Does anyone know about whole-house water filtration systems?
September 29, 2013 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I'll admit to being massively confused by the hype vs. non-hype of the water filtration industry. For those of you who have gone through this, which WHOLE HOUSE water filtration system did you decide on and why? I can't seem to find adequate customer reviews that I feel are objective and believable. The only decision I have made is that I do not want a reverse osmosis system. My entire house is under construction and everything is easily accessible, so this is the perfect time to get this handled. If it matters, the home is in Los Angeles, Hollywood Hills specifically.
posted by zagyzebra to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
What's your goal? What's objectionable about your water?

The house I grew up in is on a well with an extremely high iron content. So high that the toliet bowls would turn orange after a week without the filter. We have a whole house filter that greatly helps to reduce the problem. But although the water is potable, it still has a slight iron/metallic taste (you notice it from the tap, but not when mixed with things), so we also have a drinking water filter with a separate tap in the kitchen. It plus the whole house filter completely fixes the water.

The drinking water filter is reverse osmosis. Why are you trying to avoid these types of filters?
posted by sbutler at 11:02 AM on September 29, 2013

Response by poster: SButler - As for reverse osmosis, it's simply that I'd rather have mineralized than de-mineralized water. My largest goal is to eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) the chlorine, as well as other impurities in L.A. tap water. I live in Santa Monica currently and have a steam shower, which I would really love to enjoy. But for the fact that the steam smells distinctly like chlorine.
posted by zagyzebra at 12:00 PM on September 29, 2013

I have really crappy water here on the opposite coast. I had two filters installed, right where the water comes into the house. Outside water via the hose is unfiltered. First, the water goes through a paper filter, to get the large crap. Then, it gets filtered through a carbon filter, to help with chemicals and stuff. Huge difference, so much better, so glad I did this. It wasn't all that expensive, maybe $2,000. Changing the filter takes more effort than you might realise, physically, filters are changed every three to six months. Looking at the gross junk swirling about the filters is an obsession for the first few months.
posted by kellyblah at 1:38 PM on September 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Kellyblah - What is the name of the system you are using?
posted by zagyzebra at 4:55 PM on September 29, 2013

WH sediment filters are kind of cheap. You can run them cascaded with in-line charcoal granule filter cartridges (expensive) in the same type of canisters if you want to de-Cl the water, but frankly, I like the idea of my pipes bathing in it up until my point of use.

In my current house, I have a WH sediment filter and a single point-of-use RO subsystem dispensing ultra-clean water when such is desired. It also has sediment, two charcoal (granules), the RO cartridge and a charcoal block 'finishing' filter. Pure frigging overkill. Cost was $200 new. Cost to replace the carts is $100 every three or four years.

A sediment filter canister is $100. 5 micron cartridges are maybe $ 10-15 bux for 3 and less if bought in bulk. Change frequency is proportional to water usage and general sediment levels. Charcoal canisters are $15 a pop, give or take. They do not last as long and if you are WH-ing it, expect a large bill.

(Water hardness and/or iron removal are separate issues. They involve bulk chemistry and are regionally required and fraught with tradeoffs and maintenance headaches. I'd move somewhere with better water, myself. Ick. PITA. )

You don't really need a review for such a simple thing, do you? Sediment is basically rag in a can and chlorine is charcoal in a can. The only feature that is must-have is bypass valving for use during media change and that's not complicated enough to warrant a review. It may be one reason your reviews are scarce.
posted by FauxScot at 12:39 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

If chlorine is your primary concern, you should look for point-of-entry (this is filtration jargon for whole house) systems that meet NSF standard 42. There's a separate standard, NSF 177, for shower systems, but those are typically point-of-use (at that fixture) rather than whole house. Whole house obviously treats more water and would therefore be more expensive, but I think you've already made that decision.

Via the NSF database you can find numerous systems that meet these standards. Presumably, if the system meets the standard, it'll do what it was designed to do. Your plumber may work with a supplier that has certain brands and some systems may have bells and whistles that others don't, but you should focus first on getting a system that meets the standard associated with the treatment for the concern that you have. Good luck, as I think many in the water filtration business take advantage of this complexity to sell folks things that they don't necessarily need or want.
posted by pappy at 6:21 AM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you, FauxScot for the lesson. That helped me cut through the bs - a lot!
posted by zagyzebra at 11:14 AM on September 30, 2013

I don't think it has a name. Basically, right after the water comes in to the house, it is diverted via pipe through two filters, where are just in clear plastic. There is a bypass, and a shut off valve, so we can change the filters or drain the system.
posted by kellyblah at 11:31 AM on October 4, 2013

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