Running water is essential for cooking, cleaning, showering, and drinking. But the liquid flowing from your tap may not be as clean as you think. Salts, minerals, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may contaminate your drinking water without you knowing. The outcome can be as minor as having off-tasting water or as harmful as dealing with gastrointestinal problems.
A proven way to enjoy clean, safe water is to install a water treatment system. Many water filtration technologies are available, depending on what contaminants you wish to remove and at what scale. Use this guide to help you understand water filtration options for your home.
Water Filtration Methods
Different devices use different water filtration media to remove specific contaminants from the water. Here are some of the most common filtration methods in use today.
- Mechanical or sediment filters are essentially heavy-duty coffee filters. They use cloth or a similar medium to trap sediment and other large particles in the water. Mechanical filtration is typically the first step in a multi-stage system.
- Carbon-based filters are the most common type of home water filtration systems. Carbon, or oxygen-treated charcoal, has millions of tiny pores that act like a magnet for contaminants, including chlorine, benzene, and radon.
- Manganese iron reduction filters can be added to a standard carbon filter to reduce the concentration of iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide in your drinking water.
- Ion exchange resins are tiny beads chemically engineered to bind to and replace specific contaminants in the water, including heavy metals and PFAs, also known as “forever chemicals.”
- Water softening uses ion exchange technology. Resins embedded with negative sodium ions attract positively charged calcium and magnesium ions. These minerals cause “hard” water, so removing them “softens” the water for an enhanced taste and less scale buildup on plumbing fixtures and appliances.
- Reverse osmosis membranes are almost always coupled with another filtration medium. Water flows through a highly compact, semi-permeable membrane that traps fluoride, nitrates, heavy metals, arsenic, and microorganisms, leaving clean water to flow out the other side.
- Remineralization media are typically added to the back end of a reverse osmosis system to reincorporate important minerals like calcium and magnesium. The right mineral concentration is essential for good-tasting water and increased alkalinity.
Water Filtration Hardware
After exploring different water filtration methods, the next step is choosing what hardware you want to deliver filtered water to your home. Here are some of the most popular options available.
- Pitcher filters provide a portable, handheld method for delivering clean water to your glass. They typically use activated carbon to remove contaminants and improve the taste. This basic water filtration hardware doesn’t filter out all toxins, but it’s an inexpensive starting point if you want to stop buying bottled water.
- Faucet filters treat water for drinking and cooking straight from the tap. They snap directly onto your kitchen faucet and filter as the water flows. Faucet filters typically use the same carbon filtration method found in pitcher filters, just with a slightly different delivery method.
- Fridge filters are found in refrigerators with built-in ice makers and water dispensers. Once again, carbon is the most common filter medium. As a side note, always change your fridge filter based on the recommended schedule. Drinking water that flows through an expired filter is worse than drinking water from the tap.
- Countertop filters have more diversity than pitcher, faucet, or fridge filters. While most still use carbon filtration, many also combine this with resin technology. Options include plug-in countertop filters and gravity filters in various sizes, shapes, and filtration methods.
- Under-sink filters offer even more filtration variety, allowing homeowners to choose a model based on the specific toxins found in the local water supply. These advanced systems are installed out of sight under the sink and dispense water from a separate, smaller faucet added during installation. Many under-sink water filters offer multi-stage filtration, while others rely on reverse osmosis and remineralization to purify the drinking water.
- Whole-home water treatment systems are similar to multi-stage under-sink filters but on a larger scale. They are also called point-of-entry filters because they treat the water as it enters your home. This makes clean, safe water available at every plumbing fixture and appliance in your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.
With all these water filtration options, how do you know which one to choose for your home? Trust the experts at Redfin Plumbing to help you make the right decision. We can perform a water quality test and recommend the proper filtration method and hardware for safer, better-tasting water. To learn more, please contact us at 281-870-2373 today. We proudly service Houston, Cypress, Katy, Sugarland, Pearland, the Woodlands, Kingwood, and the surrounding Greater Houston area.