Just because you are on a well water system, does not mean your water is pure enough to drink. Well water can also be heavy with minerals and calcium which will destroy plumbing and appliances over time. Although bacteria and viruses don't typically appear in well water, if you live near a farm or live on the outskirts of a city, the water runoff can contaminate your well water.
Most municipalities use chlorine to remove bacteria, viruses, and cysts from the drinking water. There are also traces of all sorts of impurities in municipal water, ranging from heavy metals to industrial residues to VOCs.
Using a countertop water filter gets rid of these impurities and that is great for water to drink. But what about the water we bathe in? Wash our clothes in? Run through our expensive appliances?
That is why I recommend a whole house water filtration system, not just for municipal water, but for well water too.
In this article, I cover the best whole house water filtration systems on the market, especially for well systems.
Part One: Whole House Water Filtration System Product Reviews
Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter with De-scaler and UV Purifier
Pros and Cons
The Aquasana Rhino whole house water filtration system is a heavy-duty class water filtration unit. The filters don’t have to be changed out for ten years – or one million gallons.
The system highlighted in this article is their most complex model which works for well water or off grid water system. The descaler removes heavy sediments and the UV light purifier kills bacteria and viruses. Do note that the UV light purifier needs electricity to run.
This model also comes with a massive 10 year warranty whereas the competing (and much cheaper) systems usually only come with a 1 year warranty.
The filtration system consists of six stages:
Step 1 - Pre-filter - a must-have filter to remove sediments from well water. If not removed, it will reduce the life of the main filters.
Step 2 - Salt-free conditioner - you won't have to worry about replacing salt!
Step 3 - Rhino filter – This is the filter that is placed at the top of the unit. This filter is what removes the VOCs and chlorine from the water.
Step 4 - Activated carbon filter – this is the large main tank on the unit. It is full of carbon which catches the remaining contaminants such as herbicides, pesticides, and metals.
Step 5 - The post-filter – this is the final, smaller filter that extends from the unit. It catches any final sediments and organic particles that may remain in the water. This needs to be replaced every six to twelve months.
Step 6 - UV light purifier - kills ALL microbes including viruses. A must-have for well water and off grid systems.
Since the main carbon filter is so large, the water gets a higher level of processing compared to smaller filter systems by five to ten times! Users are raving about the superior quality of water.
However, the pre and post-filters do need to be replaced every six months to one year, so it's not entirely set and forget, not to mention the extra expense of changing these filters.
The install kit that comes with the unit is plastic and somewhat generic; I recommend to upgrade to the professional install kit – another expense to tack on.
I am also surprised to see that the instructions for installation are so vague, you will likely have to hire a professional installer - yet another expense.
Overall, the Aquasana Rhino is the prime whole house water filter on the market today. I like the fact that you can purchase all the components you need from one manufacturer; this works out to your advantage as everything is covered under their whopping 10-year warranty! But be prepared to drop some serious cash.
You can download the Aquasana product manual here.
Express Water 3 Stage Anti-Scale Whole House Water Filter
Pros and Cons
Each filter has a pressure gauge above it so you can monitor the PSI flowing to each one. This is a unique feature that I have not seen on any other models.
The system can handle 100,000 gallons of water before filters need to be replaced, which is typically up to one year of water usage. The high flow design handles .25 gallons of water per second, that equates to 15 gallons per minute, which is a pretty standard flow rate for most houses.
Each filter housing is connected with industrial bonded high capacity flow connectors and the housing is made of high durability food-grade ABS and PCE plastic.
The unit weighs in at 63 pounds and is 23.5 x 8.5 x 29.5 inches so you will need some good space to accommodate it; these measurements include the stainless steel housing.
Express makes quite a few different whole house water systems with various filters in each one. I chose the anti-scale system as it is the most applicable to well water and off grid water systems. Keep in mind that these filters cannot swap with each other.
You can download the product manual here.
As far as the downsides go, there have been some reports of leakage from where the gauges are screwed in. Users have also stated that the inlet and outlet pipe can fit loosely, so be prepared to use some Teflon tape and possibly pipe dope to get a good fit.
Overall, this is an excellent whole house water filtration system at the price they offer.
iSpring WGB21B 2-Stage Heavy Duty Whole House Water Filtration System
Pros and Cons
The iSpring Heavy Duty whole house water filter treats 50,000 gallons of water for 95% of chlorine, sediment, chloramines, chemicals, bad tastes, and smells. It also is on the cheaper end of the price range in comparison to competitors.
This system has a two-stage filtration process:
Stage one – sediment filter removes contaminants down to five microns.
Stage two - This carbon block filter is made of coconut shell; block carbon is highly effective compared to other forms of carbon as the material is finely ground up and condensed into a block, therefore squeezing the water through the higher density material and catching more contaminants.
For those on well systems, this filter does not catch total dissolved solids. for water that has over 700 TDS, you will need to look into an additional reverse osmosis system.
You will also need a purifier to decontaminate your water for well and off grid water systems. If your water runs high in sediments, I recommend getting their reusable sediment filter as well.
There are some things you should know before purchasing this unit.
It is known that this unit can have leaks. Sometimes the relief valves loosen during the shipping process and need to be retightened. The manufacturer has recognized this as an issue and could remedy the problem within the manufacturing process, but so far this has not been resolved. Just something to be aware of.
The installation can be a bit tricky, so you may have to call a professional to install for you if you do not have plumbing experience. You will need to build some sort of support system to withstand the weight of the unit.
You will need to replace these filters at least once a year which can add up. Many users have reported having to change them out more frequently. If you are on a well system, these filters may clog much faster, depending on the sediment amount in your water. The filters are not cheap to replace, so you might want to consider either buying the sediment pre-filter upgrade or buying a more heavy-duty system.
Support is known to be pretty good as any damaged or faulty equipment gets replaced fairly quickly.
Overall, I think this is a great filtration system with high remarks, I just wish it had a built-in enclosure.
HQUA-OWS-12 Ultraviolet Water Purifier Sterilizer Filter
Pairing a UV purification system like this will eliminate tiny viruses and any remaining bacteria that your main filtration unit does not catch. It does run off of power so you will need an outlet handy. You may want to have a backup generator to power this unit in case of an outage or if you are living off grid.
iSpring WSP-50SL Reusable Spin Down Sediment Filter/w Siliphos
I highly recommend purchasing this additional prefilter sediment catcher for well water systems. It is reusable, flush-able and will catch sediments down to 50 microns. This will keep your main unit from clogging up quickly and keep your main filters' longevity.
Part Two: Helpful Information About Whole House Water Filtration
Do you need a whole house water filtration system?
Before you spend a bunch of money on investing into a whole house water filter, you will want to ask yourself these questions:
- Does your water smell bad? Is cloudy? Have a bad taste?
- Does your water have a rusty color?
- Is your water being treated with chlorine?
- Is your water being treated with fluoride?
- Does your well water contain high amounts of sediments?
- Is your plumbing building up with sediments?
- Are your appliances breaking down prematurely due to sediments?
- Are your clothes wearing out and fading quickly?
- Are you concerned about bacteria and viruses?
If your water is not all that bad, then don't bother with the expense of a whole house system; you can get a gravity fed water filtration system instead.
However, if your water is compromising your quality of life, then yes, it is worth it.
Bad water affects us drastically, from ingesting harmful contaminants to prematurely ruining our plumbing and appliances.
Municipal water usually tastes awful and is full of bad crap. It's usually no good for drinking, let alone bathing in and using to cook with.
Well water and off grid systems often have to deal with higher level of sediments and needs further filtration and purification.
How Does a Whole House Water Filtration System Work?
A whole house water filter is installed onto the main water line and provides clean filtered water to all the faucets in the home. This provides many benefits to the plumbing system, appliances, and health of you and your family.
When choosing a filtration system, you will notice some are much more expensive than others. This is because there are two types of systems: Heavy-duty systems and standard capacity water cartridge systems.
The heavy-duty filtration systems have the best contaminant removal because of the sheer size of filter media that the water gets filtered through. These large filters can last for five to ten years before needing replacement.
Standard capacity water cartridge filters are more affordable and smaller than their heavy-duty counterparts. However, the water filters will need to be replaced more frequently, typically every six months to one year, and they are not cheap.
When choosing a whole house water filtration system, make sure to choose the correct unit that will solve any specific issues you are having with your water.
There are general types of systems that take care of the most common sediments and contaminants and there are upgraded systems that can clean up specific types of contamination.
City water without any specific issues can be treated with a general multi-purpose filtration system. These multi-purpose systems will clean up sediments, chlorine, bad taste and odors, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, and industrial contaminants.
These specific contaminants could be a variety of different metals such as iron or mercury.
You can also upgrade your system with UV light water purification to eliminate bacteria, viruses, and cysts.
Whole house water filtration system cost
There are multiple expenses to purchasing and installing a whole house water system.
First, you need to purchase the unit. This can range from $150 to $200 for a standard cartridge system with no pre-filter and no UV purification system. This can go to $2,000 for a comprehensive heavy-duty system with filters that lasts for several years.
Second, you will probably need to hire a professional installer unless you are very comfortable with cutting and fitting plumbing. This could be from $500-$2,000 depending on many variables.
Third, you will need to replace filters ranging from 6 months to 1 year. These filters cost $50-$100 apiece and most systems require more than one type of filter. Expect the price to skyrocket for multi-year filters.
It's not cheap by any means but could save you TONS of money if your bad water ruins your water pipes and appliances, let alone considering the health benefits.
Possible contaminated drinking water toxins
The list of contaminants that can be detected in municipal water sources is insane. The Environmental Protection Agency has created a Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) that has hundreds of potential contaminations. (source)
Now, just because the contaminant is on the list doesn’t mean it is detrimental to your health, but there are quite a few to be concerned about.
Some of these concerning contaminants are:
Heavy metals - chromium, lead, mercury, barium, arsenic, barium, cadmium, copper, selenium, nickel. (source)
Volatile Organic Chemicals – known as VOCs, are compounds that become vaporized such as solvents, cleaners, degreasers, paints, inks, pesticides, dyes. (source)
Trihalomethanes – a potential carcinogen that is created when chlorine that is used to treat water combines with naturally occurring matter in water. (source)
Scale – hard water minerals that leave a deposit in pipes and appliances. Examples are calcium and magnesium.
Well and off grid water systems need to pay special attention to microbial pathogens. You will need to make sure your whole house water filtration systems come with a water purifier as well to kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This is typically in the form of a UV light purification system.
Well water systems may also face exceptionally hard water. This may require an additional layer of prefiltration to catch these sediments so they don't gunk up your water filters.
Benefits of a whole house water filtration system
There are many obvious reasons to install a whole house water filtration system, such as better tasting and smelling water that is healthier for you and your family delivered to every faucet in your entire home.
There are some reasons you may have not considered which may convince you to make the investment:
- You will notice that your skin and hair become healthier. Contaminants in untreated municipal water can be absorbed through your skin and damage your hair.
- When water evaporates in the shower, VOCs can be released from the molecules potentially contaminating the air you breathe. Whole house water filters remove VOCs.
- Your appliances will last longer, and your dishes will be spotless.
- The plumbing system in your house will have a longer lifespan as the sediments that cause buildup in your pipes will be removed.
- Cooking with clean water produces better flavors and shorter cooking times.
- Your clothing will be softer, brighter, and last longer.
Investing in a system will save you money and increase health which will pay for itself over the years.
What to look for when buying a whole house water filtration system
There are a few key factors when purchasing a system that you will want to consider.
This is measured in gallons per minute. In order to figure out how much GPM you will need from your filter, you need to look at the demand ratings on your appliances.
Typical Water GPM Demand Ratings
- Showerheads – 3 GPM
- Toilets – 5 GPM
- Dishwasher – 3 GPM
- Washing Machine – 2 GPM
- Kitchen Faucet – 5 GPM
- Bathroom Faucet - 1.5 GPM
- Water Heater – depends on size and type of unit
You do not want to get a filter system with a flow rating under 10 GPM. 15 to 40 GPM is the standard flow rates that most households fall into but take the time to calculate your usage first.
The size of the port is a critical measurement that you need to take into account when purchasing. The minimal port size you are looking for is 1 inch, even if your current system is ¾ inch. Some large homes may require 1.5 inch ports.
Typically, a 1 inch port will be more than substantial for the average home.
Lifespan of filter
The main factor in filter lifespan is the quality and quantity of sediment running through it. This information will be indicated on the unit and will vary in accordance with the type and size of the filter.
Size of filter
The larger the filter, the better the flow and the longer the filter will last. This is where price comes into play. As mentioned above, small standard capacity filters will need their cartridges swapped out much more often than the large heavy duty filters.
Your micron blockage needs will depend on if you have bacteria present in your water. The only way to discern this is to get your water tested.
special note for whole house well water and off grid filtration systems
You will need to have a system in place to kill bacteria, viruses, and cysts.
There are two ways to do this effectively: either chemical additives or UV light purification.
I would suggest using a UV light system so you don't have to subject yourself to harsh chemicals. After all, that's the reason you want a filtration system in the first place!
Bacteria range from .2 to 1 micron in width and 1 to 10 microns in length so a 1 micron filter will work to catch these.
However, viruses are much tinier and range from 0.004 to 0.1 microns and will require a purification system in the water system. This is important for off grid water setups and also well systems if the water tests positive for viruses.
Cysts are more resistant to disinfecting processes but range from 2 to 50 microns and can be caught with most water filtration systems (source: WQA.org).
Check out my guide to off grid water filtration and purification for more info on this subject.
A whole house water filtration system may not be right for you. They are bulky, expensive, and require frequent filter changes that cost quite a bit of money. However, for those with well water systems, these filters can potentially save you thousands of dollars since your appliances will last longer. You will also avoid sediment buildup in pipes and plumbing, fixtures, and your water will be much healthier for you and your family.
I hope this guide has helped you to make an informed decision.