Filtration systems remove contaminants from your water through a filter connected to your main water line. All water coming into your house passes through the filter before being routed to the faucets, toilets and appliances in the house. Two filters are usually installed, but more may be required for larger houses. If sediment or a chemical isn't caught by the first filter, the second filter removes it. Filters must be replaced periodically.
The types of contaminants that you will need to remove from your water will vary based on whether you receive water from a municipal system or from a well or spring. If you have well or spring water, you may need to remove sediment, which is dirt, rust, sand or dust visible in the water. A well may also contain iron and certain minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals cause "hard" water, which results in lime scale deposits in plumbing.
If you have municipal water, you will want to remove sediment, minerals and chemicals such as chlorine used to treat the water. Your water company can provide you with an analysis of the contaminants found in its water, but if you have well or spring water, you will need to pay a laboratory to test your water.
Once you have determined what contaminants need to be removed, you can decide on a system. If you have a problem with sediment, you will need a series of increasingly smaller filters to remove all of the dirt or sand. If chlorine is your primary contaminant, a carbon filtration system will remove the chemical from your water. A neutralizing filter can treat corrosive or acidic water, while reverse osmosis can be used to eliminate parasites and viruses. If hard water is your only concern, you may want to buy a water softening system rather than a filtration system.
A whole-house water filtration system can be expensive, due to installation costs and the need to continually purchase replacement cartridges. Before deciding to purchase a system, you should take a good look at your water needs and decide if a whole-house system is what you really need. You may decide that you don't need filtered water in your toilets and may decide that point-of-use filters on faucets may better meet your needs. No matter what system you choose, make sure your installer has experience installing and servicing that particular system and that the system meets national water filtration standards.
A whole-house system eliminates the need to buy bottled water if your water tastes bad. It also increases the life of your plumbing system. While water from a municipal source is treated, there can be a malfunction in the treatment process, exposing you to contaminants. A whole house system provides you with extra protection should this occur. Having a whole-house system also protects you from chlorine exposure from your shower. When you turn on your shower, the heated water facilitates the release of chlorine gas into the air. This gas can irritate the skin and the lungs, which is a concern if anyone in your home has allergies or asthma. Because a whole house system removes chlorine at the point the water enters your home, you no longer have to worry about chlorine exposure from any faucet.