Making Smart Choices About Home Treatment Devices

For water consumers, there are a lot of questions out there:

• Should I drink bottled water or tap water?
• Should I use a filter?
• What kind of filter should I use?

Before making a decision, it’s important to make sure you’re informed.

This article contains information about tap water quality and home water treatment systems. If you have additional questions about water quality or home treatment systems, give us a call.

Why is My Tap Water Safe to Drink?

In 1974, the federal government established the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect the public from water-related illnesses. This law requires community water systems to regularly test their water supplies and meet strict federal water quality standards. Water providers conduct thousands of analyses each year to verify that the public water supply meets Safe Drinking Water Act standards.

Each year, we supply customers with a comprehensive report about the quality of our water. The Consumer Confidence Report is mailed by June 30.

Does My Water Need Additional Treatment?

There are a multitude of stores and companies that sell various home treatment devices ranging from small faucet-mounted filters to whole-house systems and water softeners. Do you need to buy one? Safe Drinking Water Act standards are set to ensure that your tap water is safe. For most people, the use of a water filter is not necessary to ensure water safety. People who have medical conditions that might put them at special risk should discuss the need for a water filter with their doctors.

There are many reasons you may choose to use a home treatment device. The most popular concerns are related to taste and odor, as well as hardness. In many cases, the key to better tasting water is reducing the taste of chlorine, which is added to protect public health but can impart a flavor some people find unpleasant. Other concerns can include lead, copper, color, manganese, and sediments. Certain home treatment devices can be very effective in resolving these problems. The important thing for consumers is to make an informed decision and not to be taken in by misleading marketing tactics.

Home Treatment Devices

Properly maintaining equipment is essential because inadequately maintained filters can actually reduce water quality. All filtering systems are different. It’s important to make sure the device you choose addresses your particular concern.

Questions regarding specific devices, as well as specific guidelines for maintenance, should be directed to the manufacturer.

Our water supply meets all state and federal water quality standards. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about the quality of your water. Just give us a call 215.257.3654

If you have a specific concerns about medical conditions, you should discuss water treatment options with your physician.

As an informed consumer, you should learn what’s in your local tap water and only buy a system to meet your specific needs or taste preferences. While we cannot recommend specific brands or products, this information should prove helpful. For specific product information, contact NSF International or the device manufacturer.

Carafe-Style Filters

Designed to work like a coffeemaker, these filters are simple to use. Just pour water in the top, and it trickles down into a pitcher that generally holds half a gallon of water.

Faucet-Mounted Filters

These small filters screw directly onto the faucet nozzle. Most units feature a bypass valve so you only filter water used for drinking.

Under-Sink Filters

These work like the faucet-mounted models, except they process far more water. Since most lack a bypass, you filter a lot of water not used for drinking.

Aside from taste issues, many customers purchase home treatment devices to address issues related to “hard” water, which is caused by high concentrations of dissolved minerals. While these naturally occurring minerals don’t pose a health risk, many people prefer the aesthetic qualities of “soft” water.

Reverse-Osmosis Filters

These multi-stage systems use both traditional (usually carbon) filter and cellophane-like membrane filters to remove most organic and inorganic compounds. This is the only type of filter that will remove calcium and magnesium, the minerals that cause “hard” water. However, residential scale reverse osmosis systems do not have sufficient capacity to treat the entire household water supply.

Water Softeners

Unlike filters, water softeners are specifically designed to exchange calcium and magnesium for “softer” minerals, usually sodium or potassium. While hardness minerals are removed, they are replaced by salt. People on sodium-restricted diets should use caution when consuming water softened with sodium.

Water Conditioners

These devices are marketed as a “salt-free” alternative to water softeners, purportedly producing the same benefits as softeners without actually removing the calcium and magnesium. However, the scientific community continues to debate the effectiveness of these systems.

Activated Carbon Filters

An activated carbon filter (most popular pitcher/faucet filters are activated carbon) can improve taste, odor, and color problems associated with organic chemicals in the water. It is particularly effective at reducing the taste and odor associated with chlorine, an additive used by water agencies to protect tap water from biological contaminants. This type of filter does not remove hardness minerals, sodium, microbes, nitrates or fluoride.

An activated carbon filter works by attracting and holding certain chemicals as water passes through it. The effectiveness of this process depends on a variety of factors, including temperature, pH, and the flow rate of water through the filter.
There are several types of activated carbon filters available for household use. They include carafe-style units, faucet-mounted filters and under-sink models. Activated carbon filters may also be installed along the water line leading to icemakers and refrigerator water dispensers. The activated carbon within the filter holders may be granular, powdered, or in a solid block.

Over time, an AC filter loses its ability to remove contaminants, because it is holding all the material it can. Most manufacturers recommend a filter change after a specific volume of water has passed through it. A general guideline is to change the filter after six months of use or after it has filtered 1,000 gallons water.

Activated carbon filtration should only be used on water that has been tested and found to be bacteria free or effectively treated for pathogenic bacteria. Public water systems treat for disease-causing bacteria; therefore, the likelihood of disease-causing bacteria being introduced to an activated carbon filter from public drinking water is remote. However, bacteria that do not cause diseases can grow in AC filters. While consuming these bacteria poses little risk to healthy people, people with special medical conditions should check with their doctor before deciding on a supplemental treatment system.


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