In January 2016, the residents of Flint, Michigan, came to the damning realization that the tap water they were consuming had abnormal levels of lead as well as heightened levels of iron which subsequently made the water brown in color.
The effects of drinking this water were seen in some of their children who began experiencing abnormal rashes and even hair loss. What’s more, most residents were now experiencing lead-poisoning which has been known to have long term effects on overall health including reduced IQ levels.
The situation in Flint is a reflection of just how dangerous drinking tap water can be to one’s health and well-being.
After all, it is quite common to find tap water that has harmful levels of impurities like E.coli bacteria, radon, lead and chloroform among others.
While buying bottled water is a viable alternative to drinking tap water, it comes at a huge financial cost.
Buying bottled water is also associated with increased degradation of the environment due to increased plastic waste as well as indirect factors such as the petroleum consumed in the production and transport of bottled water. It is also a well known fact that some people simply fill up bottles with tap water and market them as ‘pure’ and ‘natural’.
The best alternative is to use a water filtration system. Not only are these systems easy to install, use and easy to maintain, but they also improve the quality and taste of water. In addition to that, they are an environmental friendly option.
Things To Consider When Choosing Water Filters:
The very first thing that needs to be considered before choosing a filter is the type of impurities that are currently in the tap water being consumed. The best way to do this is to take a sample of the tap water for testing in a state-certified lab or at a local health authority.
Secondly, it is essential to find a filter that fits one’s needs. This includes the amount of water consumed as well as the kind of impurities found in the water as different filters are suited for different types of impurities.
It is also important to consider all the costs including installation costs as well as the cost of replacing the filters. Replacement costs may vary from $20 to $400.
Keep in mind that the best filters are those that are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation. (NSF)
Types Of Filters
1. Carafe Filters
According to tests, the best of Carafe filters were effective in the removal of lead and chloroform while at the same time saving on cartridge life and even on flow rate. On the flip side, some of these filters had a short-life; others were too slow while others got clogged up easily.
Carafe filters are especially suitable for use in households that do not exceed two people.
2. Faucet-Mounted Filters
One of the biggest perks of these filters is their easy installation. What’s more, they are extremely useful in filtering water that is meant for drinking and cooking purposes. Another advantage is that with these filters, it easy to swap from filtered to unfiltered water and vice versa.
Unfortunately, faucet-mounted filters tend to slow down the flow of water and may not fit on some faucets.
3. Counter-Top Filters
Counter-top filters are fixed onto the faucet after the aerator has been removed. Unlike faucet-mounted filters and carafe filters, counter-top filters clog less easily.
They are also quite useful in filtering large quantities of water. On the downside however, counter-top filters can end up cluttering the counter and they also do not fit on all faucets.
4. Under-Sink Filters
These filters are stored in the under-sink cabinet and are also quite appropriate for filtering large amounts of water. The main disadvantage with these filters is the fact that the plumbing may have to be modified (including drilling a hole in the sink/counter-top) hence they require the services of a professional plumber.
5. Reverse-Osmosis Filters
These filters work by using household water pressure to push the tap water through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane then traps the impurities (including arsenic and dissolved solids) and lets pure water through.
However, R-O filters must be regularly sanitized with bleach and the membrane must also be replaced after some time. In addition to that, R-O filters may use up a lot of space and can be super slow. Another downside is that for every gallon of clean water produced, 3-5 gallons of waste water are produced.
6. Whole-House Filters
The advantages of this system include affordability and a long cartridge life. Whole-house filters are effective in the removal of sediment and rust. Some models also remove chlorine. The cons include an inability to remove contaminants such as volatile organic compounds and metals as well as a requirement to modify the plumbing.
Of all these systems, the reverse-osmosis system is the most reliable as it is not overly basic and does not slow down the flow of water nor the pressure of the water to the whole house. What’s more, they are the perfect option for those intending to not only filter the water, but also purify it.
All R-O systems are under-sink filters and require separate faucet filters. As for the working mechanism, water flows into the R-O filter from the main plumbing line after which it is filtered and stored in a tank. To use the filtered water, one turns on the filter faucet and to use unfiltered water, one uses the normal faucet.
Although there are many different models of R-O filters, there are two particular models that are highly rated;
1. APEC ROES-50 (approximated cost: $200)
The ROES-50 is a product of a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified manufacturer. Some of its component parts are also NSA certified. What’s more, it is assembled in the USA where the customer service is also based.
Secondly, it works quite effectively in enhancing the quality of water including removing dissolved solids and improving both color and taste
Thirdly, the cost of owning the ROES-50 is relatively low with filter replacements being needed every 6-12 months. The filters go for an estimated $20. Basic kits are normally inclusive of 1 chrome faucet while optional Ice-maker Kits which cost approximately $17 are also available.
The ROES-50 is easy to install and even in cases where installation problems are experienced there is a very responsive customer service in place to troubleshoot any issues experienced.
The tank capacity of the ROES-50 is 4 gallons while the total daily capacity of the system ranges from 30-50 gallons depending on the pressure of the water.
The major most disadvantage is the ratio of waste water to pure water which is 3:1. This means that for every gallon of pure water produced, 3 gallons of waste water (brine) are produced. However, it would be important to note that the brine is injected back into the community water supply although some people prefer to collect it for different purposes including gardening.
2. iSpring RCC7 (approximated cost: $200)
This iSpring 5 stage system has several advantages. Firstly, some of the components used to make the RCC7 are certified by NSF.
Secondly, the system can produce up to 75 gallons of pure water on a daily basis while its tank has a pressurized capacity of 3.2 gallons. It is also less wasteful than the ROES-50 as the ratio of waste water to pure water is 2:1. This makes it suitable for those who use a lot of water. The customer service offered by iSpring is also quite commendable.