Is a Whole-House Water Filter Right for You? (This Guide Will Help You Decide)

Today’s homeowners are spoiled for choice when selecting a home water filter system. Water pitchers and refrigerator filters are easy to use, cost-effective, and convenient, with no installation required. Under-sink and countertop systems deliver fast, targeted filtration and are very space-efficient. However, a whole-house water filter might be a clear choice since contaminants can crop up in all water sources in your home, not just the kitchen tap.

Whole-house water filters, also known as point-of-entry (POE) filters, don’t just filter out common contaminants and strip unappetizing flavors and funk from your drinking water. They also supply clean, odor-free water to your appliances, shower heads, and every other household water outlet, preventing mineral build-up and stains wherever water is running, thus increasing the life of pipes and appliances throughout your home.

But do you need this “expensive and tricky-to-install” water filtration system in your home, or are there more convenient, budget-friendly alternatives? Before you add a whole-house filter to your shopping cart, please continue reading to learn more about its pros and cons and how it compares to other water filtering systems. That way, you’ll know if it best fits your home or if others would work better.

How Does a Whole-House Water Filter System Work?

whole house water filter system
SpringWell’s Whole House Water Filter + Sediment Filter

As its name implies, a whole-house water filter system treats all the water coming into your house – not only the water meant for drinking but also the water used in bathrooms and appliances, like dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines.

Whole-home filters might employ different mediums and technologies to filter water, but their basic principle remains the same. These POE systems are typically installed at your home’s main water line, where water first enters your home, usually in the basement or a utility closet. This placement ensures all the water entering your home gets filtered.

The filter system discreetly captures and removes contaminants from your water while eliminating cloudiness, foul odors, and weird tastes. Once the water has been properly filtered, it can then be passed to a water softener, if needed, the water heater, and the household taps and water-using appliances. Depending on its capacity, a whole-house filter system may be able to treat several thousand gallons of water per day.

What Do Whole House Water Filters Remove from Water?

Whole-house filtration systems are designed to target and remove a wide variety of contaminants from water and treat different water quality issues. Your home’s water quality will determine which contaminants need to be removed and which filter is the best choice for your home.

Carbon filters remove:

  • Bad tastes and odors
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramines (If using catalytic carbon)
  • Pesticides and herbicides
  • Trihalomethanes

Sediment filters remove:

  • Rust flecks from aging pipes
  • Dirt, sand, and clay
  • Turbidity (cloudiness)

Water softeners remove:

  • Scale
  • Dissolved minerals that cause hard water (calcium and magnesium)
  • Dissolved iron and manganese

Ultraviolet (UV) purification disinfects:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Fungi
  • Algae

Acid neutralizers reduce:

  • Acidic corrosion
  • Acidity imbalance (low pH)

What are the Benefits and Disadvantages of Whole-House Water Filtration Systems?

Advantages of Whole-House Water Filter Systems

While faucet and pitcher filters are cheap and convenient, the performance and peace of mind a whole-house water filter can bring to your family is unmatched. Below is a list of benefits you can expect from installing a POE system in your home.

  • It gives you peace of mind. POE devices are an easy way to ensure all water in your house is treated. That means you can rest easy knowing every single drop of water that flows into your home is filtered. You can drink, cook, clean, and bathe with filtered water.
  • It removes a wide variety of contaminants and impurities from water. Whole-house water filter systems can help eliminate toxic water pollutants, including Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), PFAS, pharmaceuticals, arsenic, chromium-6, iron, herbicides, pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals, and many others.
  • It reduces chlorine levels. Although chlorine is a powerful water disinfectant, it can fuel your allergy symptoms and irritate your hair and skin. It can also create toxic byproducts, which can be harmful when consumed, inhaled, or applied to the skin. Luckily, a whole-house water filter can reduce chlorine in your drinking water and the water you use to shower.
  • It improves the taste, appearance, and smell of water. A whole-home water filtration system is a quick way to treat poor-tasting water. Filtration systems will eliminate chlorine, which is often the cause of poor taste. Furthermore, cloudy-looking water could contain impurities like sediment. Luckily, a whole house water filter can help remove sediment.
  • It extends the lives of pipes and appliances. Whole-home water filter systems with a water softener function can reduce the impact of hard water. Most systems can’t reduce hard water by themselves and will need a water softener. The softening process makes pipes less likely to clog, and appliances may last longer. You may even notice an improvement in your skin and hair, and your glassware and laundry may be cleaner.
  • It reduces the cost of filtration and eliminates plastic waste. While whole-house systems can be expensive upfront, installing one may be cheaper than maintaining several point-of-use (POU) devices at every tap, depending on the number of sources that need treatment. Plus, with a POE system, less waste is created by avoiding single-use plastic, which is good for the environment. (Note: POU devices include under-sink, shower, and countertop water filters.)
  • It requires low maintenance. The higher capacity of POE systems makes them more durable and easier to maintain, with some units lasting 5-7 years before needing a filter replacement.

Disadvantages of Whole-House Water Filter Systems

Home water filter systems aren’t perfect – and POE filters are no exception. Whole-house filters have their strong suits, but, naturally, they have various tradeoffs you should know about before purchasing one.

  • It has a high initial cost. Whole-house systems are usually significantly more costly than their POU counterparts.
  • It may require professional installation. You may need a licensed plumbing professional near you to fit this system, which adds additional cost.
  • It may reduce water pressure. Because the water needs to run through the filter at a certain speed, it can cause a drop in water pressure, mainly if you’re using water at multiple appliances or faucets simultaneously.

How Much Does A Whole-House Water Filter Cost?

The prices for whole-house water filtration systems vary dramatically, from around $1,000 for a standard carbon filter system to over $4,000 for a more advanced reverse-osmosis filter system. However, there are a few factors that can determine its price:

  • Filtration performance and efficiency: A simple chlorine-and-sediment-removal filter tends to be comparable in price to under-counter water filters. But the cost will usually be higher when it comes to high-efficiency multi-stage water filters that can combat hundreds of contaminants.
  • Filtered water output: Whole-house water filters outrank under-sink water filters when it comes to filtered water output.
  • Filter lifetime and quality: High durability filter cartridges and cartridges containing complex blends of filter media tend to be on the pricier end of the spectrum. Filters with higher service lives usually involve lower maintenance costs per year.
  • Brand: Filters manufactured by popular water filter brands may cost more than their non-branded counterparts. If you opt for a non-branded water filter system, ensure it meets all safety and quality standards.

Installation may also add to the total cost of a whole-house filter. Depending on the system you choose and any potential modifications needed to accommodate it, the price can vary from around $300 to more than $3,000.

What Are My Alternatives?

If you don’t want to deal with the downsides of installing a whole-house water filter system in your home but still want cleaner drinking water, a POU filter system might be a more budget- and user-friendly option. Below are a few popular choices.

Refrigerator water filters

If your fridge has a water dispenser, it likely has a filter. The filter is usually located at the top of the unit, though some manufacturers hide them behind a trim plate at the bottom. A word of warning, though: Refrigerator filters have several hidden dangers. Furthermore, there are a lot of counterfeit refrigerator filters for sale online, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers, and the knock-off design could cause more harm than good.

Countertop filters

With this option, the filter sits on the countertop and connects directly to your faucet. That means you don’t have to modify your plumbing for easy installation. But these filters may clutter the sink deck and don’t work with pull-down faucets.

Faucet-mounted filters

Faucet-mounted filters work precisely as their name implies. In this setup, the system attaches directly to most types of faucets. You might be able to switch the filter on and off, depending on if you’re pouring drinking water or need to water your houseplants. They’re one of the cheapest POU systems and are easy to use, but the filters require regular replacement.

Faucet-integrated filters

With faucet-integrated filters, the filter is built into the faucet rather than mounted onto it. It’s another type where you can easily switch between filtered and unfiltered water. But they’re more expensive, and you have to factor in the cost and hassle of installing them.

Water pitcher filters

Water pitcher filters are the least expensive option and require no installation. These filters are integrated into a pitcher, so you must fill it up before the filtered water becomes available. The filter pore size varies, so check the type before you buy. Also, be aware that the filters need regular replacement. But while these filters are fine for small volumes, they’re not the best choice if you use filtered water for cooking and drinking or have several household members.

How Do Whole-House Water Filter Systems Compare to POU Filters?

As we’ve just discussed, there are plenty of alternatives to whole-house systems. But you might be wondering how POE devices stack up against these alternatives. Well, whole-house filters are designed to filter out harmful contaminants from all the water entering your home – the water you use to drink, cook, shower, brush your teeth, do laundry, etc. They also help protect your plumbing and water-using appliances.

Sure, many POU systems, like under-sink and countertop filters, are typically low-cost, compact, and easy to use and install. However, they only filter the water you drink, cook with, and maybe run to an ice maker in the refrigerator. So, if you need filtered water throughout your home, you’d have to install separate POU units rather than having a single system that treats all the water entering your household.

Furthermore, under-sink and countertop filters may be less expensive than whole-house filtration systems, but they do not protect your pipes and appliances and only provide one source of filtered water in your home.

It’s nearly the same story with water filter pitchers and refrigerator filters. These units aren’t nearly as powerful as whole-house systems, so there’s likely a massive tradeoff in water quality if you install any of those cheaper, more user-friendly options.

So, is a Whole-House Water Filter Worth the Investment?

A whole-house water filter is well worth the investment for many homeowners. However, this might not be the case for many others.

To determine whether it’s a worthwhile purchase for your home, consider your immediate needs:

  • What contamination issues in your tap water do you need to solve? Whether you need to remove sediment, chlorine, or fluoride from your tap water, a whole-house water filter can be designed to tackle various contamination issues at once. Most whole-house filtration systems are multi-stage, meaning each stage contains different filter media or a blend of filter media designed to deliver a thorough filtration. Still, it’s always best to have your water tested before purchasing a whole-house water filter, as filtration systems vary in terms of what contaminants they eliminate.
  • Do you live in a large household? Installing a whole-house water filter in a small apartment would likely not be a good investment. POU water filters are ideal for smaller homes with up to two people. But, of course, if you need filtered water throughout your home, go for a whole-house system.
  • Do you need filtered water throughout your home or only at your kitchen tap? A whole-house filtration system may not be the best choice if you are only concerned about filtering the water you drink and use to cook. An under-sink or countertop filter would make more sense and be more economical. But if you want the peace of mind that the water flowing from all your faucets and through your appliances is safe and filtered, then yes, you need a whole-house water filter.
  • Does the water in your shower need to meet the same drinking water health targets that you want from your kitchen sink? Perhaps you or a household member have sensitive skin, scalp, or both. If so, a whole-house unit can help remove contaminants that could irritate the skin and hair.
  • Do you drink or use a lot of tap water? If that’s the case, whole-house devices treat water to remove discoloration, tastes, odors, and contaminants that could ruin the flavor of your dishes and endanger your health.
  • What are your daily water needs? Many POE systems can produce several thousand gallons of filtered water daily.
  • Can you maintain the system on your own? After initial installation, most whole-house water filtration systems are relatively easy to maintain. The most important thing is that you change the filters on time.

Answering these questions can help you decide if a whole-house system is the best choice for your household.

The Best Whole-House Water Filter for a Cleaner, Healthier Water Supply

If you decide installing a whole-house system is the way to go, we recommend the Springwell CF1 Whole House Water Filter System. Designed for optimal performance, reliability, and durability, the CF1 uses a unique combination of first-grade catalytic coconut shell carbon, certified KDF filter media, ActivFlo filtration technology, and other innovative features and functions to eliminate specific harmful contaminants in water. These pollutants include chlorine, chloramine, chlorine byproducts, VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, lead, copper, sulfur, arsenic, fluoride, nitrates, and many more.

Moreover, the CF1 is equipped with a 5-micron sediment prefilter that blocks out sand, dirt, silt, rusts, clay, and other tiny suspended particulate matter in the source water. Doing so makes you less likely to ingest sediments in your drinking water. Sediment filtration also prevents clogging in the remaining filters, thus significantly improving your entire home’s water quality.

If you’re experiencing problems with bacteria and other unwanted pathogens in your water, you can add the state-of-the-art Blackcomb 5.1 UV Purification System to the whole-house setup. The UV water purifier destroys 99.9% of harmful pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc., to protect against diseases and illnesses. It’s even powerful enough to kill Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

When you install a whole-house system like the CF1 (with the available add-ons), you can expect the following benefits:

  • Better-tasting and -smelling drinking water
  • Healthier baths and showers
  • Softer, smoother, and cleaner hair and skin
  • Longer-lasting pipes, plumbing fixtures, and appliances
  • Possible increase in home value
  • Advanced protection against toxic chemicals, heavy metals, bad tastes and odors, pathogens, sediment, and other waterborne contaminants
  • Minimal to no drop in water pressure
  • Easy installation and low maintenance requirement

Our goal is for you to have a clean, safe water supply that works wonders for your health, appliances, and household. So, if you have any further questions regarding whole-house water filtration or how to choose the best filter for your home, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Still Not Sure if You Need a Whole-House Water Filter System?

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a home water filter, so it’s OK if you are still unsure if a whole-house system is ideal for your home. No water filter eliminates all contaminants, so take some time to figure out what’s in your water, your budget, and what you want the filter to achieve. But whichever type of water filter you choose, ensure it is certified to remove/reduce the specific contaminants detected in your home’s water supply.

If you want cleaner drinking water, a whole-house system is likely not the best investment, and you should focus on a POU filtration option instead. However, if you use well water or a certified water test shows high levels of contaminants in your water supply, you may want the peace of mind a whole-house water filter system can bring.

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