Updated: April 17, 2021 by Zac Harding
Have you noticed a strange taste in your tap water recently?
Maybe you’re wondering why your clothes have been coming out of the washing machine strangely stiff, or perhaps you’ve even been experiencing strange skin sensations after taking a shower.
You might dismiss these signs as random or even as figments of your imagination, but they’re actually all symptoms of improperly filtered water.
If left to develop, unfiltered water issues can be detrimental to both your home and your health.
Luckily, there’s a simple and cost-effective solution: installing a whole-house water filter!
Read on for our reviews of the best whole-house water filters on the market currently, as well as general information on whole-house filtration.
We think the Aquasana’s Well Filter System stands out among our picks because it does everything — it filters out biological and chemical contaminants from your water and prevents limescale buildup in your plumbing system.
Our Best Whole House Water Filter Reviews
1. Aquasana Whole House Well Filter System — Best Overall
Aquasana’s Whole House Well Filter System is one of the most effective water filtration systems currently available.
The reason this filter is so good at what it does is that it combines elements of several different filtration systems to tackle multiple problems at once.
Therefore, the Aquasana filter is great for homeowners dealing with more severe water contamination issues. Alternatively, it’s a great filter system to install if you want to preempt a whole host of future problems.
The Aquasana Whole House Well Filter System uses a combination of carbon and UV filter media, which work together to remove chlorine and bacteria from water supplies, as well as other contaminants like mercury, lead, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds.
Moreover, the filter features built-in scale control media, which prevent the buildup of limescale and minimize the potential for pipe blockages.
When it comes to chlorine removal, the Aquasana filter is 97% effective, with an impressive 99.9% effectiveness at destroying bacteria and viruses.
Even better, this filter is easy to install and even easier to maintain. The package comes complete with brass fittings for ¾ or 1-inch pipes, shut-off valves, and bend supports, so you have everything you need to install your new filter out of the box, barring tools.
Because the Aquasana filter uses an upflowing, dual-tank design to prevent clogging, it never needs to be flushed or drained manually. All you need to do to keep your flow rate optimal is change the pre and post-filters on a 3-monthly basis.
The only potential downside to this filter system is that, because of its advanced features, it retails at a higher price than most.
- Combined carbon and UV filter – Removes chlorine and bacteria
- Uses Scale Control Media – Prevents limescale buildup
- 97 – 99.9% effective – Highly reliable
- No need to drain or flush – Easy to maintain
- Installation kit included – Comes with fittings, valves, and supports
- High-end price – Not budget-friendly
If you’re looking for a multipurpose whole-house water filter that won’t be as hard on your wallet as the Aquasana model, why not take a look at the iSpring 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System?
The iSpring 3-stage filter, as you might expect, operates on a 3-stage basis using 3 different filter cartridges.
The first cartridge filters out heavy metals like manganese and iron to eliminate the possibility of heavy metal poisoning, which is a rare but extremely dangerous consequence of untreated drinking water.
After the heavy-metal filter has done its work, the carbon block filter comes in. This cartridge does the same job as a traditional carbon filter, eliminating most chlorine or chloramine molecules to improve taste and lower the risk of toxicity.
Finally, the third filter cartridge is a sediment filter that removes other miscellaneous impurities. Whether it’s dirt, sand, dust, or rust, the PP sediment filter cartridge will take care of it.
This filter system is also efficient against volatile organic compounds, pesticides, herbicides, and solvents.
iSpring’s 3-stage system is highly effective, yielding a 5-micron filtration rating. It also has an impressively high capacity of 100,000 gallons which, for context, is enough to supply 4 people with clean water for a whole year.
On top of the peace of mind you’ll enjoy knowing that your family is safe from any water contaminants, you’ll also benefit from a stress-free monitoring process, thanks to the transparent housing around the cartridges.
Included with the filter system is a 1-inch MNPT (Male National Pipe Thread Taper) for installation.
Unfortunately, this filter system is sold separately from the 3-stage filters required for operation, so if you do go with this model, you’ll need to make a separate purchase before you can complete the installation.
Check out our full Aquasana review here.
- 3-stage filtration – Tackles heavy metals, chlorine, and sediment
- 5-micron rating – Very effective
- 100,000-gallon capacity – Supplies water for 4 people for a year
- Transparent housing – Quick and easy visual monitoring
- Includes 1-inch MNPT – Suitable for male pipe threading
- 3-stage filter sold separately – Separate purchases required before use
The 3-stage iSpring filter may not be as expensive as some of the higher-end filter systems on the market, but the cost can still rack up, especially once you add the separately-sold cartridges.
If you’re looking for something a little more budget-friendly, yet still high-performing, iSpring also has a 2-stage whole-house water filtration system that might be perfect for you.
The interesting thing about iSpring’s 2-stage system is that it’s available with several different cartridge combinations for a range of purposes.
For example, if you’re having problems with sediment and chlorine in your water and pipes, you can select the sediment and CTO filter combination.
On the other hand, if you’re worried about iron, lead, or manganese contaminating your water supply, there are cartridges available for this, too.
The total efficiency of the iSpring 2-stage filter is 95%, which means it removes 95% of all sediment and chlorine at the main water line.
This filter system benefits from a highly durable, reinforced construction and a high capacity of 50,000 gallons.
The system comes pre-assembled, so you don’t need a degree in plumbing to put it together. It even comes complete with mounting hardware, including a wall bracket, for easy DIY installation.
Where maintenance is concerned, there’s a built-in pressure release valve that allows you to release the pressure inside the system when changing cartridges, so the process is easy and completely safe.
With that being said, the pressure release valve has been the source of some annoyance for customers thus far as there have been isolated incidents of the valve leaking.
- Multiple cartridge combinations – Remove sediment and chlorine, or heavy metals
- 95% efficiency – Removes 95% of chlorine and sediment
- 50,000-gallon capacity – Sufficient for a family of 4
- Pre-assembled with mounting hardware – Easy installation
- Built-in pressure release valve – Safe maintenance
- Some reports of pressure leaking – Pressure release valve may need fine-tuning
3M Aqua-Pure’s Whole-House Sanitary Quick Change Water Filter System is the perfect solution to combined sediment and chlorine issues in a home’s water supply.
This whole-house filter has a capacity of 100,000 gallons and a maximum flow rate of 20 GPM (gallons per minute). These features make the 3M Aqua-Pure filter ideal for families with higher than average water demands.
The 3M Aqua-Pure filter is rated at 5 microns, which makes it suitable for filtering out most sediment, chlorine molecules, and even some bacteria.
Moreover, the filter comes with a stainless steel attachment head, which circumvents the issue of corrosion that often shortens the longevity of a filtration system.
One of our favorite features of the 3M Aqua-Pure filter, though, is its Sanitary Quick Change design, which allows for filter cartridges to be changed without the use of any tools, and without requiring any contact with the filter media.
- 100,000-gallon capacity – Plentiful supply
- 20 GPM – Optimal flow rate
- 5 microns – Removes most sediment, chlorine, and some bacteria
- Stainless steel head – Prevents corrosion
- Sanitary Quick Change design – No tools, no contact cartridge changing
- Short lifespan – Not as durable as some competitor models
Have you been looking for a reasonably priced, multi-functional, whole-house filter for your home? In that case, we’d recommend checking out the Express Water Whole House Water Filter!
This filter goes above and beyond what’s typically expected of whole-house filtration systems, targeting not one or two but 52 different contaminants that can be found in household water supplies. These include common culprits, like sediment, pesticides, and chlorine, amongst many others.
The Express Water whole-house filter is a 3-stage filter, consisting of a carbon block filter, a granular activated carbon filter, and a sediment filtration cartridge.
This filter system’s frame is made out of stainless steel, which ensures durability and wear resistance. A pressure gauge is also built into the filter so that you can safely and easily monitor its functionality.
As an added bonus, the filter system comes with standard, 1-inch connection hardware for an easy installation process. Unfortunately, however, some of the fittings that the unit comes with are made of plastic, which has led to some instances of leaking.
- 100,000-gallon capacity – Suitable for most households
- Reduces 52 contaminants – Includes sediment, chlorine, and pesticides
- Stainless steel frame – Highly durable
- Includes pressure gauge – Safety and monitoring
- Includes 1-inch standard connections – Easy installation
- Plastic fittings – Some reported leakage
If your home’s water supply has been blighted by a limescale issue, you’ll be pleased to hear that 3M Aqua-Pure has another whole-house filter designed specifically to tackle scale.
One of the biggest reported consequences of scale buildup in residential water systems is the impact on water heaters. When scale builds up inside water heaters, it can ultimately block the system, leaving you not only with a plumbing bill but also without heating.
The 3M Aqua-Pure Scale Inhibition filter helps to prevent issues such as these. It also resists corrosion, thanks to its 304 stainless steel head.
A particularly clever feature of the Scale Inhibition water filter is its polyphosphate content.
Polyphosphates bind to magnesium and calcium particles, stopping them from passing through the filter and, thus, reducing water hardness. In the process, they form a protective layer over the inner surfaces of the filter, preventing corrosion.
This filter uses a single-vessel design, which makes cartridge changing easy and ergonomic.
However, the installation process itself may not be quite so simple because the filter doesn’t come with any valves, adaptors, or mounting tools. Therefore, some buyers may need to make separate purchases before installation.
- Targets scale buildup – Protects hot water appliances
- 304 stainless steel head – Corrosion-resistant
- Contains polyphosphates – Effective against hard water and corrosion
- Single-vessel construction – Easy cartridge changes
- No valves or adapters included – May require separate purchases
Culligan’s Whole House Heavy Duty Water Filtration System manages to bring both simplicity and innovation to the table, and all for a budget-friendly price!
This filter system is designed to rid household water supplies of sediment and scale, which are the two biggest dangers to water pipe functionality. Therefore, the Culligan filter is effective against hard water and will prevent pipe damage by stopping scale buildup.
What’s really interesting about this filter, though, is its range of user-friendly features. For example, the filter comes with a bypass shutoff valve and a battery-operated cartridge change timer.
The bypass valve allows user control over the filtration process, while the timer ensures maximum efficiency by promoting timely replacement.
Also, because of the stainless steel connectors, you’ll never have to worry about corrosion damage!
Along with the filter itself, your purchase will get you everything you need to install your new filter system yourself. A mounting bracket and housing wrench are both included in the package, so you don’t have to worry about tools or hardware. However, it would be helpful if Culligan were to include some silicone grease for the o-ring.
- Very low price point – Highly affordable
- Targets sediment and scale – Prevents hard water and pipe damage
- Includes bypass shutoff valve and filter change timer – Control and easy monitoring
- Stainless steel connectors – No corrosion
- Tools and hardware included – Easy installation overall
- No silicone grease included – Tricky o-ring installation
Home Master’s Whole House Two-Stage Filtration System is highly efficient when it comes to removing chlorine, heavy metals, sediment, and other contaminants from water supplies.
The filter has a total 95% efficiency rate and can remove contaminant particles measuring between 1 and 25 microns due to the four-gradient-density filtration system.
This filter system is effective enough to cater to the water needs of larger families, with a 95,000-gallon capacity and an optimal water flow of 10 GPM, thanks to the oversized filter housings.
Better still, you can install this high-performing filtration system yourself using the durable steel mounting bracket included with the package.
The main reason why this filter, despite its efficacy, isn’t currently more popular is that replacement parts are difficult to source. This makes maintenance and repair more difficult for this system than for some competitor units.
- 95% efficiency – Removes 95% of chlorine, sediment, and heavy metals
- 95,000-gallon capacity – High capacity
- Large filter housings – Optimal water flow
- 1-25-micron – Removes particles between 1 and 25 microns
- Includes steel mounting bracket – Simple DIY installation
- Replacement parts difficult to find – Complicated maintenance and repair
Whirlpool’s Whole House Water Filter is the lowest-priced filtration system featured in today’s selection, so if you’re looking for a budget-friendly filter unit, this is it!
This is a carbon filter that uses premium carbon filtration to remove chlorine and sediment.
Moreover, the filter uses FACT (Flow and Capture Technology) to enhance filtration efficiency. As a result, the Whirlpool filter can filter out contaminant particles measuring less than 1 micron.
Thanks to the filters’ 6-month lifespan, you should only need to perform maintenance on the system twice a year, leaving the rest of your year stress-free. However, the filter does have a tendency to clog, so intermittent low-level maintenance may be required.
You can install this filter into all major filter system brands, so it’s universally compatible as well as affordable and high-performing!
- Lowest priced – Most budget-friendly
- FACT Technology – More efficient filtration
- Less than 1 micron – Highly effective particulate removal
- 6-monthly filter changes – Only requires twice-yearly maintenance
- Works with all major filter system brands – Universally compatible
- Clogs easily – May need cleaning
Ever wished you could find a whole-house water filtration system that improves your home environment while benefiting the environment as a whole? Check out Filtersmart’s Whole House Water Filter System!
This filter uses NSF-certified carbon (made from coconut shells!) to remove chlorine, volatile organic compounds, pesticides, herbicides, and more.
The natural sourcing of the carbon from coconuts is complemented by the filter’s eco-friendly design, which doesn’t include any plastic or environmentally harmful components.
This filter only requires cartridges to be changed every 8 to 10 months, so maintenance will be infrequent.
Moreover, the filter’s upflow design ensures energy and cost-efficiency by reducing water waste and eliminating the need for electrical draining. There is also an element of user control, enabled through the bypass valve, so you can take these factors into your own hands if you wish.
However, there have been some reports of the softening system model failing and releasing crystals into the water, so we wouldn’t recommend this system specifically for water hardness issues.
- Coconut-derived carbon – Natural filtration
- No plastic components – Eco-friendly design
- Filter change every 8/10 months – Infrequent maintenance requirements
- Upflow construction – Cost and energy-efficient
- Built-in bypass valve – Facilitates user control
- Softening system malfunctions – Not ideal for water softening
What is a Whole House Water Filter?
A whole-house water filter, or water filtration system, is a large-scale water filter that intercepts incoming water from a building’s main water line, cleaning and purifying it before it reaches the water outlets.
The reason they are called whole-house filtration systems is that you only need one of these filters, positioned at the main water line, to treat the water for your entire house.
Sounds great, right? Well, it gets even better! High-end, whole-house water filtration systems also perform other functions other than simply removing impurities in the water. Because of this, whole-house water filters can be broken down into several different categories.
The most widely manufactured type of whole-house water filter is the water softener. Water-softening filters are designed to treat hard water.
The reason these filters are the most widely available is that water hardness is, on balance, the most common complaint homeowners have about their tap water.
Hard water, for anyone who isn’t aware, is water with a disproportionately high concentration of magnesium and calcium.
Hard water can leave behind a messy, chalky residue in sinks and showers and even have a detrimental effect on the clothes in your washing machine. In serious cases, a buildup of scale in pipes can result from water hardness, leading to blockages.
But how do water-softening whole-house filters tackle the issue of hard water? Simply put, through a process called ion exchange!
Usually, water-softening filters contain pieces of resin, which are negatively-charged, unlike the calcium and magnesium particles in hard water, which have positive charges.
The positively-charged particles are drawn to the resin while the rest of the water continues to pass through the filter. The result is healthy, softened water!
Another common type of whole-house water filter is the sediment filter. Where water-softeners are specifically designed to deal with hard water problems, sediment filters are designed with the aim of removing other kinds of impurities from water, also known as sedimentation.
The term ‘sediment’ can be used to refer to many different contaminants, such as corrosion and miscellaneous dirt. Sediment is not only unsanitary but like hard water, it can also cause pipe blockages if it’s allowed to progress to severe levels.
Sediment filters work similarly to the mechanical filtration systems you might find in your average filter jug, although they’re a bit more refined.
Essentially, the filter consists of many tiny pores which are too small for sediment to pass through. The sediment, therefore, is physically trapped inside the filter while the clean water continues to flow.
If you’ve started to notice that your home’s tap water smells and tastes a bit like a swimming pool, it may be time to get yourself a carbon filter.
What many people don’t know is that large water supplies are often treated with chlorine or chloramines as a method of keeping harmful bacteria at bay.
While the quantities of chlorine added to the water is never enough to be toxic, it certainly doesn’t leave a pleasant aftertaste, and some homeowners find that the idea of drinking chlorine unsettles them regardless.
Carbon filters contain a layer of porous, activated carbon. Activated carbon causes a process called adsorption, where ions and other molecules adhere to a solid surface.
In this way, chlorine and chloramine molecules get stuck to the carbon and are left behind inside the filter.
Ultraviolet water filtration systems are less common than some of the other filter types on the market, but they serve a very important purpose.
Sometimes, where chemical treatment has not been conducted at the source, the water in your main water line can become infested with harmful bacteria or even viruses.
Ultraviolet filters can help to prevent this because UV radiation is harmful to the DNA of microorganisms, effectively killing them at the main water line before they can come through your faucets.
Acid Neutralizing Filters
Finally, we have the least common (but not least effective) whole-house water filter type, which is the acid-neutralizing filter.
Some homeowners may be surprised to hear that it’s possible for water to be too acidic. Drinking water should have a pH of between 7 to 8.5, which is neutral on the acidity scale.
However, if too much carbon dioxide finds its way into the water, it can become acidic. This can be detrimental to your pipework because acidic water is more likely to cause corrosion.
Acid-neutralizing water filters contain calcite, which is an alkaline mineral. The calcite inside the filter disintegrates when it comes into contact with acidic water, spreading through the water and restoring it to its natural, neutral state.
Note: With technology advancing the way it is, more and more whole-house filtration systems are able to combine several of these functions. For instance, as demonstrated through our selection of whole-house filters, you can easily find filters that remove both chlorine and sediment.
Why a Whole House Water Filter System is a Necessity
If you’ve never experienced any of the issues that the main whole-house filter types are built to prevent, you might be wondering whether you really need a whole-house water filter. After all it requires considerable investment on your part to purchase and install.
However, we’re here to tell you why a whole-house water filtration system is worth it. It might even be a non-negotiable necessity.
Firstly, it’s important to be proactive about protecting your home’s water supply and pipe system from damage and impurities.
Once the damage is done, it’s much more difficult to reverse than it would have been to use preventative measures in the first place.
Secondly, while some of the problems we described above may manifest as minor inconveniences at first, they can cause more serious issues later on.
For example, your first indication of water hardness in your supply might simply be that your clothes feel a little stiff when you take them out of your washing machine.
This is something you may not even notice at first, or might easily blame on another factor like your detergent or the machine itself.
However, if the problem is left unaddressed, it may worsen. Your stiff clothes can quickly escalate into a full-blown pipe blockage, and before you know it, you’re rearranging your monthly budget around a huge plumbing bill.
Worse still, hard water (again, the most common issue in household water systems) can have negative effects on your health. While drinking hard water has not been scientifically linked to any health issues, it certainly doesn’t do your hair or skin any good.
Washing your hair routinely with hard water can lead to scalp irritation, while the excess calcium and magnesium in the water can have a detrimental impact on dermatological health.
Skin may become dry and irritated after regular exposure to hard water, and, in serious cases, the skin’s pH balance can be altered.
The average adult’s skin has a pH rating of around 5.7, but when exposed to hard water, the pH can become more alkaline.
Human skin with an alkaline pH balance isn’t as effective at protecting against infection and inflammation. Pre-existing conditions such as eczema may even be worsened.
Other health conditions correlated with unfiltered drinking water include skin irritation from chlorine, absorption of carcinogens (cancer-causing substances) from chromium, and even heavy metal poisoning.
While some of these conditions, such as dry or irritated skin, may seem like ‘minor’ issues, others certainly are not. Consuming carcinogenic substances and heavy metal particles on a regular basis can have life-threatening consequences.
Without a whole-house water filter, you may not even become aware of the problem until some damage has already been done.
However, many homeowners simply do not have the means to install a Point of Use filtration system at each and every water outlet in their home. This is why whole-house water filtration is a necessity.
How to Determine the Best Whole House Water Filter
There are two key factors to look out for when purchasing a whole-house water filter: water flow and, of course, filters.
Optimal water flow is crucial in a whole-house water filter system — even more so than with POU or reverse osmosis filters (see below). You do not want your filter to affect water pressure.
Your whole-house filtration system will need to have a water flow powerful enough to meet all of your household’s water-related demands, so a less than optimal flow rating can cause a lot of frustration.
As a general rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to prioritize whole-house filter systems that can process water at a rate of roughly 7 gallons per minute.
This is about what the average carbon filter manages, and it’s typically enough to meet the average household’s water requirements. However, even 7 gallons per minute may not always be enough to cater to all the needs of larger families.
If you feel that your household may need a higher water flow rating than the average carbon filter can provide, you may need to think about other kinds of filters.
Sediment filtration systems, for example, can reach much higher flow rates on average than most carbon-based chlorine filters. Some sediment filters can process water as fast as 25 gallons per minute.
If you’re looking for a filter specifically to rectify a chlorine issue in your water supply, you may be worried about finding a carbon filter that delivers a high water flow.
However, rest assured that you can find plenty of whole-house water filters that target both chlorine and sediment, for example, and can operate at higher speeds due to their advanced construction. You may need to shell out a little more for one of these, but it’s likely to be your best option.
You will also need to consider the performance of the filters and filter cartridges alongside the water flow. It’s all well and good having an exceptional flow rate, but if this comes at the cost of proper filtration, you may as well have no filter at all.
First, you will need to work out which filter system you may need based on observations of your water supply. For example, if you’ve noticed stiffer clothes after washing or skin irritation, you may need a water softener.
Alternatively, if your water has developed a chemical taste, you should probably get a carbon filter for chlorine removal.
It’s also important to consider how many filters are involved in the system. In other words, do you want a single-step filter or a 2 or 3 step unit? The more steps involved in the filtration, the more effective the particulate removal tends to be, so prioritize multi-step filters if you can.
What Type of Whole House Water Filter do I Need?
We touched on the main types of whole-house water filtration systems earlier, but how should a homeowner go about deciding which kind of filter to install?
Well, the main factors to consider are filter longevity, consumption, and micron ratings.
Filter longevity varies by filter type, so if you want to go as long as possible between filter replacements, knowing which filter types last the longest will set you in good stead.
Carbon filters typically last between 4 to 6 months, while sediment filters are slightly less durable on average, lasting just 3 to 6 months.
UV filters’ lifespans are typically measured in hours and average around 9,000 hours of use before needing a replacement. Acid-neutralizing filters need replacing every 2 to 3 years.
Water softeners are the most durable filter type, with an expected lifespan of 10 to 20 years if properly maintained.
Combination filters often fall outside of typical life expectancies. For example, a combined carbon and sediment filter might have an 8-month lifespan as opposed to the expected 6 months.
We spoke earlier about the importance of water flow rates in choosing a whole-house water filtration system, but another crucial factor to consider is water consumption.
When we talk about water consumption in the water filtration industry, we’re referring specifically to filtered water consumption, which, if you’re buying a whole-house water filter, refers to all of your daily water needs.
To work out whether a whole-house water filter will effectively meet your household’s water consumption needs, you will need to verify how much water your household consumes on a yearly basis. You can find this information easily through your water bills.
You may have seen us mention microns a few times in this article so far, but we haven’t gone too in-depth on the subject yet. This is mainly because microns are such a central concept to whole-home water filtration that we felt they deserved their own space.
A micron is defined as a unit of measurement that refers to 1/1,000,000th of a meter. Microns are also known as ‘micrometers.’
Because contaminant molecules and microbes in water are so small, the pores in the filtration media used to catch them need to be measured in microns.
Whole-house water filter systems often come with a micron rating which indicates what size particles it’s able to filter out. The smaller the micron rating, the more effective the filter is overall at removing impurities.
For instance, we saw earlier that the iSpring 3-Stage Whole-House Water Filter is rated at 5 microns, which means that it can filter out particles measuring 5 microns or larger. This makes it ideal for filtering out sediment but not quite so effective at removing particles that are invisible to the naked eye.
On the other hand, a filter that is rated at 1 micron will be much more efficient when it comes to removing invisible impurities like bacteria (which tend to measure between 1 and 10 microns per particle).
Does it Meet NSF Standards?
Don’t forget to verify that your chosen whole-house water filter meets the appropriate NSF safety standards!
NSF stands for the National Sanitation Foundation, which is a non-profit organization dedicated to standardizing food safety and sanitation on an international level.
In order to qualify for NSF certification, a product must:
- Be constructed using only raw, FDA-approved materials
- Have passed NSF testing measures
- Not absorb, harbor, or release harmful bacteria or chemicals
- Be dishwasher-safe on a commercial scale
Only when all of these standards are met and certified can you be 100% certain that your new filter won’t create problems of its own for your water supply, so it’s imperative to look for an NSF certification on any potential filter system.
Whole House vs. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems
If you’ve been searching for the perfect whole-house water filter for a while, it’s quite possible that you will have come across some systems advertised as “reverse osmosis” filters.
Because reverse osmosis filters often find their way into whole-house search results for filters, many potential buyers are mistakenly led to believe that these two filter systems are the same.
Further confusion arises from the fact that some whole-house filter systems are built to mimic the functions of reverse osmosis filters.
Luckily, there are some easily identifiable key differences between whole-house and reverse osmosis systems that will keep you from getting mixed up.
The main difference between whole-house and reverse osmosis filters is that reverse osmosis systems are installed at the point of use, or POU. So, for example, you’d install a reverse osmosis filter under a faucet as opposed to at the main water line, where you would install a whole house filter.
A reverse osmosis water filtration system only safeguards the point of use to which it is attached rather than the entire building.
Reverse osmosis water filter systems are usually divided into 2 compartments: one for the incoming, unfiltered water and one for the Between the 2 compartments is a semi-permeable membrane. Semi-permeable just means that some, but not all types of particles can pass through it.
Pressure is then applied to the unfiltered water by means of a high-pressure pump, which forces it through the membrane.
As the unfiltered water passes through the membrane, the pores in the membrane catch any contaminants before they can exit through the faucet. This is a literal reversal of the natural process of osmosis in terms of concentration and migration, hence the name “reverse osmosis”.
Technically speaking, reverse osmosis filtration is a more effective filtration method than whole-house filtration because reverse osmosis filters usually have lower micron size ratings. This means that smaller molecules and microbes can be picked up by the filter.
However, installing a reverse osmosis filter at every POU in your home can be a very costly and time-consuming undertaking, which is why many homeowners choose to opt for whole-house filtration instead.
Whole-house filtration is also becoming more advanced, with more high-end whole-house water filtration systems being developed to rival reverse osmosis filters in terms of efficiency.
These days, some whole-house water filters can achieve efficiency rates of 99.9%, which is higher than the average 99% rating for reverse osmosis systems.
You do, however, might still want to install a reverse osmosis filter even if you’ve already installed a whole house filter, at least under the kitchen sink to provide additional safety for your drinking water.
If you’re investing in a whole-house water filtration system, it’s a good idea to think about filter cartridges beforehand.
Filter cartridges come in 2 main types: surface and depth cartridges.
Surface filter cartridges only trap particles on the membrane surface, while depth filter cartridges target particles both at the surface and inside the core of the filter.
Surface filters are easier to reuse, and they’re also quite effective because the large membrane surface area somewhat compensates for the lack of core filtration.
Depth filters, on the other hand, are better for addressing a variety of water problems. They’re the most effective at catching both sediment and chlorine molecules, for example.
This is because surface filtration tends to work better for larger molecules, while core filtration works better for smaller micron ratings.
There’s a sense of ease that comes with the knowledge that your water is clean and safe, and that’s what our Aquasana pick gives. Wherever you are in your home, you and your loved ones will have access to water they can drink and bathe it.