A decent whole house water filter is probably one of the best gifts for any homeowner who is blessed (or cursed) with a sensitive nose that can detect the smell of metal or chlorine from 5 miles away.
Or anyone slightly more than average health-conscious, that has been exposed to the negative (but accurate) press covfefe of water quality in the US in recent years. Nobody wants to be among the millions of American that are still drinking, cooking, and showering with unsafe water, after all.
Good news is, sometimes you’re just a 10” filter away from purity.
Indeed, most of the troublesome sediments, dust, and chemicals in the source water can be removed right before they reach your whole house pipeline. That’s possible with the help of a quality whole house water filtration system.
What makes a quality whole house filter though?
Before getting to the detailed reviews, let’s take a look at the most important criteria.
How To Choose A Good Water Filter For The Home
There are a few questions to ask yourself (and the manufacturer) before getting one.
What does it filter out?
Most whole house filters are designed to filter out sediments with sizes of up to 0.35 micron. Some are made to remove chlorine, iron, and heavy metals. Some systems even include a water softener, UV light purifier and other special gadgets to make sure the water is completely purified.
The thing is, you don’t always need a fancy system that filters out everything. Get your water tested and see what’s in it first. If your water is already safe and all you want is for it not to smell like a public pool, a simple GAV cartridge is most likely more than sufficient.
Does it meet NSF standards?
If your filter is certified by the NSF, the National Sanitation Foundation, it’s a good thing.
Or you can check if it has a WQA (Water Quality Association) seal on it. These certifications mean the filter has proved its quality through vigorous testings by the most prestigious organizations in America.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that anything not NSF certified is of poor quality. The cost to get the certifications is extremely high, which will be included in the product price, and smaller enterprises may not be able to afford it. Some instead do the testings in independent labs against NSF/ANSI standards. If they’re well trusted labs, the certification can be meaningful.
How long is the filter life?
Installing a whole house filtration system is a lot more difficult and time-consuming than say a countertop filter. Replacement of the cartridge is less stressful than installation, but it’s still no holiday. It requires some technique and if you’re not familiar to the work, you may have to resort to calling a plumber.
Whoever does the job, it still involves turning the water on and off for a couple of times, which can cause inconvenience to the family.
For those reasons, you don’t want a whole house filter that requires changing every couple of weeks or even months.
Find those that do their job for at least 6 months straight in one sitting. There are filters that can be effective for years or even a decade, depending on the quality of your water and the amount you use, and I’d totally recommend going for them.
Are you paying for what you really need?
There’s no need to spend on an overkill. That said, never ever ever go for the cheapest when it comes to your health.
For example, you don’t need a water softener on the system if yours is already soft water. But if you want an iron filter and the one you see doesn’t do it, however affordable it is, it’s still a waste of money.
Again, get your water tested to find out what you need to filter out, and find a system certified to do the job. That’s the only way to make sure your money is well spent.
The Best Whole House Water Filters of 2019
Once you’ve kept the criteria in mind, choosing a good whole-house water filter will become a hundred times easier. That said, we thought a reference list and a detailed review might still come handy if you don’t fancy spending time trying to decide which one is the right one to install in your house, among a dozen products that make it past your filter.
Here’s our picks for the Best Whole House Water Filters to buy in 2019:
- Aquasana EQ-1000 Whole House Filter System – Best to Buy in 2019
- Home Master HMF3SDGFEC 3-Stage System – Best for Well Water
- Home Master HMF2SMGCC 2-Stage System – Best for Tap Water
- 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Filtration System – Best Inline Water Filter
- DuPont WFHD1300B Whole House Filter – Best for Value
Top-rated Whole House Water Filters Comparison Chart
|Filtration System||Filter Capacity||Filter Life*||Warranty|
|1,000,000 gallons||10 years||10 year limited|
|Home Master HMF3SDGFEC||100,000 gallons||1 year||2 years limited|
|Home Master HMF2SMGCC||95,000 gallons||1 year||2 years limited|
|Aqua-Pure||100,000 gallons||1 year||25 years for head |
1 year limited for cartridge
|DuPont WFHD1300B||15,000 gallons||2 months||3 years limited|
*Calculated for a family of three with average amount of water used per person per day equaling 100 gallon.
1. Aquasana 10-Year Whole House Water Filter – Best to Buy in 2019
This is a filter, pre and post filters, a salt-free softener, and a UV chamber coming in one complete, well-rounded system to solve every single possible problem with your water. To top that off, the company offers a 10-year-limited-warranty.
This Aquasana EQ-1000 simply has all the reasons to be the best whole house filter to buy in 2019.
This system comes with a filter, a salt-free softener, and a UV kit.
A STRONG, LONG LASTING FILTER
The EQ-1000 filter can process an incredibly large amount of water: 1 million gallons. If you are a family of 3 with an average use of 100 gallons per person per day, it can easily last more than 9 years.
Even with the cost of the pre-filter (changed every 2 months), post-filter and the electricity for UV light added, it’s still a bang for your buck.
While the filter itself is not NSF-certified, it uses the same components and media as the Aquasana EQ600, which is certified against NSF/ANSI standards to remove more than 96.9% of chlorine in the water. This should be more than sufficient to bring the water in your house to a new level of aesthetic.
In fact, a lot of users notice an immediate improvement in the way the water tastes and smells.
Inside the main filter are copper-zinc, minerals, and activated carbon. These all work to reduce not only chlorine but also water-soluble heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, bacteria, and algae. This, however, is not certified.
A salt-based softener is the best way to soften your water. The thing is, it can be quite expensive, and it also adds some salty taste to your drinking water.
If you hate having minerals building up in your pipeline and dishes, but also don’t want more salt in your diet, a salt-free softener is your best bet.
The Aquasana system includes one.
The softener, or to be exact, descaler, plays an important part in reducing the building up of scale and corrosion in your plumping. And it does so while requiring very little maintenance for itself.
Note, however, that while it can alter the structure of the minerals to protect the pipeline, the descaler is not so effective in actually removing them. If you are concerned about the high amount in your water, you may need to add or replace it with other gadgets.
Destroys 99.99% of microorganisms
Municipal water is treated with filters and chemicals that kill most of the microorganisms living in it. There are chlorine resistant cysts like cryptosporidium and giardia which may pose as a health risk to you and your family; however, most of the time, tap water is already safe to consume.
Well water, meanwhile, travels to your house with all the worms, germs, and viruses in it. A good filter can at best remove some of the bigger sediments and organisms, but a UV light purifier is needed to bring the water to the desired level of safety.
After the filtration process, the water will be free of most visible contaminants and will have become clear. It is now that the UV light purifier comes into effect. It kills more than 99% of viruses and bacteria, including e. Coli.
This is why this Aquasana system is the best one for well water as well as for tap water!
2. Home Master HMF3SDGFEC Whole House 3-Stage Water Filter – Best For Well Water
While mostly free of chlorine, well water is usually rich in iron. In most wells, the iron concentration is typically between 0.5 and 10 milligrams per liter.
In terms of health, iron in water is not likely to pose as a direct risk. However, the presence of it can attract some iron loving bacteria, and those bacteria are the ones that cause problems.
Plus, iron-loaded water has an unpleasant metallic taste and smell. There only needs to be 0.3 milligram of it per liter for us humans to detect it, so if you’re finding yourself not loving the taste of water in your home, it’s probably the metal.
It’s also a substance that loves leaving rust residues in the pipe and stains in your sink and ceramic dishes.
In short, you don’t want too much iron in your water.
How the Home Master works to remove iron from well water
The well water filtration system comes with 3 stages.
The first stage consists of 4 layers of filtration that can keep out sediments as small as 1 micron. To get a rough idea of how small that is, a human red blood cell is about 5 – 8 microns across, while our hair is about 75 microns across.
As the water passes the first stage, it comes to the second stage, where iron is taken care of. The Home Master iron reduction filter claims to be able to cut 95% the amount of iron, which should essentially eradicate iron-caused problems in your water.
Not only iron, but this system can also reduce manganese, and hydrogen sulfide, and bring the total combined contaminant load down to 3 ppm. Note, however, that it can only be effective under some specific water conditions. Check the detailed product description before you buy it!
The taste of purity
In the third stage, the water is treated with granular activated coconut shell carbon (GAC). With lots of small pores and a large surface area, the carbon can trap chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and heavy metals, removing any weird taste and smell in your water.
This system, unfortunately, doesn’t come with a UV light purifier.
While the super fine sediment filter and granular activated coconut shell carbon can already trap many organisms, it is not impossible for microorganisms to pass through. If you’re concerned about the possible existence of germs and viruses in the water, add a UV purifier and you should be good.
The Home Master well water filtration system can treat 95,000 gallons of water in its lifetime. That’s roughly one year for a family of three. Of course you can always change the filter replacement interval depending on the amount of water used, and the contaminant load.
3. Home Master HMF2SMGCC Whole House 2-Stage Water Filter – Best For Tap Water
Looking for a whole house filtration system to get rid of the annoying odor of chlorine or chloramine in the water?
Look no further than the Home Master HMF2SMGCC.
Certified material to filter out both chlorine and chloramine
The filtration system is simple, as it should be. It’s made up of 2 filtration cartridges.
One is the multi-gradient depth sediment filter, which can remove sediments as small as 1 micron (a fifth the size of the human red blood cell).
The other cartridge has 3 pounds of KDF85 granular activated catalytic carbon in it. This material has the ability to remove 99% of water-soluble lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, and other dissolved metals.
It is also certified by the NSF against NSF/ANSI standard 42 to enhance the water quality aesthetically. That means it improves the smell and taste of your home water by making a significant reduction in the amount of chlorine. It is also one of the few filters on the market that are effective in removing chloramine.
And it does so without causing a spike in your water bill (non-RO -> no waste!). Nor will you experience an annoyingly slow flow – the oversized filters can process a large amount at a time. They come with 1-inch ports and have no problem giving you 10 gallons of clean water per minute!
The Home Master HMF2SMGCC is probably one of the easiest water filtration systems to install out there.
It comes straightforward with the filters fully assembled, and has steel mounting bracket with bolts, housing wrench, and a direct, easy-to-understand instruction manual. You most likely won’t even need a plumber to install it.
With a capacity of 95,000 gallons, this filtration system can easily last a year for a family of three with average use of water. That is, if you don’t do your carwash at home and don’t have a garden to water everyday, which in this case you may consider replacing the filters more often.
Note: If your tap water doesn’t contain chloramine (get it tested or check on the local government website!), consider the Home Master HMF2SDGC version which is slightly cheaper but doesn’t treat chloramine.
4. Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System – Best Inline Filtration System
Simple, compact, and super duper easy to install, the 3M Aqua-Pure is the best filter for families who find a whole filtration system too much to handle.
Simplicity in design doesn’t mean inferiority in function.
The Aqua-Pure comes with a filter that removes dirt, dust, and sediments as small as 5 microns across. After water travels through layers of sediment filter, it will be processed with a carbon filter, where chlorine, together with any funky materials, are removed.
Under most conditions, the Aqua-Pure can last 100,000 gallons, or one whole year of use, whichever comes first. You can also tell by the water pressure – if it slows down a lot after a while then you know it’s time. To increase the filter life, it is recommended to install some sort of coarse pre-filter to catch bigger sediments so they won’t clog the mini pores on this filter.
Replacement in 2 minutes
Coming in a simple design with a non-corrosive stainless steel head, it’s a real bliss to install the Aqua-Pure. I can do it by myself and I’m no Elon Musk.
Replacement is a piece of cake with its quick change cartridge: you can do it in less than two minutes with no tools. You probably will figure it out by yourself without even batting an eyelid at the manual, but in case the handyperson in you suddenly wants to take a break, you can always count on this super comprehensive instruction video.
5. DuPont WFPF13003B Universal Whole House – Best Budget Whole House Filter
Certified-NSF/ANSI Standard 42 and sold at a fraction of the cost of others, it’s hard to find a system comparable to the DuPont WFHD1300B at its price range.
A universal filter
With a 10 micron carbon wrapped filter, the WFPF13003B can make a complete filter for the whole house by itself, especially if it’s municipal water you’re dealing with. This single cartridge would be more than sufficient to make the water clean and clear for shower, dish and clothes washing, as well as other non-digestive uses.
Install a countertop filter, or an RO system under the sink, or any other kind of water filter at the point of use for drinking water, and you should be good.
But if you want bottled water quality right at the point of entry, the WFPF13003B is compatible with many different filters with 3/4 inch inlets and outlets. You’ll have no problem adding coarser and finer PP and carbon filters before or after it for an upgrade in water purity. It goes just as well with other DuPont filters as it does with any standard filter from other brands – you gotta appreciate the versatility!
It’s cheap, AND it’s certified
The DuPont WFPF13003B comes certified with NSF/ANSI Standard 42: it effectively reduces aesthetic impurities such as chlorine and taste/odor, and of course, various sediments.
That, and the basic filter is offered at less than $25! Even the full package (the 4-pack) is less than $200 at the time of writing, which is a cut-rate deal compared to, say, the Home-Master-HMF3SDGFEC or even the simple 3M Aqua-Pure.
Used on its own with no pre or post-filters, the one-pack can last 15,000 gallons or roughly two months for a family of three. Add a coarser filter in front and it will last up to four months, which is pretty nice for a filter of its size.
In this regard, it’s no way on par with the other filters in this list. It’s probably better for households with only one or two persons, in which case you will only need a replacement twice a year.
Whole House Vs. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Systems
It is a common understanding that reverse osmosis membranes are much more effective at purifying water than simple filtration systems. Why aren’t they used on whole house water filters?
The main reason is efficiency.
RO systems take time to process water – and it would be a lot of time to produce the 100 gallons an average person needs per day. In a household with 3 or 4 people, you would need a GIANT (and of course expensive) RO system to get enough water for everyone.
Plus, water is used in a house not only for drinking and cooking but also for washing, showering/bathing, laundry, watering plants, cooling, among a hundred other uses. While it’s no crime to flush the toilet with bottled quality water, it is not necessary, and way too expensive and wasteful.
A whole house non-reverse osmosis filtration system is a much more reasonable choice. It processes water at a fast rate, allowing you to have clean water whenever you need it. Better yet, since it doesn’t need the “rinse water”, it produces exactly no waste. Water runs right through it, leaving sediments, chlorine, pesticides, and any foul odor behind.
For extra safe, clean water for drinking and cooking, a quality undersink RO system will suffice.
One thing though: While effective with chlorine, sediments, and a plethora of harmful chemicals, most non-RO whole house filters are not designed to handle hard water, the main culprit of pipe limescale and detergent wastage. If you have hard water, which more than 70% of America does, you may want to install a water softener instead, or install one after the whole-house filter.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you live in a fairly new building in a big city in Europe or America and you’re using tap water, you most likely don’t need a whole house water filtration system, although having one would be nice for improved water taste and smell. If you’re using well water or are living in an old house with outdated pipelines, however, you might be exposed to harmful chemicals and heavy metals. A quality system of filters at both the point of entry and point of use, in that case, would be a necessity.
If you’re using well water: definitely yes. You will need a good filtration system that can remove sediments, rust, chemicals, heavy metals, and microorganisms to protect your health as well as household appliances. It will be worth every single penny you spend on it.
Tap water in big cities in the US, meanwhile, is pre-processed and is most of the time already safe for direct consumption. A basic whole-house filter can further remove most of the rust, sediments and some chemicals such as chlorine or chloramine, improving water smell and clarity. Unless you’re chlorine sensitive, these filters are more of a nice-to-have than an essential. In any case, most whole house filters are quite affordable, and can’t possibly hurt.
Whether or not the water; on both its original condition and the filtration materials. Note that most whole house filters only deal with aesthetic problems in the water (taste, smell, clearness), and very few are certified to filter out heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury. The best way to tell is to get the filtered water tested at a certified lab.