What the best water filter has
- A large
enough capacity. Pitcher water filters are very affordable and easy to
use, but their capacity is so limited that they're best for just keeping a
basic supply of drinking water on hand. The amount that you or your family
drink every day will influence the size pitcher you need, and you need to be
sure a larger pitcher fits in your refrigerator. Countertop, faucet-mounted and
under-sink water filters give you an unlimited amount of filtered water, and
have the added convenience of letting you toggle between filtered and tap
- The proper
filtering mechanism. Most water filters use carbon, which absorbs
impurities and odor as the water passes through the porous material. Multistage
filters can remove contaminants such as lead, chlorine, parasites,
pharmaceuticals, bacteria and harmful chemicals, and the semi-permeable
membranes of reverse osmosis systems flush the highest percentage of
moderate to fast flow rate. Most water filters will noticeably slow your
flow rate, but a unit becomes inconvenient if it takes too long to do its job. Flow
speed varies depending on the type of water filter. Some water filters also
slow down as the filter gets toward the end of its useful life; a filter change
should fix that.
- Certifications backing up contaminant removal
claims. Manufacturers may test their own products, but a water filter isn't
certified to remove contaminants unless it has been tested by an independent
organization like NSF International or the Water Quality Association.
Both have databases that consumers can easily search to learn more about the reliability
of specific models.
- A filter
change indicator. Water filters that measures how much water you
have used and then alert you with a light is the most accurate way to determine
if your filter needs to be replaced. Other units may include timers or stickers
to count remind you after a certain period of time, usually 3 to 6 months.
attachments. For installed filters, the best systems are
compatible with a wide range of faucets, sinks and plumbing. Occasionally,
consumers may need to purchase different faucet adapters or accessories like
extension hoses or icemaker hookups to make a filter more usable. Some water
filters have faucets available in a variety of finishes to match your existing
warranty. A 90-day warranty may be suitable for a pitcher filter, but a longer
warranty of one or two years is best for any filter that requires installation.
Know before you go
contaminants affect your drinking water? Not
all water is the same, and it's important to know what contaminants are present
in the drinking water in your area. This will help you determine whether you
need only a basic filter to improve taste or a sophisticated system that reduces
pollutants and parasites. More information on your local water supply and how
to find a state-certified tester can be found at the United States Environmental Protection Agency website. Once you pinpoint your specific
water concerns, you can identify the best water filters for your needs.
water do you want to filter? If you need filtered water just
for drinking, a pitcher may suffice. Cooks will find faucet-mount, countertop
and under-sink filters more convenient as they won't need to continuously
refill a carafe.
permanent do you want the water filter to be? Pitcher, countertop or
faucet-mounted water filters are likely the best option for dorm residents or
renters who can't make permanent modifications to their living spaces.
Under-sink water filters are permanent and may require you to drill a hole for
the filter faucet. These may require a certain level of expertise to install,
which could necessitate hiring a plumbing professional.
Value expectations: the dollars and cents of
Consider annual cost and maintenance
requirements. Water-filtering pitchers and faucet-mounted
filters aren't that expensive, but the cost of replacement filters will quickly
outpace the initial purchase price. Use the cost of replacement filters and
manufacturer recommendations on filter life to estimate your annual expenses.
Cleaning, battery replacement and new semi-permeable membranes are additional
charges for reverse osmosis systems. Also, consider the cost of discarded waste
water if your supply is limited or you have high municipal water rates.