An in-refrigerator Brita water filter; photo courtesy Kelly R. Smith
This article was updated on 01/11/21.
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A residential water filtering unit may be simple or complex, effective or snake oil chicanery. Popular types are the Brita water pitcher inside the refrigerator, Pur kitchen sink attachments, or whole-home reverse osmosis systems. But as the buyer beware; many technologies are based on bogus scientific claims.
Even though any time is a great time to start using filtration, know that a quality technician will try to sell you a kitchen, whole-home, or bath model.
When you buy a new appliance at a big box store like Home Depot or lowes, they will probably try to schedule an appointment for installation, but you dont know who you are dealing with. Be sure to check with your local BBB for any complaints. Can't be too careful nowadays, I always say.
It pays to determine which kind of filtration is right for you. This article goes over some common filters. You will want to check around. New residential water filtration systems are coming out on the home efficiency market all the time.
Reverse Osmosis (RO). You might hear these units called hyperfiltration devices. Many experts consider this the best filtration unit on the market. Thats one reason that many premium bottled water producers boast using this technology. It is effective and gets a lot of hype so half the marketing is done for them for free. word of mouth and all that.
The main advantage is the elimination of a broad array of contaminants. Reverse osmosis functions by removing particles that may be as tiny as individual ions. To get more specific, there are generally 2 categories commonly available: Thin Film Composite (also called TFC) and Cellulose Triacetate (called CTA)
Which one is best? It depends on who you ask, as with many other products. TFC is superior at filtration, although available chlorine will degrade it quicker than it will CTA. Reverse osmosis systems utilize GAC technology as a pre-filter positioned in front of an RO membrane. So in the end, it seems to be a bit of a trade-off.
Magnetic Filtration Systems. If the quality technician tries to pitch you one of these you should run, run, run! Even though part of the rationale presented might sound logical, they are like political campaign vows; the bottom line is that they are pure nonsense and the seller is a Mountebank! This is like Al Gore's climate change pitch.
Activated Carbon Filters. Carbon filters are not just for aquariums; they are also one of the most common for drinking water; Brita, built-in refrigerator water filters, and Pur water filters fall in this category.
Pur water filters
They have a reputation for both economy and efficiency. Usually they are either powdered block carbon or GAC (granular activated carbon).
Both are specified by the size of the impure particles that they are designed to remove. The scale ranges from a mere 0.5 microns, which is the most effective, up to a whopping 50 microns, which as you might have guessed, is the least effective.
What constitutes the carbon materials? Commonly, bituminous, wood, and coconut shell carbons. If you are into being green, coconut is not only a sustainable material but also the most efficient. As a rule, GAC is good at removing both VOCs (Volitive Organic Compounds) and chlorine.
In addition, its a good choice for removing toxic radon gas. Since it is not very effective in removing sediment consider preceding it with a good particulate filter.
Ultraviolet Water Purification Lamps. COVID-19 fighting UV lamps operate by emitting UV-C, or germicidal UV. This makes it extremely effective guarding against bacterial contaminants. And that's a good thing, folks.
Unfortunately, because of its nature, it is not designed to remove any particulate (physical) matter. To do this, its usually paired up with another class of filtration media. Also, it has zero effect on present chlorine and very little on absorbed airborne VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds).
So how does it work? Microbes recognized as health risks are irradiated by the ultraviolet rays. This causes the microbial nucleic acid to absorb the lamps UV energy.
Then the the DNA structure is effectively confused and scrambled up. The result is that the cell becomes sterile and no longer a threat to your familys health.
Clean potable water, in and of itself, is no strict guarantee of ones good health, but there exists little doubt that its one critical component. Trivia: Why did Londoners consume so much beer, porter, and ale in days of old? Because the water in the Thames river was so polluted that to imbibe it was to take one's life and good health into one's own hands. True, that.
Making the effort to install one of the systems mentioned above (or a combination of units depending on situation) in your home makes much more sense than depending exclusively on commercially bottled water. Why?
First, in the long run, it is much more economical, which makes it a logical long-term budget consideration. Secondly, tap water that hasn't had the minerals filtered out will cause calcification of faucets, shower heads, hot water heaters, and more. Finally, with bottled water, there is rarely any third-party monitoring to ensure that you are really getting what youve been promised.
In fact, a recent report told that much local bottled water was simply bottled tap water. Is it safe? Sure. Is it worth the money? No! Deciding on which type of home water filtration unit is right for your family and home is an easy decision once you factor in your preferences, budget, and circumstances.
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About the author:
Kelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.