Best Whole House Water Filter 2020 (Reviews & Buying Guide)

Best Whole House Water Filter 2020 (Reviews & Buying Guide)

It’s unfortunate but true: our water isn’t as safe as we would like it to be. Despite the fact that the tap water is supposed to be treated, they can still be filled with toxins that harm our health and microorganisms that lead to disease. The water can also contain compounds that damage the pipes and appliances such as our washers. It is for all these reasons why so many people are looking to install the best whole house water filter they can buy. 

Not all of these whole house water filter system models are the same. They can work in different ways, and some are just better than others. Here, however, is a list of good options to consider installing in your home. 

9 Best Whole House Water Filter:

Home Master HMF3SDGFEC 3-Stage System

This can work for you if you get your water from a well, which means it is untreated water. The filtration system takes out sediment, iron in water (hard water), and chemicals. The system is about 95% effective in removing these contaminants. 

The customer service is excellent, and you can consult with them once you’ve done your water report to find out which system from the brand is your best bet. If you get the HMF3SDGFEC, the limited warranty is for 2 years. 

For most people, though, this is the wrong filtration system to get. That’s because most people tend to live in cities and towns so they don’t get their water from a well. Even for those who use well water, this unit can be rather challenging to install especially if you’re a DIY newbie. 

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Aquasana EQ-1000 Whole House Filter System

You know how some systems are good enough when you only need to change the filters every 6 months? With this, you won’t have to change the filter for the next 10 years. It’s able to deal with up to a million gallons of water. And it doesn’t result in water waste either. 

This works well with municipal water supplies, as it gets rid of 97% of the chlorine. It also filters out VOCs, pesticides, and heavy metals like mercury and lead. Even industrial solvents are taken out. 

If you’re worried about microorganisms, you can upgrade the system to include UV filtration. However, this will cost extra. Other options at extra cost include the water descaler to protect pipes from corrosion and the pro-grade installation kit that’s easier to install and lasts longer. 

The warranty is also for 10 years, which is to be expected since that’s the supposed lifespan of the filter. 

The main issue here is the flow rate, which is at 7 GPM. In addition, you do need to change the pre-filter every 2 months. 

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3M Aqua-Pure AP903 Whole Home Filtration System

There are plenty of reasons to recommend this, starting with the 20 gallon per minute flow rate. That should be able to give plenty of filtered water to use for the day. 

The cartridge can also last for 100,000 gallons, which in typical conditions is good for a year. It’s even easy to replace the filter, as it uses what’s called the SQC (Sanitary Quick Change) design to let you change out the filter cartridges quickly without spillage. You don’t even need to use a filter wrench to do this and you’re done in a couple of minutes. 

In fact, the entire design of the unit is astonishing in its simplicity. It’s equipped with the non-corrosive stainless steel head that’s quite easy to install with the integral mounting bracket. Its light weight is also a bonus. 

While this is meant for urban water supplies, quite a few consumers have reported great results when used with well water. Either way, plenty of people attest to how suddenly their water tastes a lot better. It’s very effective in getting rid of chlorine. 

However, you’ll have to use a pre-filter system with this to trap bigger contaminants like dirt. That adds costs as well as more time needed for the installation.

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Home Master HMF2SMGCC 2-Stage System

Did you get a water report that included chlorine and chloramines as part of your problems in the water? If that’s the case, then you need this HMF2SMGCC, as it is meant to specifically deal with the 2 types of contaminants. (In case you’re wondering as you only have chlorine problems, Home Master offers the HMF2SDGC model.)

This actually uses a 2-stage filtration system, so it also takes out sediment, heavy metals, and various other compounds that affect the taste and smell of the water. It’s about 95% effective, with the filter dealing with substances as small as 1 micron. 

The filtration system is quite effective, and you’ll certainly notice that when it’s time to change the filter. The old filter will be dark brown after just a year, and that shows how effective it is in taking out the filth in the water. 

It does this with a flow rate of 10 gallons per minute, which isn’t too bad. It’s also effective for 95,000 gallons of water, which should be good enough for a year. The installation can be a bit tricky, and some people report that it can reduce the water pressure in the home. 

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Express Water WH300SCGS 3-Stage Whole House Water Filter

This also doesn’t waste water or add any chemicals to your water. It uses a 3-stage filtration system, taking out sediment, VOCs, chlorine, insecticides, herbicides, and industrial solvents. The third stage also removes total organic carbon, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals, though this stage is mainly to make sure your water is drinkable and tastes nice. 

Plenty of people have remarked on how much better their water tastes after using this water filtration system. In fact, for water that doesn’t look clean, using this filter system can make your water just look a lot cleaner. 

This produces 15 gallons of filtered water every minute, and it’s good for 100,000 gallons. The design of the filter system should also prevent any reduction in the water pressure in your home. 

The installation procedure should be easy enough, with options for you to have it mounted or not. It comes with a free standing frame, along with pressure gauges to let you monitor the system. 

Filter changes are easy to make, as this has a “drop-and-go” filter design. You can just twist off the housing and press the 3 pressure release buttons to remove the filter. 

If you have any problems with this, feel free to call the manufacturer. They offer free lifetime support. You may want to install a water softener as well with this unit, because it doesn’t really deal with hard water. 

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iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

Some water filtration systems are great as they can take out up to 95% of contaminants. This one is even better, as it gets rid of 98% of your contaminants. These include chlorine and chloramines, aside from sediment, heavy metals, and other chemicals that can make your water taste and smell bad. 

This uses a 3-stage filtration system, with the 1st stage meant for sediment. Then it uses 2 carbon block filters, which are tremendously effective in filtering out organic chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides. It takes out 90% of the chlorine in total. It also doesn’t take out the healthy minerals out of the water, in case your diet doesn’t give you enough of those minerals. 

The design doesn’t affect your home’s water pressure, and it offers 15 GPM of filtered water. The 2 types of filters used here are designed to produce a total of about 100,000 gallons of water. That’s about a year for the usual family of 4. 

The warranty is only for a year, but then so is the filter. The customer support, though, has very friendly and knowledgeable people. The installation here can be somewhat tricky, though you get a metal bracket and a 4.5-inch housing wrench you can use. It’s a bit heavy as well.

All in all, this is meant for urban areas drawing from the municipal water supply. You’ll need the WGB32BM version of this if you’re using well water or your water report has unusual contaminants in the water. This is meant for just the usual suspects. 

What might impress you is that this has been independently verified to meet the standards set by the NSF and the ANSI. On the other hand, this is not a water softener, so if you have hard water then you need a supplementary system for that particular problem. 

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iSpring WGB22B

This just offers the 2-stage version of the previous iSpring, which means it only uses a single stage for the carbon block filter. You lose that safety net level of the 3rd stage filtration. However, both filters here have also been tested by independent 3rd parties to comply with ANSI and NSF standards. 

All the advantages in the iSpring WGB32B are here. These include the 100,000-gallon capacity, the 98% effectiveness for contaminants, and the 15 GPM flow rate. The complete package also comes with the metal bracket and the housing wrench you can use for the installation. You also enjoy the 1-year warranty, which matches the lifespan of the filter. You’re also able to make use of the terrific customer support. 

What you need to understand is that this doesn’t have the 3rd stage because it is only meant for municipal water with light contamination. You don’t get the second carbon block filter stage because you don’t need it. Consequently, you save money on this version as the cheaper iSpring WGB22B costs only a little over half that of the iSpring WGB32B. 

If you have higher chlorine contamination, this isn’t your model. It’s also not meant to deal very well with heavy metals such as iron and lead. It’s not a water softener either, so you need to put in an additional system to soften the water. 

If you do have standard municipal water pouring into your home, then this is the model to get. It removes the dirt from the water, as well as most of the chlorine. Your water should taste better now, without the hint of chlorine to mar the taste. It can also remove various chemicals in the water, if you have sensitive skin that reacts badly when you take a shower. 

Read full review of iSpring WGB32B

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Watts WH-LD Premier Whole House Water Filter System

You probably read that you need a by-pass valve with your filtration system, so you’re able to service the unit without disrupting your water supply. But you don’t have to bother putting a new one in, because this system already has a bypass valve built-in. 

That’s a surprising bonus, considering how affordable this is (the iSpring WGB32B costs almost 20 times as much) and that it’s made in the US. It is also made of transparent plastic, so that you can just tell if the filter has become too dirty and it’s time to replace it. 

Perhaps the best reason for the low price is that the filter only takes out compounds that are 50 microns in size. Basically speaking, this is mainly for water with sediment problems and rust issues in the water. This filter can take care of those issues without problems, and you won’t need to pay for additional filter capabilities that you don’t need anyway. 

Your purchase comes with 2 extra 50-micorn filters, and you can also buy other types of filters in case your water issues change. You also get a wrench for the installation of the filter. 

So you should take your water report and get this if rust and sediment are the main problems. You save a lot of money by not getting the more advanced filters. However, if your problems are more complicated (such as chlorine or microorganisms) then you need a different filter than this one. 

This is also not always easy to install, despite the seemingly simple design. It is easy for someone with some experience with plumbing. If that’s not you, then a plumber will have to help. That’s a shame, since the cost of the services of a plumber will certainly cost more than the price of this filter. 

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Culligan WH-HD200-C Whole House Water Filtration System

This is also among the more affordable filtration models, as it is meant to remove only silt, sand, and dirt from your water. If those are your problems, then you have the perfectly affordable solution. This isn’t your best option, however, if you have contamination issues with chemicals and bacteria. 

This is the heavy duty model, as there’s the standard version of this unit meant for even lighter contamination. This comes with a filter life indicator, so you know when it’s time to change the filter. You won’t have to rely on how the filter looks like to replace it. 

This also comes with a mounting bracket and a housing wrench. In addition, the design features a built-in bypass, shutoff, pressure relief valve. You can use this to make sure that you still have water available while you’re servicing the filter. 

You may want to use this as you pre-filter system to go with your more advanced filtration system. With this installed, you keep your filters designed to deal with 5-micron or eve 1-micron contaminants from dealing with 50-micron sediment. 

Changing the filter here can be a bit (or perhaps a lot) messy, and it won’t be easy. The filter should last about a month, though for some it can last for 3 months. 

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How to Install a Whole House Water Filter System

If you can afford to buy the best whole house water filtration and softener system, you may want to think about paying a professional to complete the installation for you. A plumber can make sure the whole house water filter installation can go quickly and without any mistakes. 

The work isn’t really simple, so if you’re determined to do this yourself you better be sure that you have the DIY knowhow and experience to handle the situation. You should read manual for the water filtration system you bought, and you should also read up on the whole house water filter reviews on any tips regarding how you can best install your system. 

Here are the basic steps you would probably take:

  1. First you need to turn off the main water supply to your home.
  2. There will still be water inside the pipes afterwards, so you need to drain them. This means you should open all your water fixtures and faucets. 
  3. Now it’s time to cut into your main line. You should have a bucket ready to catch the water spillage. Take off the appropriate length of pipe to fit in your filtration system and all its parts. 
  4. Sand off the burrs at both ends of the pipe you cut. 
  5. Remove any gunk you find inside the pipe. 
  6. Put in a shutoff valve on either side of the filtration system to make it easier to maintain. A bypass valve here is also a good idea, so that when you’re servicing the filtration system you can still get water for your house.
  7. You may also want to consider putting in a pressure gauge next to each shutoff valve. This lets you check the input and output pressure and you’ll know right off if you need to change the system filters
  8. For the moment, shut off all the valves. 
  9. To make the filtration system easier to mount, you may want to think about setting a piece of plywood to the back wall. 
  10. It’s now time to install the actual filtration system, so make sure you have the manual ready. It’s also a good idea if you’ve watched YouTube videos on how you can install your particular filtration system model. This will involve lots of dry fitting, so consider flex piping. 
  11. The “In” and “Out” ports should point in the right direction. If the pipe size doesn’t fit, use adapters on the ports. 
  12. Use Teflon tape to seal all the threaded ends to prevent any leaks. Just be sure you don’t tighten any of the plastic fittings too much that you end up with cracks. If you use these fittings, soldering won’t be needed. 
  13. If, however, you’d rather go with soldering, first be sure that the ends of the pipes are clean. Keep the soldering heat far from any plastic parts. 
  14. Do you have housings that come with your whole house filter? If that’s the case, use warm water to wash their insides. This should remove any sort of debris before the installation. Make sure the O-rings are greased and that they sit tight.
  15. Now turn the water back on. All the valves should be open (except for the bypass valve, of course). 
  16. Look over the whole system and see if you can find any leaks. If there are, tighten the fittings and the filter housings. 
  17. Do you live in an old house? If so, your water pipes may be used to ground the electrical system. You’ll then need to put in a jumper copper wire cable from one side of the filter to another to make sure that this ground remains intact. You can also use grounding clamps for this. 
  18. Flush the whole system for a few minutes. This makes sure you get rid of any debris, as well as any air and old water in the system. 
  19. Activate your filtration media (which should come with its own instructions). 
  20. After the pressure is back to normal, close all your outlets and faucets. 

If you do this right, you can finish the whole job in 2 to 4 hours. Just make sure you have the right tools for the task. If it seems to ask too much time and effort from you (or if you don’t have the tools), then a plumber may be your best bet. 

Buying Guide: Factors to Consider when Getting Your Whole House Filtration System

If you’ve read the product descriptions on the various whole house water filters available today, you may be very concerned about the technical aspects. But don’t be. Though it’s true that these systems can come with very confusing technology, you don’t really need to be well-versed on the subject yourself. 

What’s In Your Water?

This is the first thing you need to know about. What you have to do is to get your water tested first before anything else. This way, you know for sure what chemicals, sediments, microorganisms, pesticides, herbicides, and other stuff are in your water. 

Some water filtrations systems are for well water sources, while others (especially those who live in urban areas) generally get their water from the municipal city water supply. Those two different sources can have very different contaminants and problems, which mean you’ll need a different type of filter for each type. 

Even the municipal city water supply sources can be different depending on which part of the country you’re in (or even in which country you currently reside). 

So get your water tested and find out what contaminants you have to deal with. Then you read up on the potential filtration systems and see if they filter out the contaminants your water has. 

How Much Does It Cost? 

It’s not really the best idea to save money on an item that can prevent diseases (and expensive treatment costs). At the same time, you shouldn’t pay for features you don’t really need. A filtration system may be more expensive because it’s also designed for hard water, but you waste your money if you buy and you already have soft water in your home. 

For the most part, it’s all about paying on the capabilities that you need. Now if you’re torn between 2 similar filtration systems that can deal with your water contaminants, then the more affordable system is the more appealing option. 

How Hard Is It to Install?

You should check if you can download the installation manual and see if you can do this yourself. Better yet, watch YouTube videos of then procedure so you know what you’re in for. You can also read customer reviews to discover any potential problems with the installation. 

You may want to consult with your friendly neighborhood plumber how much they charge for installing certain types of whole house water filtration systems. If some are less expensive to install, you may want to go with that model. 

How Well Does It Do Its Job?

It’s one thing for a water filtration system manufacturer to claim that its system can filter out the contaminants in your water. It’s another thing entirely whether or not they actually do their job. 

Most consumers can’t really know if the filters they have installed filter out toxins and contaminants. But they can attest to whether the smell or the taste of their water has improved. If they bought a filter for hard water, they can report if they still suffer problems with unsightly dishes and glasses and if their clothes fade more quickly. 

However, there are some objective certification bodies that can independently confirm that a water filtration system can actually do its job. You can look for certifications from the WQA (Water Quality Association) or the NSF (National Sanitation Foundation). 

Do keep in mind that getting these certifications can be expensive for the manufacturer, and that can reflect on the price. In addition, smaller manufacturers may not be able to afford to obtain these certifications. 

What about the Flow Rate?

This refers to the speed of the system in purifying the water (and not the pressure coming from your bathroom shower). A faster system means you have the capacity to produce clean water at reasonable volumes. If the system produces 15 gallons per day (which is typical for reverse osmosis systems), that means you need about 5 hours to fill up a 3 gallon tank. 

Will It Increase Your Water Bill?

Some types of water filtration systems can be somewhat wasteful, to say the least. The system may even waste 2 or 3 gallons of water for every gallon it produces that you can drink or use. So check if you have more water-efficient systems available as alternatives. 

How Long Will the Filter Last?

The filters will eventually need to be replaced, as you might expect. But it’s certainly better if you don’t have to replace the filters too frequently. Changing it every 6 months should be fine, and anything more frequent will just be a waste of your time. Some filters can last for a year! Of course, it also depends on the problems with your water and how much water you use. 

How Easy Is The Maintenance?

These filtration systems are machines, so you should expect some needed maintenance for them to make sure they work well and reliably. Changing the filter is one of those maintenance requirements, and it’s better for you if this is an easy task for you to do. 

In general, the less maintenance required by the system, the better and easier it is for you. 

How Long Will the Water Filtration System Last? 

Durability is always a concern, because you don’t want a system that breaks down fairly early. You should read up on the customer reviews to find out if the system works reliable for a long while. You should also check out the length of the warranty, and find out how friendly the customer support really is by checking the customer reviews. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you really need to install a water filtration system?

If you’re getting your water from a private well, then you definitely need this system. You’re dealing with untreated water, so it may not be safe to drink. 

For many cities, it’s not absolutely necessary. But accidents can happen, as reports of tainted drinking water in places such as Michigan has demonstrated. If you want to play it safe with your health, then this water filtration system is a good idea. 

It’s even a good option if you don’t like the smell and taste of your water. The best water filtration system can improve how your water tastes and smells. 

What are the other signs that I need a water filter?

If there’s something wrong with the water, you don’t need to drink it to have health problems. Even showering with contaminated water can cause health issues, especially when you have sensitive skin. 

You may also have a problem when your dishes and glasses are dirty after you wash them. Your clothes may be fading faster than you expected them to. Even your household appliances may not last as long as they should. 

What kind of contaminants can be found in your water?

There are several types of contaminants that may be found in your tap water, which is why you need a system that deals with the types you have.

Some are physical contaminants such as organic material or sediment that can make your water look unappealing to drink. These contaminants may also cause the water to smell bad. 

Chemical contaminants are compounds that may be natural or man-made. These include toxins, pesticides, salts, minerals, and nitrogen. Some of these contaminants may even emit radiation. 

You may also have a problem with microorganisms that can cause disease and health issues. These include bacteria, viruses, and parasites. 

What are the pros and cons of reverse osmosis systems?

These are very effective in providing you with water that’s free of pathogens. If there’s a risk of waterborne disease, this is an effective system to use. It’s also great at removing minerals like salt. It’s generally regarded as much more effective for water purification compared to simple filtration systems. 

On the other hand, it doesn’t filter out chlorine and pesticides. It can also waste water, as it wastes about 2 gallons for every gallon of drinkable water it produces. It’s also a rather slow process, so you can run out of treated water and wait too long for newly treated water if you’re not careful. 

This can also remove helpful minerals in the water, and their removal may affect your health in the long run (though this is a debated issue). Removing the minerals can leave the water with a strange taste.

Read More: Whole House Vs. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems 

Is there really a problem with a water filtration system that takes out all the minerals in the water?

On one side of the debate, experts say that the removal of these needed minerals may affect the long term health of certain people. Some may end up with deficiencies in these minerals. 

However, the other side of the debate contends that people are supposed to take in their needed minerals through food, and not water. 

What are the pros and cons of distillation?

When you’re dealing with untreated, heavily contaminated water, distillation is often the most convenient solution. This will remove viruses and bacteria, extremely well, which is why it’s often used in places where waterborne diseases are likely. It’s also great for hard water as it removes minerals effectively. 

However, the distillation process tends to leave synthetic chemicals in the water. It also filters out trace minerals that you might need. 

What are the pros and cons of filtration?

Using carbon and multimedia filters combine chemical and physical filtration methods. This means the filters can take out larger compounds like salt from the water, while letting through helpful trace minerals. It can also get rid of smaller contaminants like pesticides and chlorine. It basically depends on the media elements in the multimedia filter. 

This also doesn’t need a power source, like the reverse osmosis and distillation processes. There’s also no water wasted, as the water simply passes through the filters. 

This is a fairly slow process, though, as cleansing the water thoroughly can take a lot of time. Some filters may also let in water through faster, which renders the filters less effective in doing its job. 

What are the pros and cons of UV light for water purification?

This is the most effective method of killing the bacteria in the water. It can get rid of 99.99% of the microorganisms. What’s more, it doesn’t add anything to the water. You just need to make sure that you have the right flow rate for your needs. A single bathroom in the house needs only 5 GPM. A large home with 6 bathrooms needs 22.5 GPM. 

However, on its own it is inadequate for water purification. It can only work for bacteria and viruses, and not much else. That’s why it is only an additional level of filtration in many systems. 

Conclusion

As you can see on this list, the range of products for whole house filtration is diverse. Some cost less than $30, since they’re meant to deal with just sediment in the water. The best whole house filtration and softener systems can cost several hundreds of dollars, since they can deal with more complicated problems like bacteria and lead, and they can soften the hard water as well. 

The most important thing is that you have your water tested. The water report you get will give you the precise list of contaminants you have to take out of your water. Only then will you have a good idea of which water filtration system is good for your home. All the other considerations such as ease of installation aren’t as important as having the right set of capabilities. 

Buy the filtration system that removes the contaminants you have. Then you may as well spring for a plumber to install the product, just to make sure you have it done right.

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