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Are you satisfied with the quality of your home’s water supply? If you’re reading this then the answer is probably No. If so you’re not alone in your concerns; sales of water filtration equipment continues to increase year on year as more people than ever become aware of the potential long term hazards that their water may contain. We look here at the factors you need to consider to choose the best whole house water filter system for your home.
Despite the claims of water companies that their ‘product’ is safe & healthy to drink the presence of unwelcome contaminants is all too frequent and indeed some of these are actually added by the water treatment plants.
Chemicals such as chlorine and chloramine (Chlorine + Ammonia) are added to kill pathogens in the water and they do normally render the water safe from bacteria & protozoa, but at what cost to health? In the short term probably very little but long term regular ingestion of these toxins cannot but be detrimental to the vitality of the body, after all they are added to water because they kill things effectively.
Safer treatments such as ozone & UV light are available and are sometimes used, either on their own or in addition to chemical disinfectants but chlorine has the advantage of being cheap.
Fluoride is another chemical added to our water, not generally as sodium fluoride (on which most of the research has been done) but as hydro or hexafluorosilicic acid, a waste product of the phosphate industry which lays between lead & arsenic in it’s toxicity. A known carcinogen, research has demonstrated it ability to reduce the IQ of young children, particularly when subjected to it in the womb where it is able to cross the placental barrier.
Heavy metals are another potential concern, these can occur naturally, from pollution or other sources such as lead piping. Many of these have a cumulative effect on the health of the body & brain and once again it’s the long term effects that we are most concerned with.
Certain situations may require a more specifically tailored filtration process; if you have a private well or other water source your concerns may revolve around issues such as biological hazards, sediment or agricultural run-off which may include herbicides, pesticides or even hormones, in fact hormones are of increasing concern in municipal water supplies where they may arise from a number of sources but chiefly from the use of the contraceptive pill.
The choice of a house filtration system will therefore be to some degree, determined by what’s in your water and ideally a water test should be carried out.
There are two main components of a water filtration system for home use, these are the filter housing and the filter cartridge. We will consider them each separately.
The purpose of the filter housing is to contain the filter cartridge which does the work of filtration. They will normally consist of a head section which is generally fixed to a wall or cabinet side by means of a bracket, and the bowl which contains the cartridge and screws on to the head where it forms a waterproof seal by means of one or more ‘O’ rings.
For domestic purposes housing are designed to accept four main sizes of cartridge:
2.5 x 10” 4.5 x 10”
2.5 x 20” 4.5 x 20”
The vast majority of filter cartridges are supplied in one or more of these sizes which allows for a good measure of versatility when designing or choosing a filter system. An important parameter to consider when selecting the housing size is the required flow rate for your household.
Depending on the capacity and purpose of the filter, the aperture for the incoming and outgoing water supply may be designed for ½”, ¾”, 1” or 15mm pipe. Some will require a connector whilst other types such as the Osmio EZFITPRO-400 Whole House Water Filter come supplied with push fit connectors
making installation extremely quick & simple.
Filter housings may be employed singly or in sequence, with the use of two or three stage filters being common and will be determined by the requirements for filtration.
Filter cartridges are the business end of the set up and their choice will determine the contaminants that are removed. There are various types of filtration media which may be employed in whole house water filtration. The principal ones likely to be encountered are as follows:
Consists of activated carbon moulded with water and a binder which is then extruded and hardened to form the filter cartridge. Normally possessing a filtration capacity of from 10 to .5 microns it has up to 2 to 4 times increased adsorbtion ability compared to granular activated carbon, making it ideally suited to removal of fine sediments, chlorine, tastes & odours, and at 1 micron or under, cysts such as cryptosporidium & gardia. It will also remove insoluble lead.
A highly absorbent filtration media normally made from coconut shell, GAC is positively charged
enabling it to attract negatively charged ions from the water including some fluorides, chlorine, VOCs -volatile organic compounds & hydrogen sulphide responsible for the ‘rotten egg’ odour.
Made of highly porous ceramic material containing tens of thousands of tiny pores, a ceramic filter will remove turbidity, protozoan cysts & bacteria. They will not however remove viruses. Often impregnated with silver to ensure destruction of bacteria and prevent bacterial growth in the filter itself. Some cartridges combine a ceramic outer with a carbon core.
KDF filter media uses a high-purity copper-zinc combination that employs a chemical process known as redox (oxidation/reduction). It is highly effective against chlorine and also hydrogen sulfide, mercury, calcium carbonate, magnesium, lead & chromium. Further it prevents bacteria, fungi, and algae. In conjunction with carbon it is also effective against chloramines.
Active Ceramic filtration media is a relative newcomer to the filter scene. Consisting of hundreds of small ceramic beads which have been specially treated to exhibit semi-conductive properties which together with magnetic, thermal and far infra-red light emissions work to effectively destroy bacteria, remove chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, hormones and other toxins. They produce water with increased pH & alkalinity and enhanced levels of beneficials minerals and antioxidants. One great added benefit of Active Ceramic Water Filters is that they prevent scaling and produce softer feeling water.
Active ceramic filters are highly efficient, long lasting (2-3 years), safe and cost effective and probably represent one of the best filter choices available for most domestic purposes. It is recommended that they be used in conjunction with a sediment filter.
Filters specifically designed to remove sediment are often incorporated in to multi housing filter combinations. Whilst many of the other media do trap sediment effectively, the purpose of using a specific sediment cartridge is to protect the other filter cartridges from getting prematurely blocked with sediments and extend filter life. It is often surprising, when a filter system is first fitted, to see just how much dirt and sediment that water which appears clean & clear will actually deposit. Sediment filters are normally used as pre filters although in some situations such as with active ceramic types, they may also be used as a post filter choice.
A Selection of Sediment Filter Cartridges Types
As a point of entry (POE) system, most whole house water filters are ideally situated where the rising main enters the house or at least, on the main supply pipe before it divides. This enables filtration of all the water used in the home whether for the bath, the shower or as drinking water.
It is essential then to ensure there is sufficient space when selecting the best whole house water filter for your home.
It is highly recommended that when installing the system, a simple bypass pipework arrangement be employed, with shut off valves. Such an arrangement will greatly simplify the task of changing the filter cartridges or other maintenance.
In choosing the best filter for your home an important consideration is the capacity of the filter. It is necessary to ensure the filter selected will cope with the demand of the household. There are two capacities to be aware of, the average flow rate and the maximum flow rate. The average flow rate is the amount of demand normally experienced in the household. It may be that someone is having a shower whilst elsewhere the washing machine is being used but nothing more.
With the maximum flow rate this is often a merely theoretical situation where every point of use is on at the same time, a situation which will rarely be experienced in most homes, however choosing a filter with this parameter in mind will ensure that there is no reduction in flow at anytime. Calculating flow rate is often an uncertain process; for help with this subject please see our article ‘How to Calculate Your Flow Rate’.
As we have seen there are many factors to consider when attempting to select the best whole house water filtration system. The initial outlay in purchasing and fitting a system whilst not small, will repay the investment many times over with improved health and savings on bottled water etc.
A whole house water filter system is a long term investment and it is worth giving careful consideration to some of the issues mentioned above. On the other hand it should not be thought of as overly complicated. The filter systems supplied by Puriflow Filters are pre designed to meet most of the conditions likely to be experienced in the UK and where specific requirements occur, such as with a private supply, specifically tailored solutions can be provided.
If you are experiencing any difficulty in choosing the correct filter for you home please do give us a call on 02-3507-1879 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org where we would be pleased to assist you in making the right choice.