Tap Water Filtration & Quality FAQ
We all know water is essential for life. People who work in hot climates need to drink up to 16 liters of water a day to control their body temperature and keep hydrated.
Staying well-hydrated is one of the best ways to stay healthy – eat right, get plenty of rest, and drink loads of water!
Since water is such an essential ingredient to health, research suggests that you drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Most people can stay hydrated by drinking when they are thirsty, but this is the advised number from the Mayo Clinic.
Today, many consumers prefer bottled water over tap water. Prices have become more affordable and a throw-away bottle is super convenient.
However, there is an increased demand for even more affordable, high quality water. This is where home water filter systems come in – reverse osmosis systems, water ionizer machines, pro iron water softeners, water cooler dispensers, and water filter pitchers.
Below I cover the basics of water filtration and outline the benefits for each option.
Types of Water Filters for Home Use
1. Activated Charcoal – these are extremely efficient at removing most contaminants and 99% of water particles. Consumers also love charcoal filters for their affordable price.
A downside is that activated charcoal filters don’t block some of the major contaminants (sodium, limescale, fluoride, and microbes). Another disadvantage is that they need to be replaced often.
2. Activated Carbon – As a newer filtration process, activated carbon works through absorption – it’s a process where gasses and liquids are attracted to other liquids or solids. When water passes through the carbon filter, water particles and impurities are attracted to the carbon surface. It’s a cleaner process than charcoal filtration and don’t need to be changed as often.
3. Ion Exchange Filters – These specialized filters are often used for water softeners systems and water conditioners which require salt. They consist of zeolite beads that contain sodium ions. As hard water passes through, the ions in the zeolite beads traps and filter out the magnesium and calcium.
By removing the magnesium, hardened water becomes softened. The result is less magnesium buildup on faucets and water that does not dry out skin.
4. Reverse Osmosis Filters – Under the sink reverse osmosis filtration is the most popular for consumers. They typically offer multiple stages and filters. Many are designed with multiple membrane filters which block out rust, harmful chemicals, and large particles.
Some of the chemicals removed include chlorine, arsenic, fluoride and bacteria.
Water Filter FAQ
Where does tap water come from?
Depending where you are geographically, most tap water (aka: drinking water) is supplied by reservoirs, rivers, and wells. In rural areas, tap water comes from clean water lakes and reservoirs.
No matter where it comes from, water goes through a rigorous cleaning process.
More than 99% of particles are filtered before being delivered to your sink.
How important is home water filtering?
It is not essential, but is a nice added layer of filtering. Water treatment plants in the US and Canada are heavily regulated by EPA Standards and other government agencies.
However, treatment facility are only responsible for public water delivered to your home. After it is recorded on your meter, there are potential areas of contamination – home plumbing issues, pipe buildup, and rusty faucets.
What are the most popular forms of water filtering?
The most popular forms of water filtering include reverse osmosis systems and water filter pitchers (primarily Brita pitchers).
Both options are fairly affordable w/ water filter pitchers being the most affordable.
Under sink reverse osmosis systems cost approximately $179 to $599.
Brita Pitchers prices range $29 to $69.
How do reverse osmosis systems work?
RO systems have quickly become the most common, and the most popular form of undersink water filtration – very easy to install, are low maintenance, have long lasting filters, and are reasonably affordable.
Reverse osmosis systems work by forcing pressurized water through a specialized, semi-permeable membrane filter.
The diffusion of water through a permeable membrane is called “osmosis”.
How often do I need to change water filters?
For reverse osmosis systems it’s advised that you switch filters every 3-6 months.
Most water filter pitchers recommend changing filters every 6 months.
If I see build-up on my faucet, is my water contaminated?
For those in rural area, you may notice manganese residue on faucets or appliances.
This is not caused by contamination, but rather “hard water”. Many households opt for purchasing a water softener system which keep home appliances scale-free.
Consumers say a water softener also improves water taste quality.
Today, there are also whole house combo water softener systems. They combine water softening and reverse osmosis. You can take it a step further by adding a tankless water heater.
Do I need to replace water softener filters?
There are multiple types of water softener systems on the market.
Most whole house softeners will require you to purchase bags of salt. Depending on usage, water softener salt will cost $40 to $150 per year.
There are also salt free water softeners, but they are significantly more expensive.
For more info about water filters and quality standards, you can read more at CDC Drinking Water Guide and Home Water Treatment Selection.
Water Quality Standards
Maintaining water purity is important for for community and individual homes.
The first municipality to implement a reverse osmosis process happened in 1977 in Cape Coral, Florida. As the first large-scale initial RO process it was able to provide up to 3 million gallons of RO filtered water per day (11.35 million liters).
By 1985, the Cape Coral facility was the largest low-pressure reverse osmosis plant in the world – producing nearly 15 million gallons today.
Due to the increase in popularity and tech advancements, reverse osmosis has become an affordable water filtration systems for homes.
Without regulated water quality standards, incidents such as Flint, Michigan are less likely.
Today water quality standards are being taken more seriously – the EPA coordinates with cities and states to constantly test water quality levels.
To avoid issues like Flint, Michigan the “Lead and Copper Rule” was revised to help reduce lead and copper levels in drinking water.
If interested, you can learn more from EPA.gov.