The Best Whole House Water Filter

Every manufacturer out there claims to have the best whole house water filter.  So, what features make the best system?  This article summarizes the features you should look for when buying a whole house water purification system.  I thought I’d write about this because I’ve given this topic a great deal of thought and incorporated these design concepts into Sweetwater’s Urban Defender Whole House Water Filter.

Let me explain:

First, you want a system that contains the appropriate type of carbon. It is the carbon that will remove the chlorine and its carcinogenic byproducts from your water.  In the Urban Defender I offer you a choice between granular activated carbon (GAC) for city water with chlorine or catalytic carbon (CAT) for cities that use chloramine.  Chloramine is a persistent combination of chlorine and ammonia that only catalytic carbon can remove.  So right off the bat if you have chloramine and use the wrong carbon you’re making the wrong choice.

Next you want to look at the physical size of the system and how much carbon it contains.  I use a full 2 cubic feet of carbon.  Smaller systems expire sooner and then you have to replace the system or the carbon.  If you have an exceptionally large number of showers or baths in your house you may want an even larger system.

You also want to consider flow rate.  Customers generally want to turn on the water and get the highest flow possible. But the effectiveness of water treatment is affected by the flow rate of the water.  In other words, the water has to spend time with the media in order to remove the contaminants. So the higher the flow rate the less removal is achieved.  You can offset this by buying a larger system but in most cases people use about 4 – 6 gallons per minute, which a 2 cu ft system will service effectively.  If you think you will run multiple showers simultaneously then you may want a larger system or you can run multiple units in parallel.

I use KDF® media in applications where the customer can live with a flow rate that tops out at 10 gpm.  KDF media is a combination of copper and zinc granules that increases the life of carbon while providing additional benefits.  You can read more about those here:  KDF is one of my favorite treatments because of the benefits it provides. However, I generally don’t claim all of these benefits to my customers because of flow rate.  While KDF can do some remarkable things, if the water if running through at high flow rates then these really aren’t going to take place.  Still, it increases the effectiveness of my Urban Defender in subtle ways.

I always recommend that you use a system that backwashes.  This process reshuffles the media exposing the water to fresh carbon surfaces and increasing the removal of contaminants.  There are a number of small whole house water purification systems on the market that don’t backwash.  These provide less treatment (ie: more chlorine remains in the water after a few months of use) and shorter life because the media will expire sooner.  The lack of backwash means that the effectiveness of the treatment will decrease in subtle ways long before the end of the expected life of the media.  I’ve been tempted to mimic these and sell a poor cousin version of the Urban Defender but I just can’t bring myself to do it.

Short message: a backwashing system gives you better protection by increasing removal rates.  Email me and I’ll send you a detailed explanation of why this is true. (jim at cleanairpurewater dot com)

What Factors Create the Best Whole House Water Filter?

Factors to consider when purchasing a whole house water filter:

1) make sure you buy the right carbon for your water

2) make sure you buy the right size for your home and family

3) make sure you buy the right flow rate for the number of showers in your home

4) buy a system that backwashes or plan on buying a replacement

Many good people urge you to buy an NSF certified system.  If you do you have to look at two things. First, what is it certified for?  And is that the problem with your water?  Many systems are certified for taste and odor removal, which means only that they remove some chlorine.  One of the fallacies of NSF certification is that the meaning is diluted by time.  To obtain this certification a company must only remove half of the chloramine. So at some point in the testing the removal rate drops from 98% or some very high number at the start of the test all the way down to 50%.  In my view this is a nasty deception that undermines the credibility of NSF certification.

Another consideration is what happens at the end of the life of your whole house water purification system.  Do you have to buy a new system or can you replace the media?  With the Urban Defender I’ve constructed it so that my typical customer can change the media in one hour.

A number of suppliers are now providing add on filters for specific contaminants.   Many people are intrigued by the idea of removing fluoride from the entire home. The thing to remember is that they may or may not actually remove the contaminant. Factors such as flow rate, alkalinity, pH, and other competing contaminants may limit or prevent effectiveness of whole house fluoride filters. Still, I do use them on my house and in some applications they will be effective…just be aware that they may not eliminate the need for a kitchen water filter.

Factors to consider (continued):

5) if you buy an NSF certified system, check out what it’s certified for

6) when the media expires can you replace it or must you buy a new system?

7) Check out the add on options: do you need a water softener, scale reducer, UV light for bacteria or mold?

The Urban Defender compares favorably to all competitor models and has proven to provide a nice balance between excellent effectiveness at a competitive price.

I keep up on all of the factors affecting treatment and I have the ability to modify my water purification systems to adapt to your particular situation.  I wanted to share this information with you today so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing a whole house water purification system. I urge you also to sign up for my free email lesson 5 Steps to Healthy Water which will guide through the decision making process.

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About James McMahon

Studied ecology at the University of Illinois, mountain survival at Eastern Washing University, Deep Ecology at Naropa, River Ecology with The Nature Conservancy and Luna Leopold
This entry was posted in Sweetwater LLC, Water Purification, Whole House Water Filtration and Purification. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Best Whole House Water Filter

  1. srunhok ear says:

    I agree with you. The Urban Defender is an excellent whole house water filter. Thanks.

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