Selecting a household water filtration method

Product crazes arise in virtually every retail market there is, including home goods and kitchen appliances. As such, it’s no surprise that the debut of consumer-grade water filtration systems, be they filtered pitchers or accessories that were mounted to the end of a kitchen sink’s faucet, attracted considerable attention – before eventually becoming fairly commonplace rather than some sort of status symbol. These days, high-end refrigerators link to a house’s plumbing, filtering and dispensing cold tap water right from a spout on their doors. 

Removed from the initial hype, choosing a water filter should be much easier. You’ll want to address a few essential considerations when doing so:

Assess your water
According to Consumer Reports, it’s best to either conduct a test of your kitchen tap water or obtain data from the latest results of its annual assessment, which all community water providers must complete once a year.

If testing yourself, buy a kit from your local hardware or home improvement retailer, or acquire one from the state or municipal health department that serves your community. Be on the lookout for lead in the water, which can facilitate the spread of Legionnaire’s disease. (Aside from filtration, also consider an alternative water heating method that’s proven to kill Legionnaire’s-causing bacteria, such as electric tankless water heaters.)

Selecting a household water filtration methodFilters can considerably improve household water quality – if they’re eliminating the right substances.

Essential filter functions
National Geographic pointed out that more than 60 million people in the U.S. have consumed drinking water containing thousands of unregulated chemicals in various parts-per-million measurements, many, though not all of them, small. In light of this, whichever filter you buy should bear the seal of the National Sanitation Foundation. Much like the Department of Energy’s ENERGY STAR program, the NSF tests water filters and similar appliances according to its comprehensive safety standards.

Ideally, the filter should eliminate lead, harmful parasites and other micro-organisms, chlorine and its variants, radon, and other pharmaceutical or industrial chemicals. 

Choose by filtration before form
When choosing between countertop, faucet-mounted and carafe water filter styles, it’s solely an aesthetic matter. How the appliance handles filtration is more important. 

Carbon filters eliminate or drastically reduce the presence of all substances noted above and more. By virtue of its porousness, carbon lets water through the filter while stopping contaminants. Reverse-osmosis filters can remove the most chemicals and impurities, but are more expensive and can waste water, according to National Geographic. Finally, ultraviolet filters use UV light to kill bacteria and parasites but aren’t proven to remove other chemicals and are quite expensive – some models sell for more than $500.