Top 5 Things to Look For When Buying a Water Filter For Your HomeBy John Davis - December 2, 2015
1. What is the Daily Filtration Rate?
Even though some water filters look eerily similar, every filter has a different maximum daily filtration rate. That’s the maximum number of gallons of filtered water the system will produce each day.
Before selecting a system you should have a rough idea of how much filtered water you’ll need on a daily basis. If you’re installing an under the sink water filter, the daily maximum number will be measured in GPD (Gallons Per Day).
A few different water filters will show us the range in daily filtration capabilities. The Aqua-Pure APRO5500 has a daily maximum filtration rate of 25 GPD while the APEC Water Reverse Osmosis System has a significantly higher daily filtration rate of 90 GPD.
2. Does it Remove Hardness Compounds (Magnesium and Calcium)?
In all likelihood, if you have hard water you know you have hard water. If you don’t know about it, hard water is when there is an excess of certain compounds like magnesium and calcium in your water. These compounds can build up in your plumbing system and they also make soap less effective.
While this is inconvenient, our bodies do actually need these minerals in small doses. That’s why some people prefer that their water filter leaves the calcium and magnesium in the water.
For your home, you’ll want a filter that removes these compounds if you have hard water. If you’re aware these minerals are missing from your water you can always get them from another source. On the other hand, if you have normal water it’s better to get a filter that doesn’t remove these compounds.
Most product descriptions on Amazon will mention what compounds a filter does and doesn’t remove. However, you may need to dig deeper. Through the manufacturer’s webpage or a Google search, you should be able to find a spec sheet, like this one for the Aqua-Pure APRO5500. This will tell you whether a filter removes hardness compounds or not.
3. Which Compounds Does it Filter For?
While you have that spec sheet open, or while you’re on the Amazon description page, you should also find out what other compounds a filter removes.
The average number is usually somewhere around 40 contaminants. However, some filters strip out as few as 25 while others will filter more than 60.
However, more is not necessarily better. That’s because you want a system that filters for the compounds you have in your water. For example, if you’re one of the 20% of people who has chloramine in your water, then you’ll need to buy a filter which removes it.
Finding out what’s in your water isn’t difficult. If you use municipal water, every year you’ll receive a card in the mail detailing which compounds are in your water and in what quantity. If you use a well, you’ll need to take your water in to be tested.
4. How Expensive are the Replacement Filters and How Often Do I Need to Change Them?
No matter which water filter you buy, and what kind of design it has, at some point you will need to change the filters. That’s why you should check the cost of replacements beforehand, before you invest in a new system.
There can be a huge variance in the price of replacement filters and how often they need to be changed. For example, the filters on the Big Berkey are rated for 3,000 gallons. In a single family home that can mean you’ll only need to replace the filters once every couple of years. On the other hand, a system like the WaterChef U9000 will need a new filter once every 1,000 gallons. Even that is above industry average, which is around 700 gallons.
Before buying a system, be sure to factor in filter costs and their replacement schedule in order to get an accurate long term operating cost.
5. Is Wastewater Created During the Filtration Process?
Some water filters create murkish wastewater during the filtration process. This water gets sent down the drain while the filtered water goes to your faucet. For example, the GE Reverse Osmosis Filtration System actually dumps an astounding 10 gallons of water down the drain for every 1 gallon of filtered drinking water it provides.
That’s why it’s so important to find out if a filter expends extra water in the filtration process. This is especially important for homeowners who pay for their own water.
If this is a concern, you might want to try a system like the Big Berkey. It filters all the water you put into it and never wastes a drop.
As a general rule, Reverse Osmosis water filters produce waste water while inline filters don’t.
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