Just because your tap water looks and tastes fine doesn’t mean it is. Sometimes, tap water contains chemicals and impurities that could harm you and cause problems to your appliances. Yes, it happens. We’re not saying this applies to all homes but in many cases, unfiltered tap water just isn’t safe enough.
Does this mean you need a water filter? That depends but, probably. There are many signs to look for and there are lots of water filters in the market today. Choosing one is not as easy as choosing between two higher versions of an iPhone — it requires a lot of research.
What is a water filter?
In a nutshell, a water filter is a tool or device you can use to filter your tap water, making it safer to drink. It helps improve the taste and smell of your water and removes chemicals, impurities, bacteria, and sediments. These things may be present in your tap water even when you can’t see or smell them.
There are many kinds of water filters and they’re not all the same. One of the most common types is the GAC or granulated activated carbon, which works by filtering and absorbing sediments and chemicals like chlorine. Some GAC filters also have several layers that prevent bacteria growth so you don’t have to worry about changing your water filter too often.
There’s also reverse osmosis, which is one of the most powerful types of water filters. They may consume space in your kitchen, but the contamination removal performance they offer is unparalleled among water filtration technology.
Why is water filtration important?
Even if you rely on city water that’s been treated and you can’t see or smell contaminants, your tap water can contain impurities that can harm your health.
According to a 2017 investigation, as many as 63 million in the US are exposed to potentially unsafe water. Contaminants may remain after the treatment process, or sometimes chlorine and synthetic chemicals used to treat water actually become contaminants themselves. Furthermore, water has to go through pipeline after pipeline to reach your home and there’s no way of knowing what chemicals and silts it will pick up along the way.
Using a water filter provides an extra step towards improving the safety and quality of your tap water, which is essential for healthy living.
Do I need a water filter?
So now you might be asking, do I need a water filter? And that’s a valid, if not a necessary question. One of the best ways to answer that is to check the quality of the water in your home. Read your local water quality report or call the Safe Drinking Water Hotline. There are also water test strips you can buy that will tell you what contaminants are present in your tap water. Keep in mind, clear water doesn’t always mean clean water. We’ve included a few signs below that indicate you might need a water filter.
Signs you need a water filter
- Your water has an off taste, appearance, or smell: Like we mentioned, just because your water looks fine, tastes fine, and smells fine doesn’t mean it’s clean. But when you actually notice it has an off taste, smell, or appearance, that’s an even clearer sign you need to invest in a water filter.
- You live in an older home: Older homes mean older piping systems. If you live in a house built before 1986, you may have lead pipes and this can also mean having lead in your tap water.
- You use a well to get water: If you use a well for your drinking water, it’s best if you can run it through a water filter first. Well water is unregulated and untreated by the government, so a filter is necessary to ensure it’s safe for use.
- Your clothes look dingy or are damaged after washing: This is a sign of hard water or water with high mineral content, and means you may require a water softener or conditioner.
- You notice white residue on dishes and clothes: This is another sign of hard water. And if hard water can affect your clothes and dishes, this means it can also affect your health.
If any of these signs are applicable, request a water quality report or test your water. Once you know what’s in your tap water, determine if you’re comfortable using it. If the contaminants concern you, you should get a water filter.
How to choose a water filter
Making the decision to filter your home’s water and being willing to make that investment is one thing. Knowing how to choose the right filtration system is another.
The most important factor is contaminant removal, so identify all of the contaminants you want to address with a water filter. From there, consider the situation in your home including whether you want filtered water for the entire house or just the kitchen.
If you want filtered water for the entire home, a whole house system is the way to go. However, if you only need filtered water in a few important areas or if you live in an apartment — you can choose between a countertop or under sink system. Just make sure to consider the space you have to ensure you’ll have enough room for a system.
Finally, compare different products and brands. You already know what type of filter you need, you also know what contaminants are present, now you’ll want to know which brands people trust. Compare water filters and read product reviews on our site to see how different systems stack up against each other.
To wrap things up, yes, this is an additional expense. Whatever type of water filter you use, you will have to shell out some cash. But keep in mind that just like any home improvement, this is an investment. You are investing in better water that will protect you and your family, and that’s a worthy investment.