Do Tap Water Filters Really Make Clean, Safe Drinking Water?

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If you’ve ever asked what was in your tap water, you probably encountered a big surprise. One report says that only two out of the 25 biggest cities in the US made it through just one year without a water quality violation. Those violations included extra high levels of chlorine, along with the presence of lead and E. coli bacteria. In some cases, levels were almost 50 times the official limit.

While the authorities are supposed to issue warnings when things like this happen, those warnings don’t always appear. That’s why so many people are choosing to filter their water before drinking it. The right filter for you will depend on your budget, your personal habits, and the type of contaminants in your water. You might be tempted to rule out less costly models like tap water filters, but these little devices can actually make a big difference.

Testing the Waters

The first step in determining which kind of filter you need is getting a test performed. If you live in a city, you should be able to get what is called a Consumer Confidence Report, released by the municipal area every summer. You can also test the water right out of the faucet. The Environmental Protection Agency offers a hotline that will give you information about certified testing labs in your state. You can also spend just a few dollars to get a commercial kit and do your own testing at home. If you see chemical contaminants, heavy metals, chlorine or similar substances that aren’t safe to drink but won’t harm you or your laundry, you can safely use tap water filters instead of a whole house unit. If your water contains large amounts of iron, sulfur or lime, you may wish to filter it at the source.

Kinds of Water Filters for the Tap

You can purchase several kinds of water filters for use at the tap. The simplest is a faucet-mounted unit. These are very inexpensive, but they have a habit of slowing water down to a trickle. Some are also known to harbor bacteria. Better alternatives include countertop or undersink units. Countertop filters need very little installation and can filter a lot of water. They are also unlikely to clog. The only downside is their tendency to take up space and some limitations on what they can filter.

Undersink units work must like countertop filters, but they offer a wider variety of features. These water filters do require some modifications to your counter and plumbing, so be ready to hook them in when they arrive. Their advantages include high water volumes and the ability to filter many different kinds of contaminants. They’re an excellent choice when you need to produce lots of clean drinking water or you want a faster flow.

No matter what kind of filter you choose, make sure you spend some time comparing reviews and checking out features. After all, the cheapest water filter isn’t necessarily the best one!