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Whole House Water Filter Guide 2017: What’s the Best Water Filter?

Check out the 10 best whole house water filter reviews of 2017. Make sure you get the perfect system for your home with our buyer’s guide and reviews.

best-whole-house-water-filter-reviews-2017The Top 10 Whole House Water Filters of 2017

We review the best whole house water filtration systems available right now.

Each comes with overwhelmingly positive feedback, and amazing reviews on Amazon.

Check out the whole house water filter comparison table to see how they compare in the key areas. There are more detailed reviews of each to follow.

Don’t forget to read our top tip on how you can get an awesome 3-stage whole house water filter for less money than you think.

There’s also an amazing buyer’s guide with all the essential information about getting your first home water filter system. Use the links below to jump to the part that interests you most.

Quick Navigation
1. Top 10 Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews
2. A Guide to Whole House Water Filters
3. Installation Guide
4. How You Can Get an Effective 3-Stage Whole House Filter for Less Than You Think

Whole House Water Filtration System Reviews

PictureModelRatingMax Flow RatePricePositivesNegatives
iSpring WGB22B4.515$$High water pressure, long life filters, effective city & well water filtration, 1-year satisfaction guarantee, NSF certified filtersFilters might clog faster than a 3-stage system
Home Master HMF2SDGC

4.420$$Long life filters, good water flow rate, 2 year warranty, effective filtration for city or well waterFilters aren't as cheap as other brands
APEX MR-30204.410$$$$High fluoride removal, long life filters, good flow rate, NSF approvedFluoride filters can be expensive
3M Aqua-Pure AP9034.420$Really high water pressure, good value, simple to maintainOnly suitable for city water
DuPont WFPF13003B4.45$A fraction of the price of some other models, cheap filters tooOnly one filter stage (can combine multiple units though)
Watts WH-LD4.410$Really good value, cheap filtersOne filtration stage
Home Master HMF3SDGFEC4.315$$$$High water pressure, long life filters, improves water taste and odor, effective at removing ironFilters aren't cheap
iSpring WGB324.215$$$High water pressure, NSF certified filters, long life filters, perfect for city or well water, powerful protectionNeed upgraded version to combat heavy metals
Aquasana 10-Year Pro Kit3.87$$$$$Removes 97% of chlorine, long lasting filters, powerful filters, balances pH of waterUnit is expensive
Whirlpool WHEJL13.46$$Automated maintenance system, no filter changes, great value over 10 year life cycleNot as powerful as some other filters, lower water flow rate

The Max Flow Rate is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). This is a measure of how much water a water filter can produce. Larger homes will need a bigger GPM value or there might be a drop in water pressure.

Home Master HMF3SDGFEC            OUR PICK FOR BEST WATER FILTER SYSTEM 

home master HMF3SDGFECA nice feature of these Home Master filter systems is that they come in a few different styles. There’s a 3-stage system that is a really effective all-round unit, and two 2-stage systems that can tackle both municipal and well water. Each model is very capable of protecting your home from harmful water contaminants. Home Master are well known for making some amazing RO water filters, and these whole home units are equally impressive.

As we mentioned, there is a choice of 2 or 3-stages of water filtration. The 3-stage stage system is more effective and more expensive (it has an extra filter). The two stage models offer a slightly faster water flow rate, and cheaper running costs. There is also a choice of two different 2-stage models. There’s the chlorine specialist model, that is perfect for city water, and the catalytic carbon model which is great for removing heavy metals like lead, mercury, iron, and copper.

Here’s a brief lowdown of the key features of each model:

  • 3-Stage System
    • Perfect for well water supplies
    • Removes heavy metals like lead, mercury, copper, iron, manganese
    • Also removes chlorine, sediment, dirt
    • 15 gallons per minute (GPM) water flow rate
  • 2-Stage Carbon System   
    • Perfect for city (municipal) water supplies
    • Removes chlorine, sediment, dirt
    • 20 GPM water flow rate
  • 2-Stage Catalytic Carbon System
    • Great for well water supplies
    • Removes chloramines, iron, lead, mercury, copper, manganese
    • Also removes chlorine, sediment, dirt
    • 10 GPM water flow rate
home-master-2-and-3-stage-whole-house-water-filter

This series of water filter really stands out in 3 areas: they allow high water pressure, they’re really low maintenance, and they are very effective.

They use larger size filters which means more water can pass over them faster. This means effective filtration and a fast water flow. In fact, if you combine this with the fact it uses 1 inch ports, you have among the strongest water flow rates available (up to 20 GPM with the 2-stage carbon version).

These jumbo filters also have the added benefit of not needing to be changed very often. In fact, changes might not need to be made for a whole year. These filters cost a little more, but also last longer than the average water filter.

Should you wish to change the filters to something cheaper, then that is possible too. They use the Big Blue size filter housings (20″ x 4.5″). This size of filter is produced by a range of 3rd party manufacturers, so you have access to a huge range of filters, each with different price tags and abilities.

Let’s look more closely at the 3-stage system model. Each filtration stage performs a specific task.

  • Stage 1: a sediment filter of multi gradient density. This means it is less likely to get clogged and it produces finer filtration. By starting the filtration process at 20 microns and gradually scaling it down to 1 micron, this is one of the most effective sediment filters available.
  • Stage 2: this carbon filter improves the taste and odor of the water, and is especially good at removing chlorine. It has a huge 100,000 gallon capacity which is capable of lasting a whole year for a household of 4 people.
  • Stage 3: this filter targets heavy metals. It will remove up to 95% of iron, lead, manganese and other heavy metals.

The Home Master is really effective, and will filter down to 1 micron. This level of filtration is among the best we have seen for a whole home filtration system. It is only topped in our reviews by the more expensive Aquasana Rhino. It is especially effective at filtering iron and heavy metals from water, which makes it perfect for well water supplies. Though, the 2-stage carbon model is excellent for city water too.

It comes with a two year limited warranty, and an impressive reputation on websites like Amazon. If you are in need of even more water pressure, then check out the two stage version

Bottom Line: This range of water filters offer an effective solution for both municipal and well water supplies. The 3-stage system is an extremely powerful filtration system, that can provide clean water for a large home.  While the 2-stage carbon model is perfect for city water supplies and high water demands.

The 3-stage Home Master system is our pick of the bunch, it is dependable, robust, and effective. If you seek a whole house solution to water contamination, then you won’t do much better.

Key Features

  • Price: $$$
  • Rating: 4.3
  • 3 Filtration Stages
  • Up to 20 GPM Water Flow
  • Jumbo Sized Filters
  • 1″ Input & Output Ports
  • 1 Micron Filtration
  • Removes up to 95% of iron, manganese, sediment, chlorine, sulfur  and other contaminants.
  • Great for Well Water or City Water
  • 2 Year Warranty

iSpring WGB32 3-Stage       PERFECT FOR WELL or CITY WATER

iSpring-WGB32PBThe iSpring WGB32 series of whole house water filters provide a really effective solution to home water contamination. iSpring are well known for their commitment to their customers, and with the WGB32 series they offer a range of water filters to fit a variety of common water problems.

The units are available with a choice of 2 or 3-stages of water filtration. The 3-stage units are the most effective, and offer very strong filtration. However, the cheaper 2-stage units are also very capable water filters, and should offer ample protection in most cases. The 2-stage units are identical in every way to their big brothers, minus the second carbon block filter (more on that later). For the sake of this review, we will mostly focus on the 3-stage systems.

This recently upgraded iSpring range now includes 3 customized water filters to combat specific needs. Each water filter uses the same iSpring 3-stage hardware, but uses a different combination of filters, to target specific water contaminants. They are all effective at reducing up to 95% of chlorine, chloramine, sediment, pesticides, herbicides, rust, industrial solvents, and VOCs, but each model also has a specific talent too.

Here’s what the 3 choices look like in more detail:

Model

Filter Stage 1 
Removes

Filter Stage 2 
Removes

Filter Stage 3 
Removes

Best Suited Water 

Price

iSpring WGB32B

5 Micron Sediment Filter 
- Dust

- Sediment

- Rust

5 Micron Carbon Block 

- Chlorine

- Chloramine

- Bacteria

- Pesticides

- Herbicides

- Pharmaceuticals

- VOCs


5 Micron Carbon Block

- Chlorine

- Chloramine

- Bacteria

Pesticides

- Herbicides

- Pharmaceuticals

- VOCs


Municipal Water

$

iSpring WGB32BM

5 Micron Sediment Filter 
- Dust

- Sediment

- Rust

5 Micron Carbon Block 

- Chlorine

- Chloramine

- Bacteria

- Pesticides

- Herbicides

- Pharmaceuticals

- VOCs


Heavy Metal Filter 
- Iron

- Manganese

- Arsenic

Well Water

$$

iSpring WGB32B-PB

5 Micron Sediment Filter 
- Dust

- Sediment

- Rust

5 Micron Carbon Block 

- Chlorine

- Chloramine

- Bacteria

- Pesticides

- Herbicides

- Pharmaceuticals

- VOCs


Heavy Metal Filter 
- Lead

- Iron

- Manganese

- Arsenic

- Radium

- Mercury

- Copper & more


Well Water

$$$

The cheaper WGB32B model offers an effective solution to municipal water that is high in levels of chlorine. Its two carbon filters are perfect for removing the chlorine taste and odor. It is certified to reduce up to 95% of  chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, industrial solvents, VOCs, and other contaminants.

The WGB32BM and WGB32B-PB specialize in the removal of heavy metals and are best suited to well water supplies, which are more commonly affected by these hazardous contaminants. The WGB32BM removes up to 95% of iron, manganese, and arsenic. While the WGB32B-PB raises the bar even further by removing up to 95% of iron and lead too.

As we mentioned before, the three models use the same hardware. In fact, they also use the same stage 1 & 2 filters. The big difference between the three is the choice of stage 3 filter. Filters that deal with heavy metals are more expensive, and this explains the difference in cost throughout the range.ispring-wgb32-series-filter

The cheaper 2-stage model is available in 3 choices too. The only difference being that it lacks the 2nd carbon block filter that the stage-3 units have. The 2-stage model is still a very effective filter, and offers slightly better water flow rates, and cheaper running costs.

The iSpring WGB32 series use Big Blue (20″ x 4.5″) filter housings. These accommodate jumbo sized filters that last longer and allow faster water flow. Combined with the 1″input and output ports, this water filter allows a really strong water flow rate of up to 15 gallons per minute.

Using the Big Blue filter housings has another benefit. This filter specification is universal throughout the big manufacturers, which means that you aren’t locked into a specific brand. In fact, you are free to completely customize your filter set-up to suit your specific water problem. If you decide that you want a more effective sediment filter then you are able to buy one from a third party manufacturer. Or, if you feel you are paying too much for your filters then you can simply try another brand. I love the options that this iSpring range gives. They’re adaptable and flexible to fit any situation or budget.

The iSpring brand filters that are supplied with the unit are said to last around a year at a time (but this really depends on how bad your water is and how much water you use). These are NSF certified, meaning that you can rely on them to protect your home. These iSpring systems also come with a Water Quality Association Gold Seal to prove their effectiveness under independent testing.

The WGB32 series come with iSpring’s incredible 1-year money back guarantee. iSpring also offer some of the best US based customer service in the business, and give lifetime support as standard with their products.

Bottom Line: We love this series of water filters. With both NSF and WQA certificates they are some of the most effective whole home water filters out there. Taking into consideration the effectiveness, cost, ease of maintenance, reputation, and customer care, it’s hard to deny that iSpring make some of the best water filters around.

Key Features

  • Price: $$$
  • Rating: 4.2
  • 3 Filtration Stages
  • Up to 15 GPM Water Flow
  • Jumbo Sized Filters (longer lasting, less filter changes, better water pressure)
  • Removes up to 95% of chlorine, chloramine, sediment, pesticides, herbicides, rust, industrial solvents, and VOCs as standard.
    • WGB32BM also removes 95% of iron, manganese, and arsenic
    • WGB32B-PB also removes 95% of lead, iron, manganese, arsenic, and other heavy metals
  • 1″ Input & Output Ports
  • Perfect for Well Water or City Water
  • NSF Certified
  • WQA Gold Seal
  • 1 Year Money Back Guarantee
  • Filters Water for the Entire Home

Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000          MOST EFFECTIVE WATER FILTER FOR CITY WATER

aqusana-rhino-10-yearThe Aquasana Rhino provides a great level of protection against harmful contaminants, while not hurting the wallet as much as the initial cost might suggest. While the initial cost is more than others, its running costs are competitive.

It meets and even exceeds NSF standards by removing up to 97% of chlorine for 1,000,000 gallons. It also removes contaminants like lead, mercury, herbicides, pesticides and VOCs. Unlike other whole home filtration systems it is also able to address the pH level of the water, to improve the taste and make it more alkaline and healthy. It improves the pH of the drinking water by redressing any imbalances that may have occurred during the filtration process. This is feature is more commonly seen in reverse osmosis systems and is rare for a whole home unit.

Though the initial price tag seems expensive, over the course of 10 year life it gives quite good value. The replacement filters are much cheaper than rival filters. With cheaper running costs, this model isn’t as expensive over a period of time as the initial price might suggest.

This model gives among the best protection that we have seen for a whole home system. A water filter’s effectiveness is judged on how refined its filters are. The better a filter, the lower the micron rating it has (a micron is a unit of length equal to one millionth of a meter). For example, a 10 micron filter will only allow particles smaller than 10 microns to pass through. A 1 micron filter would be deemed more effective than this because it allows only particles smaller than 1 micron through.

The Aquasana Rhino really stands out in this area when compared to rival competitors. The main reason is the effectiveness of its post-filter. Rated at 0.35 microns, it offers excellent protection against contaminants with some of the smallest particle sizes. There are aren’t many whole house filters that can compare with this level of protection. A further reason is its specialization in chlorine removal from the water supply. Chlorine is one of the most common contaminants in our water, and to be able to remove more than 97% is an impressive return.

Let me qualify my previous statement by saying that this water filter is one of the most effective for homes supplied by municipal water. It is perfect for getting rid of contaminants like chlorine, but it wouldn’t be suited to well water that is high in heavy metals. In this situation, go for the iSpring or Home Master.

We recommend the Pro Kit version which comes with all the necessary fixtures for installation. This includes the bypass valve, and the pre and post filters.

Bottom Line: This is the perfect system for removing chlorine. It has the most refined filter we have seen, and it is a great fit for municipal water. There are plenty of installation options that include water softeners and UV filters too. The initial cost is significant, but the running costs are very reasonable.

Key Features:

  • Price: $$$$$
  • Rating: 3.8
  • NSF Certified
  • 3 Year Warranty
  • 90 Day Satisfaction Guarantee
  • Improves pH
  • Removes up to 97% of chlorine
    • Also heavy metals like lead & mercury, VOCs, herbicides and pesticides
  • Great Tasting Water
  • Lots of Installation Options
  • Perfect for Municipal Water Supplies

Aqua-Pure AP903        BEST WATER PRESSURE

aqua-pure-ap903-150The Aqua-Pure AP903 removes sediment, chlorine, rust, and dirt. It’s a very popular choice for homes served by municipal water supplies, due its effectiveness in reducing chlorine levels. It will filter down to 5 microns in particle size, which is a good return for a whole home device.

A real bonus with this unit is that it requires only one filter change a year or every 100,000 gallons. The filter change is also very easily done, with just a flick of a switch and a twist. This makes the AP903 a very low maintenance solution to water contamination.

It doesn’t have a pre-filter, which means it isn’t best suited to water that has high levels of sediment or heavy metals (like well water). However, it works very well for homes served by municipal supplies. Taking into consideration the initial cost and the yearly filter change, this is one of the cheaper systems to run.

The AP903 allows the fastest water flow rate we have encountered for a whole house system. This figure of 20 GPM means you won’t notice any drop in pressure after installation. This is ideal for large homes with multiple bathrooms, or high water demands. Its slim design makes it ideal for small spaces too.

Bottom Line: This is a really low maintenance system that can be left to fend for itself for a whole year at a time. If water pressure is important to you then this model is worth serious consideration. It’s great for fixing a problem with chlorine too.

Key Features

  • Price: $
  • Rating: 4.4
  • 5 Micron Filtration
  • 20 Gallons per Minute Water Flow
  • One Yearly Filter Change
  • Really Low Maintenance
  • Removes chlorine, sediment, rust and dirt
  • 1 Year Warranty

APEX MR-3020 with Activated Alumina        BEST FOR FLUORIDE

APEX-MR-3020-activated-aluminaThis filter uses activated alumina, which means it specializes in the removal of fluoride. Not many whole house filters have this feature, so if fluoride is a problem then this is worth a look at. In fact, this is the only high quality whole house filter we are aware of that targets this problem. Otherwise, reverse osmosis water filtration systems are a better option.

The system consists of three filtration stages:

Stage 1: a 5 micron sediment and rust filter.

Stage 2: a multi-stage layer that includes a 1 micron filter, a granular activated carbon system, and activated alumina. This stage removes fluoride, chlorine, arsenic and other heavy metals from the water.

Stage 3: an NSF approved coconut shell carbon filter. This absorbs chlorine, chloramine, THM and TCE

The filters are jumbo size, and the household water pressure drop is minimal. It’s really easy to install too. A downside is the cost of the filter packs, which are more expensive than some competitor’s. With three filter stages though, it offers a really good level of protection down to 1 micron.

Bottom Line: This unit combats a really wide range of contaminants. If fluoride is a worry then this model deserves serious consideration. It’s a really effective whole house unit.

Key Features

  • Price: $$$$
  • Rating: 4.2
  • Effective 3-Stage Filtration
  • High Fluoride Removal
  • 10 Gallons per Minute Water Flow
  • NSF Approved

Whirlpool WHELJ1       GREAT VALUE

whirlpool-whelj1-vsmallA great low maintenance solution to chlorine in the water supply. It’s not a heavy duty filter, but it’s becoming popular due to its automated system. It can be relied upon to automatically flush itself (equivalent of a filter change) at regular intervals. Using the digital controls you can set a time interval for it to perform its routine maintenance. Depending on the water quality this can range from every week to every month. This means that you don’t have to get your hands dirty changing filters, as it does the job itself. The unit is built to last for 10 years, so it really does represent good value.

There are various different costs to consider when deciding which is the overall best value system. Some models have a larger start-up cost, but then need few or cheaper filter changes. Others, seem cheap initially, but have expensive filter replacements. To judge these whole house water filtration systems on an even playing field, we have estimated their cost over a 10 year period. We have taken the initial cost, and the average filter life and cost, to give a figure which we believe represents the true expense of the water filter.

Based on our criteria of judging a system’s cost over a 10 year period, this whole house water filter works out at being one of the cheapest ones to run. It doesn’t need to have filters replaced, it just requires to be flushed every couple of weeks. This means our calculation was very easy. Its initial retail cost is the only expense, bar a small electricity charge. Whirlpool give the unit a 10 year or 1,000,000 gallon lifespan, so the initial outlay is the combined cost for 10 years.

Bottom Line: Great value combined with low maintenance. An effective chlorine filtration system.

Key Features

  • Price: $$
  • Rating: 3.4
  • NSF Certified
  • Effective at Removing Chlorine
  • Fully Automated “Filter Changes”
  • Almost Maintenance Free

Read our review


DuPont WFPF13003B       THE CHEAPEST OPTION

dupont-wfpfThis is the cheapest whole house water filter we have looked at by some margin. It retails at just a fraction of the cost of some other models. However, it does lack the features or multiple filter stages that they offer.

But, multiple units can be combined to offer multi-stage protection. A nice feature is that it will take most 10 inch size filters. This means that you can add a carbon filter, or any other filter of that size. The DuPont brand filters are cheap, and retail at just a few dollars each. This isn’t the most effective water filter on the market, but it will do a great job as a sediment, iron, and dirt filter. If you need something a bit more powerful then you can add extra units, and use filters with a better rating. The customization options are a great reason to go with this model.

Bottom Line: As cheap as it gets, this gives amazing value. If one stage of filtration isn’t enough you can just combine 2 or 3 units.


Watts WH-LD       BUDGET FILTER

watts-wh-ldThis model is another that is relatively inexpensive. There is a trade-off though, and you only get one stage of filtration. This water filter will do a great job as a sediment, rust, and dirt filter. It would also work perfectly as a pre-filter to an existing unit, or offer good protection to a water softener.

Like the DuPont model we featured earlier, this unit can be combined with others to make a more effective filter. This unit will protect your home against larger contaminant particles like iron and sediment, but it won’t protect against chlorine.

Bottom Line: An effective sediment filter for household appliances.


 


Build an Awesome 3-Stage Whole House System for Less Than You Think

We promised an alternative solution to having a highly effective whole house water filtration system in your home, and here it is. There’s no secret here, it’s just not everyone is aware of this, or they don’t have the necessary DIY skills to install it.

Having a three stage filter system can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. With our proposal you can save yourself a lot of money, but you will need some basic DIY skills.

Our solution has all the necessary components of a highly effective water filter, but costs about 1/2 the price of the market leader.

It includes a robust sediment filter to protect and prolong the life of the other filters. An effective polypropylene filter that tackles the harmful smaller contaminants, and a refined carbon filter that improves the water taste and odor.

In our opinion, the filter configuration that we have included offers a good level of contaminant protection. But, it is easily changed too. Filters that specialize in the removal of fluoride and arsenic are also available in this size (20″ x 4.5″).

Anyway, our suggestion is simple. Buy three separate filter housings and combine them to make a 3-stage system. You have the same protection that an expensive three stage system offers, but at a much reduced price. The only problem is that the installation takes more time and is a little harder. Check out our guide to installation below to see how to do it yourself.

What you need:Whole-house-water-filter-budget-design

3 x Pentek 150233 Filter Housings + 3 housing brackets, O-rings , and a filter wrench.

3 x Filters:

Stage 1: 5 micron polypropylene sediment filter

Stage 2: 1 micron polypropylene filter

Stage 3: Activated Carbon filter

Another option is to add water pressure meters before and after each filter. This will identify any loss in pressure, and also help to notify you of when it is time to change filters. If there is a significant drop in pressure, then it is time to change the filter.

There is actually an even cheaper alternative. Instead of using the Pentek filter housings, you can use the Dupont brand. These filters are not as big, and therefore not as long lasting. These means they will not allow as high a water pressure as the Pentek solution does, but the initial cost will be really cheap.

So, what are the advantages of the Pentek solution?

  1. It’s much cheaper than the leading brands.
  2. It uses jumbo sized filters (20″ x 4.5″).
    1. These last longer than regular filters and therefore need changed less frequently.
    2. They will save you money in the long term.
    3. Many manufacturers make filters in this size, which gives you lots of options.
    4. You can easily change the configuration of filters.
  3. It doesn’t throttle your water pressure.
  4. You can monitor the water pressure after each filter. By adding water pressure meters after each filter, you can accurately tell when it is time to change filters (when the pressure drops).

What about the drawbacks?

  1. You need to assemble it yourself (or with the help of a professional).

Bottom Line: This 3-stage whole house system offers all the perks of a system twice as expensive. It’s customizable to your specific water problem, and offers a range of installation options. It takes a bit more work to install, but it brings big savings with it.



How to Install a Whole House Water Filter

Whole house water filter installation is a bit more difficult than installing most other methods of water filtration. But, don’t let that put you off, because with a little guidance you can do it yourself in just a couple of hours.

You will need some tools and some basic DIY skills, but using our installation guide we’re confident that installing one of these systems won’t be the impossible mission that many believe it to be.

If you’re still not convinced, then Amazon have recently introduced professional installation as an option with most of their water filter products. Or alternatively, contact your local plumber.

We’ll start by talking you through the process. There’s a list of things you will, and some step by step instructions. This kind of thing is sometimes better to watch in action than be explained though, so we’ve included the two best installation videos that we could find. They follow the instructions below.

Anyway, here’s our guide to installing whole house water filters:

What You Will Need:install-whole-house-water-filter

  • Pipe Cutter
  • Adjustable Wrenches
  • Drill
  • Teflon Tape
  • Slip Joint Push Fittings (these are the easiest to use)
  • Copper coupling
  • Ball valves (optional)
  • Pressure gauges (optional)

Note: The bypass valve, pressure gauges, and shut-off valves are all optional. They make the installation slightly harder, but provide benefits.

Bypass valve – by bypassing the filters you can use unfiltered water for certain tasks. This will help prolong the life of the filters.

Shut-off valve – these make life much easier when it comes to changing the filters. If you don’t install a shut-off valve then you will have to shut the water off at the main supply. It’s much less messy with the valve.

Pressure gauges – by monitoring the input and output pressure, you will know when the best time to change filters is. When the drop in pressure passes 15 psi then it’s time to change those filters. You could go one further and install gauges between each filter stage. This would show exactly which filter needs changed.

Instructions: 

  1. Turn off your home water supply at the main water supply shut-off.
  2. Drain the water system. You can do this by turning on a faucet.
  3. Choose a suitable location for installation. This needs to be near where the cold water line enters the house.
    1. There needs to be enough room for you to easily change filters, when the time comes.
  4. Measure and mark the section of pipe that will need to be removed.
    1. Remember to account for any shut-off valves or pressure gauges that you may use. We recommend installing both. The shut-off valves make filter changes much easier, and the pressure gauges help notify you when it is time to change filters. When there is a noticeable drop in pressure across the two gauges (around 10psi) then it is time to change.
  5. Use a pipe cutter to remove the section of pipe.
    1. You might want to use a bucket to avoid any mess.
    2. Try “dry fitting” any pieces before making any cuts. This means positioning the parts where you imagine having them.
  6. Use a deburring tool (reamer) to finish off the cut by removing any burrs.
  7. Attach the new shut-off valves at each end of where you just cut.
  8. Screw a plywood panel into the wall. You will mount the filters onto this board. (optional)
    1. Remember that a 3-stage system will get very heavy when full of water. Make sure your panel is secured well.
  9. Mount the water filter unit onto the wall using the supplied brackets and hardware.
    1. Make sure the input and outputs are aligned correctly. The 1st stage (sediment) filter should always be at the start.
  10. Attach the input and output fittings to each side of the water filter.
    1. Use a generous amount of teflon tape on the thread of each fixture. This makes a better seal that shouldn’t leak
  11. Use push fittings or a compression nut (with ferrule) to attach to the pipe ends that you cut. You’ll be using either 3/4 inch or 1 inch connections. Push fittings are more expensive, but much easier to user.
  12. Attach the filter input and output to the push fittings. You’ll need some copper piping.

If you need more of a visual explanation, then check out these two videos to see how to install a whole home system:

Video 1: A brief run through of the key points.

Video 2: A more detailed explanation.



Whole House Water Filter System Buyer’s Guide

A whole house water filter system is typically defined as a point of entry (POE) system. A POE system is commonly installed at the front of the water heater, and cleanses both the hot and cold water. This means that purified water is delivered to every faucet in the home. Doing so ensures that every device in your home that needs water is supplied with clean, decontaminated water. Showers, baths, sinks, washing machines, refrigerators, and toilets can all work unimpeded by any pollutants, and more importantly, be safer and healthier to use.

There are many reasons as to why a whole house water filter system might be a good fit for your home, but here at waterfilteranswers.com we pride ourselves on providing balanced articles and information, so we’ll make sure to tell you why it might not be the right system for you too. Let’s start with the reasons supporting a whole house system.

Why Choose a Whole House Water Filter?

As alluded to earlier, a POE system will provide purified water at every output point in the home. We know the dangers of drinking contaminated water, but why purify the water that you wash with?

Well, the main reason is chlorine. Chlorine is a chemical added to our water supply to kill bacteria, but in large quantities it can be very dangerous to our health. It also has the effect of damaging, and excessively drying our skin. We can be exposed to chlorine in many ways, mainly through drinking and eating, breathing in fumes, and absorbing it through the skin from water and air. These causes of chlorine exposure can be dramatically reduced by installing a whole house water filter. By filtering the water that we wash and bathe with we can reduce the amount of chlorine that we absorb through water. This means healthier, more moisturized skin and hair. This also means cleaner and healthier air too, as contaminated water can have an effect on air quality at home. Chlorine and volatile organic chemicals can evaporate in bath and shower steam, polluting the air that you breath in your own home. A POE system would make sure this was a thing of the past.

Aside from the health benefits, there are other reasons to choose a whole house filter over say a point of use (POU) reverse osmosis system (a point of use system is usually installed under the sink). A whole house system offers really high capacity and water production rates. A reverse osmosis system might produce around 50 gallons of clean water per day, but a whole house water filter can exceed rates of 20 gallons per minute! This high capacity and volume make POE systems very durable and relatively maintenance free. A unit might require filter changes just once every 7 years. On the other hand, a reverse osmosis filter would need filter changes every 6-12 months.

 

Why Might a Whole House System Not Be Right For Me?

In the interests of balance, it’s important that we give every side to the argument. While there are many good reasons to get a whole house filter system, there are also a few reasons why it might not be a good fit for your home. The first would be the cost. These systems can be expensive when compared to other processes of water filtration. That being said, a POE system like this provides other dimensions to its protection (it filters bathing water too).

A second reason for not getting one of these systems is that they just aren’t as effective as reverse osmosis systems. A reverse osmosis membrane typically provides filtration up to 0.0001 microns. This means that particles bigger than this will not pass through. A whole house water filter typically has a less effective filter of 1-10 microns, meaning that it is not as effective at removing pollutants. Only reverse osmosis technology removes up to 99% of contaminants. Some water is just not in need of such stringent filtration, and it therefore makes it important that you know the quality of your initial water and specifically what pollutants you need to remove.


Before You Buy: Checklist

As previously discussed, the two systems (whole house and RO) differ in that one filters all of the water for a home, and one filters at just a single point. If you have no specific issues or special contamination worries, then a whole house filter is a good fit. It provides a solid multi-purpose filter for the whole house. It is a good all-rounder, trouble-free, and easy to look after. By treating contaminants at the point of entry, it is especially good at removing orange or brown staining, due to iron in the water supply. This also does the job of protecting pipes and appliances in the home.

Once making the decision to purchase a whole house water filter, you should concentrate on the following areas:

1. The type of system – it should be noted that there are two different types of whole house water filter. The most effective is the heavy duty system. This has long life filters that might only need changing every 5 years (see Aquasana Rhino). These systems are also the most efficient, and require the least maintenance.

The less heavy duty kind of whole house filter uses a water filter cartridge (see iSpring WKB32B). These filters will need to be changed every 6-12 months. This system has the benefit of having customizable filter options. This means a combination of filter types can be arranged to target a specific problem with the water. This arrangement is ideal should you be worried about a particular pollutant in your water.

2. Micron rating – the effectiveness of a whole house filter is a measured by the size in microns of its filter rating. A micron is a unit of measurement which is equal to one thousandth of a millimeter or one 25th of a thousandth of an inch. A model that has a filter rating of 1 micron will therefore stop any particle of a size bigger than this from traveling any further.

The best water filter system rating (whole house) we have seen for one of these water filters is 0.35 microns (Aquasana Rhino), but it is generally between 1-5 microns. Reverse osmosis systems offer even more filtering power, but are generally used at one faucet point. Due to its effectiveness at filtering, reverse osmosis is the best water filtration system. This is is because it can filter down to 0.0001 microns.

3. Water flow rate – this is the value given to the amount of water a system can produce in a given time. It is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) and can range from around 5-25 GPM. If you own a big house, full of lots of people then make sure you get a system that is capable of keeping up with the water demands. If the GPM value isn’t large enough then you run the risk of the water pressure dropping.

4. Filter cost and lifespan – the initial cost of the system should not be your only consideration when calculating a systems true cost. Over time you will probably buy a lot of replacement water filters too. Make sure you have an idea of how much they cost, and how often you will need to replace them. A system with a cheaper initial cost may use filters that don’t last long. This will cost you more in the long term.


Pros and Cons of Whole House Water Filtration Systems

ProsCons
Low maintenanceNot as effective as RO
High capacityMore expensive
High water pressre
Cleanses all household water

In conclusion, the most important thing to take away from this article is that you should be aware of the quality of your water supply before purchasing a water filter system. Contact your local water supplier, or test for yourself to make sure you know specifically what the problem is.

Different types of water filter fit different situations and scenarios, and it’s important that you make the right choice. Large particle contaminants are best treated with a whole house system, while reverse osmosis is better for smaller particles like pesticides. A good midway point is a countertop system.

Update: Consumer Confidence Reports (CRC) are now available on the EPA website. These are annual drinking water quality reports from your local supplier. If you are unsure about which contaminants you should be worried about, then this is a good starting place. Those with private water supplies will have to get their water tested independently.


If you have any questions about water filters or then please don’t hesitate to get in contact at the bottom of the page. We’ll get back to you promptly and do our best to help.

To keep up to date with all the news concerning the newest and best water filters, and also stay informed about the latest news on pollution and the environment, then follow us on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. There are links in the bar at the top of the page. We regularly post new whole house water filter reviews that you don’t want to miss out on!

Hi I'm Jamie, teacher and owner/chief contributor at waterfilteranswers.com. We strive to bring you the most informative water filter reviews in the most intuitive and user friendly way. Besides offering advice on the water filter to suit your needs, we also post topical articles on water pollution and the environment. Stay connected and follow us on, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and more!

12 Comments
  1. Reply
    Chris March 9, 2017 at 4:57 am

    Thank you for this thorough guide to whole house systems! It has helped me understand what seemed pretty baffling at first.

    I am leaning towards the diy method, with purchasing the 3 housings and selecting the best filters for my water. I had a question, though. You recommend the Pentek housings over the other brand because Pentek will allow you to use any standard size filter brand. But what about other similar housings? For example, KleenWater sells housings that also fit the industry standard filters. And their price on Amazon for their clear housing (which I definitely want, to help me with remembering to change the filters) is much lower than the price for the Pentek housing, and includes many of the needed parts that Pentek forces you to buy in addition. Likewise, US Water Systems (which has an INCREDIBLY helpful video on YouTube detailing every step of installing these housings, making this diy system just as easy as any boxed system) sells their own brand of plastic housings that appear to be better priced. I would not be surprised if further searching uncovered more generic offerings.

    Is there a reason to go with Pentek over these lower priced brands? I know there can be an issue of quality control, but there are plenty of comments in the Pentek Amazon reviews indicating that there can be duds amongst the Pentek housings as well.

    • Reply
      Jamie March 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for getting in contact.

      From our research, the Pentek model offers the best balance of value and features. It isn’t the cheapest filter housing, but it is very reasonably priced. Furthermore, we are unaware of any other filter housings at this price that offer the same features.

      The similarly priced KleenWater filter housing is similar in many ways, but only has ¾” input and output connections compared to the 1″ fittings on the Pentek.
      This makes the Pentek capable of higher water flow rates and less pressure drop.

      I’m not sure exactly which US Water Systems model you mean, but the one which we consider the equal to the Pentek model (Big Blue 4.5″ x 20″) is considerably more expensive ($50 compared to $80).
      If there’s something we’ve missed then we’d love to hear about it.

      Jamie @ Water Filter Answers

      • Reply
        Martin May 10, 2017 at 10:03 pm

        Thank you for posting this guide as it definitely helped me decide where I wanted to go with my whole house filtration.

        I would like to provide you with the following information:
        According to KleenWater’s own website, their 4.5″ x 20″ filters come in 3/4′, 1″ or 1.5″ in/out fittings. When you order the 3/4″, they send the 1″ model with reducers to fit 3/4″ piping.
        In addition, the KleenWater filter head has fittings for a pressure gauge on both the inlet and outlet sides so you can monitor pressure drop on the individual filter instead of having to add them before and after the whole cluster of filters.

        However, the price is alot more than the Pentex. Over triple, in fact, even if you get just the filter from the KleenWater website.

        Just so there is no confusion, here is a KleenWater kit with 3 x 5 micron filters cartridges, 2 x pressure gauges, wrench, bracket and screws on Amazon.

        Would like to hear your input after researching for yourself on the above information.

        Thanks again for the detailed guide.

        • Jamie May 11, 2017 at 4:49 am

          Hi Martin,

          Thanks for pointing this out, it’s the first I’ve seen of this.

          It does seem expensive, but it does have a few things going for it over the Pentek.

          1) Installation will be easier as the pressure gauges are directly attached to the unit.

          2) It comes with 3 filters (plus wrenches, gauges etc.)

          3) It allows up to 1.5″ fittings.

          4) It has a clear filter housing, so you can easily monitor the state of the filter.

          Their all inclusive package is more convenient, and it’s a bit easier to install than the Pentek. But, it is much more expensive.

          Hope that helps some.

          Jamie

  2. Reply
    Donny March 20, 2017 at 3:54 am

    Do they make a filter that reduces scale that will fit in the diy version you described

  3. Reply
    Jodi April 3, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I’m having a home built in Bend Oregon.
    I want a whole house system that is effective and has good water flow,removes contaminants and has low maintenance.
    I understand the initial cost can be higher.
    Would Pentek or Aquasana Rhino be the best choices or are there ones you would recommend above these.

    • Reply
      Jamie April 4, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Hi Jodi,

      Is your home served by municipal or well water?

      For municipal water, the 2-stage Home Master Carbon System that we mention in the post allows a high water flow rate and deals pretty well with the chlorine etc.
      The lowest maintenance municipal water filter would be the Aqua-Pure AP903 that we discuss. It needs only one filter change each year.

      For well water, you need something that is more robust and handles heavy metals. The 3-stage iSpring WGB32B-PB is really good at this, and allows a pretty good water flow rate.

      The Aquasana doesn’t allow the strongest of water flow rates so maybe you should discount it.

      I’m not sure which Pentek model you mean? If it’s the setup we recommend then yes that can work in both situations (depending on which filters you choose), and it allows a good water flow rate.

      I hope that helps Jodi. If you have any more questions then we’d be happy to help.

      Jamie @ Water Filter Answers

  4. Reply
    Sam April 18, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I regret not doing more research before installing a whole house filter. I let the plumber decide and he installed simple a one stage filter ( I don’t know the brand but it looks like the one Glacier Bay sells and is inexpensive) housing capable of accepting standard 10 inch filter elements. I have municipal water but I am running into an annoying issue. I use a Home Depot brand HDX standard 5 micron carbon filter. I have only two people in the household so not talking about heavy usage. I have to change out the filter every two weeks or else the upstairs shower slows to a trickle. The pressure is great once I by pass the filter so I know it is the filter clogging up. The pressure is a bit less with the filter than without but still acceptable. The label says they are supposed to last 3 to 6 months. I don’t know why they don’t last for me. Is this because my city water has lots of particles clogging things up or is this because the carbon element just clogs up more? Will going to a non carbon filter make things last a bit longer? Or should I go to a 10 micron filter. Any suggestions would be helpful.

    • Reply
      Jamie April 20, 2017 at 5:25 am

      Hi Sam,

      You’re right to use a carbon filter for city water, as it is best at removing the chlorine.

      It’s very strange that your filter clogs so fast when using city water. Do you know what clogs it? Is it sediment? Do you have very hard water?

      Using a 10 micron filter should definitely prolong the filter lifespan. Other options would be to add a pre-filter to protect the carbon filter, or upgrading to the bigger 20″ filter systems.

      Jamie

      • Reply
        Sam April 20, 2017 at 12:00 pm

        Hi Jamie,

        It looks like sediments, brown looking stuff when I rinse the used filter, but not excessively so. I guess my town must have “dirty water”. How can I tell if the water is “hard?” Does the hardness impact the carbon somehow? The difference between using the filter and not using the filter in water pressure is noticeable. If I add a pre-filter, would that cause an even bigger drop in pressure? Will a larger 20″ filter lessen the impact on water pressure?

        Thanks again for your advice

        Sam

        • Jamie April 22, 2017 at 4:28 am

          Do your neighbors have the same problem? Having high levels of sediment from a city water supply is unusual, and it shouldn’t be the case. The water certainly isn’t leaving the water treatment plant with lots of sediment in it (or shouldn’t be). Maybe this is a problem that your local authorities should be looking at.

          I mentioned the water hardness as a possible cause, as I assumed it wouldn’t be caused by sediment. Very hard water builds scale in the pipes, which could affect the water pressure, but this isn’t likely to happen over such a short period of time.
          You can test the water yourself to measure the hardness. This post may be of help. I would recommend testing the water for contaminants too.

          A larger filter size should allow a faster water flow rate, and should last longer.

          Jamie

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