Do you know what contaminants might be in your water? If you don't, don't buy a water filter! A good water filtration system could help you get cleaner, safer water, but only if you know what you're after. There are plenty of different models and filtration methods available and a wide range of filters on the market. Here's what you need to know in order to be able to choose the right one for your situation. Let's take a look.
Research Before you decide to buy, you need to know what is in your drinking water. With several thousand different filtration options on the market, you can't just pick the first one you see. Contaminants will be different from location to location and from one water supply type to the next. Fortunately, checking up on what might be in your water is relatively simple to do.
If your home is supplied by city water, get in touch with your water utility. They should be willing to give you a detailed list of what has been found in the local water in the past year. Under the Clean Water Act, they must publish this information. Find out what's used for treating the water, as well - some locations use chlorine and choramine, others may also use ozone and phosphorous treatments. Learning what's in the water can help you determine which type of filter to choose.
Homes on community wells can get similar information from their water utility, though the information available might not be as extensive as it is for city water. Those using a home well will need to have their own water tested. Use a certified laboratory and ask to have the water tested for bacterial contamination, nitrates, radon, PCBs, VOCs, lead, and mineral contaminants such as iron and sulphur. It may be annoying to have this test performed, but it will go a long way toward helping you stay healthy and making your water taste better.
Certification A good water purification system will be certified by appropriate bodies and registered with other outside organizations. For instance, NSF International is the largest certifying body for water filtration systems, and deals with everything from countertop filters to whole house systems. NSF certification tells you that the water filter has met certain standards for quality and precision. A filter that doesn't have this certification may not be a good buy. Check to find out if the filter you're thinking about getting is certified by your state or local health department, as well. These certifications can be a good indicator of the quality of your filter.
Warranties Good quality water filters will offer a warranty on the housing. Check this out to see how long it's in effect, what circumstances it applies to, and what you need to do in order to avoid voiding your warranty. The entire filter should be warrantied for a short period of time immediately after purchase, to prevent manufacturing defects from affecting your purifier.
Filters The water filter itself should be replaceable, since almost all types of water filters will be used up over time. Make sure you choose a filter that is easy to change. Look at how long a filter will last, and when you'll need to change it. Determine the cost of replacement over the course of the next several years to decide whether or not a given water filter is a good buy. Check the price per gallon, as well. A filter that's inexpensive to purchase at the beginning can cost more in the long run if it needs frequent filter changes.
Ease of Use and Efficiency How easy is it to use the filter you're thinking about buying and will a gallon of water in equal a gallon of water out? Some systems don't put out the full amount of water you put in. Determine what the system will and won't remove, and what percent of contaminants will remain in the water - a performance data sheet can help you understand this. Remember that some types of filtration are too effective - they remove healthy minerals along with unpleasant ones and dangerous contaminants. This can reduce the quality and taste of your water.
Manufacturer Look at the longevity of the manufacturer, too. A company that has been in business for the long term may be more trustworthy than one that has just come on the market. Take the time to ask around and talk to an expert about any manufacturer you're thinking about buying from. Get a good idea of the company, how they do business, and what you can expect out of buying from them.
Water Filter Type How much water do you need to filter and where do you need to filter it? A pitcher filter is good for occasional drinking water needs and is inexpensive, but takes a while to work. Faucet filters are quicker, and work well if you need to filter one faucet at a time. You can also get shower head styles to improve water quality for bathing. Larger single-tap filters include under-the-sink styles and are good for households that don't need to filter all their water, but do need volume. At the top of the list for price and volume are whole house systems. They're installed at the water source and filter water for everything from cooking to doing laundry.
Take the time to think about what's wrong with your water and what you really need out of a filter before you buy. Then, start checking up on filters. There are plenty of high quality water filtration options on the market - you just need to know what to look for. Shop smart and you'll soon have clean, great tasting water for a lot less.