Confused About Whole House Water Filters? Three Little-Known Things You Need to Know

Confused About Whole House Water Filters?

Buying whole house water filters can seem daunting. You’re making an investment in your health and you want to make sure it’s a smart one. So how many times have you thought about getting a whole house filter only to become bogged down with questions and doubts?

And, what happens? Nothing! That’s right. You end up doing nothing because you can’t get your questions answered. It certainly isn’t your fault.

This time, we’ve got you covered. Here are the three little known things you need to know about whole house filters. Guaranteed to answer your questions and get you on your way.

Let’s start with some quick basics – what is a whole house system and why you need one.

What is a Whole House Water Filter System?

Whole house water filters install where your main water line enters your home. The most effective systems use a three stage filter system.

  • Pre-filter to remove sediment, rust and other large contaminants.
  • Copper-zinc blend designed to remove chlorine as well as lead, mercury, nickel, and other dissolved metals.
  • Carbon/activated carbon filter that will remove dangerous organic compounds (such as VOC’s).

Why Do You Need a Whole House Filter?

You need a whole house filter for filtered water to every outlet inside your home.


Because your water has treatment/disinfectant chemicals that can become airborne when heated in your shower, bath, dishwasher, or laundry.  Studies have shown that when you inhale these airborne chemicals, it can be more dangerous than drinking unfiltered water.

Just think about it. A hot shower can release 50-80% of the chemicals in your water into a steamy vapor that you can inhale.

Kind of scary, right?

And I bet you did not know that your dishwasher also releases that same chemical vapor into your indoor air every time you run it.

Using a whole house filters means cleaner, healthier water for drinking, cooking, showering and bathing, as well as the water used in your dish and clothes washers.

And, it means you and your family are not inhaling dangerous vapors.

Next, let’s talk about three little-known things you need to know and probably don’t!

Three Little-Known Things You Need to Know When Buying a Whole House Filter

1. You need to know if your water department is using chlorine or chloramines to disinfect your water.


Because most whole house filters are designed to remove chlorine, but won’t remove chloramines.  If your water company uses chloramines then you will need a filter that is specifically designed to remove chloramines.

So how do you find out if your water department is using chlorine or chloramines as the primary disinfectant? It’s easy. Google your water department’s water quality report. If you see chlorine listed in the report, then you know you to look for a whole house filter that removes chlorine. On the other hand, if you see chloramines listed, then you must find a whole house system that removes chloramines.

Don’t skip this step because 20% of water departments use chloramines as a disinfectant and if you buy the wrong filter, it won’t do you any good!

2. You need to know if the whole house filter is certified by NSF Standard 42 and you need to read the report.

When considering a Whole House filter you should make sure it has been  NSF Standard 42 certified for removal  of chlorine and particulates (such as sediment and rust) thereby improving the taste and odor of your water.

And, you should also check the water quality test report. Not all filters certified by NSF are equally effective. The report will tell you if the filter removes 99% or say 85%. Obviously, the higher the removal rate, the better.

3. Finally, you need to know that a whole house filter is not the best solution for ensuring the purest possible drinking water. So, you’ll need a separate drinking water filter.

You may think this seems crazy but it does make sense. Here’s why.

It’s all about water flow and filtration. The higher the water flow, the less filtration that is possible. If you compare a whole house water filter in terms of number of contaminants removed to a drinking water filter, the drinking water filter is able to remove many more (in some cases 10 times more) contaminants.

Even though whole house filters use a carbon/activated carbon filter which is also a primary part of most drinking water filters, there is one key difference.  Whole house filters must process all the water coming into your home without significantly impeding water flow and typically have a Flow Rate of at least 6 GPM (gallons per minute).

Contrast that with a high quality drinking water filter that is certified to remove chlorine, chloramines, lead, mercury, MTBE, and VOC’s.  That drinking water filter will only have a flow rate of less than 1 GPM.   A typical shower head has a flow rate of 2.5 GPM.

Clearly higher levels of filtration result in lower flow rates that would not be acceptable in a Whole House application.

So, the best solution is a whole house filter system to give you chlorine and chloramine-free water and a separate drinking water filter that removes more contaminants to improve the health of your water.

Which Drinking Water Filters Are Best For You?

You have many options when it comes to drinking water filters. The solution can be as simple as an effective pitcher or larger counter top filter that you fill with tap water and let gravity do the work.

Or a counter top filter that easily attaches to your non-pull out faucet and delivers filtered water with the turn of a switch.  An under counter filter will tap into your cold water line and deliver filtered water to a separate tap.  And finally a Reverse Osmosis (RO) system which is the most complicated to install and requires the most space, but will remove the most contaminants and deliver the purest drinking water.

Not sure which filter is best for you? Check out our water filter selector guideClick here to see our recommendations for NSF 42 & 53 certified drinking water filters.

Advantages of Whole House Water Filters

  • Delivers clean chlorine and chloramine-free water for all your household uses, including drinking, cooking, showering and bathing, and cleaning.
  • Reduces risk of inhaling dangerous airborne water disinfectant chemicals
  • Long life filters (3+ years) making them relatively worry free.
  • Due to the long filter life they are a relatively inexpensive way to provide filtered water throughout your home.
  • Is the most effective way to remove chlorine from your shower and bath, and eliminates the need for separate shower filters.

Advantages of a Drinking Water Filter

  • Insures clean, pure healthy water for drinking and cooking.
  • Removes the most possible contaminants that are typically found in water supplies today.
  • Water that has been processed through a high quality filter removes contaminants that whole house filters leave behind resulting in the healthiest drinking water.

Check out our whole house water filters and drinking water filters. All Pure Living Space’s recommendations are certified by a third-party and have the best test results for contaminant removal.

Please share! And, contact us with any questions. We can help.

5 thoughts on “Confused About Whole House Water Filters? Three Little-Known Things You Need to Know

  1. I have a a brita water filter but clearly I need to do more research on a whole house system that you suggest. Unfortunately I’m a renter right now so not a lot of options at the moment but thanks for this post.

  2. What are your opinions on filtered water from a refrigerator door? I’m trying to determine if I should skip that option for a less expensive refrigerator and install an under the counter drinking water filter at my kitchen sink.

    • Hi Maria,
      That’s a good question and one I think many people probably struggle with.

      The answer depends on the following: the contaminants you are trying to remove and the quality of the refrigerator water filter.

      If you want to remove the most contaminants possible including Arsenic, Fluoride, Nitrate and Nitrite, Barium, Selenium, and Radium, even the best refrigerator filters aren’t able to remove these contaminants. Why? Because refrigerator filters use only a carbon filter which has its limitations on contaminant removal. Instead, you’ll need a carbon filter with a reverse osmosis filter as well like you would get with an under counter reverse osmosis water filter system.

      If you’re not worried about the contaminants listed above, then you might be fine with a refrigerator filter. But, you need to gather information about the filter. We recommend buying filters that are NSF certified. NSF certification means that a trusted third party lab has verified the manufacturers’ claims.

      You want a system tested for NSF 42-Aesthetic Effects and NSF 53-Health Effects. Here’s the catch though. It’s not enough to just check for certifications, you need to read the results.

      Yes, it’s a lot of fine print!

      But even with NSF certification, the quality of the filters can vary widely. For instance, some filters may only be certified to remove 6 or 7 contaminants while others are certified to remove over 50. You’ll also want to pay attention to the level of contaminant reduction. Once again, there can be wide variations. Some may only reduce a contaminant by 50% and others may reduce it by 95%.

      I hope this helps. Please contact me at if you have more questions. I would encourage you to check out this article if you decide to purchase a water filter and forego the refrigerator filter

      Carol – Pure Living Space

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