carbon filter units can perform sediment filtration and some of them have softener layer. But if you use sediment filter and softener (much cheaper devices), you will considerably extend the lifetime of carbon filters.
KDF 55 filters are designed specifically for reducing or removing chlorine and heavy metals. It controls bacteria, scale, and algae.
KDF 85 filters reduce or remove H2S and iron. Also controls bacteria, algae, and scale.
KDF-F works similar to KDF 55 when incorporated into matrix-type filters.
KDF-C is KDF 55 analog and used for less pressure drop.
4. The Best Whole House Water Filtration Systems Review
Once you decided on a whole house water filtration system, you need to replace your filters on schedule. Some systems have indicators, other – recommend replacement time ranges. Read the instructions for compliance replacement requirements and make sure you note the date on your calendar. Upflow carbon filters are more expensive than backwashing ones.
Buy a separate carbon filter and softener. Combined units that mix softener and carbon resin in the same tank at initial purchase save a bit of money but they are not worth further problems. You should change carbon filter periodically and much more frequently than softener. Thus, having a separate softener is a great advantage.
4.1 One-stage system
All available factory-made one-stage whole house water filtration systems are universal and have several layers of filtrating media. Thus they are in fact multi-stage one unit devices.1-stage systems are easy to install & low maintenance. You can select and install the necessary filter in accordance with the composition of pollutants in your water yourself. It is the cheapest and high-effective solution.
A good example is
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- It has up to 1,000,000 gallon capacity (about 5 years for an average household), which is the best value on the market.
- Works under pressure of a water supply and you should expect a 5 – 10 psi pressure drop.
- The system requires no electricity (unlike distillation units), does not waste water (as reverse systems do).
- The filter inhibits bacterial growth – bacterial static media included.
- 90-day satisfaction guarantee
- 5-year performance guarantee
- Limited Lifetime warranty on tank and parts
4.2 Two-stage system
The typical contaminants of a municipal city water supply are sediment, hardness minerals, chloramines or chlorine, and chemicals. Well water filtration systems are described in our review.
Two-stage water filtration systems are optimal decision for most cases. The first stage is usually high-quality fine sediment filtration unit and the second is KDF 55 unit for removing heavy metals and chlorine.
If your water has H2S, iron, etc., you need KDF 85 filter. So your two-stage system must include KDF 85 filter. In this case, you should use preliminary sediment unit (cheap filter 10-50 microns, helps to extend expensive carbon filters life), and KDF 85 + KDF 85 as the first and second stages.
We recommend Home Master HMF2SDGC whole house 2-Stage water filtration system. It is pressure performance filter with massive filter housings (up to 20 gallons per minute). Polypropylene sediment filter eliminates particles down to 1 micron. Carbon filter has 100,000-gallon capacity, works a year for a family of four. Dimensions: 25” x 18” x 9”
4.3 Three-stage Whole House Water Filtering System
The first stage – sediment filter with multi-layer filtration (most common – 5 micron)
Three-stage system includes
- The second stage – NSF/ANSI certified carbon KDF 55 filter, that removes remaining sediment particles (filtration down to 1 micron), herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, industrial solvents, and other contaminants
- The third stage – NSF/ANSI certified carbon KDF 85 filter, that removes manganese, iron, and hydrogen sulfide
Each stage is designed for a certain water flow and performs filtration with some pressure drop. Please estimate the flow rate (measured in GPM – gallons per minute) with the demand ratings printed on your toilet and appliances. Water flow rate range from 15 to 40 GPM. Make sure that the pressure in your system matches the required feed water pressure.
Filters should be changed from 3 months to few years, depending on the unit size and water consumption. Estimate the cost of the system, installation expenses and the cost of operation. Filter units must me easy interchangeable and inexpensive.
It is a great advantage if your filtration system uses standard filters that can be found anywhere. Don’t be afraid to try different types, you’ll feel a noticeable difference in water quality, from drinking and showering to washing clothes and dishes.