Choosing from among the best tap water filtration systems is difficult, like a lot of our choices. Do we pick the top of the line model that does it all, or do we compromise for the sake of cost. In this article we help you with that decision by looking at a variety of ways to protect your family from tap water’s contamination, from whole house filters, to shower filters, tap water filters, and the small pour-through pitcher filters.
Whole House Filters
Whole house filters are called point-of-entry systems since they are hooked to the cold water supply as soon after the water enters the house as possible. That way all of the water used throughout the home is filtered. The water for the faucets, the showers, the laundry and even the dishwasher is good, clean water. These systems are every homeowners dream, and a good one will run you about $800, plus installation cost. (Most manufactures will require installation by a plumber for warranty reasons).
Whole house systems make a tremendous improvement in the quality of the water, and the air, in your home. It might have surprised you to hear me say it will improve the air quality, but it will. According to the EPA, “Every home in America has an elevated level of chloroform gas due to the vaporization of chlorine…from the tap and shower water.” (What they don’t tell you is the dishwasher and the washing machine are not far behind the shower in this regard).
Also, if you live within about three hundred miles of the east coast of the US, radon in the ground water is a big concern to some, and it is an important health-related issue to have it removed from all the water in the house.
If the whole house unit is not an option for you, the next best solution is to filter the water you drink, and the water you use when showering. Based on the EPA statement above, and recent studies from the scientific community, we now know more toxic pollutants enter our body while showering or bathing than from the water we consume.
Shower Water Filters
There are three potentially harmful pollutants in tap water which evaporate easily: chlorine, radon gas and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Once they evaporate in the hot water we can readily adsorb them through skin contact or, worse yet, by inhalation. The only way these pollutants can be removed from bath water is by using the more expensive whole house system.
But, the VOCs, chlorine and radon gas can be easily removed from the shower water with a good activated carbon filter or redox filter (which removes toxic metals and radon). The best of these systems have both filters. Shower water filters sell for about $70 and can be very easily installed by anyone.
To be certain the pollutants mentioned above are going to be removed, you want to be sure the unit you buy is properly certified. Look for NSF/ANSI 42 certification for removal of chlorine, tastes and smells, and NSF/ANSI 53 certification for other contaminants. Also, be sure the entire unit is certified, not just the components. UL (Underwriter Laboratories) approval is also okay.
Drinking Water Filters
Filtering the drinking water makes a lot of sense on many levels, from health related issues, to making food taste better, and even your house plants will love you for it. The worst contaminants in drinking water for most of us are chlorine, lead, drugs, chemicals, bad tastes and odors, and these can be removed by using either countertop filters (if you have the room), or filters that can be installed under the counter. You want to be certain these filters meet the same certification requirements as the shower filters above.
These will cost about $100 to $125 for the counter top style, and you’ll need to add another $50 for the under the counter conversion kit.
Pour-through Pitcher Filters
Pour-through pitcher filters have limited filtering capacity and filter life. They cost about $35, but filter replacements will be frequent. By all means, go with a counter unit if at all possible.
Whatever you do, remember that any filter you get is better than using your body as the filter.
David Eastham has done extensive research on such subjects as selective filtration to find the best way to provide good, clean drinking water. Follow him for his picks as the best dollar for dollar buys, and the best products overall, in water filtration technology.