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Selecting and Installing the correct Water Filter in your Home or Business

Water FilterSelecting 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 time.

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 needs.

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 Radon.

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 filters HERE

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 are 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 lead.

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 filters HERE

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 filters HERE

Water Filter Systems

Sediment Filters

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 filters HERE

Filter Terminology

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 exact.

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 is).

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 filters HERE

Filter System Questions and Answers

Why does my water looks gray after I change my filter?

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 properly?

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?

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.

What is KDF and Why Would I Want It?

KDF 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 filter media.

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 filters HERE

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 them.

Conversely, if you never notice a decrease in flow, you'd better check to see if your filter is working!

Leaking Filter

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 tightened.

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 filters HERE

Dripping Faucet

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 recently.

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.

Off Flavors

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 chlorine.

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 replaced.

View our complete line of water filters HERE


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Mark Powers & Company, Inc.
P.O. Box 72 1821 Henry Street Guntersville, AL 35976
Phone: (800) 633-2256 Fax: (800) 216-6606

E-Mail: orders@markpowers-and-company.com

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