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What Types of Home Water Filters are Available?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated May 16, 2024
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From the complex to the simple, there are many types of home water filters available today. Water purification and filtration systems come in an assortment of styles, types, and price ranges, to suit every need. From pitchers to faucet filters, countertop models to whole-house devices, they are typically less expensive and much more convenient than buying filtered, bottled water.

The simplest home water filter device may be the water-filtering pitcher. A person just fills the pitcher's special reservoir lid with tap water, and as the water runs through the filter into the pitcher, many minerals and contaminants are removed. The pitcher can be stored in the refrigerator to keep the drinking water cold.

Simple-to-use, easy-to-install home water filters that attach right to the tap are also available. These are small canister filters containing carbon and other materials, which have a fitting to connect to the faucet spout. They are designed with a bypass valve to filter water only when necessary, such as for drinking or cooking. One click of the canister knob will provide filtered water, and the other will give water for ordinary uses such as cleaning the sink. Most cartridges are rated between 100 - 300 gallons (378 - 1,135 liters) and have built-in indicators to alert the user when the filter is exhausted.

A larger cousin to faucet filters are purification systems that sit on the countertop or under the sink. A water line feeds into the filter, and a small spout delivers purified water. Some work through reverse osmosis (RO), while others are ion-exchange filters, which are the only type that can completely remove calcium and magnesium, which cause lime scale. Canisters might be costly to replace, and they will exhaust quickly in areas with hard water. Ion-exchange filters can also come in smaller, less expensive units, and they are even built into some coffee makers.

Of the countertop or under-sink home water filters that are RO filters, these use a dual-canister system: One canister is a particle filter and the other is a carbon filter. While these eliminate virtually all impurities, they also have some drawbacks. Making 1 gallon (3.78 liters) of RO water can take up to 10 gallons (38 liters) of tap water, depending on the local water supply. The "runoff" water is very hard, containing all the minerals removed from the purified water, and normally goes down the drain. Some people design a retaining tank to circulate this "wasted" water to a washing machine or put it to some other use. RO makes the purest, softest water possible, at the highest price. It removes all contaminants, salts, and minerals, including additives like fluoride.

Water distillers have long been popular ways to filter water. They boil water until it becomes steam, which is then reconstituted into pure, clean water. Distillers are larger than some other water filters and are often connected to the water supply at the sink.

People who are really concerned about the quality of their water may want to consider purchasing a filter that connects directly to the main water line. In this case, every outlet in the house, including the shower and bath, will receive purified water. Some agricultural regions in the US require this type of filtering system by law, due to pesticides in the water table. These are also RO systems, and produce extremely soft, pure, distilled water. Systems of this type are large and of all the home water filters, they are the most expensive; however, many people feel they are well worth the cost since they ensure safe, clean water throughout the entire home.

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Discussion Comments

By martinclukey — On Dec 06, 2013

By installing one of the best quality chlorine shower filter you not only get rejuvenated hair and skin, but also protecting it helps in protecting your planet as well. In this way, you can easily lead a healthier life thereafter.

By anon328061 — On Apr 01, 2013

I am looking for a filter to remove mineral deposits from well water.

By highlighter — On Aug 22, 2010

@ Fiorite- Whole house water filter systems are not that expensive. I have heavy mineral deposits in my water as well as occasional bacteria so I use a granulated carbon canister filter and a whole house Ultraviolet Disinfection system. I spent less than $1000 on the two systems, and filters are around $40 to $120 dollars depending on the type of filtration needed.

The canister filter cleans the water of VOCs, chloramine, dirt, minerals, etc. The canister filter is also the cheaper system ($200) and you can use numerous different filters depending on what you need filtered. The UV filter will kill all bacteria, including those that cause odor, and viruses.

In your case, you might want to purchase a specialized filter to remove hydrogen sulfides (they cause the rotten egg smell) and iron (the cause of the orange rings). Heavy Duty Sulfide-Iron systems cost around $500 and are easy to install.

By Fiorite — On Aug 22, 2010

I am a homeowner, and I have poor quality water. The water smells like sulfur and leaves orange rings around the toilet. I use home drinking water filters, but I never knew you could install filters that protect the entire home. I would love to find information about filters that can filter all of the water in my home (taking showers that smell like warm sulfur is no fun).

How much does a home filtration system cost? Are they complicated to install? Will it require any type of excavation, or can I simply call a plumber?

By PelesTears — On Aug 22, 2010

You can also find in home water filters for your shower. These filtration units can separate chlorine, chloramine, bacteria, microbes, and other volatile organic chemicals from shower water. Many of these substances cause skin irritation and skin problems for people. Adding one of these filters to your shower can make a big difference in your skin care. These filters can lessen the appearance of acne, clear up some types of eczema, and help clear up psoriasis.

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