There are many reasons you may choose to use a home treatment device. Concerns for most people include taste, odor and hardness of their water. For most people in the United States, the use of a water filter is not necessary to ensure water safety. If you do choose to use a home treatment device, the important thing is to make an informed decision and not be swayed by misleading marketing tactics. Click on the links below to learn more about filters and home treatment devices.
In 1974, the federal government established the Safe Drinking Water Act
to protect the public from water-related illnesses. This law requires community water systems to regularly test their water supplies and meet strict federal water quality standards. In fact, many states have even more stringent requirements then what is required by federal standards. Water providers conduct thousands of analyses each year to verify that the public water supply meets these standards, and the Safe Drinking Water Act requires they provide annual water quality reports to their customers.
For most people the answer is no. Safe Drinking Water Act standards are set to ensure that your tap water is safe. People who have medical conditions that might put them at special risk should discuss the need for a water filter with their doctors.
One of the most common complaints about water taste and odor is chlorine. Another is water that is too soft or too hard. Other concerns can include lead, copper, color, manganese and sediments. Regardless of your concern, the most important issue is that you make an informed decision and get a device that effectively resolves your specific problem.
Many stores and companies sell various home treatment devices ranging from small faucet-mounted filters to "whole-house" systems to water softeners. While we cannot recommend specific brands or products, household filters are evaluated and independently certified to NSF International
There are several organizations that the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) recognizes to certify to the NSF drinking water treatment unit standards. They include:
- Canadian Standards Association (CSA)
- International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)
- NSF International
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
- Water Quality Association (WQA)
Maintenance is important with any home treatment device because an inadequately maintained filter can actually reduce water quality.
Activated carbon filters
are the filters you are probably most familiar with; they can look like water pitchers, are attached to the faucet or are under the sink. They work by attracting and holding certain chemicals as water passes through it. Activated carbon filters can improve taste, odor and color problems associated with organic chemicals in the water. They are particularly effective at reducing taste and odor associated with chlorine. Activated carbon filters need to be replaced often.
, sometimes called RO, involves the movement of water through a membrane. RO filters can remove many substances, including fluoride and many minerals associated with "hard" water. RO can be expensive and it also "wastes" several gallons of water for each gallon produced.
Water softeners are specifically designed to exchange "hard" minerals, like calcium and manganese, for "soft" minerals, usually sodium or potassium.