What you don’t see is equally harmful. While most pollutants don’t cause immediate illness, repeated exposure can trigger future health problems. Public water is subject to:
- parasites, viruses, and bacteria
- herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides
- chlorine byproducts, termed trihalomethanes
- volatile organic chemicals or VOCs, including gasoline additives, solvents, and degreasing agents
- household chemicals
- toxic metals, such as lead, arsenic, and mercury
- industrial waste
- petroleum leakage from underground storage tanks
Municipal regulatory systems eliminate only some of these contaminants. Consequently, we ingest, inhale, and absorb the rest. However, whole house filtration minimizes exposure. Here’s how this purification works and the many benefits you’ll reap.
Also termed point-of-entry, whole house filtration cleans water before it enters your home. It differs from point-of-use filtration, which purifies water just before it’s dispensed. Examples of point-of-use products are faucet filters, under-sink filtration, and pour-through water pitchers and bottles.
A whole house system removes pollutants through a filter connected to the water line. All incoming flow passes through the filter before being distributed to faucets, appliances, and toilets.
The specific contaminants needing removal depend on your water source. For 90 percent of Floridians, the origin is groundwater. The state mandates periodic testing of public water systems for 118 toxic chemicals. 1/ A carbon filtration system addresses chlorine and VOCs. Other filtration units target bacteria, nitrates, and toxic metals.
When all household water is filtered, it’s pure from every outlet. You can taste, see, and feel the difference! With pollutants removed, water has a clean flavor. With chlorine eliminated, vapors can’t escape. Do you have allergies or asthma? If so, you’ll breathe easier.
Your appliances and household pipes have a longer life. You obtain more use from coffee pots, dishwashers, water heaters, and washing machines. This longevity saves thousands of dollars in replacement costs! After washing, clothes remain bright and soft.
Bathroom fixtures exhibit less scale. While bathing, chemical toxins don’t penetrate your skin. Hair is smoother and less tangled.
Point-of-entry systems typically last 3-5 years. The ideal design employs multiple stages of filtration, eliminating at least 30 contaminants.
In Florida, the Department of Health (DOH) advises that local groundwater can be contaminated by microbes and chemicals that cause illness. Roughly 80 percent of Floridians receive water from public systems while 20 percent have private wells. 2/
If your water source is a public utility, request a copy of its annual water quality report. The assessment indicates findings from the prior year. For example, to view the 2015 report for Miami-Dade County, click here.
If you own a well, the Florida DOH strongly advises that you test for bacteria and nitrates annually. Ask your local health department whether you should assess for any additional contaminants.
The health department can explain how to collect water samples for lab analysis, costing $20-$30 per sample. Depending on your locale, staff may be able to draw home samples for an additional fee, usually $30-$40 per visit. 3/
You can also have testing done by private, state-certified labs. Facilities are listed in the Yellow Pages and online by the Department of Environmental Protection. To ensure accurate results, always use a state-certified lab.
Choosing a System
- Certification – Buy a carbon filtration system that’s NSF Certified. Certification guarantees that the product meets quality standards and does what it claims. NSF International is a non-profit organization that rates water filter efficacy. Make sure the unit is certified to NSF Standard 42, eliminating chlorine particulates, taste, and odor.
- Flow Rate – This criterion affects water pressure. Flow rate is determined by water consumption, based on how many bathrooms your home contains. Select a filtration system with large portholes and filter chambers. Otherwise, water pressure will be too low, causing weak faucet and shower output.
- Filter Type – The most effective is gradient carbon. Sediment in water is filtered several times, reducing it to tiny, benign particles. Choose a filter that downsizes sediment to one micron.
- Filter Size – The larger the filter, the better it traps sediment. Jumbo filters are ideal, typically usable for at least one year.
- Tanks – Most effective are multiple tank systems with an up-flow design.
For 2016, Soft Water Lab has reviewed the best whole house systems. Recommendations are based on quality of filtration media, certification, and consumer surveys. You can read Soft Water Lab’s findings here.
Whole house systems require professional installation. They must be shielded from sunlight and temperature extremes. Some systems are connected to the water line serving a water heater. If you have a well, the unit is placed where the water enters your home.
Some units require back-flushing. This process reverses water flow, draining dirty water into your wastewater system. For back-flushing, you need additional electricity and plumbing.
The highest quality filtration lasts five years, with filter replacement being the only maintenance. You have two options:
- Media-Only – To substitute media, you open the tank, remove the contaminated material, refill it, and flush the system.
- Tank Replacement – You don’t need to handle the media. Though this type costs more, it’s easier and faster than media-only.
A Winning Strategy
A whole house system provides peace of mind, knowing your water is free of harmful contaminants. Food is healthier when prepared with purified water. Drinking clean water helps you look and feel your best. Score big points for your well-being with pure water and Catered Fit meals.