What Is A Whole House Water Filter And How Does It Work?

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What Is A Whole House Water Filter And How Does It Work

Millions of people are exposed to dangerous contaminants because of the deteriorating water infrastructure and the widespread use of chemicals in our water sources. Whether you have well or city water, there are issues that pose a threat to our health and safety.

Therefore, a whole-house water filtration system might be the answer to your water quality woes. Let’s dive into what is a whole house water filter and how does it work.  

What Is A Whole House Water Filter?

A whole house water filtration system is installed where the main water supply line enters your home. Because they are installed at the point of entry, whole home filters work to reduce contamination for every tap throughout the house.

There are various types of whole home filter systems that are designed to remove different contaminants like chlorine, lead, PFAS, sediment, iron, bacteria, and more.

If your city or well water supply is unsuitable to use, then a whole house water treatment solution is the answer to your problems.

How Does A Whole House Water Filter Work?

A whole-house water filtration system is intended to supply clean, filtered water for every faucet in your home. This is also known as the Point-of-entry (POE) filter. The water filter functions as the first line of defense against bringing contaminated water into your home. 

Point-of-entry (POE) filters are those installed on the main water line entering a home. They are the entrances to your water supply, ensuring that only purified water reaches your appliances and fixtures.

The water in your home can be purified from any unwanted substances with the help of a whole-house filtration system. Your water’s composition will determine which whole-house water filter is ideal. 

Some are made to eliminate chlorine tastes and odors, while others reduce the presence of sediment, iron, sulfur, and arsenic in the water.

Stages Of Whole House Water Filter 

Whole-house water filters are established at the point where the main water line enters the house and filters the water before it is distributed to the various fixtures and appliances in the home, such as sinks, bathtubs, showers, and washing machines. 

How A Whole House Water Filter System Works_Stages
Whole House Water Filter Stages

Stage 1: Pre-sediment Filter

This step filters out the bigger particles and contaminants from your water supply. Typical examples of such contaminants are sediment and silt. 

Sediment in the water can clog pipes and wear out appliances, but this filter can keep that from happening. Remember, your pre-filter should be changed every two to three months to keep your filtration system in top shape.

Stage 2: Activated Carbon Filter

The second stage of filtration works to remove the remaining chlorine and chloramines. As an additional line of defense, activated carbon can bond to and filter out harmful toxins in your water supply.

Through a process known as adsorption, organics and chemicals are removed from the water as it passes through activated carbon, leaving behind purified water.

Stage 3: Post Filter 

The post-filter allows any remaining contaminants to be flushed away. Before reaching your faucets, this process helps to eliminate any lingering sediment and contaminants. For the best benefits, you should replace your post-filter every six to twelve months.

Stage 4: UV Purification (Optional)

Filtration systems incorporating UV purification can be more effective against microbiological agents such as bacteria, viruses, E. coli, cryptosporidium, and giardia lamblia.

Ultraviolet (UV) purification systems use UV light to destroy or severely degrade the DNA of any organisms found in the water supply.

Types Of Whole House Water Filters

Knowing the exact make-up of your water will allow you to select the most appropriate filter for its purification needs. Learn about the five kinds of whole-house filters, the toxins they can filter out, and the steps you can do to improve your home’s water quality.

Activated Carbon

Activated carbon, used in carbon water filters, has many tiny pores across its surface and framework. Over a process known as adsorption, organics and chemicals are removed from the water as it flows through activated carbon, and purified water is produced as a result. 

Furthermore, activated catalytic carbon aids in the removal of many common water contaminants chloramines and lead, and improves the taste and smell of your water supply. 

Whole House Carbon Water Filter

Reverse Osmosis

A whole house reverse osmosis water filtering system can significantly improve water quality while removing up to 99.0% of harmful contaminants.

This system uses pressure to push water across a semipermeable membrane to filter out impurities and specific minerals. Since minerals are denser than water, reverse osmosis can filter out the bigger substances.

Ultraviolet Purification

With the help of ultraviolet (UV) light, ultraviolet purification systems prevent disease-causing microorganisms from reproducing and spreading in the water supply. UV purification systems are most efficient when water is initially treated by a sediment filter because dirt and debris shield microbes from UV radiation. 

Sediment Filters

A sediment filter prevents sediment from reaching your water supply using mechanical filtration. Their pores are too narrow for particles to pass through, but water can move freely. Sediment filters are generally the first line of prevention for a whole-house filtration system since they boost the effectiveness of other water filters by prolonging the life of carbon filters, water softeners, and UV systems.

Do You Need A Whole House Water Filter?

There are several situations in which a whole-house water filter would be helpful. Whole-house filtration systems should be installed if your water supply is plagued by a specific contaminant or is of low quality overall.

  • A stench like rotten eggs in the water supply
  • Dishes with streaks and deposits on faucets and other plumbing fittings
  • Dry hair after showering
  • Signs of rust on your appliances
  • Damaged plumbing due to corrosion
  • Dry skin after showering
  • Unpleasant tastes in the water supply

If you also have hard water or limescale issues, a water filter and softener combo is an ideal solution.

There are also many water contaminants that cannot be detected without a test. That is why it is critical to get your water tested to know exactly what is in your water. This will help direct you to the best whole house filter without being disappointed by lackluster results or overspending.

Pro Tip: Well water is unregulated, so I highly recommend getting your water tested if you have well water as a source.

You can also check your water quality through resources like the EPA Consumer Confidence Reports or the EWG Tap Water Database.

What Do Whole-House Water Filtration Systems Remove? 

Many homeowners are turning to whole-house filtration systems to address a wide range of water quality problems. The type of filter most appropriate for your home’s water supply depends on the contaminants in your water supply. The best whole house water filtration systems can remove hundreds of contaminants including PFAS, fluoride, heavy metals, chloramine, and more. Below is not an exhaustive list, but it’s some of the most critical impurities found in water.

Here’s what each type of whole-house filtration system can remove from your water:

Carbon filters

  • PFAS
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Trihalomethanes
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramines
  • Bad tastes and odors in the water

Sediment filters

  • Dirt
  • Sand
  • Clay
  • Rust from aging pipes
  • Turbidity
  • Debris from degrading wells

Reverse Osmosis

  • Fluoride
  • Bacteria
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Sodium
  • Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

Ultraviolet Purification

  • Algae
  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Parasites
  • Viruses

How Much Do Whole House Water Filters Cost?

The average price for a whole house water filtration system ranges from $100 – $4,500 depending on the size and type of filter.

Type Of SystemAverage Cost
Sediment Filter$100 – $200
Cartridge Based System$400 – $1,000
Tank Based System$800 – $1,700
Filter And Softener Combo$2,000 – $4,500
Whole House Reverse Osmosis$1,600 – $7,000
Whole House Water Filter Cost

The expense of installing a whole-house water filter can range from $300 to $1,500. The cost will vary with factors such as system size, type of filtration used, and manufacturer. The professional installation charge averages roughly $400, though it could be higher if major plumbing work needs to be done.

Tank Based Vs Cartridge Whole House Water Filter

Generally, whole house water filtration systems come in two forms, tank based and cartridge based. Tank based systems will have a longer filter media life and are virtually maintenance-free for up to 10 years. Manufacturers typically have multiple size configurations available to select the optimal size for your specific home. Tank based systems also come with different media like activated carbon, KDF or greensand that can be more effective at targeting and removing contaminants.

Cartridge based systems are usually less expensive up front, but require filter changes every several months. They are also a little easier to install and take up less space. One downside is they are not as effective with well water with heavy iron or sulfur.

Both are suitable options for filtration effectiveness, but it really comes down to what you need to remove from your water, your water source, and your budget. Check out our favorite cartridge and tank based brands in the Kind Water Systems vs SpringWell article for a detailed comparison.

Pros and Cons Of A Whole House Water Filter System 

Let’s find out the advantages and disadvantages of putting up a whole-house water filter system. Would it be worth your money, or not?

Advantages Of Whole House Water Filter

  • Filter every drop of water that enters your home
  • Effective options for both city and well water sources
  • Maintenance free for up to 10 years
  • Purify water by filtering out a wide range of impurities
  • Make water taste and smell better
  • Help home appliances last longer
  • Protect the piping from any potential damage

Disadvantages Of Whole House Water Filter

  • Whole-house water filtration systems can cost more than smaller point of use options
  • Professional installation can add cost to whole-house water filtration
  • Can reduce water pressure if not properly sized
  • Takes up some floor space
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