Treating water in the home can seem complicated to anyone who’s new to the subject. From water filtration, water softening and water heating, there is a lot to know.
Our goal at AvidWater is to help you understand how water treatment works and recommend the perfect equipment to suit your home.
There are three primary forms of common water treatment.
Water Filtration is a method to remove impurities from water. They all work on a basic principle: force water through material to catch the impurities.
There are a wide variety of water filter types, all with different purposes and levels of filtration.
Water Filter Pitchers
Water Filter Pitchers are a very common and inexpensive type of water filter. Their purpose is primarily to improve the taste of tap water and provide a convenient container to store in the refrigerator.
Water Filter Pitchers vary in quality and price, however in general they are not ideal for improving the safety of water or removing harmful contaminants. They are best suited for people who already have access to safe drinking water.
Faucet Water Filters
Faucet water filters are attachments that mount directly to a faucet, to filter water in real time. They are also inexpensive and serve the purpose of improving the taste of drinking water.
It’s important to note that faucet water filters do not improve the safety of drinking water and are only suitable if your tap water is safe to drink.
Countertop Water Filters
Countertop Water Filters are similar to water filter pitchers, except they are larger and generally not stored in the refrigerator. Because of their larger size, more water weight can be exerted on the filter, allowing more contaminants to pass through.
Some countertop water filters are able to remove fluoride, chlorine and lead from water, which most faucet and pitcher water filters cannot.
Under-sink Water Filters
Under-sink water filters are a small contained water filtration system that is installed under a sink. These filtration systems are usually between 3-7 stages and offer the widest range of filtration options.
The ideal setup for drinking water is generally have to have a 5+ stage undersink water filter, which can guarantee drinking safety, purity and offers the best tasting water!
Whole House Water Filters
Whole house water filters are the largest filters available for residential use. They are installed at the water’s point-of-entry and filters water before it reaches any faucet in your home.
These water filters are a must if you are drawing water from a well, lake or other untreated water source. If your area is known for having poor water quality, it makes sense to invest in a whole house water filter.
Often confused with water filtration, water softening is a method of changing the chemical properties of water, without removing any contaminants. The purpose of water softening is to improve the performance of your water appliances (dishwashers, washing machines, etc) as well as improving the feel of your showers.
Water softening is not required in all homes, only where the local water source has hard water. In the United States, 85% of homes have hard water and would benefit from a water softener.
Water heating is critical in all homes, but many of us don’t question where that hot water is coming from. There are two primary ways hot water is provided in a home:
Hot Water Tanks
Popular in North America, a large hot water tank is located in the home and keeps a fixed amount of hot water available at all times.
There are a few downfalls to this system: they use up energy to keep water hot, even when there is no demand for hot water. Second, they can deplete their reserves, so you may have to wait for it to refill before taking a shower!
Tankless Water Heaters
The standard equipment in most European and Asian countries, a tankless water heater heats up water only when hot water is in demand. This saves energy, money and allows an unlimited supply of hot water.
The downfall is, a tankless water heater can only provide so much hot water at a given time. That means you may not be able to run two showers at a time, or have your dishwasher run at the same time as your washing machine.
Buying the Right Water Filter and Home Treatment System
Selecting the right water filter is vary tremendously from household to household, depending on your incoming water source, your existing equipment and your personal preferences.
By far the most important factor that will drive your decision is where your water is sourced, the quality and the hardness.
You can use a water test kit to make determinations if you aren’t sure.
Well Water & Lake Water
If you draw water from a well or a lake, we recommend you install a whole house water filter as well as an undersink water filter.
The whole house water filter will keep you safe from pathogens while showering and brushing your teeth, while the undersink water filter is ideal for drinking purposes. If you can afford a few extra bucks, opt for a reverse osmosis undersink filter.
Assuming you live in an area with hard water, you’ll want to invest a water softening system, your appliances and your skin will thank you. They are relatively inexpensive considering how important the job is and how long it lasts.
Depending on how well your municipality treats water, you may or may not need additional water filtration solutions. A general rule of thumb is if your water has any kind of distinct smell or taste, you should get a whole house water filter to be on the safe side.
If your water tastes and smells neutral, but your water test shows total dissolved solids over 150ppm, then you may want to get an undersink water filter solely for drinking water.
What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse Osmosis (RO) is the most powerful type of water filtration available in the market; it’s capable of removing virtually 100% of all contaminants from water. In fact, it’s so effective at removing particles from water that you may have to think about adding vital minerals back into your water!
RO works by forcing water through an extremely thin membrane, which captures all contaminants. It also continuously flushes the membrane to prolong it’s life. Normally, for every 1 gallon of filtered water, 3 gallons are required to flush to membrane, making it somewhat wasteful.