Are Water Filters Worth It? (Advice from a Water Doctor)

Trying to decide whether or not a water filter is worth it for you?

In this guide, we’ve shared everything you need to know about water filters, including their pros and cons, and when they may or may not be worth it. By the end, you should have enough knowledge to decide whether or not a water filter is worth your money.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Water filters are worth it if drinking healthy, contaminant free water is important to you.
  • Water filters AREN’T worth it if you don’t mind drinking contaminated water, you can’t afford the upfront or ongoing costs of a filter, or you don’t want to deal with the hassle of filter maintenance.
  • To decide whether or not you should buy a water filter, consider your budget, your contaminant removal needs, and your installation and maintenance preferences.

🚰 Do You Need a Water Filter?

People who drink municipal tap water don’t need a water filter. Why? Because city water is filtered and disinfected to make it safe to drink.

However, this large-scale filtration and disinfection process doesn’t completely purify water. What that means is that the water still contains traces of contaminants like lead, nitrates or nitrites, mercury, radium, and selenium. Most municipal water supplies are treated with chlorine, chloramine, or a similar disinfectant, which is also present in water in trace amounts.

💡 If you’re hesitant to believe that your water contains contaminants, check your local water quality report. Here, your water supplier should list all the contaminants present in your water, and to what amount – and whether or not this amount exceeds EPA guidelines.

If you’re concerned about the contaminants in your tap water, the only way to remove them is with a water filter. Therefore, you could say that you need a water filter.

Filling a glass from a water filter at home

✅ When ARE Water Filters Worth It?

We personally think that water filters are always worth it, regardless of your situation – but not all types of filters are worth it for everyone.

There are different types of filters that remove different sets of contaminants and suit different budgets, from water pitchers (costing less than $100 upfront) to reverse osmosis systems and whole house water filter systems (costing hundreds or thousands of dollars).

Water filters ARE worth it for you if:

  • You drink municipal water. Your local water treatment facility has to reduce certain contaminants according to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, but the EPA still allows trace contaminants to remain. Plus, your water facility can’t control the contaminants (such as lead) that enter your water supply on its way to your home.
  • You drink well water. Well water isn’t treated by a water supplier since it’s a private resource, so water filters aren’t just worth it for well owners – they’re essential. Using a whole house well filter system will protect your family from bacteria, nitrates, and other common well water contaminants.
  • You drink bottled water. You might think that a water filter isn’t worth it if you’re a bottled water drinker, because you already drink clean, great-tasting water. But a good water filter can give you bottled-quality water from your tap, without the expense and plastic waste of a bottled water habit.
  • You’re looking for a convenient way to drink filtered water. Regardless of where you get your tap water from, a water filtration system is worth it for you if you want to drink filtered water in the most convenient way possible. Many water treatment systems can be installed directly at your water line, which means you get filtered water as soon as you turn on your tap.
  • You have at least $50 to spend upfront, and $25-$50 to spend per year. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a whole house water filtration system if you just want to drink filtered tap water. Many water pitcher filters and faucet-mounted filters cost less than $50, and offer incredibly thorough filtration (some of the best pitchers can remove hundreds of tap water contaminants). So, even if your budget is small, a filtered water system is worth it.
  • You’re concerned about a specific contaminant – or everything. There are filters available to treat a range of contaminants, from chlorine to fluoride, lead to nitrates. So, regardless of what you’re concerned about, you’ll find a filter that can remove this contaminant – making it worth it for you.
Filtered water from the waterdrop chubby pitcher

⛔️ When AREN’T Water Filters Worth It?

Water filters might not be worth your money if:

  • You can’t afford a filter. Many of us already have plenty of expenses to think about already, and the additional expense of a water filter – no matter how small – might be enough to push you over the edge. Don’t buy a water filter if you can’t afford to keep it maintained.
  • You don’t mind drinking contaminated water. If you don’t have a health issue (like a compromised immune system) that increases your risk of getting sick from trace contaminants, or you just don’t care about what your water contains, a water filtration system of any kind probably isn’t worth it for you.
  • You don’t want the effort of installing/maintaining a filter. There are plenty of filters that require virtually no installation and setup, but if you don’t want the hassle of owning a filter at all, it’s likely not worth it for you.

⚖️ Pros & Cons of Water Filters

To get a better idea of whether or not a filtration system is worth it for you, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of water filters.

Water Filter Pros

Removes Harmful Contaminants

Water filters provide a much more thorough filtration than a water treatment plant offers. It’s common for under-the-sink filters and whole-home filters to remove tens of contaminants, including heavy metals, chemicals, volatile organic compounds, nitrates, disinfection byproducts, pharmaceuticals, and more.

Even the more basic faucet-mounted filters (which typically use carbon filters) can greatly reduce numerous common contaminants that are found in most municipal water supplies.

Some of the best water filtration systems, like reverse osmosis systems, provide water purification, removing virtually all total dissolved solids from your drinking water supply.

Removing dangerous contaminants from water

A Range of Filter Types Available

You can choose a suitable filter for your needs – and trust us when we say that you’re spoilt for choice.

📌 If you want to filter your entire home’s water supply, opt for a whole-house water filtration system. Or, choose an under-sink or countertop system if you just want access to filtered drinking water. Choose a reverse osmosis system if you want the most thoroughly purified water possible.

There are options available if you have a rental property or don’t want to spend hours installing a system, such as water filter pitchers and faucet filters.

Suitable For Different Budgets

Even if your budget is small, you have choices. Water pitchers and faucet filters (usually containing activated carbon filters) are the most affordable filter types, followed by countertop filters and under-sink systems (non-RO).

If you have a more flexible budget, you’ll also be able to consider the more expensive filters, like reverse osmosis systems and whole house water filter systems that combine activated carbon filters with other filter stages.

Spending less doesn’t mean compromising on quality. Even the lower-cost filters can filter water effectively, reducing tens – or hundreds – of contaminants.

Springwell water softener and iron filter well water treatment system

Improves Water Taste & Smell

Once you’ve installed a filter, you should be able to tell the difference between filtered and unfiltered water from your faucet.

Even a basic activated carbon filter massively improves water’s taste and smell by adsorbing chlorine, which gives drinking water a chemical, swimming pool-like smell.

You’ll be much more inclined to stay hydrated when your drinking water tastes and smells great.

Water Filter Cons

There are a few setbacks of water filters that you should know about if you’re trying to decide whether or not a filter is worth it for you.

Require Regular Maintenance

Regardless of the type of filter you go for, it’ll need some form of maintenance.

📌 Different filters have different lifespans. For instance, the filters in whole house filtration systems typically have a much longer lifespan of 6-12 months, while a small carbon filter cartridge in a pitcher will need to be replaced every 2 months, on average.

Whole house sediment filter replacement

Reduce Water Flow

When water flows into a filter cartridge, it meets resistance. Filter pores are small, preventing large contaminants from filtering through. This means that water flow is slowed down as the water travels through the filter.

The best filters only reduce your flow rate by a small amount, and some filters (like whole house water filtration systems) are available in different sizes and capacities to prevent a drop in flow rate in homes of all sizes. Still, your water flow won’t be quite as fast after installing a filter.

Filtration Limitations

Different types of filters are usually designed to remove different sets of contaminants from unfiltered water. Unfortunately, even when these filters are grouped together, they don’t usually reduce everything from your drinking water.

📌 Only reverse osmosis systems are capable of complete water purification, and they cost hundreds-to-thousands of dollars because of it.

👨‍⚖️ Should You Buy A Water Filter?

Still trying to decide whether or not to buy a certain water filter? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Can I comfortably afford the upfront cost of my chosen filter, and can I afford to maintain the filter?
  • Do I currently drink bottled water? How much money would I save by ditching my bottled water habit and filtering water at home?
  • Which contaminants are a problem in my water? Does my chosen filter effectively reduce these contaminants?
  • Could I spend less money on a water filtration system that offers virtually the same performance as my chosen filter? (such as downgrading from an under-sink filter to a water pitcher)
  • How important is it to me that my family drinks contaminant-free water?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you should be clearer on whether or not a filter is worth it for you, based on your budget and your contaminant removal needs. Next, check out this article to learn exactly what type of water filter you need.

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