From the National Post:
Mike Holmes: Which water filter is best for your family?
With World Plumbing Day on March 11 just gone, it seems like a good time to talk about water filters.
As a homeowner, it can be difficult to know exactly where to start. Do you call a plumber? Should you get the standard pitcher-style countertop filter? Would that be enough? How often do you need to change the filter? How much is it going to cost you? And, is it worth it?
When most people think of water filters they think of the typical water filter pitcher (also called a carafe filter) that is stored in the fridge. But water filters come in different shapes and sizes. There are carafe, faucet-mounted, under-sink and whole-house filters, among others.
Some reduce water flow. Some wear out fast and need to be replaced often, while others don’t need to be replaced at all. Some replacement filters are fairly inexpensive, but others might cost in the hundreds. Some filters require changing plumbing, while others just attach to the tap.
The right water filter depends a lot on where you live and your lifestyle.
For example, in some municipalities the local water supply is so hard (which basically means it has a lot of minerals in it) that builders will automatically install a water softener into every new home they build. In other regions there is concern about such chemicals and bacteria as radon (yes!) or E. coli getting into our water supply, rather than, say, lead or arsenic.
And whatever is more convenient and cost-efficient for you might not be for your neighbour — a lot of it has to do with how many people live in your home and how much water you use. A carafe filter might be enough for two people but not for a family of four.
And different filters eliminate different contaminants. For example, a water softener removes minerals — mainly calcium and magnesium — from water. But you’ll need a different water filter to remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chloroform, radon or bacteria.
So choosing the right filter starts with knowing what’s in your water. The only way to do that is to get your tap water tested.
Every city has its own local authority for testing water — and in most cases (if not all) it is free.
The next step is to take those results to the right pros. You have two choices: a licensed plumber or a water filtration expert. The latter will usually have a store that sells all kinds of water filters, water filtration systems and softeners, and they’ll have their own service guys who will install the system for you.
But you can also ask a licensed plumber you trust for a consultation. Some plumbers have more experience in water filtration systems than others. For example, a plumber that works in a rural area might know more about water filters than a city-based pro because water filtration is more of an issue in rural areas.
A licensed plumber will typically take your water’s test results to a water filtration supplier, ask for at least three water filters that will get rid of the contaminants in your water, and then recommend a proper water filtration system based on the plumbing in your home, number of fixtures, layout and consumption.
Of course, it will cost you. But if it means getting the right system that will help protect your health and safety, there is no better investment.
Watch Mike Holmes on Holmes Makes It Right on HGTV. For more information visit makeitright.ca.