Whole-House Water Filtration Systems: Your Buyer’s Guide

Purchasing a whole-house water filtration system is an important – and long-term – investment in your home. Unfortunately, choosing the system that best fits your needs can be a perplexing adventure. Of course, price is an important factor, but shrewd buyers make smarter choices when armed with clear information. So we’re setting out to answer your most pressing questions.

How much does a whole-house water filtration system cost?

As with many home projects, costs will vary dramatically, based on the brand, system size, filtration capability and capacity, as well as complexity of the install. Many systems range from $600 to $4,200 for home systems. Commercial systems will typically set you back between $5,000 and $14,000.  

It’s important to consider many factors beyond cost, however, which we’ll continue to discuss in the questions below.

What types of whole-house water filter systems are available?

The options available to consumers seem limitless, but to keep things as simple as possible, let’s focus on the four main filtration processes:

  1. Sediment pre-filters – These systems typically remove particles that suspend in the water, some of which can be visible to the human eye. Think of contaminants such as silica, salt, and organic matter. Think about these as being somewhat like a coffee filter. They won’t remove microparticles, but they can be highly effective at removing macro particles and are a good starting point for filtration.
  2. Carbon filters – Most people think of a pitcher system when they think of carbon filters, but there are whole house options available. A carbon filter will help knock down levels of chemical contaminants such as chlorine fluoride, sulfur, and others by moving water through an activated carbon filter. Beyond simply removing sediments, these filters help reduce chemical contaminants that can be harmful to ingest, bathe in, or use in your appliances.
  3. UV filters – When bacteria and viruses are at play, exposing water to UV light can sterilize microbial contaminants that could potentially make you ill. UV has no impact on the chemical composition of water. 
  4. Reverse osmosis filters – These filters are more commonly known among consumer buyers, because smaller reverse osmosis (RO) systems have been installed in millions of kitchen and bathroom sink cabinets to provide filtered water to one location in a home. Reverse osmosis treats chemical and microbial contaminants by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane in one direction. Only pure water molecules can pass through. Whole-house RO systems simply implement the concept to a single location near the water inlet for a home.

Do filtration systems differ based on where I live?

As a starting point, consider any known municipal or private well water issues for your area. For example, residents in the east Twin Cities around Woodbury and Afton, Minnesota have been plagued with a water contamination issue dating back decades due to an infamous case of chemical dumping by 3M. People in these areas may rely more on charcoal or reverse osmosis systems.

People living in Minnesota’s agricultural centers in the southwestern and central portions of the state can face unique challenges, particularly with private wells. Water sources near livestock can be impacted by livestock and/or chemicals from pesticides or fertilizers used in farming. They may need systems that address bacteria as well as chemical issues – so UV and charcoal filtration or reverse osmosis might make the most sense, for example. The same may hold true for portions of western Wisconsin from Spooner and Hayward to the Eau Claire region.

Sandy region near lakes and rivers across much of Minnesota and Wisconsin could have more suspended sediment in their water, requiring some pre-filtering.

It’s critical to remember that each installation is unique. Water characteristics can vary greatly, even within a community. This is why it’s very important to get input from experts who can address your unique water filtration needs.

What size whole-house water filtration system is right for your home?

Every installation has its own unique requirements, so there’s no “best” size. However, it’s important to remember that the larger the filter the longer the time gap between service intervals. From a convenience standpoint, many homeowners place a high value on minimizing maintenance while maximizing longevity of individual filters. In addition, larger systems can accommodate more water flow and higher water pressure.

As an initial guidepost, many homes are well served with a filter size of 4.5” x 20” which is a fairly standard size across the industry. Larger homes may require a second unit operating in parallel to accommodate optimal water flow and capacity.

Will a whole-house water filter system ensure clean drinking water?

A quality whole-house filtration system is a great first step in virtually any home. After all, who doesn’t really like great tasting, purified drinking water?!?!

It’s important to note, however, that no system can treat all water problems alone. In some instances, a combination of filtration types may be required. And over time, the quality of water from a municipality or well can change over time. As a result, it’s a good idea to periodically test water to see how things may be changing over time to see if any filtration modifications might be in order.

How difficult is it to maintain a whole-house water filtration system?

Think of your whole-house water filtration system as any other appliance that requires some routine maintenance. While sometimes pesky, it’s really pretty easy to maintain most systems on a regular basis:

  • Turn off the home’s water supply (usually a simple valve where the water line comes into a home)
  • Unscrew the filter housing, remove the filter, and discard it
  • Wash the housing with warm soapy water and thoroughly rinse it
  • Reassemble the housing and turn the water supply back on

I already have a good under-sink filter system or a filtered water dispenser in my kitchen for drinking water. Is a whole-house system overkill?

As noted earlier, any filter is better than no filter. There are serious limitations to a single-point filter such as an under-sink model.

  • Capacity: The flow rate for such units is very low, so filling a one-gallon container can take a long time. In some instances, the water will cut off until the filter can catch up.
  • Multiple purposes: Unfiltered water can pose health risks for consumption through brushing teeth or grabbing a quick drink from a source other than the single point of filtration.
  • Cleanliness: Filtered water can be far better for general cleaning, laundry, and bathing. The more pure the source, the better!

Should I invest in a whole-house system?

Yes! Call us and we can help configure Kinetico water filter options to meet your needs.