Research and Compare The Best Whole House Water Filtration Systems
Why settle for clean water from one faucet when you can have it throughout your home? Don’t you deserve the same healthy water for showering and washing your clothes? If the answer is yes, the solution is a whole-home filtration system.
If that sounds expensive or complicated, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to be. Many are as affordable and easy to install as single-faucet filters and offer more protection and convenience. Which is the best whole house water filter for you? We’ve put together a buying guide and researched these top picks to help you get started.
Our Top Rated Whole House Water Filters: See our 7 Best Picks:
#1. Aquasana EQ-1000 Whole House Filter System – Best Buy In 2019
Typical water filters don’t remove hard minerals — that requires a water softener. Aquasana’s EQ-1000 solves that problem with Simplysoft — a unique salt-free descaling system that reduces the buildup of minerals in plumbing and appliances without removing them. Its intelligent dual-tank design maximizes water’s contact time with filtration media, eliminating 97-percent of chlorine and reducing heavy metals, industrial chemicals and VOCs.
What’s the best part? The EQ-1000’s primary filtration tanks treat a million gallons over ten years for soft, healthy, fresh water from every tap in your home with minimal maintenance. Pre- and post-filters are inexpensive and a breeze to change.
Q: Can I use this filter with a well?
A: The EQ-1000 removes some bacteria and microbial cysts and can be used with pathogen-free wells, but it will only make water potable when equipped with the optional UV light.
Q: How often do pre- and post-filters need to be changed?
A: Under average conditions, pre-filters should be replaced every two months —post-filters every six months.
Q: If this filter softens water, why doesn’t it lower total dissolved solids (TDS)?
A: The EQ-1000 does not remove minerals, it prevents plumbing damage by preventing them from settling on pipe walls. It’s a misconception that lower TDS means better water quality. The best filtration systems remove contaminants, but leave healthy minerals behind, so you won’t see a significant reduction in TDS.
#2. Home Master HMF3SDGFEC 3-Stage System – Best for Well Water
If staining is a problem, this Home Master three-stage filtration system may be the solution. For use with non-chlorinated well water only, it’s three sequential filters remove sediment and chemicals down to a single micron — plus minerals like iron and manganese that can stain your clothing, dishes and bathroom fixtures and cause costly damage to plumbing and water-using appliances.
Designed for easy DIY installation, the kit complete with everything you need including filter cartridges. Its enormous 100,000-gallon capacity provides filtered water for a family of four for up to a year with minimal maintenance.
Q: Does this system remove fluoride?
A: It does not, however, while fluoride occurs naturally in wells, it’s less likely to be in significant amounts.
Q: Does it remove harmful microorganisms?
A: It removes some large bacteria and microbial cysts, but it won’t make water contaminated with pathogens safe to drink.
Q: I have iron bacteria in my well. Can I use this filter?
A: No. The slime created by iron bacteria will quickly clog the filters and ruin them.
#3. Home Master HMF2SMGCC 2-Stage System – Best for Tap Water
If you use city water and want a filter that’s a great value, Home Master’s two-stage system costs less than its three-stage cousin but has most of its capability.
It reduces the contaminants most likely to creep into municipal water supplies like lead and industrial chemicals, and its superior catalytic carbon filters excel at removing both the chlorine and the chloramines that make water taste like it comes from a swimming pool.
With a 95,000-gallon capacity, this system delivers the freshest tasting water possible to every tap in your home for up to a year for a family of four between cartridge changes.
Q: Does this filter remove beneficial minerals?
A: No, you’ll enjoy water the way Mother Nature intended.
Q: Does it remove fluoride?
A: No, it does not.
Q: Where is this filter made?
A: Filters are made from mixed foreign and domestic parts, and each is assembled in Scottsdale, Arizona.
#4. 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Filtration System – Best Inline Water Filter
Like Aquasana’s EQ-1000, 3M’s Aqua-Pure AP902 also features a scale inhibition system that protects pipes and appliances. Its carbon filter captures sediment down to five microns — smaller than a red blood cell, and it can capably reduce the taste of chlorine.
Its capacity is 100,000-gallons — a tenth of the EQ-1000 — and it doesn’t remove heavy metal or chemical contaminants, but if you don’t need that capability, it’s among the most economical filters on the market. Do-it-yourself installation is a cinch and won’t compromise the warranty. Maintenance is as simple as an annual cartridge change.
Q: This system use salt to soften water?
A: No, it uses a polyphosphate-based scale inhibition system that prevents minerals from collecting in pipes. Healthy minerals like calcium remain in your water.
Q: How often does the cartridge need to be changed?
A: Under normal conditions, after 100,000 gallons have been treated. For a family of four, that’s roughly once a year. If your sediment levels are very high, it may need to be changed sooner.
Q: Are filters easy to change?
A: Absolutely! Changes are sanitary and require no tools.
#5. iSpring WGB22B 2-Stage 20-Inch Big Blue Whole House – Best Value
Like Home Master’s HMF2SMGCC 2-Stage System, this filter from iSpring protects your family from a range of possible water contaminants including agricultural and industrial solvents, chemicals and VOCs, and its carbon block technology effectively reduces the taste of chlorine.
It has a similar 100,000-gallon total capacity and an even higher 15 GPM flow rate. It doesn’t remove lead, so if that’s your goal, you’ll need the WGB22B-PB version of this system, but if it’s not an issue, this unit will meet your needs for about 30-percent less than the Home Master. It’s a top value.
Q: Is this system easy to install?
A: It’s designed to be DIY-friendly but basic plumbing skills help.
Q: When should each cartridges be replaced?
A: Conveniently, both can be replaced at the same time — about once yearly.
Q: Does this filter soften water?
A: No, but it can be used in conjunction with a water softener.
#6. iSpring WGB32B 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
This iSpring is equipped with a three-stage gradient filtration system that maximizes filter life. A fine sediment cartridge removes dirt, dust, silt and rust while two high-density coconut carbon filters reduce 95-percent of chlorine, heavy metals, VOCs and other chemical contaminants.
Healthy minerals are not removed. Cartridges are independently tested and meet the strictest NSF/ANSI standards. Among others in its class, it’s one of the least likely to affect water pressure. A family of four will enjoy an abundance of fresh, crystal clear water for up to a year between filter changes.
Q: Can this system be installed outdoors?
A: Yes, but only if it’s protected from freezing.
Q: Does it remove Fluoride?
A: It does not.
Q: Will this system make well water safe to drink?
A: The WKB32B improves the overall quality of any water, but it’ s not designed to treat it for harmful microorganisms.
#7. Express 3-Stage Home Water Filtration System
If you don’t like guesswork, you’re going to love this 3-stage filter from Express. Like similar filters from iSpring and Home Master, it uses a high-density polypropylene sediment filter to catch dirt and rust, plus it features two long-life carbon filters — one granular and one carbon block — to remove contaminants including chemicals, pharmaceuticals and chlorine.
It’s stress-free to install, and with a 100,000-gallon capacity, it’s even easier to maintain. What sets it apart is that each filter in the system has a pressure gauge. Use them to determine when filters need to be changed for guess-free maintenance.
Q: Can this be used with well water?
A: Yes, but it won’t make water potable or remove heavy metals.
Q: This system claims to protect my appliances? Does it soften water?
A: No, but the sediment filter effectively captures rust that can clog small diameter pipes like those that service refrigerator ice makers and dishwashers.
Q: Are filters easy to replace?
A: Each cartridge has an individual pressure-release vent. Cartridges twist on and off with ease.
Buyer’s Guide to the Whole House Water Filters
You can buy a water filter for thousands of dollars that treats everything from pathogens to radiation — but do you need that? Part of why most of us want a water filter is for peace of mind against the unknown, but not all water supplies are prone to the same type of contamination and by evaluating your risks and narrowing down your needs, you can choose the best whole house water filter for your family without sacrificing the trip to Disney World.
Let’s look at the most important things to consider when making a purchase decisions.
Contaminant Reduction Capability
City water is disinfected at the source, so with few exceptions, it’s safe to drink. But it could contain traces of pharmaceutical residue and chemicals as well as lead from aging pipes. Fluoride is added to most municipal supplies to promote dental health despite some evidence it could be harmful, and disinfectants like chlorine and chloramines can make water taste bad.
For well water, unless you have a rare well that’s chlorinated, disinfectants and added fluoride aren’t an issue, but contaminants like heavy metals can occur naturally in the soil, and chemicals from industry or agriculture, as well as potentially harmful microbes, can be introduced into a well by runoff.
Both city and well water can have excessive minerals — known as hard water — and that can damage pipes and appliance. Sediment like rust, while not usually harmful, can stain clothing and bathroom fixtures and isn’t appealing to drink.
The best way to select a filter is to know what’s in your water now and to evaluate the risk other potential contaminants could pose in the future. Well-water test kits are available at hardware stores or send a sample to an independent lab. To learn what’s in municipal water, contact your water treatment authority.
System Type and Footprint
Whole home water filters are no better or worse at removing contaminants than point-of-use systems — they just have a higher capacity, so they’re more convenient for large-scale use. The important part is to test your water and choose a system that reliably removes the unwanted substances that are unique to your supply.
But you’ll also want to consider the system’s footprint. Most whole-house filters are larger than undersink versions and need to be installed close to the point where water enters your home. Measure the installation area carefully and compare the filter’s dimensions before buying.
Water capacity is the maximum number of gallons a filter can process before cartridges need to be changed. Always check the capacity for each one in the system — some have multiple filters that need to be changed at different intervals. As a rule, the larger the total capacity, the less overall maintenance is required.
Flow rate — measured in maximum gallons per minutes — tells you how fast a filter can process water. Flushing a toilet and showering simultaneously use an average of six gallons per minute combined, so to do that or comparable water-using activities, a flow rate at least that high is essential.
Practically speaking, the more contaminants a filter removes, the lower it’s flow rate will be. The Aquasana EQ-1000 Whole House Filter System, for example, offers comprehensive filtration plus softening with a flow rate of seven gallons per minute — the lowest on our list. Home Master’s HMF2SMGCC 2-Stage System offers 15 GPM, but without lead filtration.
The word “filter” can describe a filtration system or each of the individual cartridges in it, but since it’s the cartridges that matter most in terms of performance, let’s look at how to assess those.
Evaluating the quality of a cartridge is difficult because performance ratings are based on average water conditions. Five filters can each claim a 95-percent reduction of lead, but if your water has higher levels than average, performance between them may not be equal. In this case, cartridges made with more advanced media might perform better.
Similarly, when contaminants are removed “up to” a certain percentage, that could be anywhere between 0-percent and the highest claimed, depending on the total quality of your water. Specifications are helpful, but not ironclad.
The number of cartridges in a system can also affect its overall efficiency. Systems like the Express Water Whole House Water Filter and the iSpring WGB32B and WKB32B have sediment pre-filters that remove large particles that could clog other filters in the system — improving their performance and longevity.
No filter on our list is an actual water softener, but three have some softening capability that protects appliances. The Aquasana EQ-1000, the Home Master HMF3SDGFEC 3-Stage System and the 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Filtration System all have some variation on technology that doesn’t remove minerals, but it prevents them from building up on pipe walls. It won’t alleviate the other effects of hard water, but in place of adding a separate water softener, it’s a plus.
The waters filters on our list vary in initial price, but it’s also essential to consider the long-term cost of ownership. The price of filter replacements and the frequency at which they need to be changed makes some systems less expensive to operate over the long haul. It’s worth taking a few minutes to crunch the numbers.
Finding the right water filtration system for your home doesn’t have to be exhausting. Just take these three steps:
- Find out what’s in your water today.
- Know which potential contaminants are the most likely to affect you.
- Choose the filter that best meets your needs from one of these top picks.
Everyone deserves water that’s as pure as it can be. If your water isn’t, installing a whole home filtration system is a simple is a straightforward and effective solution.