If you are concerned about the purity of your water or are plagued with water that has a bad smell, awful taste, and suspicious color, then you should look into purchasing a water treatment system for your home. It will provide you with clean, great-tasting water and is cheaper than continually buying bottled water at the store. But how do you know what to buy? What is the best, or are they all the same? What exactly are you supposed to be filtering out of the water, anyway?

Checking Your Water for Contaminants

The type of filtration system that you need is dependent on what is in your water. To discover this, you can get a copy of the annual water report for your area from your water utility. You can also buy an at-home testing kit, or find a local lab to conduct one for you. Any information you gain is helpful, but you particularly want to ascertain if lead is present in your water.

Deciding What Filter You Need

  • Activated Carbon Filter: Removes heavy metals (lead, mercury, copper, etc), pesticides, chlorine, some VOCs, and parasites.
  • Reverse Osmosis: Removes perchlorates
  • Distillation: Removes arsenic

If you want a complete list of water filter types and the corresponding contaminants that they remove, NSF International (an organization that monitors, tests, and certifies products like water filters) has a chart available.

Decide Where You Want to Put Your Filter

There are two main locations for a water filter: point-of-entry and point-of-use.

  • Point-of-entry: Filters your water as it comes into your house; these are used for eliminating mineral deposits and foul odors and taste. Even with the purchase of whole-house system, you would still need point-of-use filters to help you remove other contaminants, like chlorine.
  • Point-of-use: These go on your faucet or under your sink, and even come in water pitchers and bottles. You can also purchase water filters for your shower, which would be a smart choice for anyone with a skin allergy to chlorine.

NSF Certification

No matter what type of water filter you decide to purchase, the most important feature look for overall is an NSF International certification. Those products that are accredited should have a label on their box. When you see that mark, it means the product was inspected, tested, and certified by an independent group to ensure that the filter works the way the box says.

Power-Saving Water Filters

While water filters will save you money in the long-run, you need to make sure that you can handle the cost to maintain and run the system you select. Water filters are meant for long-term use and will run constantly, so keep that in mind when you purchase one.

Space-Saving Water Filters

Water filters can go on taps, on your counter, under your sink, or on the wall. Make sure you have the space for the filter you purchase.


Regularly change the filters to ensure that they continue to be effective. Some models have a sensor or timer that will tell you when it needs to be changed, but if yours does not have this feature, mark it on a calendar.