A water purification or filtration system is a great investment that can protect you and your family by ensuring your home’s water is clean, pure and free of any contaminants. When considering a water purification system for your home, you have a wide variety of options to choose from, so you’ll need to think carefully about which type of system is right for your home. To make this easier, this guide will explain the different options so you know what factors to consider and what the benefits of each option are.

Whole-Home vs. Point-of-Use Filtration Systems

The first thing you should decide when looking to add a water purification or filtration system to your home is whether you really need whole-home filtration. Whole-home purification systems are more expensive, but they will ensure that you have pure, clean water coming out of all the fixtures in your home. This means that your drinking water will be clean, as well as the water you cook with. A whole-home system will also ensure that the water from your bathroom sink is clean so you don’t need to worry about brushing your teeth or filling up a glass in the middle of the night or before going to bed.

Some people consider a whole-home system to be overkill since there’s obviously no need to purify the water that you use to flush the toilet. You also don’t need to purify the water that flows into your water heater since most experts generally recommend never drinking the hot water that comes from a water heater or even using it for cooking. This is because bacteria can sometimes form inside a water heater tank, and older units can also start putting rust into the water.

The other option rather than installing a whole-home system is to install a point-of-use system. Point-of-use systems are most commonly installed underneath the kitchen sink to provide clean water for drinking and cooking. In this case, you can also connect the purification system to your refrigerator to ensure the cold water and ice it provides are pure and clean. Some people also choose to install more than one point-of-use system for different fixtures, but this will sometimes cost about the same or even more than a whole-home filtration system depending on the specific type and model you choose.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems

Reverse osmosis filtration systems are among the most popular options. Not only is reverse osmosis filtration extremely effective, but this type of system can also work passively without requiring energy. Reverse osmosis filtration works using a semi-permeable membrane. Water can naturally pass through the membrane, but the holes in it are too small for any particles and contaminants in the water to pass through. This means that the membrane will filter out silt and sediment, rust and even most chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria and viruses. Most reverse osmosis systems will filter out more than 90% of contaminants.

Traditionally, reverse osmosis systems needed a large storage tank to hold all of the clean water coming out of the system. This is because reverse osmosis works quite slowly, and it takes a long time for the water to seep through the membrane. Without a storage tank, you’d have to wait for ages from when you turn on your faucet until the water finally starts flowing.

Storage tank systems are almost always point-of-use. There are whole-home systems available, but they’re extremely rare these days. This is partly because they need a huge tank to store enough water to meet the home’s needs so they require lots of space. The other reason is that they waste quite a lot of water as they need to regularly flush the membrane so the system can continue working.

These days, many manufacturers have released tankless reverse osmosis systems, and these can be either whole-home or point-of-use. Instead of working passively, this type of system has a pump that forces water through the membrane instead of the water just naturally seeping through. Tankless systems are great as they take up less space and will provide clean water almost immediately after turning on a faucet. The only real downside, compared to a storage tank system, is that a tankless system needs to use electricity to power its pump, but most units are extremely energy efficient and typically won’t use much power. Tankless systems also waste much less water since they work only as needed.

Multi-Stage Water Purifiers

While reverse osmosis filtration is quite effective, a multi-stage purifier will be even more effective and also help make your water taste better. There are a wide variety of multi-stage systems available that use different types of filters or purifiers, and these can again be either point-of-use or whole-home systems.

Many systems have UV lights, and these are great as they are almost 100% effective at killing bacteria and viruses. Some systems simply use different types of filters. For instance, many systems have a sediment filter that the water flows through first and works to trap larger particles like silt and sand. The water will then flow through a more efficient filter or sometimes a reverse osmosis filter. Most multi-stage systems also have one or more carbon filters that work to remove chlorine and other impurities to improve the taste of water and eliminate any off-putting odors. Almost all multi-stage systems require electricity as they use a pump to move the water through each of the filtration chambers.

Water Purifiers vs. Water Softeners

Water softeners are another type of water treatment system. A water softener doesn’t technically filter or purify water. All it does is remove calcium and magnesium from the water to help overcome hard water issues. That said, a water softener can still improve the taste of the water in your home as hard water can often have an off taste.

Installing a water softener in a home with hard water is a great investment that will help to protect the plumbing system and appliances, like dishwashers, washing machines, coffee makers and the water and ice dispensers in a refrigerator. Hard water contains a high concentration of dissolved calcium and magnesium, and these dissolved minerals will always leave behind some deposits. Over time, the mineral deposits can start to clog up the pipes in the appliances and can cause them to leak or shorten the lifespan of the appliance. The mineral deposits can also clog your faucets and showerheads. They will even build up inside the pipes and slowly reduce the water pressure and restrict how much water can flow through the plumbing system.

Most water softeners use special resin beads to attract and hold onto the minerals as water flows through the softener tank. The process works because the beads carry the opposite charge from the minerals so that all the mineral ions are attracted and stick to the beads. This type of system then occasionally flushes the tank with a salt brine to wash all the minerals out and into the drain. There are brine-free water softeners as well, but these don’t actually remove minerals from the water. Instead, they use different chemicals that change the composition of the minerals so the water doesn’t leave behind mineral deposits.

Southport Home Services is a full-service plumbing company, and we install a range of water treatment systems, including purification systems and water softeners. We serve residential and commercial customers in Madison and are ready to take care of all your plumbing, heating and air conditioning needs. For more information on the water treatment options we offer, give us a call today.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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