Problems with municipal drinking water systems have become all too commonplace, with a number of towns and cities having to issue boil-water advisories or even recommend that residents avoid drinking the water at all. Additionally, well water is increasingly contaminated by environmental pollutants like pesticides, fertilizers, and industrial waste.
As a result, Americans spend billions of dollars on home water filtration systems each year to achieve acceptable drinking water standards, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Even if your water is safe to drink right now, it may not always be that way. Would a water filtration system be a beneficial investment for the health of your family?
What Is a Residential Water Filtration System?
A residential water filtration system is a device or series of devices used to remove contaminants from your household drinking water. It can be as simple as an off-the-shelf pitcher filter, all the way up to complex systems that are professionally installed in your home’s plumbing.
Water filtration systems function by passing water through one or more filters that are designed to remove specific contaminants. The filters can be made of a variety of materials including activated carbon, ceramic, and even reverse osmosis membranes.
- Activated carbon filters, for instance, work by adsorption, a chemical reaction where certain contaminants that are attracted to activated carbon particles get removed from the water.
- Reverse osmosis filters work by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure. This process effectively removes a significant percentage of impurities from the water, including chemicals, bacteria, and viruses.
Each type of filter has its own strengths and weaknesses, and is more or less effective at removing different types of contaminants. Therefore, many high-quality home water filtration systems use a combination of filter types to ensure the removal of a wide range of contaminants.
The type of system you choose will depend on several factors:
- The types of contaminants you are trying to remove
- Your budget
- How many people live in your home
- The specifications of your home’s water supply
There are many different types of residential water filtration systems available on the market. Some are easy DIY projects, while others typically require the services of a professional plumber.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types:
Faucet-Mounted Water Filters
Filters that attach directly to your faucet are an option for small households or for people who only want to filter their drinking water. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install, but they do not remove as many contaminants as other types of filters.
Countertop filters sit on your countertop and connect to your faucet with a hose. They are more expensive than faucet-mounted filters, but they also remove more contaminants.
These filters install under your sink and connect to your main water line. They are a more expensive type of filter, but they also remove the most contaminants.
Installed on your main water line, whole-house filters process all of the water that comes into your home. They are the most expensive type of filter, but they can provide peace of mind knowing that all of your water is filtered.
Health Hazards From Contaminated or Impure Water
While contaminated water has been a major news story in some communities recently, smaller-scale water issues occur fairly regularly throughout the country. Often, these are just temporary issues that are quickly resolved, but even a short boil-water advisory gives reason for concern.
Contaminants in drinking water can cause a wide range of health problems.
- Gastrointestinal illness: Contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites can cause gastrointestinal illness, which can lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
- Infectious diseases: Some contaminants, such as giardia and cryptosporidium, can cause serious infectious diseases. These diseases can be especially dangerous for infants, young children, and people with weakened immune systems.
- Chronic diseases: Exposure to some contaminants, such as lead and arsenic, can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and kidney disease.
- Birth defects: Exposure to some contaminants, such as mercury, can increase the risk of birth defects.
- Reproductive problems: Exposure to some contaminants, such as lead, can increase the risk of reproductive problems, such as infertility and miscarriage.
Both municipal water systems and private wells can become contaminated in a number of ways, including:
- Natural sources: Contaminants can seep into groundwater from naturally occurring sources, such as rocks and soil that contain minerals or chemicals. This can lead to hard water issues or something more serious. For example, arsenic and uranium are naturally occurring minerals that can contaminate groundwater. Flooding can also carry sewage and contaminants into groundwater.
- Human activities: Contaminants can also come from human activities.
- Agricultural runoff: Fertilizers and pesticides used on farms can seep into groundwater.
- Industrial pollution: Wastewater from factories and other industrial facilities can contaminate groundwater.
- Sewage: Leaks from septic tanks and sewer lines can contaminate groundwater.
- Well construction and maintenance: Improper well construction or maintenance can also lead to contamination. For example, a well that is not properly sealed could allow surface water to contaminate the groundwater.
- Home plumbing: Contamination can also occur from home plumbing, such as from lead pipes or pipes that have cracked or corroded.
The signs of water contamination can vary depending on the type of contaminant. Some common signs of water contamination include:
- Changes in taste, color, or odor: Water that is contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or chemicals may have a foul taste, odor, or color.
- Changes in clarity: Water that is contaminated with sediment or other particles may appear cloudy or murky.
- Presence of floating matter: Water that is contaminated with sediment or other particles may contain floating matter, such as dirt, sand, or leaves.
- Health problems: Drinking contaminated water can cause a variety of health problems, including gastrointestinal illness, infections, and even cancer.
If you suspect that your water is contaminated, it is important to have it tested by a qualified laboratory. You can also contact your local health department for more information.
Why Is a Filtration System Important?
A water filtration system is important because it helps to ensure that your family has access to clean, safe drinking water. Filtration systems can remove contaminants like lead, chlorine, bacteria, parasites, and chemicals from your drinking water. This can have a major impact on your family’s health and well-being.
Additionally, having a good filtration system in place will help protect your home’s plumbing from damage caused by contaminants or mineral buildup. It can also help to extend the life of your water heater by removing sediment buildup, which reduces the energy needed for hot water production.
Stronghold Plumbing In & Near Lakeland
If you are considering the installation of a water filtration system, you need an expert in Florida plumbing. Rather than just search for “plumbers near me,” why not go with the best? At Stronghold Plumbing & Septic, our team of plumbers in and near Lakeland can help you decide on the best water filtration option for your specific situation.
FAQ’s – Water Filtration Systems
How do I know if I need a water filtration system?
It’s important to have your water tested regularly. If you are on a municipal water supply, the local government should test it for contaminants. If you use a private well, it is important to have it tested at least once a year for bacteria and other contaminants. If the test reveals any contaminants, a water filtration system may be necessary.
What is the difference between water softening and filtration?
Water softening and filtration are two very different processes. Water softening uses a salt-based ion exchange process to reduce hardness in your water by removing calcium and magnesium ions from the water. Filtration is a process that removes sediment, chemicals, and other impurities from the water by passing it through a filter.
How often should I change my water filter?
The frequency of filter changes will depend on the type of filtration system you have and how heavily your family uses it. Generally speaking, most filters should be changed every three to six months. It is important to follow your manufacturer’s recommendations when changing the filter.
Are there any other benefits of water filtration systems?
Installing a water filtration system can also help reduce contaminants in your home’s plumbing fixtures, such as showerheads and faucets. This can help extend the life of your fixtures, as well as improve your overall water quality and prevent limescale buildup in pipes. It can also reduce chlorine levels in shower and bathwater, which can help keep skin and hair healthy. Lastly, it can provide a noticeable improvement in the taste and odor of your drinking water.