Water can easily dissolve substances like chemical toxins and heavy metals, which causes some adverse effects on human health. According to a report by the WHO, drinking contaminated water contributes to 485,000 diarrhea deaths each year.
If your household uses water from a public source, it most probably meets the state’s standard. However, homeowners with a private water supply should take full responsibility for monitoring the water quality. Luckily, there are various water filtration systems that you can use to ensure the supply of cleaner water throughout your house. Continue reading to learn more.
The Water Filtration Process
Before getting into your house, water moves from a natural source, and along the journey, it can absorb soil, chemicals, and other substances leading to unpleasant smells and taste. You can install a water filtration system to eliminate such contaminants. In a basic description, Berkey water filters capture undesirable elements and only let clean water flow through. There are various types of water filters, and they function differently. They include:
Activated Carbon Filters
For those who source water from the municipality, it might come with a chemical smell and taste. This happens because the suppliers use chlorine to kill germs in the water. For this case, an activated carbon filter can help eliminate the chlorine. The system contains activated carbon filters that have substantial internal surfaces packed with hooks and crannies.
When water runs over the activated carbon, it traps chemical impurities through the process of adsorption. This filtration system can also remove radon gas. It’s worth noting that carbon filters can lose effectiveness when saturated with contaminants. You should therefore replace them often and only use the system for the indicated period. Before purchase, ensure that you ask the dealer after how long you should change the filters.
Hard water is rich in minerals, specifically calcium and magnesium. This water type can havoc your plumbing system, fade your laundry, affect your hair and skin texture. Unfortunately, 85% of American homes use hard water. If you reside in a region with hard water, it’s essential that you invest in a water softener.
Such water purification systems work through ion exchange. The water softeners contain three main components. The mineral tank holds resin beads, and it’s where the water purification takes place. On the other hand, the control valve senses when the water system begins to lose water softening capabilities and automatically initiates the regeneration process. The brine tank holds the salt that restores the resin’s bead charge.
From the main supply, water first goes through the mineral tank. The resins beads have negative charges, meaning that they are anions. On the other hand, magnesium and calcium have positive charges, so they are cations. The ion exchange works based on the principle that negative charges attract. When hard water passes through the resin beads, the negative charges will attract the positively charged minerals and hold on to them. Therefore soft water will pass through with traces of sodium. The sodium levels that pass into the water are so low to cause any harm.
As the resins collect calcium and magnesium from the water, after some time, they become saturated, decreasing their effectiveness. Some models automatically recharge the resin beads through the regeneration process. During this process, your pipes may produce hard water.
Water flows into the mineral tank to loosen up any sediments on the beads. In the next phase, the resins go through another flush while at the same time saltwater flows from the brine tank into the resin tank. The primary purpose of the brine solution is to discharge the ions in the resins and recharge the beads. The resins will then go through a slow rinse to get rid of excess salt and minerals.
A fast rinse follows to drain the extra salt and put the resins back into the proper position in preparation for the following water softening cycle. The brine tank will also refill, and your system returns to normal operations. This system has a lifespan of about 15 years on average, meaning that your home could benefit from soft water for years to come.
Ultraviolet Purification Systems
If you are so concerned about the presence of microorganisms in your water, you may want to install an ultraviolet water purification system. This is an ideal solution if you are using well water. The ultraviolet purifiers don’t use chemicals. Instead, they utilize ultraviolet rays to destroy the DNA of microorganisms present in the water.
When the water passes through the UV filters, they strike the cells of the microorganisms present and sterilize them. Therefore any bacteria or pathogens may not be able to reproduce or cause any illnesses. Such a filtration system can kill 99.9% of germs in the water.
The UV lamp won’t come into contact with the water. It’s usually in a sleeve inside the water chamber. Again, the microorganisms can’t develop immunity against the UV rays, unlike the chemical disinfectants making this purification system more efficient. Keep in mind that the lamp may decrease in efficiency with age, so you should replace it often.
Reverse Osmosis Filters
Other water filters use reverse osmosis filtration mechanisms. The water passes through a semipermeable membrane that traps impurities and allows clean water to pass through. This method can help eliminate inorganic chemicals like salts and metals. It can also trap pesticides.
For this filtration process, the water first goes through pre-filters which take out dirt, chlorine residues, and other sediments that can damage the membrane. The water then goes through the reverse osmosis filters that remove any remaining contaminants before proceeding to the storage tank. In the next step, it flows through a carbon filter that eliminates any foul odors or taste.
The drain line lets out water with dirt and contaminants while safe and clean water flows through into your plumbing system. This method doesn’t require electricity since it depends on water pressure. The purification process wastes some water into the drain, and it might not work for a household with a limited water supply. The extra filters required for the multi-stage purification make this system a bit expensive, but it guarantees 99.9% water purity when well maintained.
When sediments like clay, sand, dirt, and rust flakes from older pipes get into the water, they cause blockages. They can even decrease the water pressure and damage appliances. A sediment water filter can help prevent such issues.
The purifiers mainly operate through mechanical filtration. It involves physically removing dirt particles and other sediments from water using a barrier. A primary mesh filter contains pores that trap particulate matter and let water pass through. On the other hand, a ceramic filter has an ultrafine pores structure that can even capture some microorganisms.
The filters have ratings that indicate their level of effectiveness and the number of materials they can catch. A simple sediment filter can boost the efficacy of the other water filtration systems. Thus, it can prolong the life and efficiency of your carbon filters, UV system, and reverse osmosis membrane.
Acidic Neutralizing Filter system
This water purification system treats acidic water. If your water pH is below seven, it can corrode your appliances and pipes, leading to expensive repairs. Water mainly becomes acidic when it absorbs carbon dioxide during precipitation or due to chemical runoff. Therefore wells may provide acidic water.
The neutralizer contains calcite. Once acidic water gets into the tank, the calcites dissolve and neutralize it. This filter type requires a little maintenance, but you will need to change the calcite after some time.
Choosing the Right Water Purification System
To choose the right type of water filtration system, you need first to understand the condition of your water supply and the treatment required. Also, consider whether the system can purify enough water to meet your household needs. Keep in mind that each filtration system has its limitations. Hence most top brands use a combination of purification methods to eliminate different forms of contaminants. For instance, a system can combine mechanical and ion exchange filtration systems.
Consider the rate of maintenance required for the selected unit. The more treatment a system offers, the greater the maintenance responsibility. Ensure also that you have a sufficient water supply for your preferred system to work correctly. Also, decide whether you need a whole house filtration system installed at the main water line, the countertop, or under sink filters. Whole house filters will treat all the water entering your house while under the sink and countertop purifies only the water used to drink or cook. The latter may seem like an inexpensive option, but it doesn’t protect your plumbing system and appliances.
Understanding how different water filtration systems work and their combinations will help you choose the best possible option for any given application. Be sure to read the labels and specifications carefully to ensure that the purifying system will meet your needs. No matter the water quality in your area, you can find a purifying solution that will leave you with cleaner water that is refreshing to drink.
Nichelle Lucero is a lifestyle writer. She loves sharing her ideas and personal experiences through her writing. She currently writes for her personal blog – Lifewithkrich.com. Her favorite pastime is working out and reading books together with her cats, Chloe, Milo and Nocco.