You may not like how your municipal tap water tastes, but good water is more than just pleasing a palate. There’s a lot more that goes into your water than you might think; harsh substances like copper and lead can get into your water even if it comes from the purest of sources. Normal filters can’t get it all out, so you might want to consider some of these methods to insure your water standards go above and beyond the minimum requirements.
How can I check my water quality?
Your municipality is required to file a water quality report once a year that can be checked online or received by mail.
If you have a private well, you should consider getting it privately tested. Generally, when considering your water quality, you should refer to the NSF drinking standards as a rubric. Bear in mind that these are the minimum requirements for what is considered to be safe drinking water. Water that’s safe to drink may still not be the best water for your household, if you factor in taste preferences and hardness levels.
What can’t a normal filter remove from my water?
While there are bacteria and viruses less than one micron that can pass through the mesh of a normal filter, in modern urban areas that’s less of a concern.
The bigger problem has to do with copper and lead1, which can infiltrate a water source through a number of means: industrial deposits and mining are a few culprits, but pipe corrosion is a more widespread problem, regardless of where you source your water.
How much will it cost to upgrade my home’s water filtration?
Proper water filtration doesn’t have to be expensive, but it depends on what you want to do.
You can go all out with a whole-house filtration system in order to cover every point of entry before it gets to individual faucets, but the cost of entry is high ($600-$1000). Most of us probably would rather spend that money on remodeling projects, so a more affordable approach is tacking each faucet individually in a point of use (POU) filtration system.
What kinds of Point of Use systems are there?
Since a point of use system simply refers to tackling water purification at specific entry points in the home, there’s a lot of things to use, including traditional pitcher filters that are well designed2 and fit in seamlessly into your other kitchen appliances.
However, if you want to take it a step further and soften your water as well as purify it, the most commonly installed upgrade is a reverse osmosis system. These are most often fitted under the kitchen sink, since the kitchen is a main source of water usage in the house. They work by forcing water under pressure through a very small membrane, leaving the bad stuff behind. Basically, anything with an ionized charge3 will be filtered out of the water, leaving behind that nasty lead and copper and giving you purer, softer water.
It’s a great option if you live in an area that has a higher likelihood of well contamination from sources like industrial farming. Installation involves more than just slapping on an attachment, but it can be done on your own, saving you money. With most systems costing between $200-$300, it’s an economical way remove copper and lead out of your water.
Another option to consider is distillation. It’s a simple method that just involves boiling the water and collecting the vapor in a condenser so that the heavier metals are left behind. Kits you can buy cost around the same as a mid-level reverse osmosis system, but have the benefit of sitting on your countertop instead of under your sink if that’s what you prefer. This method uses less water than reverses osmosis, but you also have to fill up the unit each time you want to distill your water.