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10 Best Whole House Water Filters of 2020

best whole house water filter reviews

Table of Contents

The most popular whole house water filters are carbon based. These tend to be the simplest to maintain, and the lowest in cost, compared to other filter alternatives.

You can usually find a carbon filter online, and many are designed to produce hundreds of thousands of gallons of water before their main units will need replacing.

To put that into perspective, the average family is thought to use just over 100,000 gallons of water per year.

Best Whole House Water Filter Systems

  • Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
  • Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System
  • SpringWell Water Whole House Water Filter System
  • iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
  • Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filteration System
  • APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System
  • Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System
  • 3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System
  • Dupont, WFPF13003B Filter System
  • SoftPro Whole House Upflow Carbon Filter
SystemDetails 
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System review
Type: Carbon & KDF
Capacity: 1,000,000 gallons or 10 years
Flow rate: (GPM): 7
Dimensions: 9 x 46 x 54 inches


👉 Read the full review
Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System
Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System review
Type: Carbon
Capacity: 600,000 gallons or 1 year
Flow rate (GPM): 12
Dimensions: 18 x 49.5 x 18 inches



SpringWell Water Whole House Water Filter System
SpringWell Water Whole House Water Filter System review
Type: Air Injection Oxidizing (AIO)
Capacity: n/a
Flow rate (GPM): 12
Dimensions: 10 x 54 inches



SoftPro Whole House Upflow Carbon Filter
SoftPro Whole House Upflow Carbon Filter review
Type: Carbon
Capacity: 600,000 gallons or 1 year
Flow rate (GPM):
Dimensions: 9 x 48 x 25 inches
iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System review
Type: Carbon
Capacity: 100,000 gallons or 1 year
Flow rate (GPM): up to 15
Dimensions: 8 x 28 x 21 inches

Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filteration System
Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filteration System review
Type: Carbon
Capacity: 95,000 gallons
Flow rate (GPM): up to 15
Dimensions: 24 x 9 x 25 inches


APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System
APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System review
Type: Carbon & KDF
Capacity: 20,000 gallons or 6 months
Flow rate (GPM): up to 15
Dimensions: 30 x 24 x 12 inches

Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System
Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System review
Type: Carbon & KDF
Capacity: 100,000 gallons
Flow rate (GPM): 7-15
Dimensions: 23.5" x 8.5" x 30"

3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System
3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System review
Type: Carbon
Capacity: 100,000 gallons
Flow rate (GPM): up to 20
Dimensions: 6 x 6 x 27 inches

Dupont, WFPF13003B Filter System
Dupont, WFPF13003B Filter System review
Type: Poly
Capacity: 15,000 gallons
Flow rate (GPM): 5
Dimensions: 13.6 x 5.6 x 5.5 inches


Best Whole House Water Filter Reviews 2020

Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System

Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System review

The Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System is NSF certified and has been tested and proven to remove up to 97% of chlorine from drinking water. Installed at the water’s point of entry into a home, this filter enables you to enjoy filtered water in all your appliances, from your showers and faucets to your washing machines and dishwashers. The system also greatly reduces rust, silt, sediment, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, bacteria, algae and organic particles in water. 

Using SCM technology, the Aquasana whole home filter naturally alters the structure of hard water minerals, preventing them from being able to stick to plumbing and appliances in the form of limescale.

It consists of 4 filters in total – each of them playing a different role in the removal or reduction of contaminants. 

  1. A sediment pre-filter,
  2. A salt-free water conditioner,
  3. An activated carbon filter, and
  4. A post-filter

The system has a 1 million gallon lifespan, however this can be a little misleading – it suggests that you can use the system for up to 10 years before you need to change the filters. This actually isn’t the case, as the pre-filter requires changing every 2 to 3 months, and the other filters need changing every 6 to 12 months. Only the salt free water conditioner has a lifespan of  1 million gallons before the media will need to be replaced.

Pros:

  • Tested and certified to remove 97% of chlorine
  • Softens and filters water for the whole home

Cons:

  • Filters need changing every 2 to 12 months
  • Difficult to install yourself

Read the full review: Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter System w/ Salt-Free Conditioner Review


Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System

Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System

The Pelican Premium Whole House Water Filter System comes in two sizes – 600,000 gallons for homes with 1 to 3 bathrooms, or 1,000,000 gallons for homes with 4 to 6 bathrooms. The system has a number of certifications, including NSF/ANSI 42 and 61 for the removal of aesthetic contaminants like chlorine taste and odor, and ensuring that no lead is added to water. 

Removing up to 97% of chlorine from water, the Pelican whole house filter allows you to shower in cleaner water, promoting softer skin and hair. You can also drink healthier water from your faucets without having to resort to bottled water. 

The unit consists of a sediment pre-filter and a carbon series chamber, which reduces chlorine and chloramine – some filters only remove either one or the other. It also greatly reduces any remaining sediment, tastes and odor from water. The sediment pre-filter needs changing after approximately 6 months, and the carbon series chamber, after roughly 5 years.

A major benefit of the Pelican premium filter is that you can install it either inside or outside, so if you’re short of space inside, that’s not a problem. Installation is easy to do yourself, and it includes everything you need for setup, including a bypass valve and fittings. 

Pros:

  • Available in 2 sizes to better match your requirements
  • Simple to install either inside or outside

Cons:

  • Doesn’t filter fluoride
  • Filters require replacing every 6 months – 5 years

SpringWell Water Whole House Water Filter System

SpringWell Water Whole House Water Filter System

If you’re looking for a certified whole home filter that reduces an impressive host of contaminants in water, take note of the SpringWell whole house filter. The system uses carbon certified media and catalytic coconut shell carbon media to almost completely remove the likes of chlorine and chloramine, PFOS and PFOA, herbicides and pesticides, and more. 

With a 4-stage design, the SpringWell system allows the water to have the longest contact time with the filters, helping to provide a more thorough filtration

  1. Stage 1 sees the removal of sand, silt and other suspended particles in water.
  2. In stage 2, the water is pushed through a KDF media, which removes chemicals like chlorine
  3. In stage 3, a coconut shell carbon media removes chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, and other chemical contaminants. 
  4. Finally, the 4th stage is designed to eliminate channeling while still giving the water plenty of contact time with the filters. 

As with all filter-based whole home water systems, you will need to replace the SpringWell system’s filters frequently, which will come at an extra cost after your purchase. The pre-filter needs replacing after 6 to 9 months. 

If you are familiar with plumbing and piping, you will be able to install the SpringWell whole house filter system yourself. Anyone who isn’t handy may prefer not to install this system themself – which means factoring in costs of hiring a plumber. 

Pros:

  • Uses certified components
  • Relatively low-maintenance

Cons:

  • Not all parts for installation are included
  • Some people may struggle with installation

SoftPro Whole House Upflow Carbon Filter

SoftPro Whole House Upflow Carbon Filter

The SoftPro system is a low-maintenance whole home carbon filter that can filter 600,000 to 1,000,000 gallons of water over approximately 5 years. The unit uses catalytic carbon, which removes both chlorine and chloramines, as well as pesticides, herbicides, and VOCs from water. It works by using the adsorption method to trap these contaminants in the filter media and prevent them from passing through with the smaller water particles. 

Also included with the SoftPro whole house filter is an added KDF sponge, made from high-purity copper and zinc, which uses oxidation and reduction to remove heavy metals, as well as a sediment pre-filter that removes larger particles of sand and dirt from water. Note, though, that the manufacturer doesn’t recommend using this filter for well water

The SoftPro whole house carbon filter comes with an upflow valve, the bypass for that valve, and male threaded connections for installation. The filters and the tank are also included, but you will need to use your own tools and plumbing tape. Installation is straightforward and there are a number of videos online that provide step-by-step demonstrations. Filter replacements are needed every 3 to 6 months. 

Pros:

  • Filter has a very long lifespan
  • Added KSF sponge for additional filtration benefits

Cons:

  • Currently not much specific info on the manufacturer’s website about the filter
  • No evidence of NSF certification

iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System review

Using a 100-gallon capacity carbon coconut filter, the iSpring WGB32B  is a whole house water filter that can provide you with a year’s worth of clean water before requiring a filter change. It is designed to remove up to 95% of chlorine, chloramines, sediment, chemicals, and a number of other chemicals that give water a color or a bad taste. 

Featured in the WGB32B is a pp layered sediment filter, which removes larger particles of sand, dust and rust. There are also two coconut shell carbon block filters, which can filter chlorine particles and other impurities to 0.5 microns in size. 

With densely packed carbon block filtration media, the iSpring system guarantees a more effective contaminant removal, for longer. The filters are third-party tested to meet NSF standards, presumably for chlorine removal (the specifics aren’t mentioned by the manufacturer). 

iSpring has produced a whole host of helpful video manuals for help with installation and maintenance, which come in handy if you plan to handle these things alone. Installation is a little tricky, so you may prefer to hire a plumber. Maintenance is much simpler – you just need to change the filters every 6 months. 

Pros:

  • Won’t affect water pressure
  • NSF third-party tested

Cons:

  • Filter lifespan is not as long as others
  • Installation is difficult

Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filtration System

Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filteration System review

The Home Master HMF2SMGCC offers three stages of water filtration for the removal of iron, carbon and fine sediment. It is ideal for well water and city water, and has huge filter housings for the strongest possible water pressure. With an average flow rate of 15 gallons per minute, the Home Master system can filter water without long wait times when you turn on the faucet. 

Using radial carbon filters, the Home Master HMF2SMGCC can remove particles up to 3 ppm. Through the process of adsorption, the filters treat manganese, iron and hydrogen sulfide, helping to eliminate staining and remove foul tastes and odors from water. This whole home filter also removes dirt, sediment, rust, and chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. 

The Home Master filter differs from the majority of whole home filters as it doesn’t offer chlorine removal. If your city water is chlorinated, the manufacturer recommends several other of their whole home water filters. 

You will need to change the Home Master’s filters every year, which is fairly standard for a filter-based whole home water system. Many users found that they could install the Home Master easily themselves, so you may want to check out the instructions and give it a go yourself before paying to hire a plumber. 

Pros:

  • Relatively low cost compared to similar systems
  • Easy to install yourself

Cons:

  • Not suitable for chlorinated city water
  • Replacement filters are quite expensive

APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System

APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System review

With sediment and carbon block, iron and hydrogen sulfide reducing filters, the APEX MR-3030 is a popular 3-stage whole home filter for homes with one or two bathrooms. The MR-3030’s activated carbon block filter is NSF certified, so you can rest assured that it effectively removes chlorine and chloramines from city water as advertised. It also removes VOCs, insecticides, industrial solvents and pesticides. 

The APEX MR-3030 features a one-inch inlet and outlet that has a minimal effect on water flow. You can expect up to 15 GPM when the system has been installed. 

It has a polypropylene sediment filter that water flows through before the carbon block filter, helping to extend the life of the overall system. It does this by removing sediment, rust, and particles down to 5 microns, preventing them from clogging the carbon block filter. 

Finally, a KDF media filter removes dissolved metals, as well as water-soluble nickel, lead, mercury, and other metals. Each filter has a lifespan of around 20,000 gallons, or approximately 6 months, before it needs replacing. It comes ready to install, and includes a wall mount. Handily, it can be installed both inside and outside your home. Installation may prove too tricky to handle yourself, so prepare to shell out for a plumber if necessary. 

Pros:

  • NSF certified for chlorine removal
  • Can be installed inside and outside

Cons:

  • Filter lifespan isn’t very long
  • Filter replacement is fairly difficult

Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System

Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System review

The Express Water system is a 3 stage filter for whole home use. Designed to be installed at water’s point of entry into a home, it is made with 100% food grade materials and is built to last. The filter has also been third-party tested to meet NSF/ANSI standards, which means you can trust that it’ll perform as advertised. 

All three filter housings in the Express Water system are fitted to a freestanding mount, making it easier to install the system and perform maintenance like filter changes. Helpfully, the filter housing for the first sediment filter is clear, so you can see how dirty your filter is becoming and decide when it needs to be changed. 

Inside the Express Water unit, you can find a sediment filter, a KDF filter and a carbon block filter. These work together to remove sand, dust, iron, lead, arsenic, sulfur, mercury, chlorine, pesticides and more from water. 

Filter changes in the Express Water whole house system are really simple, and you won’t waste time taking the system apart or stopping leaks. The unit has a simple design that lets you twist off the housings and drop the new filter in place. With pressure gauges included, you will know for sure when water pressure has dropped low enough to indicate a filter change is required. 

Pros: 

  • Third-party NSF/ANSI tested 
  • Maintenance is simple

Cons:

  • Doesn’t come with all parts needed for installation
  • Some people noticed a drop in pressure with the KDF filter

3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System

3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System review

The 3M Aqua-Pure system is a whole-house water filter that’s ideal for people who are looking for minimal maintenance after installation. It features a single filter cartridge with a sanitary quick change design, which helps you to quickly and easily change the filter without having to disassemble the system. 

With a 100,000 gallon capacity, you can use the Aqua-Pure for approximately 12 months before you will need to change the filter. The system offers flow rates of up to 20 GPM and contains corrosion resistant material that helps to extend its lifespan for as long as possible. 

The Aqua-Pure’s filter has been certified for meeting NSF Standard 42, which covers point of entry systems designed to reduce a number of health contaminants, both aesthetic and non-aesthetic, including chlorine, and particulates that affect water taste and odor. 

It’s recommended that you hire a professional handyman to install the 3M Aqua-Pure if you have never had a whole home water filter before, as the job may be too difficult for someone with little to no plumbing experience. If you’d like to give installation a go yourself, the manufacturer has produced videos that will guide you through the process. 

Pros:

  • Simple maintenance – just one filter to replace
  • NSF certified

Cons:

  • Installation is challenging
  • Some users have had to change their filter after only a few months of use

Dupont WFPF13003B Filter System

Dupont, WFPF13003B Filter System review - Copy

The Dupont WFPF13003B is a 15,000 gallon whole home water filter that’s ideal for homes with smaller budgets, or people looking to test out a whole home filter before investing in a more expensive model. Ideal for home or office use, the Dupont WFPF13003B reduces sediment in drinking water, helping to extend the life of plumbing and appliances. 

With a slim, space-saving design, the Dupont system can be installed by a non-professional in a matter of minutes. The included filter is designed to improve the clarity of water, and uses a poly block cartridge to remove rust and silt particles. You may choose to install the system before a carbon filter in a bigger whole home system, or use it alone purely to reduce sediment. 

The WFPF13003B’s filter is a standard 10 inches in size. When it’s time to replace it, you can choose your preferred 10 inch filter by any manufacturer, and it should fit. This might be useful knowledge for you to have if you’re specifically looking for a filter that removes lead or chlorine, for example. 

Pros:

  • Great budget filter
  • Can replace the filter with any 10-inch filter of your choice

Cons:

  • Not as effective as a multi filter whole home system
  • Some users experienced leaks

Whole House Water Filter Buyer’s Guide

We understand how it can be scouring the internet to find all the most up to date information when trying to decide which product you want. That’s why we went ahead and did the homework for you!

We put together the the buyer’s guide below to help you learn everything you need to know to make an informed decision about which whole home water filter system is right for your specific needs.

Lets jump in!

What are Whole House Water Filters?

A whole house water filter is a point-of-entry water filtration system that provides clean, filtered water for an entire household and its appliances. This type of filter is connected up to your main water pipe, making it possible for you to enjoy filtered water throughout your home.

The best whole house filters will use at least three, sometimes four, stages of water filtration. These stages include:

  1. A pre sediment filter, which is designed to remove larger particles of dirt, dust, rust and sand from water. This filter is essential for preventing the later stage filters from becoming damaged by these sediments, which could lower their lifespan.
  2. A copper/zinc combination filter, which is used to remove contaminants like lead and mercury, as well as chemicals like chlorine, and other dissolved metals that might affect taste and odor of water.
  3. An activated carbon filter, which is designed to cover the largest surface area possible to trap contaminants like organic compounds in its pores, only allowing smaller water particles to pass through.
  4. A post filter, which gives water one final polish before it moves into your home’s plumbing. This removes any sediment that may have passed through previous filters.

If you have multiple hot water heaters, you will still only need one whole house water filter. Providing you can install it at your water pipe before it connects up to your heaters, they will be able to benefit from filtered water.

Like standard kitchen sink water filters, whole home filtration systems come in a variety of different styles, each with slightly different purposes. Some of the more popular whole house filter choices include systems that contain carbon filters, reverse osmosis membranes, and next generation technology for a more thorough water cleanse.

Whole Home Reverse Osmosis Systems

Another popular option for whole home water filtration is a reverse osmosis system.

One thing to keep in mind about these systems is that they’re more expensive to purchase than other whole house alternatives, and can be costlier to maintain, but they’re the most efficient at removing the broadest range of contaminants from water. While standard carbon-based systems are priced in the hundreds, reverse osmosis filters for the home can cost up to $3,000 to $6,000 depending on the complexity of the model.  Note that reverse osmosis systems also waste around 4 gallons of water for every 1 gallon of filtered water produced during the RO process.

Next Generation Filter Technology

Another common option for whole house water filtration is next-generation filter technology. These types of filters can remove contaminants and dissolved solids on the same level as reverse osmosis, but at a fraction of the price. They also won’t waste water during filtration.

Next generation technology household filters are an environmentally alternative to reverse osmosis, although they’re still more costly than carbon-based systems. You can expect to pay around the $2,000 mark for a decent next generation filter.

home water filtration system

Things to Consider When Reviewing the Best Whole House Water Filters

A whole home water filter is a big investment, and it’s important not to rush the purchasing process. Make sure to do plenty of research before you make a final decision, and read through buyer’s guides like this one.

Consumption & Filter Capacity

A filter’s capacity is the amount of gallons of filtered water it can produce per hour. The higher the filter capacity, the more efficient a filtration system is, and the quicker you’ll be able to benefit from filtered drinking water.

Standard whole home water filters, like carbon-based filters, don’t produce any water waste, and have better filter capacities in general. All water that passes through the filters is used around your home, as this method of water filtration doesn’t flush away water during the process. A filter’s capacity depends on its quality, and the materials that make up the filter. You’ll be able to find a whole home filter’s water production rate in its product description.

Type of Filters

As we’ve covered already, there are three main types of whole home water filters: carbon-based, reverse osmosis, and next generation technology. It’s worth being informed on the different filter types, and the contaminants they can remove, in order to know which filter is the best for your household’s water quality.

Request a water quality report from your local area’s water provider if you don’t receive them already. This can give you a breakdown of the different elements in your drinking water, and compare them to the average level of contaminants in the country. Another way to find out your water quality is to test it yourself using a water testing kit. You can buy one of these online, and it’ll give you an indication of which contaminants are the most highly present in your water.

Once you know what’s in your water, you can determine exactly what you want to remove, which can help you decide which filter type is for you.

Filter Longevity/ Lifespan

The longevity of a filter usually depends on the manufacturer, model, and quality of the product. Different filter types may last longer than others, depending on their make-up and the contaminants they’re designed to eliminate from water.

Generally, pre-sediment filters have the shortest lifespans, as they can become quite quickly clogged with larger particles, which will eventually prevent them from being able to filter water properly. Most pre-sediment filters will need changing after about 3 to 6 months.

Carbon filters and remineralization filters have an average lifespan of 6 to 12 months, depending on filter use.

Reverse osmosis membranes can last for up to 2 years before they need changing.

Ultimately, you’ll need to read up on a particular product to learn exactly when its filters require changing. Some whole house water filter systems contain more filters than others, so you’ll need to factor this in when it comes to replacing them. Unfortunately, no filter lasts forever, so no matter what model you go for, you’ll have to regularly replace your filters if you want to get the most out of your system.

System Physical Size & Space Available

Of course, your household water system will need to actually be installed somewhere, and that means having free space to install it. You’ll need to set your filter unit up connected to your home’s main water line.

Not only will you need enough space to store your filter, you’ll also want easy access to the unit for whenever you need to change a filter or perform any other type of system maintenance.

whole house water filter

Micron Rating

A micron is a unit of measurement, with 1 micron being equal to a millionth of a meter in length. Microns are tiny – we can’t actually see anything smaller than 40 microns, and, to put things into perspective, one white blood cell is thought to be about 25 microns in size.

A filter’s micron rating is its ability to remove contaminants based on their micron size. So, for example, a filter with a 5 micron rating will be able to remove particles as small as 5 microns.

This doesn’t cover the efficiency of the removal of these microns, which is why it’s important to know the difference between nominal and absolute micron rating.

Nominal micron rating gives a measurement of a filter’s ability to remove specific particle sizes at an efficiency of 50% to 90%. So, if a filter has a nominal micron rating of 5, it can remove particles as small as 5 microns at a 50% to 90% efficiency.

Absolute micron rating provides information of a filter’s ability to remove specific particle sizes at an efficiency of at least 98.7%. This means that if a filter has an absolute micron rating of 5, it’s much more efficient in removing a particle as small as 5 microns – it will remove a minimum of 98.7% of the particles from water.

You should be able to find the micron ratings of a particular filter in its product information. As all particles are variously sized, a filter’s micron rating will give an indication of the types of particles it will remove best.

Household water filtration systems that consist of a larger variety of filters tend to be the best for removing the largest quantity of contaminants, because their filters are designed to remove particles at different micron sizes.

Your Budget

There’s a substantial difference in price between carbon filters, reverse osmosis and next generation technology filters.

Standard whole house carbon-based filters cost around $300 to $600 in price. Some filters are more expensive than this, and you may need to pay slightly more for additional features like remineralization filters or UV filters.

Reverse osmosis and next generation filters cost between $1,000 and $3,000 to purchase. Whole house RO filters can reach the highest in price, with some peaking past the $5,000 mark. A reverse osmosis system is a much bigger investment than a carbon-based filter, and if your budget is more flexible, you’ll need to decide whether it’s worth paying more for the additional benefits of RO.

Flow & Water Pressure

Your household’s water pressure is a factor which will affect the efficiency of your whole house water filter, especially reverse osmosis systems.

You might think that a higher water pressure or flow is always the best option, but that isn’t true. Carbon filters actually benefit from a slower water flow, as it allows the filters to more thoroughly remove particles from water over a longer period of time.

With reverse osmosis filters, on the other hand, a water pressure of 60 PSI is optimal for water filtration, as it allows water to flow through the filters quickly enough for the whole process to be most efficient. This type of filtration requires adequate water pressure to force water through the RO membrane at a sufficient rate.

You can test your home’s water pressure with a pressure gauge that measures in PSI. You’ll find these in most hardware stores or online.

Certifications

The best whole house water filters are certified by either the WQA or NSF International. Certification proves that a filter works to the standards as advertised by its manufacturer, and ensures that a product is worth the money you’re paying for it.

Water Quality Association (WQA)

The Water Quality Association is an independent body that helps customers identify when a water quality improvement product is at a certified level of high standards and expertise. Manufacturers can obtain WQA certification to prove to customers that their product is approved by a third party for offering legitimate benefits.

NSF International

NSF International is the more popular certification body of the two. NFS certification ensures customers that an independent third party has reviewed a product’s manufacturing process and concluded that a product complies with specific standards for safety, quality, sustainability or performance.

When Do I Need a Whole House Filter System?

You might be wondering whether it would really be necessary to own a filtration system for your whole home. After all, you’re only really interested in drinking cleaner, safer, better tasting tap water from your kitchen faucet – aren’t you?

If your home’s water source comes from a privately owned well, a whole house water filter for well water is a necessary appliance to ensure water is clean, potable, and ready for use.

showering with house water filter

When is a Whole House Filter Not Necessary?

Even with all the benefits of a whole house water filter, you might simply prefer a simpler filtration system.

You’d be better off looking for a water filter for your kitchen sink, whether that be a countertop filter that attaches to your faucet, or an under sink filter with its own faucet provided. Alternatively, you could opt for a water filter pitcher, which doesn’t need connecting up to a faucet, and filters water in a matter of minutes.

How Does a Whole Home Water Filter Work?

Each type of whole home water filter works in a slightly different way, but all have the same outcome: to reduce contaminants in the water that’s used in appliances and faucets around the home, making it cleaner, safer and more beneficial for use.

We’ll start by looking at a carbon-based whole home filtration system. This combines several filters, including, of course, an activated carbon filter, to carry out a thorough water filtration process.

  1. Pre-filtration – Water enters the system and passes through a pre-filter, which removes larger particulates and impurities, like sediment and silt. Pre-filters tend to trap particles at around 5 microns in size.
  2. Activated carbon filtration – Next up is the activated carbon stage. Water flows through a carbon filter, usually made up of organic material and charcoal or coconut carbon shells. This media has a large surface area designed to trap contaminants in its pores, and can bind to these contaminants, pulling them out of the water. Activated carbon filters can remove contaminants from water that a pre-filter might miss, like chlorine and chloramines, herbicides, certain pesticides, and copper.
  3. Post filter – The water filtration process is completed by a carbon-based system’s post filter. This filter polishes water before it can pass into our home’s appliances, giving it one final clean and trapping any remaining sediment and organic particles that may have passed through the previous filters.

Some carbon filters may also include an additional copper/zinc combination filter, which removes contaminants like lead and mercury from water.

A UV filter and a remineralization filter may also be purchased as optional add-on.

How to Install a Whole House Water Filter System

Build Your Own System vs. Professional Installation

A whole house water filter system requires a fairly simple installation that can be done on your own. Most whole house water filters are intended for DIY installation, and come with clear step by step instructions for every stage involved in the set-up.

If you’d feel more comfortable having a professional carry out your installation, you could call a plumber or handyman to help. Just remember to factor in the additional cost if you’re definitely planning on doing this. Shop around in your local area and request free quotes to find the best deal before you book.

Installation Step by Step

Different types of water filters may require slightly different installations, and you’ll be able to find more specific information about your filter in its instruction manual.

To give you an idea of what a general installation of a whole house water filter looks like, we’ve supplied some example step by step instructions below.

  1. Choose your location – It’s best to choose your location before you even purchase a whole house water filter, so that you can carry out measurements in advance and be sure that a filter will comfortably fit in the space you have available. Keep in mind that you need to install the filter as close to a water pipe’s point of entry into your home, after the water shut off valve. Make sure there’s not only enough room for installation, but for regular system maintenance and filter changes.
  2. Prepare the pipe – Use the water shut off valve to switch off the water coming into your home. Your filtration system will have a template you can use for reference when it comes to cutting the pipe. Mark it with a pen at the precise locations, then refer to your manufacturer’s instructions to know how much of the pipe to cut to fit your filter and connecting fittings.
  3. Cut the pipe – Use a tube cutter to cut your pipes in the two locations, and remove the section of the pipe that will be replaced with your water filter. There might be some leaking from the pipe, so use a bucket or two to collect any water that escapes. Use a deburring tool to get rid of burrs on the cut pipes.
  4. Install a shut-off valve – Install a shut-off valve at the water supply pipe. This will allow you to divert the water away from your filter during maintenance or when you’re replacing your filter. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for where to locate the valve.
  5. Prepare fittings – Prepare your fittings and dry them all to ensure they connect properly. Your fittings should normally include a ferrule, compression nut, ferrule, and fittings for connecting your filter’s ingoing and outgoing sides to the water pipe. Check that you have all the fittings you need for installation.
  6. Connect fittings – Connect your fittings to your water pipe as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Use plumber’s or PTFE tape for the fittings, making sure not to over-tighten them. Depending on filter size and your type of pipe, you might need to use an adapter to connect the two.
  7. Check to see if you need a grounding jumper cable – If you live in an older home, your electrical system might use metal water pipes as a ground. Check to see if your electrical panel has a wire attaching it to your water supply pipe. If it does, there’s a chance that your water filter might have broken this ground path. To solve this issue, you’ll need to install grounding clamps to the pipe on either side of the filter, then secure a copper cable from one clamp to the other, across the filter distance.
  8. Turn on your water supply and divert the shut-off valve towards the filter – Once everything is in place, it’s time to test your whole home water filter. Turn your water supply back on and make sure the shut-off valve is diverted towards the filter. Check for leaks in your fittings. If you see any, shut off the water supply and use more plumber’s tape to secure the fittings.

Whole House Water System Maintenance

Fortunately, whole house water systems require very little upkeep once you’re past the installation process. The most frequent maintenance you’ll need to carry out on your system is filter changes.

It’s important to change your filters to make sure your whole system can continue to function properly. The job of a filter is to trap sediment and debris, so it’s expected that it will eventually become clogged up after so many uses. A filter that is too blocked will prevent water from properly flowing through, resulting in a much slower production off filtered water for your home.

Here’s what you need to know about changing some of the most common filters in a standard whole home filtration system:

Changing the Pre-filter

It’s most important that you change this filter regularly, as if it stops effectively filtering water, your other filters may become damaged, leading to a decline in efficiency in your entire filter system. You should change your pre-filter at a minimum of once every 3 to 6 months. If your water filtration is slowing down, it’s a sign you need a filter replacement.

Changing the Carbon filter

Carbon-based filters and reverse osmosis systems both use activated carbon filters to remove heavy metals and chemicals like chlorine from water. These filters need changing every 6 to 12 months, depending on the level of use they get. Check your manufacturer’s guidelines for filter changing for your specific system model.

Changing the Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Whole home reverse osmosis systems use a semi-permeable RO membrane to remove total dissolved solids from water. These membranes block sediment from passing through with smaller water particles. RO membranes have a slightly longer lifespan than the average filter. You can get up to 2 years of use out of one, but it’s recommended that you regularly check the efficiency of the membrane after 1 year of use.

Remembering to Change Your Filters

You might have trouble trying to remember exactly when to change your filters. If you want to ensure your filter always works to the highest standard, try out these tips:

water filter for home

Buy Batches of Filters

Many manufacturers offer better deals for bulk-buying filters rather than buying them one at a time. To save yourself a last-minute filter ordering emergency, buy a batch in advance that will last you 1 to 2 years. This will ensure that whenever you remember it’s time to change your filter, you’ll have one to hand.

Make a Reminder on Your Calendar

It’s a good idea to go through your entire calendar year and mark the specific dates for changing your filters. Then, when you move onto a new month, you’ll be able to know in advance that you’ll need to change a filter. Setup automatic reminders so your phone will give you a notification when its time to change your filter.

Match It Up With Your Other Home Admin

If you have other admin to remember around your home, like paying a specific bill, replacing your air conditioning filters or cleaning your carpets, coordinate your filter changes with these jobs. That way, you’ll be able to get into the habit of replacing your filters on a regular basis.

How to Change Filters in Your Whole House Filtration System

Changing your filters is an incredibly simple process, and you won’t need professional help to get the job done. You can buy replacement filters online. Usually, you won’t have to stay loyal to the brand of your whole home filter. If you can find a better deal elsewhere, check that the filters are designed to fit your system before purchasing.

Changing filters step by step

To change a filter in your whole house water system, follow these simple steps:

  1. Turn off your water supply – You don’t want water flowing through your filters while you’re trying to change them, so make sure to turn off your water supply at either end of your whole home filtration system, or twist your shut-off valve to divert water away from your unit.
  2. Relieve the pressure from inside your filter – To relieve any pressure from your filter, you’ll need to press the button or switch on the filter unit for doing so. You can usually find this switch around the top of the pre filter housing.
  3. Unscrew your housing – Locate the housing for the filter you want to change and carefully unscrew it from the unit. You might need to use a filter wrench if the fittings are particularly tight.
  4. Remove the filter – Remove the filter from inside the filter housing and clean out the inside of the housing with a little bit of diluted bleach, rust remover, and warm water. Rinse and dry with a towel.
  5. Add replacement filter – Add the new filter in the old filter’s place. You will normally be able to simply drop the filter in place, or you might need to click it or screw it to the right location.
  6. Screw the housing back on – Screw your filter housing back onto the main unit and hand-tighten. Note that you don’t need to use a wrench to achieve desired tightness.
  7. Turn your water on – Turn your water back on at both ends of the filter, or twist your shut-off valve to divert water back towards your filter housing. Check for leaks in your filter. If you notice any, shut off the water and hand-tighten your filter housing again, or use plumber’s tape to secure your fittings.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which whole house water filter is for me?

As we’ve covered in this buyer’s guide, there are three main types of whole home water filters: reverse osmosis, carbon-based, and next-generation. It’s worth weighing up the advantages and disadvantages for all three when deciding which is for you.

Reverse osmosis whole house filters remove up to 99.9% of total dissolved solids from water, but produce lots of water waste and are the costliest of the three systems. Carbon-based filters are less efficient than RO systems, but are cheaper, and do more than a good enough job of removing the contaminants that are typically found in drinking water today. Next-generation systems are as effective as RO systems, and don’t waste water, but are less commonly available on the market.

Keep your budget in mind, and work out what you want to get out of a whole house water filter. This should make it easier to narrow down your search to a particular filter type.

Why should I choose a whole house water filter over a kitchen sink filter?

Your choice is entirely based on personal preference. A whole house water filter will give you all the benefits of a kitchen sink filter, as well as a couple of extras.

Because whole house systems filter out chemicals at the water’s point of entry into your home, you won’t be exposed to dangerous chlorine vapors while you’re showering. A whole home system also removes sediment from water before it can travel through your home’s pipes and potentially cause damage. Some whole home water systems can remove iron, preventing rust from forming in your home’s appliances.

These benefits are all great, but if you’re just looking for clean drinking water, a whole house water filter isn’t essential.

How much should I expect to pay?

Whole house water systems can cost anything from $500 to $3,000. Be wary of paying more for a filter unless the product is truly worth its value (e.g. if it offers a more complex filtration or additional features that can’t be found in other systems). Equally, if a filter is very low in price, read up on product reviews and FAQs to make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.

Final Thoughts

A whole house water filter is the best water filtration option for your home. It provides all of the benefits of a kitchen sink filter, with the added bonus of being able to supply your entire home and its appliances with safe, chemical-free, clean water.

Now that you’ve read through this buyer’s guide, it’s time to start researching your available options. Check out a filter’s product reviews and read up on what other customers are saying to get the best idea of how it functions in real life.

Don’t be hesitant to get in touch with a product’s manufacturer if you need more information. You want to make sure your investment is worthwhile.

Best Whole House Water Filters Comparison Chart

SystemRelative PriceCapacity (gallons)TypeFlow Rate (GPM)
Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
$$$$$1 millionCarbon & KDF7

iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
$$$100,000Carbon15

Home Master HMF2SMGCC 3 Stage Filteration System
$$$95,000Carbon15

Aquasana 3-Year, 300,000 Gallon Whole House Water Filter
$$$300,000Carbon7
APEX MR-3030 3-Stage Filtration System
$$$20,000Carbon & KDF15
Express Water 3 Stage Home Water Filtration System
$$$100,000Carbon & KDF7-15
iSpring WGB22B 2-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
$$100,000Carbon15
3M AP9003 Aqua-Pure System
$$100,000Carbon20
Home Master HMF2SmgCC 2-Stage System
$$$95,000Carbon10
Dupont, WFPF13003B Filter System
$15,000Poly5