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On this page:
Part One: Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews
- Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews
- Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter
- Express Water Whole House Water Filter
- iSpring 3 Stage Water Filtration System
Part Two: Information about Whole House Water Filtration Systems
- How Does a Whole House Water Filtration System Work?
- Potential Contaminants found in municipal and off grid water
- Benefits of a whole house water filtration system
- What to Look for when Buying a Whole House Water Filtration System
- special note for whole house well water and off grid filtration systems
- How to Install a Whole House Water Filtration System
In a perfect world, we would have sparkling fresh and clean drinking water available right to our taps.
Unfortunately, that is not the case.
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?
All of these contaminants are not healthy for drinking, bathing, or even our plumbing system.
Chlorine makes skin dull and dry, heavy metals and sediments can cause buildup in our plumbing systems and eat away at our expensive appliances. Even our clothing gets damaged from these harsh contaminants!
That is why I strongly recommend a whole house water filtration system.
It will enhance you and your family’s overall health and protect your expensive investments – like your plumbing system and appliances.
Living off well water or in an off grid situation? You will need to take extra precautions from heavy sediments and microbials!
Wells and off grid water systems need extra protection
In this article, I will go in-depth on whole house water filtration system reviews, including systems for well water and off grid setups.
I will also provide valuable information about whole house water filtration systems, potential contaminants, and so forth.
If a whole house filter is a bit too much, you can also opt for a gravity fed water filter. Check out my article about gravity fed water filter systems here.
Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews – including Well Water and Off Grid Systems
$ $ $ $ $
The Aquasana system is a heavy duty class water filtration unit as the filters don’t have to be changed out for five to ten years – or one million gallons – depending on the model you get.
The one shown above is the most basic model – it has three stages of filtration and filters 600,000 gallons of water which should last for six years.
This model also comes with a massive 6 year warranty whereas the competing systems usually only come with 1 year.
Although there are various models and additions, every system consists of three stages:
Step 1. 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 2. 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 3. 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.
Since the main carbon filter is so large, the water gets a higher level of processing compared to smaller systems.
The carbon filter also lasts a whole lot longer than smaller cartridges by five to ten times!
Users are raving about the super high quality of water this system has to offer.
However, the pre and post filters do need to be replaced every six months to one year, so it’s not completely 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; users 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.
Customer service is on the slower side, but they do follow through eventually.
If you have a well or an off grid water system, you can upgrade your unit to include a descaler and a UV system.
This is super nice because it all comes together as one unit as opposed to purchasing these parts separately.
This means the additional filters in the system are covered by their whopping 10 year warranty!
This comes with an additional pre filter that removes sediments down to 5 microns in size. This helps keep your main filters clean and will last longer, especially with hard water problems.
This does drive up the price quite a bit but the descaler is important so the extra sediments don’t clog the other filters and the UV light needs to kill any microbials in the water.
Overall, 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!
$ $ $
1 Year Warranty
I really like the fact that this Express water filtration system comes with a sturdy stainless steel enclosure so you do not have to worry about building one yourself.
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.
This is a three stage filter:
Stage One: Sediment filter will catch contaminants down to 5 microns. The filter design has a coarse outer layer and with a finer inner layer so the life of the filter lasts longer and catches more crud.
Stage Two: Granular Activate Carbon filter catches chlorine, VOCs, herbicides, industrial solvents, insecticides, chemicals, bad odors and tastes.
Stage Three: Carbon Block filter captures pharmaceuticals, TOCs, more chlorine, turbidity, pesticides, and more chemicals.
Users have reported that the unit is built with quality in mind and that the installation process is pretty easy.
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 also include the stainless steel housing.
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 the good fit.
Overall, this is an excellent whole house water filtration system at the price they offer.
This is the exact same filter as their overall model, but the middle granulated carbon filter is swapped out for a “kinetic degradation fluxion” filter.
This filter is designed specifically for a wide variety of heavy metals, namely iron, lead, mercury, and aluminum. It also clears chloramine, sulfur, arsenic, algae, viruses, hydrogen sulfide, and fungi from the water.
This filter is made with catalytic carbon and is ionically charged with copper and zinc granules.
This is a special filter for these specific contaminants so if your water tests for these particular issues this would be the proper filter for you.
$ $ $
1 Year Limited Warranty
The iSpring will filter 100,000 gallons of water ( or one year) and remove 98 percent of chlorines, sediment, chloramines, chemicals, bad tastes and smells.
This filter is a three stage process:
Stage one – sediment filter removes contaminants down to five microns.
Stage two and three – these are the same filters, so it gives the water more surface area to remove contaminants. The filters are made of coconut shell block carbon; 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.
The carbon block filters remove over 90% of chlorine and remove VOCs, pesticides, herbicides, and industrial chemicals.
This unit is a 1 inch inlet/outlet and can get up to 15 GPM.
The unit is quite large and heavy weighing in at 49 pounds and has a dimension of 21 x 8 x 28 inches (not including any additional upgrades) so plan your installation accordingly.
Make sure to check your water PSI as the filter can handle a range of 40-90 PSI.
Overall, users are pretty darn happy with the results of this product. Many have reported a massive upgrade to the quality and smell of their water.
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 pre sediment filter upgrade or buying a more heavy duty unit.
Reports of support have been 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.
I highly recommend purchasing this additional prefilter sediment catcher for people on well water systems. It is reusable and flushable and will catch sediments down to 50 microns.
This will keep your main unit from clogging up so quickly therefore making your expensive filters last longer.
The filter is made of a fine mesh stainless steel that needs to be flushed every week or even every few days. The flushing process is easy; you don’t have to uninstall any components.
You will also need a UV purification system for well and off grid systems. iSpring makes an 8000 hour UV light system that will compliment the main filtration unit.
I like this UV light because it has a smartflow sensor that turns the UV light on when the water is flowing and turns it off when it is not needed. That will preserve the bulb life by quite a bit!
This unit can handle 12 GPM and needs a 100-120V power supply and is 37.5 inches long, so keep that in mind when installing the filtration system.
How Does a Whole House Water Filtration System Work?
A whole house water filter is installed onto the main waterline and provides clean filtered water to all the faucets in the home.
This in turn offer 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.
An installed whole house water filter mounted on the wall.
Potential Contaminants found in municipal and off grid water
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.
How to Install a Whole House Water Filtration System
Depending on the type of filter system you purchase will depend on the level of skill you need with plumbing systems.
Small systems will install relatively easily, but the more heavy duty systems will require some expert knowledge; you may need to hire a plumber to get the job done correctly.
This guide is a generic version to install a simple system and is here to give you some pointers; it is not a replacement for the instructions that come with your kit!
Tools you will need:
- Pipe cutter
- Adjustable wrenches
- Teflon tape
- Whole house water filtration kit (obviously)
- Start by turning off the water supply at the mainline shutoff. Find the lowest faucet on the line to drain the water and pressure in the pipes.
- Cutting the pipe. The kit will come with a template so you can mark exactly where you need to cut the pipe. When choosing a placement for the system, make sure that you have easy access to it so you can change out water cartridges.
- Install the compression nut and fittings onto the pipe ends and use Teflon tape to get a good seal. Do not over-tighten the fittings; they should be snug but not wrenched on too hard.
- Position and install the filter to make sure that the in and out port are facing the correct way. Don’t install backward!
- Get the water filter into the desired position and then hand tighten the compression nuts. Once in position and hand tightened, go ahead and tighten with two wrenches.
- Now you can turn the water back on. Filtration systems come with a bypass switch so make sure yours is set to be filtering the water.
Changing a whole house water filter
Depending on what model you purchase will depend on how frequent you need to change the water filter.
Every system will have a different set of instructions on how to change the filter, so make sure to keep your instruction manual handy.
Standard cartridge filter systems are easier to replace than heavy duty systems; This list of instructions is a generic principle for standard systems.
- Typically, you need to turn the system on to bypass mode.
- The tank will need to be removed from the housing. When doing so, have a bucket underneath to catch any water, if applicable.
- Pour out the water from the tank and wipe the inside dry.
- Insert the new cartridge, place the tank back onto the housing, and turn the filter back onto filter mode.
- Now, turn on one of your faucets and let the water run for a little bit to pass trapped air.
I hope you enjoyed my whole house water filtration systems reviews and that my informative section gave you the knowledge you need to make the right purchasing decision.
I put a lot of time, effort and energy into researching and writing quality articles and making videos.
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Have a wonderful day!
Creator of Maximum Off Grid
Hello, I am Regina! I am the creator and brainchild behind Maximum Off Grid.
My goal is to educate and inform people interested in becoming independent from the system.
I also provide valuable reviews on products and service that I research thoroughly and make quality recommendations.
I hope you are enjoying my website!