Best Whole House Water Filters

30 million people in the US have water that violates safety standards – but you don’t have to be one of them.

Whole house filters offer an excellent solution for those who want clean water and peace of mind.

Having said that, it can be hard to tell which ones really work, which ones won’t kill your flow, and which ones are just trying to sell you something.

Our water experts researched the top products on the market – diving into their specifications, examining their certifications, and reading through customer reviews to determine which models are actually the best whole house water filters on the market.

Top 5 Whole House Water Filtration Systems

IMAGE PRODUCT FEATURES  
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#1 SpringWell CF1
  • Capacity: 1,000,000 Gallons
  • Flow Rate: 9-12 GPM
  • Best For: City Water Filter Best Deal
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#2 AquaOx
  • Capacity: 2,000,000 Gallons
  • Flow Rate: 15 GPM
  • Best For: Highest Quality Most Expensive
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#3 SpringWell WS1
  • Capacity: 1,000,000 Gallons
  • Flow Rate: 12-20 GPM
  • Best For: Well Water Filtration
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#4 Aquasana Rhino
  • Capacity: 1,000,000 Gallons
  • Flow Rate: 7 GPM
  • Best For: Filter & Softener Combo
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#5 Pelican PC
  • Capacity: 600,000 Gallons
  • Flow Rate: 8 GPM
  • Best For: Quality alternate brand
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Main Criteria to Look For in a Whole House Water Filter

These are the five criteria we used to evaluate each water filter, and they’re the main things that will determine if a system is right for your home.

 

Contaminants Removed

The filter type a whole house system uses is going to determine the contaminants it removes, and these are the most common filters used in whole house water filtration systems:

Filter TypeContaminants Removed
Carbon block filterOrganic chemicals, foul tastes and odors
KDF filterHeavy metals
Sediment filterSilt, suspended particles, rust
Air injection oxidizing (AIO) filter Iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide

The best whole house water filter is going to be the one that removes the contaminants specific to your water, and you can purchase a water testing kit to find out exactly what contaminants are most prevalent in your supply.

Filter Lifespan & Capacity

Another thing to look at is how long the filters in each system are going to last before needing to be swapped out. This can be anywhere from 6 months for pre- and post-filters, to years for the main one.

Similarly, the capacity refers to the number of gallons a filter can process over its lifespan. Ease of filter replacement and cost are other things to consider as well.

Flow Rate

If you’ve ever tried to take a shower with a very poor flow, you know how frustrating it can be to have to wait on your water. The flow rate, or the water pressure, that comes out of the system is one of the biggest things that affects customer satisfaction with a particular system.

Certifications

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and the Water Quality Association (WQA) are two independent entities that certify water filters and other products for meeting standards like the reduction of specific contaminants or using parts of a certain quality. Certification shows that brands put their money where their mouth is when it comes to claims about their products.

Price

When looking at the cost of a whole house water filter system, you have to take into consideration the cost of the system and installation as well as costs down the line from replacement filters and other maintenance.

Whole House Water Filter Reviews

Using the criteria above, we’ve narrowed all the highly-rated water filtration systems down to the 10 very best. Each has specific qualities that help it stand out from the crowd, and each provides high-quality filtered water for your home.

1. SpringWell Water CF1 – Best Overall and Best Filter for City Water

Why This is Our Top Pick

SpringWell’s CF1 model is our pick for the best whole house water filter. The CF1 has consistently received stellar consumer reviews, and SpringWell uses innovative filtration technology to go the extra mile to bring clean water to homeowners. It’s also easy to install and low maintenance, and consumers can add a salt-free softening system if they would like.

Clearly Filtered

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – This model features a four-stage proprietary ActivFlo water filtration system. It contains a catalytic coconut shell carbon filter and certified KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) media to remove harmful water contaminants like chlorine, chloramine, pesticides, herbicides, and other organic chemicals.

For a more complete list of the contaminants the Water CF1 filters, click here.

Filter lifespan & capacity – The system comes with a pre-filter that needs to be replaced every 6-9 months, and then the main filter media itself has a 1,000,000 gallon capacity. This means it won’t need to be replaced for at least 10 years on average, depending on your household’s water usage.

Flow rate – The operating water pressure is between 25 and 80 PSI, and it has a 9 GPM (gallons of water per minute) flow rate. This is a little lower than some models, but it should still be sufficient for most medium-sized houses.

Certifications – This product has not been NSF or WQA certified, but SpringWell is a trusted brand in water filtration.

Price – At $811.63 for the system, you’re getting superior performance for a relatively low price. The pre-filters are $40 for a 2-pack, and the main filter media replacement is $334. If you’re handy with plumbing, you can DIY the install to avoid having to pay for a plumber.

Who It’s Best For:

This whole house filtration system is optimal for those looking for the best system to remove harmful contaminants from their city tap water at a great price.

For more information, see our complete SpringWell Water Review.

Pros

  • Four-stage filter uses activated carbon and KDF media to remove foul tastes and odors as well as organic chemicals
  • 1,000,000 gallon filter capacity and 10 year lifespan
  • Maintains a good flow rate at 9 GPM
  • 6-month money-back guarantee and lifetime warranty on the parts
  • DIY-friendly to install
  • Reasonable price point for the quality
  • Can add on a softener system as well 
Cons

  • One of the larger filters on the list
  • Will not work great for most well water

2. AquaOx – Most Effective Whole House Water Filter System

Why This is a Top Pick

AquaOx takes the silver for being the most effective whole house water filtration system with the largest capacity. It works for both municipal water and well water, and removes the most contaminants of the filters on our list.

Waterdrop-G3

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – The AquaOx features a filtration system with 7 stages: the pre-sediment filter, KDF 55, KDF-85, garnet, centaur catalytic adsorptive carbon, activated coconut shell carbon filter, and filter-AG stages. This allows it to remove foul tastes and odors, heavy metals like lead, iron, mercury, and hydrogen sulfide, organic chemicals, and microorganisms.

You can see the full list of contaminants the AquaOx works on here.

Filter lifespan & capacity – With a 2,000,000 gallon capacity, you won’t find a filter media that lasts longer. This filter will last for at least 20 years, and works for up to four bathrooms.

The system is maintenance-free, meaning you don’t have to clean or replace any filters aside from the main 7-stage filter at the end of its lifespan. You can also DIY install this model.

Flow rate – There’s no compromise on flow rate at 15 GPM. You can rest assured you’ll have plenty of water pressure for all of your home’s needs.

Certifications – The AquaOx has been certified by both NSF and WQA for NSF/ANSI standards 42 – meaning it removes aesthetic contaminants, 53 – meaning it removes contaminants with known health effects, and 61 – meaning it uses certified components.

Price – You get it all with this system – and you also pay for it. Going for $2,999, you’ll save some money by not having to do filter replacements down the line but it won’t offset the initial cost.

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Who It’s Best For:

This whole house filter is one of our top picks for its innovative technology, excellent customer service, and overall strength of features and filtering capacity. This model is best for those looking for the most thorough whole house water filter system for either city or well water – but it’s very pricey.

You can see our full Aquaox Review here.

Pros

  • 7-stage filter removes a wide variety of contaminants and works for both well and municipal water
  • 2,000,000 gallon capacity and 20 year lifespan
  • Maintenance-free operation
  • Exceptional 15 GPM flow rate
  • NSF and WQA certified
  • American-made
  • 12-month money-back guarantee and 10-year warranty

Cons

  • Very expensive

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3. SpringWell Water WS1 – Best Whole House Water Filter for Well Water

 

Why This is a Top Pick

SpringWell’s WS1 Filter System is our top solution for private wells.
This model utilizes the latest technology in water filtration and features a more economical and environmentally-friendly well water system design.

Aquasana RO

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – Using AIO filtration, this model removes nearly 100% of iron up to 7ppm, hydrogen sulfide up to 8ppm, and manganese up to 1ppm – which are the three most common well water contaminants. The built-in sediment filter also removes suspended particles and debris.

Filter lifespan & capacity – The media in the WS1 should last for 20+ years, which translates to a roughly 2,000,000 gallon capacity even though SpringWell doesn’t publish that specification.

Flow rate – With a 12 GPM flow rate, this system does a great job of making sure there’s no drop in flow for quality water.

Certifications – This SpringWell product has not been NSF or WQA certified but Springwell is a trusted brand in the filtration space.

Price – The $2,000 price tag is a bit steep, but it’s well worth it for the high flow rate and near-complete clearance of common well water contaminants. Like the AquaOx, due to the maintenance-free design there’s no ongoing costs from filter replacements.

Who It’s Best For:

If you have a home with a private well and have iron, manganese, sulfur, or a combination of these common well water contaminants, then this system is going to be a great choice. This filter is widely recognized as the best whole house water filter for well water.

Pros

  • 4-stage filter removes up to 8 ppm of Hydrogen Sulfide, up to 7 ppm Iron, and 1 ppm Manganese
  • Maintenance-free design
  • 20+ year lifespan
  • High flow rate at 12 GPM
  • 6-month money-back guarantee & lifetime warranty on parts
  • Bluetooth interface for remote monitoring through an app
  • Can add a water softener system

Cons

  • More expensive unit
  • May need a plumber to help install

4. Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000 – Best Combined Water Filtration & Softener System

 

Why This is a Top Pick

Suitable for both municipal water supply and well water, the Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000 is a 3-stage whole house water treatment system combined with a salt-free water conditioner. It works on a wide number of contaminants and prevents mineral scale formation.

pelican undersink

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – Using a combination of KDF-55 media and an activated carbon post-filter, this system reduces herbicides, pesticides, and volatile organic compounds (VOC)s in addition to nitrates, 97% of chlorine, and heavy metals like iron, lead, and hydrogen sulfide.

It also prevents the growth of bacteria and algae, and the sediment pre-filter works on suspended particles. You can see the whole list of contaminants removed here.

Filter lifespan & capacity – This model has a 1,000,000 gallon capacity, which is a lifespan of about 10 years depending on your water usage.

The pre- and post-filters will need to be replaced regularly, however. The pre-filter lasts up to six months with city water, while the post-filter lasts up to 12 months on city water. With well water, those lifespans are cut in half.

Flow rate – The flow rate is a bit lower than the others at 7 GPM, which may still be enough for a 4-person household with low usage.

Certificates – NSF has certified this product for standard 42, which means it improves the aesthetic quality of water.

Price – The Aquasana Rhino combo system goes for $1,552, which is less expensive than some of the other models and you get the added benefit of the water softener. The pre-filters come in a 4-pack for $29.95, while the post-filters are sold individually for $29.95 as well.

Who It’s Best For:

The Aquasana Rhino whole house water filter is an excellent option for consumers looking for a four-stage water filter system that also works to condition hard water. It’s also an optimal choice for those concerned about the chlorine, heavy metals, and other contaminant levels in their water.

For more information, you can also see our complete Aquasana EQ-1000 Review.

Pros

  • Takes care of all your water filtration and softening needs in one whole house system
  • Works on both municipal water and well water
  • Filters microscopic particles from rust, sediment, industrial solvents, pesticides, silt, water-soluble metals, lead, and 97% of chlorine
  • Long-lasting, the KDF media has a 10 year or 1-million gallon lifespan
  • NSF certified
  • No backflushing which means no waste water generated

Cons

  • A low flow capacity of just 7 GPM
  • Filter replacement for the pre- and post-filters can be expensive
  • Pre- and post-filters need to be replaced at least every six months
  • One of the heaviest units
  • You may need a plumber to change the main filter or to help with installation if you don’t get the install kit

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5. Pelican PC 600

Why This is a Top Pick

Pelican’s PC 600 whole house water filter is one of the market’s top systems for municipal water thanks to its combination of catalytic granular activated carbon and KDF-55 media. It works in homes with up to three bathrooms, but you can also get an upgraded system that will work in homes with 4-6 bathrooms.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – The sediment pre-filter removes all particles larger than five microns, including sand, silt, sediment, and other debris. The granulated activated carbon works on chlorine, chloramines, and VOCs, while the KDF-55 media reduces water-soluble heavy metals.

You can see the full list of contaminants removed here.

Filter lifespan & capacity – The PC600 has a 600,000 gallon capacity which is guaranteed by Pelican to last at least five years. The sediment pre-filter, on the other hand, will last for 6-9 months. The upgraded system for 4-6 bathrooms, the PC1000, has a 1,000,000 gallon capacity.

Flow rate – The operating water pressure ranges between 20 and 80 PSI, and the flow rate is 8 GPM for the PC600 and 12 GPM for the PC1000.

Certifications – This model has been NSF certified for standard 42, which means it reduces chlorine and bad tastes/odors in water.

Price – If you’re looking for high-quality water on a budget, you’ll like the $759.20 price tag. The sediment pre-filters are likewise reasonably priced at $88 for a 4-pack.

Who It’s Best For:

The Pelican whole house water filtration system is an excellent choice for consumers with municipal water who are looking for a filter that doesn’t require electricity or produce gallons of water wasted. It’s also great for those who don’t want to break the bank on their whole house filter.

You can see our complete Pelican water review here.

Pros

  • Activated carbon and KDF-55 media reduce many chemicals found in city water supplies
  • Can get a higher-capacity system for larger houses
  • 5-year guarantee and limited lifetime warranty
  • Easy install and maintenance
  • NSF certified
  • Doesn’t use wastewater
  • Requires no electricity – unless you add a UV filter upgrade
  • Great price
Cons

  • Doesn’t work as well on well water
  • Lower flow rate

6. Aquasana OPTIMH20 – Great Option for Lead

Why This is a Top Pick

The Aquasana OPTIMH20 is certified to remove more lead than any other filter on the market, along with many other harmful contaminants as well. With its carbon block technology, this model from Aquasana will be your best bet for clean, lead-free water.

waterdropblack

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – This model is certified to reduce 99% of cysts and lead, 98% of PFOA and PFOS, and 90% of chloramines and chlorine.

Filter lifespan & capacity – Unlike most of the other filters on our list, the OPTIMH20 only has a 100,000 gallon capacity, or roughly 12 months. The sediment pre-filter should likewise be changed regularly at every 3-6 months.

Flow rate – Like the Rhino, this filter’s flow rate is 8 GPM which should be sufficient for most medium-sized households.

Certifications – This model has been NSF certified for standard 53, which means it removes contaminants with known adverse health effects.

Price – While not as expensive as some of the other models on the list, the $1,799 price tag can still seem steep. We believe for the quality of water produced that it’s worth it, and at least the sediment pre-filters are cheap at $29.95 for a 4-pack.

Who It’s Best For:

The Aquasana OPTIMH2O whole house water filter system is an optimal choice for homes with a municipal water supply and the need to reduce cysts, lead, PFOA, and PFOS. You can also add a water softener system if hardness is one of your concerns.

You can see our complete Aquasana review here.

Pros

  • Best filter system for lead
  • Tested and certified to reduce 99% lead, cysts, and PFOA/PFOS
  • Option to add salt-free conditioner
  • Contains LED flow meter indicator
  • Doesn’t require backflushing (no water wasted)
  • 5-year limited warranty and 90-day money-back guarantee

Cons

  • Expensive, but worth the price
  • The capacity is only 100,000 gallons
  • Not as durable as the Rhino whole house system

7. Filtersmart FS1000

Why This is a Top Pick

The powerful Filtersmart FS1000 is ideal for homes with 1-3 bathrooms, delivering great flow while using activated carbon to remove a wide range of contaminants. However, if you have four to six bathrooms, you can always upgrade to a large unit.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – The activated carbon block filter removes chlorine, chloramine, VOCs, herbicides, pesticides, THMs, and industrial solvents as well as other contaminants. For the full list of contaminants removed, click here.

Filter lifespan & capacity – This filter is rated for 1,000,000 gallons and comes with a five-year guarantee. The sediment pre-filter should be replaced every 6-8 months.

Flow rate – The maximum flow rate is 12 GPM, which should be more than plenty for a 3-bathroom house and will ensure you don’t experience any drop in pressure.

Certifications – This product has not been certified by NSF or WQA.

Price – This filter is easy on the wallet at $710.50, and a 4-pack of the sediment pre-filters is $78.

Who It’s Best For:

This Filtersmart product is a great option to consider if you want a filter that produces quality results without impacting flow. If you are on well water, however, we would not recommend this particular filter.

You can also see our full Filtersmart review here.

Pros

  • Carbon block filter removes many organic contaminants as well as chlorine and chloramine
  • 12 GPM flow rate
  • 1,000,000 gallon capacity and rated for at least 5 years
  • No electricity required
  • Great price
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Likely needs a plumber to install
  • Not recommended for well water – does not remove iron, hydrogen sulfide, or manganese
  • No independent certifications

8. iSpring WGB32B

Why This is a Top Pick

The iSpring WGB32B is a three stage whole house water filter that is great for virtually any water supply. The base system uses a polypropylene sediment filter in addition to two carbon block filters to remove a large amount of contaminants while maintaining flow.

iSpring-RCC7AK-RO

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – The CTO carbon block filters remove up to 99% of chlorine and up to 95% of herbicides, industrial solvents, pesticides, and more. A high-capacity polypropylene sediment filter reduces particles down to 5 microns.

One of the best things about this system is that you can customize it to your water’s needs. If you’re on a municipal water supply and chlorine is your biggest concern, you can stick with the 2 CTO filters. If you’re concerned about lead, you can replace one of the CTO filters with an ion exchange lead reduction filter.

Similarly, if you’re on well water you can swap one of the CTO filters for a catalytic media that reduces both iron and manganese. If you want scale reduction without installing a separate water softening system, iSpring’s patented scale inhibitor filter will reduce the calcium and magnesium levels in your water.

Lastly, you can get a combined granulated activated carbon and KDF filter that removes lead, mercury, hydrogen sulfide, and other heavy metals in addition to herbicides, pesticides, chlorine, and others.

Filter lifespan & capacity – These CTO carbon filters are rated for 100,000 gallons, or one year. The sediment filter, on the other hand is only rated for 10,000 gallons but some customers report it lasting for up to six months depending on the amount of sediment in your water. Swapping out the filters is very easy, and you do not need a plumber for installation.

Flow rate – With one of the top flow rates on the market at 15 GPM, you can be confident that this filter won’t put a dent in your water pressure.

Certifications – This product has not been NSF or WQA certified for contaminant removal, but the parts have been NSF certified for standard 61.

Price – The initial price of this model is $398, which is the second-lowest on our list. Having said that, the CTO replacement cartridges are $36.20 each, while the sediment filter is $22.06.

If you wanted to upgrade to the iron and manganese filter, that cartridge is $79.82, while the KDF combination filter is $95.99. The cost over time is going to depend on which combination of cartridges you use, and as always your household’s water usage.

Who It’s Best For:

These 3-stage filters are ideal for homeowners who want to clean up their home’s water supply on a budget – no matter which set of contaminants it has. Choosing these whole house water filters means consumers can access a system with easy installation and a lower cost compared to most other models.

See our iSpring water systems review for more information about the company.

Pros

  • Carbon block filters remove up to 95 percent of sediments and chlorine, herbicides, pesticides, and industrial solvents
  • The customizable nature of the system means you can target your water’s specific contaminants
  • The 15 GPM flow rate is exceptional
  • Able to be DIY installed
  • The parts have been NSF certified
  • The price can’t be beat for the quality

Cons

  • The unit is quite large and will only fit in a house with sufficient space
  • The cartridges have a short lifespan of just 100,000 gallons of filtered water (or about 12 months), which is low
  • If you forget to use Teflon tape at the connections, you may experience leaks

9. Home Master HMF3SDGFEC

Why This is a Top Pick

The Home Master HMF3SDGFEC whole house filter is another system offering a flow capacity of up to 15 GPM. This system is designed specifically with well water in mind, and it works on both the top well contaminants and organic impurities.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – This system combines a sediment filter with granular activated carbon and an iron reduction filter. Together they remove iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide for up to 3ppm combined, in addition to sediment and turbidity, pesticides and herbicides, chlorine, and other organic chemicals down to 1 micron in size.

Filter lifespan & capacity – The capacity is based on the carbon filter, which is slightly lower than the other models at 95,000 gallons. It can still last you a full year in a 4-person household if you only have moderate usage, however.

The iron reduction filter will last anywhere from six months to a year depending on how much iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide is in your water, and the sediment filter will also last from 6-12 months before needing to be replaced.

Flow rate – The maximum water pressure is 90 PSI, and as mentioned this system also delivers a 15 GPM flow rate.

Certifications – This system has not been certified by the NSF or WQA.

Price – The initial price of the system is $503.85, which is lower than many of the other models. Having said that, the carbon filter replacement cartridge costs $83.35, while the iron filter replacement filter costs $117.37 and the sediment replacement filter costs $34.49.

Who It’s Best For:

The Home Master HMF3SDGFEC whole house water filter is an excellent choice for homes running on well water. However, if you’re looking for a whole house water filter for city water, the HMF2SMGCC filters are worth considering as well.

See our Home Master review for more information about the company, including the HMF3SDGFEC model.

Pros

  • Removes iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide up to 3ppm combined and also removes other organic chemicals
  • Excellent flow rate at 15 GPM
  • Very reasonable price
  • Two year limited warranty on the filter housing
  • Easy to maintain

Cons

  • Lower capacity than the other models means more maintenance
  • It is difficult to install DIY

10. 3M Aqua-Pure AP904

 

Why This is a Top Pick

For homeowners who want a low-cost and hassle-free filter to improve their municipal water supply, this is another system to consider. The 20 GPM flow rate is suitable for households of any size, and the filter is certified to improve the aesthetic quality of your water.

Main Features & Benefits

Contaminants removed – This system removes particulates larger than 5 microns in addition to chlorine and other bad tastes and odors. The Aqua-Pure filter is also marketed to reduce scale formation, but if water hardness is a top concern you would be better off going with a true water softener system.

Filter lifespan & capacity – This filter lasts for 100,000 gallons, or roughly a year. There’s no pre- or post-filters, so you don’t have to worry about extra maintenance with them.

Flow rate – You won’t find a filter that preserves flow better at 20 GPM.

Certifications – NSF has certified this system for standard 42, meaning it improves the aesthetic quality of your water.

Price – The price of the initial system is $291.15, while the replacement cartridges are $191.14. This makes this system the cheapest to start off, but the cost does add up with the yearly replacements.

Who It’s Best For:

If you have a municipal water supply that does a good job of getting the harmful contaminants out and you just want to clean up the odor and taste of your water, then this is a great filter for just improving aesthetics. If you have heavy metals, organic chemicals, or other impurities that need to be removed, however, you would be better off going with one of the other models.

Pros

  • Removes high levels of chlorine, particles larger than 5 microns, and helps to reduce scale buildup
  • The 20 GPM flow rate is exceptional
  • Easy installation and filter replacement
  • NSF certified
  • Low up-front cost
Cons

  • Mainly improves taste and odor of water, doesn’t work on other harmful contaminants
  • Only a 100,000 gallon capacity
  • Costs can add up over time

 Whole House Water Filters Feature Comparison Table

ProductFilter TypeFilter CapacityFlow RateCertificationsPrice
SpringWell CF1Catalytic Carbon, KDF-551,000,0009 GPMN/A$$
AquaOxCatalytic and Activated Carbon, KDF-55 and -852,000,00015 GPMNSF & WQA$$$$
Springwell WS1AIO2,000,00012 GPMN/A$$$
Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000Activated Carbon, KDF-551,000,0007 GPMNSF$$$
Pelican PC600Activated Carbon, KDF-55600,0008 GPMNSF$$

Whole House Water Filter Buyer’s Guide

What Are Whole House Water Filters?

As the name suggests, whole house filters clean all the water that enters your home, which is why they’re also called point-of-entry systems. The filter removes contaminants in the main water supply to ensure that it is purified before it reaches your pipes.

How Do Whole House Water Filters Work?

This type of filter system attaches to your main water line’s point of entry. That causes the water to pass through a filter or a set of filters before reaching appliances, faucets, and other water-using fixtures.

Whole House Filters vs Reverse Osmosis Systems

While whole house filters efficiently provide filtered water to your whole home, reverse osmosis filters are very inefficient and generate a lot of waste water when used to filter a whole home.

Instead, they are most often used at individual faucets or fixtures.

A good option for the most complete water treatment solution in a home with bad water is using a whole house filter on the point of entry and a RO filter under your sink for drinking water.

Whole House Filters vs Water Softener Systems

Water softeners are point-of-entry systems that remove total dissolved solids (TDS) from water like calcium and magnesium, which prevents scale buildup.

Most regular filters don’t remove TDS or minerals, while most softener systems don’t remove heavy metals, chlorine, and other contaminants.

What Do the Best Water Filters Remove?

Every whole house water filter removes different contaminants. The best whole house water filters remove a wide variety of contaminants, whereas more budget options just improve the taste and odor or only remove a limited subset.

The main contaminants potentially found in city water:

  • Chlorine
  • Sediment
  • Rust
  • Sand
  • Chloramines

The main contaminants potentially found in well water:

  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Hydrogen Sulfide

Other potential contaminants in both (but more likely found in well water):

  • Herbicides and pesticides
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Parasites, viruses, bacteria
  • Industrial solvents

In order to find out what contaminants are in your water specifically, you should purchase a water testing kit that will break down the types and amounts of each contaminant. Then you can target your whole-house filter purchase to the one that will best meet your needs.

Most of our top models above will filter out a wide range of water contaminants for both city and well water supply. Still, if you know that you just need to remove one or two contaminants, you can find filters that are tailored to those needs.

For example, if you are concerned about fluoride you can see our best fluoride water filters page, or if you know you just need to remove iron in your well water, you can visit our best iron filters for well water page.

Why Use a Home Water Filter?

There are several reasons to invest in a whole-house water filtration system, from health benefits to improving the lifespan of your appliances.

Protect Your Health

The main reason homeowners decide to purchase a whole house water filter is to keep their family members safe from illnesses associated with different contaminants like lead, pesticides, industrial solvents, bacteria etc.

Extend the Lifespan of Your Appliances

Cleaner water is also essential for your appliances. If the system has a sediment filter, less sediment means less damage to the parts of your washing machine, water heater, dishwasher, etc.

Maintain the Color of Your Clothing

Do you ever notice that your clothes come out of the washing machine looking less clean than they started? White garments are particularly susceptible to stains due to dirty water.

Receive Better Results

You could fit a filter just on your kitchen faucet, but this would only provide you with clean drinking water – you’ll still be showering and washing dishes with contaminated water. Adding individual filters to all your appliances and faucets could be an alternative, but this would be more expensive than installing one universal system.

What to Look For in Your Water Filtration System

There are significant differences between different water filter systems, and when choosing the right one for you it’s necessary to think about your priorities and requirements.

For instance, it would be pointless to choose the best whole house water filter for well water if your home receives city water. Similarly, if you have a small house, you don’t need to look for a whole house system featuring a super high flow rate.

When comparing water filters, there are several characteristics to consider. We looked at the contaminants removed, the filter lifespan and capacity, the flow rate, whether the system is certified, and the price as our main points of comparison.

Depending on your home setup you may also need to look at factors like the dimensions of the system, the ease of installation and filter replacement, and the size of the inlet piping. One consideration that may change how you want to set up your home’s filtration is the micron rating.

The micron rating tells you what size particles are filtered out of the water. For instance, portable water filters for hiking and camping have low micron ratings – down to as small as 0.1 microns. That’s because they need to remove tiny particles that could be dangerous to your health like microbial cysts.

In contrast, whole-house systems may only need a 5-micron filter. The exception is when the particles in your water are tiny, in which case you may need as low as 1 micron instead of 5 microns. However, if you choose anything lower than this, your water flow pressure will drop considerably.

Suppose you require a tiny micron rating due to the incoming water’s low quality, but you’d rather not sacrifice your flow capacity. In that case, a solution could be to purchase a standard whole house water filter and install an additional point-of-use filter where water needs to be extra clean – such as at the kitchen faucet.

That will keep water flow high enough to meet your needs on appliances like the washing machine and shower. While still providing the cleanest water where you need it most.

Next, think about what kind of whole house water filter would suit your needs. For instance, if your water source is well water that contains high quantities of iron, you’ll need to choose a filter system that removes iron. If you have hard water, you may need the best whole house filtration and softening system in one unit. If your water contains bacteria, opt to include a UV attachment filter with your purchase.

Finally, you need to determine the right size for the filtration system. Large systems tend to offer a greater water flow, which is always beneficial for large houses. However, small homes and condos rarely require the same high flow – and it’s usually challenging to find space to fit a larger filtration system.

Installing a Whole House Water Filter System

If you have no experience with DIY projects, you’re better off relying on a plumber to install your water filtration system.

However, if you do have some basic knowledge, you may not find the task too difficult. Below are the basic steps:

1. To start, turn off your main water supply. Do this by finding the shut-off valve and turning it until it’s completely closed.

2. Next, you need to drain as much water out of the system as possible. That involves turning on a faucet and waiting until the water runs dry.

3. Now, you’re ready to install the filtration system. Choose the location on your water source carefully, as you’ll need plenty of space to access the unit whenever it comes time to replace a filter. It’s also best to keep the system out of reach of any children in your household.

4. Once you have a spot, measure where you will position the shut-off valves and pressure gauges. Mark these places. With a bucket available for any water that remains in the pipes, use a pipe cutter to cut the water line. A reamer is excellent for removing any burrs.

5. The instruction manual for your whole house filter system may say that shut-off valves are optional, but they are handy for changing filters. Add them to both ends of the pipe. After this, you can mount the unit itself – either on plywood or with mounting brackets.

6. Then, install the sediment pre-filter, followed by the main system and any other filters (the correct order is typically available in the manual).

7. Finally, follow the instructions for your specific filtration system to install the compression nut and ensure you face the input and output fittings the right way. Once this is complete, turn the inlet valve off and turn on your water supply to check for leaks.

If everything looks good, turn the inlet valve on and check one more time for leaks. If there are still no leaks, the task is complete.

Whole House Filter FAQs

When other homeowners are looking for the best whole house water filter, these are the main questions that they’ve been asking:

Q: Do I need a whole house filter? When are they not needed?

A: If you get your water from a well, then you definitely need a whole house filtration system. While your city’s municipal water supply should meet set standards for health and purity, you may want to remove some particles like fluoride or chlorine that remain, even though they’re at safe levels.

If you get your water tested and you find that there are no contaminants over recommended levels, or if you are already satisfied with how your water tastes, then you may not need a whole house filter. Likewise if you’re only interested in increasing the quality of your drinking and cooking water, you can use a point-of-use filter at your kitchen faucet.

Q: Are whole house filters really worth it?

A: Yes, we believe they are. What’s the price tag for peace of mind? What’s the value of your family’s health? More tangibly, you’ll see real dollar savings since your appliances will have extended lifespans.

Q: Can I drink the water filtered by the whole house filter?

A: Yes! Better quality drinking water is one of the main benefits of a whole house filtration system.

So, Which Whole House Water Filter Do We Recommend?

 

After reviewing all the best whole house water filters on the market, we recommend three top models for different situations if you want quality water.

If you want the best whole house filter system for city water at an affordable price, go with the SpringWell CF1 model.

If you are looking for the highest quality and largest capacity and aren’t concerned with price, go with AquaOx. This model is effective for both well and city water.

If you have a private well and need the top whole home filter for your well water supply, we recommend the WS1 from SpringWell.

Lastly, keep in mind that a whole house filter is an investment in quality filtered water that can last you for a long time and keep your family safe, healthy, and clean. So we recommend weighing the pros cons before choosing one of our top picks and not skimping out on this purchase.

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