When to Use a Water Filter
Many homeowners simply assume that their tap water is clean and healthful, but that’s not always the case. Tap water often contains impurities, even when it looks and tastes just fine. Some impurities are relatively harmless, but some are toxic or can wreak havoc on appliances and fixtures.
Filtration needs vary from home to home, depending on the types of contaminants found in the water and the way members of the household consume water. “If the water is relatively pure and there are relatively few fixtures used for human consumption, inexpensive, under-sink carbon filters should be fine,” says Daniel O’Brian, a technical specialist for online plumbing retailer SupplyHouse.com. On the other hand, if toxins are present or if the water contains a high level of minerals, a filtration system designed to treat water throughout the house may be necessary.
To determine your household's water filtration needs, start by reviewing the five scenarios below. If any of these describe your household's water situation, it's possible that your family—or your appliances—could benefit from filtering your water. Before you purchase a filtration system, however, have a professional water test conducted by a local provider, or call the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline (1-800-426-4791) to find a state-certified laboratory near you. If it turns out that filtration is required, look into some of the systems recommended below, all available from SupplyHouse.
1. Your water tastes bad.
While municipal water systems usually do a good job of removing harmful toxins from tap water, despite their efforts the water in some communities just doesn’t taste good. “Some parts of the country deal with issues that can affect taste, such as hard water,” O’Brian says. Your water may be perfectly healthy to drink, but if it’s high in mineral content or has been treated with chlorine, it can leave a bad taste in your mouth.
Bad-tasting water is actually a fairly common reason for homeowners to invest in a water filtration system. If you want the pleasure and convenience of enjoying a refreshing glass of water straight from a tap, consider installing a carbon filtration system at your kitchen sink and dispensing drinking water through a separate faucet. One high-quality option is the 3M Aqua-Pure AP-DWS1000 Dual Stage Drinking Water Filtration System (available from SupplyHouse).
2. Your house was built before 1986.
If your house was built before 1986 (the year lead was banned in water supply pipes), there’s a chance that some lead particulates could be leaching into your drinking water from either lead-based pipes or from the lead solder used to seal joints on copper pipes. Lead is a known toxin that increases the risk of serious health issues and is particularly harmful to children less than 6 years old.
Now for the good news: Lead is not difficult to remove from drinking water. O’Brian suggests installing an under-sink carbon filter, such as the 3M Aqua-Pure AP200 Full Flow Drinking Water Filtration System (available from SupplyHouse), beneath every sink that's used for drinking water to ensure that your water is safe and lead-free.
3. You’re on well water.
Some private wells produce clean, healthy water. Over the past few decades, however, the widespread use of pesticides and other chemicals has contaminated private wells in many states, and O'Brian notes that regular carbon filters won’t remove some of the more dangerous toxins that could be present. “While carbon filters are sufficient for lighter-duty filtration of things like lead and chlorine, to guarantee the removal of nitrates, pesticides, and heavy metals, a reverse osmosis (RO) system is needed,” he explains. A reverse osmosis system, such as the 3M Under-Sink Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System (available from SupplyHouse), will remove virtually all toxins, including heavy metals and such carcinogens as arsenic and nitrate. With an RO system, not only will your water be crystal clear and better tasting, but you will also be able to rest assured that your family won’t be drinking harmful toxins.
4. Your clothes look dingy after washing.
Have you tried every detergent on the shelf, but you still can't get your white clothes white and your colored clothes bright? The problem may not be your washer or detergent, but the composition of your home's water. Water that is high in iron can impart a rusty hue to light-colored clothing, and hard water can leave clothes looking dull and gray.
If your laundered clothes regularly exhibit either shade, an under-sink filter won’t suffice. You’ll need a whole-house water treatment system, such as 3M’s Aqua-Pure 900 Series High Flow Whole House Filtration System (available from SupplyHouse), to remove iron, minerals, sediment, and other contaminants that leave clothes looking dingy. A whole-house filter installs on the main water supply pipe where it enters your home, and because it filters all the water in your home, in addition to cleaner, brighter clothing, you’ll enjoy tastier drinking water too!
5. You’re scrubbing too much.
Everyone loves a clean house, but if you have to constantly scrub your sink, shower, or tub to get rid of dulling soap scum, that may be an indication that your water is too hard. The high levels of calcium and magnesium present in hard water prevent soap and other cleaners from working well and rinsing away with water. This results in a persistent layer of soap residue on fixtures that leaves them looking dull and unappealing even after they’ve been cleaned. Hard water also makes it difficult to work up a lather with hand soap and shampoo. The solution? A high-quality, whole-house water filtration system, such as the 3M Aqua-Pure AP141T Whole House Water Filter (available from SupplyHouse). With those hard water minerals filtered out, getting sparkling-clean fixtures can be a snap.
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