Tips for Taps Blog
2023: Ultimate and Unbiased Guide To The Best Water Filters For Your Home
How do you pick the best water filter?
When choosing a water filtration or treatment system for your home:
Determine what’s actually problematic in your water
Determine which treatment technology you’ll need
Choose a brand with certified filtration products
Consider your water usage and personal requirements
Find a certified professional if you can’t install the system yourself
Researching the best water filter can be hard. Water quality content is usually written by filtration companies or government agencies. For various reasons, this can make it difficult to get the unbiased information and advice you’re looking for.
That’s why we’ve prepared this Ultimate Guide to help you make smart decisions on which water filtration to choose. In fact, after reading this guide, you might discover you don’t even need a filter in the first place.
Determine What’s Really In Your Water
One of the first and most important parts of picking a good water filter is evaluating what your water filter will need to filter out.
Water Quality Data
The Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates public water system drinking water quality. The EPA’s main list of health risks in tap water includes more than 100 contaminants. Some of the most common drinking water risks include:
To determine what’s in your water, you need to do a water quality test.
Essential Home Water Test
54 Analytes Tested
Basic testing panel for water utility customers or private well owners concerned primarily by metals, bacteria, aging pipes, and infrastructure.
Advanced Home Water Test
114 Analytes Tested
Ideal baseline for testing tap water provided by a water utility utilizing chlorine disinfection or a private well near areas of heavy agriculture or industry. Test your drinking water for some of the most common concerns found in tap water.
Note: DIY home test strips are rubbish for water testing. Find a certified lab through a service like Tap Score or call a lab facility directly.
If you want to skip paying for a water test, then you can try to guess based upon publicly available data. This can be tricky because without a water sample that has passed through your neighborhood distribution and your home’s plumbing, the best data available will still not represent your actual tap water.
For general information on last year’s water quality in your area, take a look at:
Determine What Treatment Technologies You Really Need
Tap water and well water can contain many different types of contaminants. These contaminants require different treatment technologies. No technology can remove everything (despite what companies may claim on their websites).
Water Treatment Technologies
There are more than 20 core water treatment technologies. It’s important to choose the right one to address your home’s water quality risks. Here is a list of the most common technologies for home and apartment water filtration and treatment.
Anion or Cation Exchange
- UV disinfection
Oxidation and Filtration
If we are biased about anything, it’s that we love our water quality testing kits–we designed them to include analysis of all the chemicals you need to test for at home in order to choose the best water filtration technology. In fact, after you get your results back, we may even tell you that you don't need any filter at all. Tap Score does NOT sell any water filtration products or systems. Being unbiased is critical to our mission.
Read more unbiased reviews about some of the most popular home water filtration brands:
Choosing Your Water Filtration Brand and Product
Now that you have the information you need to purchase the right water filtration system. You need to look for a brand that sells (and maybe installs) certified products with the technology you need (reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, ion exchange, aeration, UV… etc).
Organizations like the Water Quality Association keep record of product certifications (others listed below). If you need help picking between brands and products with the right certifications, you can contact your Tap Score project manager.
International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO)
Consider A System That Meets Your Personal Requirements
Choosing the right product technology and brand is not complete without thinking about where this product must go. Do you live in a small apartment or do you have a giant garage? Do you need to treat ALL your water or just the drinking water? Choosing the right installation location is really important.
For example, lead is commonly found in plumbing, so if you remove it at the entrance to your home, your water might get re-contaminated as it passes through your home’s pipes. In this case, you’d want a point-of-use solution (i.e. a counter-top or under-sink or pitcher unit) .
Find a Certified Professional If You Need Installation Help
If you purchase a product that requires substantial installation then you may need professional help. This is particularly true for point-of-entry filtration systems. These are often larger, more expensive, more complicated and require more expertise with plumbing and mechanics.
The Water Quality Association keeps a robust record of Master and Certified water filtration installation personnel across the USA. Consult the WQA Find a Member directory and be sure your product is properly installed. IAPMO maintains a similar director but it’s a bit broader than just water filtration installers.
Follow The Instructions!
No engineered product works properly unless the instructions are followed. It would be a shame to buy a water filter that doesn’t work because it isn’t installed properly or maintained. Usually this is really simple to do if you read the instructions and keep track of the months between filter changes. The leading cause of filter failure is people forgetting to change the filter on time!
Why Trust Tap Score?
As the largest analytical laboratory testing service in the United States, specialized in drinking water analysis, we speak with thousands of customers everyday testing their water and asking for treatment advice.
We are NO stranger to the challenges in choosing the best water filtration for your needs. So we’ve written this Ultimate Guide to help you make a smart decision about the filtration you purchase for your home. Indeed, after following our advice, you may decide you don’t need a filter after all.
The Exposome: How Environmental Exposures Impact Your Health – SimpleLab Tap Score
7 Heavy Metals Everyone Should Test For – SimpleLab Tap Score
Arsenic and Water Treatment – SimpleLab Tap Score
Why is My Water Brown? – SimpleLab Tap Score
Why Is Uranium In Drinking Water? – SimpleLab Tap Score
Do I Need a Water Softener? – SimpleLab Tap Score
The Health Effects of PFAS – SimpleLab Tap Score
7 Pathogens That Contaminate Drinking Water – SimpleLab Tap Score
Scale, Corrosion, and Plumbing – SimpleLab Tap Score
What Is a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR)? – SimpleLab Tap Score
Top 5 Most Popular Water Filtration Technologies For Homes
What Is Reverse Osmosis (RO)? – SimpleLab Tap Score
How Does Ion Exchange Work? – SimpleLab Tap Score
Shock Chlorination: How to Get Rid of Bacteria in Your Well Water – SimpleLab Tap Score
NSF Certifications Explained – SimpleLab Tap Score
POE Versus POU Water Treatment – SimpleLab Tap Score
Benefits of a Laboratory Network – SimpleLab Tap Score
What Is The Best Water Filter?
How Do I Know If My Filter is Working?
Sources and References▾
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Essential City Water Test
47 Analytes Tested
Basic test panel for water utility customers primarily concerned by metals, aging pipes, and infrastructure.
Advanced City Water Test
109 Analytes Tested
Ideal baseline for testing tap water provided by a local water utility–including metals, minerals, and chlorine-related byproducts.
Extended City Water Test
118 Analytes Tested
Comprehensive testing for the core concerns impacting utility-provided tap water, plus analysis of radioactive particles and additional disinfection byproducts.