Types Of Water Filters

Here are 5 of the more common types of water filters on the market today along with a brief description.

Activated Carbon/Charcoal Filter,

How it works : Positively charged and highly absorbent carbon in the filter attracts and traps many impurities.

Used in : Counter top, faucet filters and under-the-sink units.

Gets rid of : Bad tastes and odours, including chlorine. Also can substantially reduce many hazardous contaminants, including heavy metals such as copper, lead and mercury; disinfection byproducts; parasites such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium; pesticides; radon; and volatile organic chemicals such as methyl-tert-butyl ether (MTBE), dichlorobenzene and trichloroethylene (TCE).

Cation Exchange Softener, How it works: "Softens" hard water by trading minerals with a strong positive charge for one with less of a charge.

Used in : Whole-house, point-of-entry units.

Gets rid of: Calcium and magnesium, which form mineral deposits in plumbing and fixtures, as well as barium and some other ions that can create health hazards.

Distiller, How it works: Boils water and recondenses the purified steam.

Used in : Counter top or whole house point-of-entry units; can be combined with a carbon filter.

Gets rid of : Heavy metals such as cadmium, chromium, copper, lead and mercury, as well as arsenic, barium, fluoride, selenium and sodium.

Reverse Osmosis, How it works: A semi permeable membrane separates impurities from water. (Note: This filtration technique wastes a substantial amount of water during the treatment process.)

Used in: Under-the-sink units; often in combination with a carbon filter or UV disinfection unit.

Gets rid of: Most contaminants, including certain parasites such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia; heavy metals such as cadmium, copper, lead and mercury; and other pollutants, including arsenic, barium, nitrate/nitrite, perchlorate and selenium.

Ultraviolet Disinfection, How it works: Ultraviolet light kills bacteria and other micro organisms.

Used in: Under-the-sink units, often in combination with a carbon filter and sediment screen.

Gets rid of : Bacteria and parasites; class A systems protect against harmful bacteria and viruses, including Cryptosporidium and Giardia , while class B systems are designed to make non-disease-causing bacteria inactive.

As with nearly everything, over time the performance of all types of water filters will start to decrease, some faster than others depending on the quality of the water. To keep your filter working properly, follow the manufacturer's maintenance directions. Some filters only require a cartridge change, while others are better maintained by a certified professional. Many filter distributors offer maintenance and service contracts for their products.

It may be an idea to have your water tested to see which types of water filters best suit your need. There is no need to spend top dollar on a filter if a cheaper one is all that's needed.

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