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Water Filter Buying Guide

by Staff Writer

Drop of water splashing from a water filter

Water keeps you healthy, energized, alert, hydrated and looking good. With all of the reasons you have to drink plenty of water, a home water filter system can be a sound investment. Read on to discover tips on how to buy water filters and explore clean drinking options in this water filter buying guide.

Buying Water Filters:

  1. Filtering systems: The type of water filter system you decide upon will depend on the type of contaminants you want to eliminate and your level of water consumption. You may also want to test your tap water to see what needs to be removed from it and choose a water filtration system accordingly.

  2. Water filter pitchers: The most common type of water filter is the water filter pitcher that you fill with tap water and keep in the refrigerator or on the countertop, depending on the temperature you prefer. Water filter pitchers use replaceable carbon filters which trap sediment and reduce levels of chemicals, chlorine and other byproducts in your water.

    Pros and Cons of Water Filter Pitchers

    • Pros: Because the pitchers can be put in the fridge, you can always have access to cold filtered water. Some water filter pitchers are small enough to be portable, and you can drink directly from them. Water filter pitchers and replacement filters are both very inexpensive.

    • Cons: The pitcher needs to be refilled frequently, and most water filter pitchers only hold enough water for two or three people.

  3. Faucet water filters: This type of water filter fits onto the faucet and filters water with a carbon filter as it pours from the tap, reducing chlorine, sediment and a variety of minerals that can affect the pure taste. Many faucet-mounted water filters also reduce bacteria and lead. Most faucet filters let you bypass the filter for nondrinking water so you can preserve the life of the filter cartridge.

    Pros and Cons of Faucet Water Filters

    • Pros: Faucet water filters give you a continuous flow of drinking water for even larger numbers of guests. They attach easily to the faucet, most without using any tools. Water is instantly filtered, making it convenient to have filtered water for drinking as well as cooking.

    • Cons: You can only use the filter with cold water because hot water will cause the cartridge to deteriorate prematurely. Refill cartridges can be more expensive for faucet water filters than they are for water filter pitchers.

  4. Under-counter filters: Under-counter water filters are attached to the cold water line underneath your sink. The filtered water is dispensed through a separate above-sink faucet.

    Pros and Cons of Under-counter Filters

    • Pros: Under-counter water filters give you a large amount of filtered water for drinking or cooking. These water filters stay out of sight to keep your kitchen tidy. Generally, their cartridges need only to be changed twice a year.

    • Cons: Under-counter water filter systems require a bit more work to install, including changes to your plumbing fixtures.

  5. Whole house water-filter systems: These filter systems include "point-of-entry" filters that purify the water as it comes into your home. This means that all of your water is filtered, including the water in your dishwasher and washing machine. When choosing a whole house water-filtration system, you will need to determine your family's water usage; most households need about 10 to 40 gallons per minute.

    Pros and Cons of Whole House Water-filters

    • Pros: Home water filters are available with different types of filtration, so you can choose one that is right for the water in your area. With all of your home's water being filtered, you will have pure water for drinking and cooking. Filtered water can eliminate rusty water, which can discolor your clothes. In your shower, filtered water can lead to healthier hair and less dry skin.

    • Cons: While whole house filters are excellent at removing sediment and rust, most do not remove parasites, possibly requiring the use of a second type of filter for your drinking water. These systems also require a good deal of work to install.

  6. Activated carbon (AC) filters: Carbon water filters attract and trap carbon-based impurities, such as chlorine, that give water a bad taste. This type of water filtration is the most common and usually the least expensive.

  7. Distillers: The distillation process is fairly simple: The dirty water is heated to the boiling point until it vaporizes. The steam is directed into a cooler, leaving impurities behind and condensing back into liquid water. The end result is purified water. Some impurities cannot be distilled, however.

  8. Ultraviolet (UV) disinfecting devices: Ultraviolet light is capable of killing all types of bacteria and viruses. In addition, ultraviolet disinfection works quickly without using heat or chemical additives that may alter the composition of water.

  9. Reverse-osmosis (RO) filters: Reverse osmosis is a method of producing pure water by forcing impure water through a semi-permeable membrane. Salts or impurities cannot pass through this membrane. This process removes many contaminants.

  10. Ionic exchange water filters: Using a process that percolates water through special resins, ion exchange water filters soften hard water and de-ionize water, which many people believe has health benefits. This method does not remove organic contaminants, however.

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