Selecting and Installing the correct Water Filter in
your Home or Business
Selecting the right filter system
These days, everyone is concerned about their water quality. Not
a day goes by where you don't hear of a water issue somewhere, from
a drought, to flooding, to an issue with a municipal water system.
And every one of these events affects the quality of the local water
supply. Add to this the possibility of a terrorists attack, no matter how
slight that possibility may be, and maybe it's time to consider
filtering your own drinking water?
I'm not suggesting a little
water pitcher filter that someone needs to remember to fill up and
stick in the fridge. I'm suggesting a real water filter, one that
has a cartridge that you replace every six months or once a year. One
where you turn on the faucet and draw all the fresh, clean water you
need without trying to figure out who did not fill the pitcher last
But before running out to your local "LOWES" or "HOME DEPOT" store to
buy a filter system for your home or business, you need
to ask yourself a few questions. And BTW, don't ask them because they
don't have the answers. They can't even tell you what size water filter
you need. We can help you choose the correct water filter for your
Water Filter Questions to ask Yourself
Do I need to filter the water supply for the entire
business or home?
If you are dealing with a serious sediment problem then the
answer is probably "yes". And the reason is that sediment
is mostly very small particles of
very abrasive sand. Sediment can contribute to the wear of all of your
faucets, not just the ones providing drinking water or water
to your coffee pots. Sediment is also a major cause of water
heater lost capacity and eventual failure. The water heater
slowly fills with sediment, displacing volume as it fills from
the bottom up.
If you are dealing with a water supply odor problem then
filtering your entire water supply is also a good idea. An
alternative and less expensive solution to a complete incoming
water filter system is to install a sediment filter on the
incoming water line & then install carbon and / or scale filters
wherever you need them.
Note: Some ground water contains Radium and / or Radon
contamination. Radium and Radon are radioactive contaminants
that are odorless, colorless & tasteless and can only be
found through testing. Both contaminants are generally found
in some Mid-western and NE US ground water supplies but the
contamination is not limited to just these states. If your
water has tested positive for Radium or Radon then it's wise
to install a sediment & activated carbon filter at the
incoming water supply. Installing an activated carbon filter
under the kitchen sink to trap Radium and Radon is actually
a very bad idea since the accumulated radioactive material
will turn the under sink filter into its own little
radioactive hot spot. Your municipal water supply can tell
you if your water contains trace amounts of Radium and / or
If you are only dealing with a chlorine or slight odor
problem or your issue is scale in your coffee makers or
discolored ice then the
answer is probably "no". These situations are better handled
with smaller filter systems installed "as needed", under the
sink or in-line with the water supply.
View our complete line of water
How clean does my water need to be?
There are generally five issues with city or ground water -
sediment, dissolved iron & minerals, odor, chlorine (or
chloramines) and biological agents (Guardia,
Cryptosporidium, E. coli, etc). Chlorine and odor are obvious
because you can taste & smell them. Dissolved iron and minerals
also obvious because of stains in your bathroom fixtures. But
there are issues other than chlorine and minerals. It's best to
have your tap water tested by a reputable source or to obtain
a copy of your municipal water supply's recent test results to
understand what else may need to be filtered out of your water
before investing in a water filter system.
Sediment can be filtered out of your water supply by one of
several sediment reduction filters. Sediment filters are rated
in microns, the smallest particles they will filter out of your
water supply. Sediment filters are also flow rated in GPM
(Gallons Per Minute) and generally speaking, the same class
filter with a lower micron rating will have a lower flow rate.
This is because the surface of the filter acts like a
restriction and the smaller micron rated filters are more
restrictive than larger micron filters.
Dissolved iron and minerals are generally harmless to you but
they will leave ugly stains on your bathroom fixtures that are
almost impossible to remove. Some dissolved minerals, especially
limestone, contribute to water hardness and hard water can be
found just about everywhere limestone bedrock exists. Sulfur
(Hydrogen Sulfide) can be a serious issue with some ground water
supplies and depending on its concentration, can be very
difficult to reduce.
Odor can be come from several sources. Some river fed
municipal water supplies have a serious odor problem during the
spring or summer months. This is because municipal water systems do
nothing more than filter and chlorinate your water supply and
you will pick up a fishy or seaweed odor from the river during
the spring or summer.
Lead can be an issue in some households and businesses but
the cause is almost never the incoming water supply. Lead in
your water supply is almost always caused by corrosion occurring
in older lead plumbing, lead soldered copper plumbing or
plumbing that is a mix of iron and lead soldered copper. Lead
leaching from some types of older brass faucets can also be an
issue. The best method for reducing lead leaching from older
brass fixtures is to run the faucet for a second before drawing
water for drinking or cooking. Lead leaching from lead pipes or
solder can be greatly reduced by installing a under counter
faucet filter specifically designed to reduce lead. Lead can be
greatly reduced in your ice maker or coffee maker water supply
by installing an inline filter specifically designed to reduce
Chlorine is added to your municipal water supply to kill any
biological agents (pathogens) that may escape filtering and to
prevent any new pathogens from growing in the water supply on
the way to your house or business. And because of this, chlorine
is a valuable additive to your water supply. But chlorine is
also our customers number one complaint. Fortunately, its easy
to reduce chlorine by installing the correct inline and under
counter water filters.
View our complete line of water
How much flow do I need?
This is a very important question since all filters, no
exception, restrict water flow. Install the wrong filter in the
wrong location and you can reduce the water coming out of your
faucet to a trickle or you can set up a situation where someone
taking a shower in another part of the house gets scalded when
you turn the faucet on in another room in the house.
The flow rate you need depends on what you are feeding water
to. If feeding water to a coffee maker, ice maker or small
drinking water faucet then a flow rate of 1/2 GPM (Gallons Per
Minute) is more than
adequate because the equipment you are supplying will not draw
more than 1/2 GPM. But an entire house can easily flow 12 - 15
GPM with more than one faucet running and a business can flow
even more. A quick "usage" flow rate can be calculated by adding
up all of your faucet & equipment flow rates, but this
calculation will not factor in the supply side. A local plumbing
contractor can easily provide you with the flow rate you need
for your install, based on your incoming pipe size and the
volume your municipal water supply or well pump can provide.
What is my budget?
We all live on budgets and the best water filter system in the world is useless if it's
a "budget buster". The right solution is a compromise that will
meet your needs and your budget. Several potential customers
have contacted us for whole shop or whole house type filters and
were suprised at the cost. More often than not the right filter
solution is a budget compromise that places a sediment only
filter at the incoming water supply and targeted carbon and
scale removal filters where you need them.
View our complete line of water
Water Filter Systems
If water quality is ever a problem for you,
then you should always include a sediment filter as your first step
in overcoming your problem. Even if murkiness is not your complaint,
the sediment filter will protect your other downstream filters
from premature failure by removing the gunk that could prematurely
plug up your carbon and scale removal filters.
How About My Taste and Odor Problems?
The contaminants that affect the taste and odor
of water will go right through a sediment filter, so you'll need to
add something else to remove them. The most commonly used method of
cleaning up the taste and odor of water is passing it through a bed
of activated carbon. The carbon has an uncanny ability to grab onto
the bad stuff in water, leaving the water very clean-tasting and
odor-free. Like a sediment filter, though, a carbon filter can only
pull out a finite amount of contaminants, so it has a certain life
expectancy. However, it is not possible to clean a carbon filter, so
they must be replaced. Generally speaking, carbon filters will last
twice as long as sediment filters, but they're also more expensive.
Note: It is critical to install a
sediment filter ahead of your activated carbon filter if you
have a sediment problem to keep sediment from prematurely
plugging up your activated carbon filter.
Granular Carbon Vs. Carbon Block Vs. Modified
Carbon Block Activated carbon, in the form of small granules, has
been used for centuries to purify water. It works well and is still
available in that form, but there is now another choice in carbon
filtration. New technology enables manufacturers to produce filters
in the form of porous solid blocks, which are superior in every way
to filters made of granular carbon. The latest technology in carbon
filters is the so-called modified carbon block (MCB), in which
filter blocks are built from fibers in a slurry of carbon particles.
In order for any carbon filter to remove contaminants from the
water, the water must come into contact with the carbon. In granular
activated carbon (GAC) filters, the water can create channels that
enable some of it to pass through without being affected. In solid
block carbon (SBC) filters, channels cannot form, so it forces the
water to come into contact with the carbon. One result of this is
that SBC filters have a higher NSF rating than a GAC unit. Also,
due to the way the carbon blocks are formed, the pathways through
the block are very small, and SBC filters often have a small micron
rating, which enables them to remove cysts and some other microbial
pathogens. All of this comes at higher price, of course, but many
people find this product to be worth it. MCB filters are very
similar in ratings to an equivalent micron model SBC filter. They
offer a better flow rate, longer life through increased depth
capacity, and a variety of micron sizes, all at a price that is
equivalent to the SBC units.
View our complete line of water
Microns - Sediment filters are rated by
the size of particles they remove, in microns. One micron is one
one-thousandth of a millimeter. Most micron ratings are "nominal",
meaning approximate. If the micron rating is "absolute" it is
NSF Class - The National Sanitation
Foundation (NSF) rates filters on their ability to remove chlorine
from water. Class I filters are the best, Class II not quite as
good, and so on.
Filter Life - Most cartridges will
eventually become plugged up. This heading indicates the number of
months of service you should get under typical conditions.
Flow Rate - Filters, by their nature,
impede water flow. This heading indicates flow rate, in gallons per
minute, under typical conditions. Your actual flow may vary based on
water pressure and the age of the filter (how plugged up the filter
Filter Material - The type of material
that the filter medium the filter is made of varies based on the
intent of the filter.
View our complete line of water
Filter System Questions and Answers
Why does my water looks gray after I change my
This is a common occurrence after changing a
carbon filter, and is caused by fine carbon dust being flushed out
of the cartridge. It will be gone and won't return after you run a few gallons of
water through the filter.
How do I know when I should change my filter?
There are two primary indicators that will
alert you to replace a filter cartridge. The first indicator is a
reduction in flow rate, which is caused by a filter getting plugged
with sediment. The second indicator is a little less obvious and
involves your taste-and-odor filter. If you notice that the taste
and/or odor of your water is not as clean as it used to be, it is
very likely that your carbon filter is losing its effectiveness and
needs to be replaced. This, of course, assumes that you have a
carbon filter. For a continuous supply of clean water, we recommend
that you follow the manufacturers guidelines when replacing filters.
All good filters will be marked with a recommended change interval
in gallons and time.
Why does my filter never seems to need replacing?
Well, either you are receiving extremely clean
water, or your filtration system is not working properly. More than
once we've seen the incorrect filter installed in a screw-on
cannister and the water was just flowing around the bottom of the
filter. Make sure
that you have a cartridge in your filter canister, that it's the
correct cartridge and
your water is flowing through the filter. If everything checks out,
you must be getting very clean water.
Why should I filter all the water going into my
home or business, including the water for the toilet?
Many plumbing fixtures have small orifices and
moving parts that come in contact with the water. If you have a
water supply with a sediment problem, the sediment and sand can
wreak havoc in these fixtures. Removing the sediment at the source is often
much cheaper than repairing plugged and damaged fixtures over time.
Why would I need a double-canister filter setup?
There are two primary tasks that you'll want
your filtration system to perform: remove sediment and improve the
taste and odor of the water. While it is possible to do both with
one filter, you'll get better performance if you utilize separate
filters for each of these tasks and a double canister water filter
is just separate filters in one convenient-to-mount package.
Another reason for double and sometimes even
triple canister setups is flow rate. Some businesses require a flow
rate higher than a standard filter can supply and the least costly
solution is to install a tandem, double or even a triple filter
head. With one of these, the filters are plumbed in parallel with
each filter supplying part of the water flow.
Do filter canisters need to be upright to work
No, they can be mounted in any position you
want. However, cartridges containing granular carbon may have a
problem if not upright. Granular carbon is subject to "channeling",
in which the water forms small channels that enable it to bypass the
carbon. This condition seems to occur more when these cartridges are
not upright. Also, wet filters - filters that you service by unscrewing
and lowering a housing
full of water are easier to change when mounted upright.
Why can't I have a clear canister as one of my two
in a dual-canister system?
You can, of course, and we sell them that way.
However, if you are planning to set up your canisters outside where
a lot of light will be available, we don't recommend you use a clear
canister. The reason for this is that the light will promote algae
growth, which will prematurely plug up your filter. If you want to
include a clear canister, you should place it somewhere that is
protected from light such as away from a window, away from any
strong light or under the sink.
How Small is "Small"?
"Microns" (one thousandth of a millimeter) are
used to measure the size of particles in water. Filters, too, are
rated in microns, and the smaller the micron size of the filter
element, the smaller the particle it will remove. A 20-micron filter
will remove particles 20 microns or larger in diameter, while a
5-micron filter will remove sediment 5 microns or bigger. These
micron ratings are nominal, or approximate. Sediment filters work
by straining out the sediment and holding it. As you can imagine, as
the filter collects sediment, it gradually plugs up and reduces the
water flow. At some point, the filter is plugged and must either be
cleaned (if possible) or replaced.
What are NSF Ratings Used For?
KDF and Why Would I Want It?
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) is an
organization that tests filters and rates them on their ability to
remove chlorine from water. A filter must remove 75% to 100% of the
chlorine to receive a Class I rating, 50% to 75% for a Class II
rating and 0% to 50% of the chlorine to obtain a Class III rating.
These ratings apply only to carbon filters.
is an alloy containing zinc and copper that can be incorporated into
carbon filters to make them bacteriostatic. That means that bacteria
cannot grow inside the filter. This is particularly good for people
who want to use a filter to remove as much chlorine as possible
because once the chlorine is gone, there is nothing else in the
water supply to prevent the growth of bacteria! KDF has a very good
record as being the safest agent yet found for keeping bacteria from
growing in filters. Our EV9635-06 drinking water filter has KDF
Can I Get Sediment Removal and Carbon Filtration in
the Same Unit?
Yes, you can and many filters cover both. They
are compact and relatively inexpensive, and most are made of
carbon-powder-impregnated paper. The downside of these units is that
they have a limited carbon component, so the taste-and-odor
improvement is much less than you would get from a dedicated carbon
filter. For better performance from a combination unit, we offer
modified-carbon-block units. A Sediment/Carbon
Combination Filter is a reasonable solution for water quality
problems where the flow rate is very low. These are usually used for coffee brewers and small ice makers.
What About Those Health-Threatening Contaminants?
This group has the potential for causing far
worse problems than those discussed so far. They include biological and chemical contaminants, and they are more expensive to remove
than the aesthetic contaminants. Even public water-treatment systems
have trouble absolutely removing all of these contaminants. You can,
fortunately, obtain protection from them by installing suitable
equipment and processing your own water, even at home.
What about Guardia, Cryptosporidium and E. coli?
Biological agents include protozoa, bacteria,
viruses, and cysts and spores. The most prevalent types of
biological contaminants in water are very small particles with a
diameter of 2 to 4 microns. One defense against these
"bio-terrorists" is to remove them from the water. This is can be
done with a very fine filter, and some of our solid-block carbon
cartridges are capable of removing most biological agents.
Unfortunately, viruses are extremely small and difficult to remove.
Many viruses will attach themselves to bacteria for a free ride, and
these viruses can be removed by removing the "host". Some viruses,
however, are "free-swimming" and are not attached to anything.
Ultra-violet systems are a good option if viruses are a big concern.
Is Total Purification Practical?
Total and complete purification of water is
difficult and expensive. From a practical standpoint, it is not
feasible or affordable for most households or businesses to achieve
total purification. There are, however, two methodologies that can
produce virtually pure water and are suitable for home use. The
first one is distillation, but it is increasingly expensive to
operate and produces a low volume of clean water. It also requires a
lot of cleaning and maintenance. The second one is reverse osmosis,
and we find this to be a very cost-effective solution that is more
user-friendly than distillation.
View our complete line of water
Filter System Troubleshooting
Filters work by forcing water through very small
orifices to strain out the contaminants. Fortunately, there are a huge
number of "holes" in a filter, and the bigger the filter unit, the more
"holes" it has, and the better the flow. So, to achieve better flow
through a filter, use a bigger filter that has more filtration area. A
small, in-line filter restricts flow more than a 10-inch standard
canister, and the standard canister is more restrictive than a jumbo
canister. So, if you are using filtration on all of the water used in
your home or business, you will want to go with the largest filtration
system that will fit your needs to avoid flow restrictions. Another
factor to consider with filters is that as they get plugged with
contaminants, their flow rate decreases. If you find your flow rate
dropping when you are using filters, it may be time to clean or replace
Conversely, if you never notice a decrease in flow,
you'd better check to see if your filter is working!
Is this a new install? If so then make sure that the correct
sealant was used on all threads and that no plastic parts were over
Is the leak coming from a screw on canister? Make sure the
canister is screwed on tight enough then check the seal for damage.
Is the leak coming from a filter quick connect connector? Verify
that the filter is properly seated in the housing, that the fitting
on the end of the filter is not damaged and that the O-ring seal is
present on the connector & is not damaged.
Is the leak coming from the filter body itself? The filter body
may be damaged or cracked. Even the best manufactured product
occasionally suffers from shipping damage. All filters should be
inspected for damage before install.
View our complete line of water
Regardless of the filter used, faucets contain seals and all
seals will eventually fail. Its unlikely that a dripping faucet is
caused by a filter even though the filter may have been installed
Low Pressure and Slow Flow
Did this problem exist before installing the filter? Installing a
water filter will not solve an existing flow or pressure problem and
will only make these problems worse because the filter acts as one
more restriction in the system.
Did this occur right after installing the filter? The incorrect
size filter may have been chosen. For example, a 1/2 GPM filter will
only flow a maximum of 1/2 gallons per minute no matter how far you
open the faucet. If the incorrect filter was chosen, pressure will
seem fine until the faucet is opened up past the flow rate of the
filter then pressure will suddenly drop.
Did this occur right after installing the filter and pressure is
fine until you open up more than one faucet (shower & kitchen sink)?
The incorrect size main filter may have been chosen. For example, a
10 GPM filter will only flow a maximum of 10 gallons per minute no
matter how many faucets you have open and once you cross that
threshold (more than 10 gallons per minute by opening multiple
faucets), all pressures will suddenly drop at the same time.
Did the pressure drop slowly over time or abruptly drop recently?
These are signs of a plugged water filter and the filter needs to be
replaced. If this happens more often than the recommended change
frequency printed on your filter, the filter system is undersize for
the amount of filtering that needs to be done regardless of the flow
rate and the filter needs to be replaced with a larger one.
Do the off flavors exist before and after
installing a new filter? If so then the incorrect filter was chosen
for the job. For example, a sediment filter will not remove
Did the off flavor return over time or return
recently? These are signs of a carbon water filter that has been
used up and the filter needs to be replaced. If this happens more
often than the recommended change frequency printed on your filter,
the filter system is undersize for the amount of filtering that
needs to be done regardless of the flow rate and the filter needs to
be replaced with a larger one.
Is the off flavor seasonal (returns every
summer)? This may be a symptom of the incorrect filter chosen for
the job or this may be a coincidence and the filter needs to be
View our complete line of water
Click Here to
return to Mark Powers home page
Mark Powers & Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 72 • 1821 Henry Street • Guntersville, AL 35976
Phone: (800) 633-2256 Fax: (800) 216-6606