The benefits of filtering your own water at home are immense. Making the decision to filter water is simple from a health and economic perspective but doesn’t answer the question of what the best water filter is for your specific situation. From the simple water filtration pitcher to the under sink filter and the whole-house models, it is important for consumers to know what they are paying for and why.
Below we will outline some points that will help you pick the best water filter for your needs. We’ll also touch on what contaminants may be in your water, common water filtration technologies, the basics of the water filters mentioned above, water filter certification and the various costs.
Contaminants in Water
While doing your research you will find that different water filtration products may not filter out the same group of contaminants. This is why it is important for homeowners to first identify which contaminants are present in their water so they can ensure they are buying a water filter that removes or reduces these undesirables.
NSF provides a list of contaminants that may be present in your water as well as effective product technologies to reduce them. You can find out what contaminants are in your water by obtaining a water quality report from your provider. You can also get at-home tests from virtually any home improvement store or seek a private test from an independent company. Once you have identified the contaminants in your water, you can then narrow down the most effective water filtration systems for your needs.
Common Water Filtration Technologies
As we have outlined in our Basics of Common Water Filter Technologies article, home water filters use similar technologies to clean your water. However, not all water filtration technologies are as effective as others. For example, a water softener uses an ion exchange to reduce calcium and magnesium levels but doesn’t remove most other contaminants. Mechanical filters remove cysts and other sediments but cannot remove chemical contaminants and are often used with other technologies. Carbon filter systems can range in effectiveness; the best ones remove chlorine as well as a wide range of contaminants like lead, mercury and asbestos. Learn more about the most common water filters.
Water Filters: Pitchers VS Undersink VS Whole-House
From the most basic to the most advanced, common household water filters fall into the following categories:
- Pitchers– These are the most basic of water filtration systems, using gravity to move water through a filter. These are convenient and require no setup, but you’ll constantly have to refill your pitcher as you drink or use your water.
- Undersink– Most undersink models filter the water in a secondary, smaller faucet within the kitchen sink rather than the main faucet. Like the pitcher, these filters treat the water at the point of consumption.
- Whole-House– These advanced water filtration systems treat all or most of the water entering a home at the point of entry. Once the water enters the homeowner’s property line from the municipal feed, it is filtered and results in treated water that flows throughout the entire home rather than a single sink or faucet.
Salt Free Water Softener- In addition to the above water filtration systems, a salt free softener may also be attractive to homeowners who wish to remove scale from building up throughout plumping pipes and home appliances. Like the whole house filters, these are installed at the home’s water line.
Water Filter Certification
The highest quality water filters are subject to strict procedures and product testing to ensure they filter contaminants the way they were intended. Water filters with a NSF seal are considered to be the best water filtration systems available to consumers. NSF is a third-party, independent organization that reviews water filtration products to determine if they comply with specific standards for safety, quality or performance. NSF standards are generally national and international, demonstrate a manufacturer’s commitment to safety and quality, and increase the credibility of products. In short, consumers who are seeking the best water filtration systems should seek NSF certification.
Learn more about NSF certification.
Water Filter Costs
As you likely would have guessed, the prices between pitchers, undersink and whole-house water filters vary. Depending on your water filtration needs, one may be more ideal for you than others. If you want the convenience of having water filtration at the sink without having to worry about refilling your pitcher, the Under Sink Water Filter may be ideal. For the most high performance water filtration system, the Whole House Water Filter is an intelligent option. This system ensures the water from all of your taps is filtered so your family enjoys clean, filtered water in the kitchen, bathrooms and throughout all of your appliances.
Each of the Filter Butler options are NSF-certified, and the Under Sink and Whole House filters are available for rent as well as purchase.
Best Water Filter Overview
The first step in determining the best water filter for your home is analyzing the contaminants that are present in your water. If you live in the Toronto area, for example, the recent reports on lead in the water would necessitate a water filtration system that effectively removed this contaminant. Once you identify the water contaminants that you would like to treat, determining the filtration technology you need is the next step followed by a determination of the type of water filter you desire: pitcher, under sink, whole-house and/or a salt free softener. Whichever filtration system you choose you’ll want to be sure it has undergone independent third-party testing such as the one NSF provides.