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How to Install a Water Filter

Installing the type of water-treatment device that utilizes filter cartridges under the sink and delivers clean water through a sink-top spout is a relatively easy do-it-yourself project.

Sink-top dispenser can deliver both piping hot and cold water.

Sink-top dispenser can deliver both piping hot and cold filtered water.

Doing this job involves simply mounting the filter unit in the cabinet and connecting plastic tubing to your existing cold water pipes using special saddle valves.[GARD align=”left”]

Several different types of water treatment devices are sold, including dual-cartridge devices like the one shown below and reverse-osmosis systems that work basically the same way but also utilize an undersink storage tank that holds clean water and is connected to the sink’s trap because it discharges wastewater. Neither type requires electrical power.

Filters inside cartridge-based water treatment devices must be changed periodically—typically twice a year. Changes in the odor, taste, and/or flow of the water are sure signs that the filter cartridges need to be replaced.

Mount the dispenser.

1Mount the dispenser. Most dispensers are designed to fit in the extra hole in a sink top, as shown, but if this hole is already occupied, you’ll have to drill another in the sink or countertop. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for the location and size of the hole. Drill only into stainless-steel or porcelain cast-iron sinks; if you have an all-porcelain sink, drill for the dispenser through the countertop.

 

 

Install a saddle valve.

2Install a saddle valve. Tap into the existing cold water supply line via a saddle valve. To install a saddle valve, first turn off the water supply and then open the faucet to drain the line. Following the manufacturer’s directions, drill a small hole in the supply line. Turn the handle on the valve to expose the lance that’s designed to puncture the pipe, and position the valve over the pipe so that the lance fits in the hole. Attach the back plate of the valve and tighten the nuts to lock it in place, and then screw in the lance.

 

Secure the cartridge filtration unit.

3Secure the cartridge filtration unit. Position the cartridge filtration unit roughly between the cold water line and the dispenser. Be sure to leave the specified clearance between the system and the cabinet bottom to allow for cartridge replacement. Secure the device to the cabinet back or wall with the screws provided.

 

 

Hook up the device.

4Hook up the device. Start by cutting a length of plastic tubing to reach between the saddle valve and the system. Make it short enough not to kink, but long enough to allow for installing a new compression fitting (the connector shown at the end of the tubing) later, if needed. Press the tubing into the compression fitting and thread it onto the saddle valve; tighten with an adjustable wrench.

 

 

Connect the filtration unit.

5Connect the filtration unit. Insert the opposite end of the tubing into another compression fitting and thread it onto the inlet port of the filtration unit. Tighten the nut with your hand, and then make another turn or turn and a half with an adjustable wrench.

 

 

 

Connect the water dispenser.

6Connect the water dispenser. Finally, cut a piece of tubing to run from the outlet port of the system to the water dispenser. Insert compression fittings on both ends and thread the nuts onto the dispenser and the system. Turn on the water supply and open the water dispenser. Let the water run for about five minutes to flush out any carbon particles or air pockets. Most manufacturers recommend allowing the water to run for about 20 seconds before using.

Featured Resource: Find a Local Water Treatment Installation Pro

Call for free estimates from local water treatment pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Solving Drinking Water Problems

Do you suspect that your water may contain unhealthy levels of contaminants? For the public’s protection, Congress enacted the Clean Water Drinking Act in 1974 and strengthened it in 1986, setting minimum water quality standards for most homeowners.

The right water treatment device can solve drinking water problems.

Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all utilities comply with the regulations. Enforcement is difficult on national, state, and local levels; not all known contaminants are on the list; and all testing isn’t necessarily accurate.

Fortunately, our biggest water suppliers—large metropolitan systems—tend to have the best drinking water because they have the equipment and resources for frequent, mandated testing (the frequency of testing depends on the number of people served).[GARD align=”left”]

It’s also reassuring to know that when something goes wrong, utilities are required to notify their customers. Wells are another story. Systems that serve fewer than 25 people or 15 service connections are regulated only by state and local laws or by their owners.

Testing Your Drinking Water

Unless issued by your local health department, “free home water testing” offers are usually a come-on to get you to buy water-treatment devices after a couple of carefully staged tests. The only way to be sure your water has harmful pollutants is to have it tested by an independent lab.

Unfortunately, you must test for each type of pollutant separately, which can be very expensive. If you get your water from a municipal utility, quality can change daily, so most tests are worthless (and usually unnecessary). Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to check for lead because lead can leach into the water from old lead-based plumbing.

water test kit watersafe

Mailorder Water Test Kit            Photo: WaterSafe

You can also discover plenty of information without testing. Call your health department or water supplier and request copies of water-treatment reports and note any violations. Find out the frequency and scope of the tests. Ask whether your area is known for any particular hazards, especially those that might enter water between the treatment plant and your tap.

If you have a well, at the very least check it once for mineral content, lead, and radon (where radon is a threat) and once or twice a year for bacteria and nitrates. If you have concerns about contaminants in well water, contact your local health department for a recommended course of action. It may handle certain tests, such as bacterial testing. A partial chemical test that will detect magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, fluoride, chloride, and nitrates is usually relatively affordable. To test for chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, and petroleum products can be very expensive because each requires its own test.

Find an independent testing lab by asking your water utility or your state health department for a recommendation or checking “Laboratories” in the telephone directory or on the Internet. Or, buy a water test kit online. This will include proper supplies and instructions for collecting a sample, which you mail to the testing lab. Another more comprehensive option is to contact an affordably priced water analysis company, such as National Testing Labs (800-458-3330) or Suburban Water Testing (800-433-6595). A lead-only test costs about $35; a comprehensive test for bacteria, organics, and inorganics runs $137 to$167.

Some filter makers offer this service, too. For example, you can call the GE Answer Center (800-626-2000) and request a water test kit and information on GE’s SmartWater line of filters and treatment devices.

Once you have reports or test results, compare them with the EPA’s maximum allowable contaminant levels. (For a free copy of these listings, go to www.epa.gov or call the EPA’s National Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.) Note any pollutants that exceed federal standards. Record these, and then use this list to select an appropriate water-treatment device.

When you compare results, note any pollutants that exceed federal standards. Record these and then use this list to select an appropriate water treatment device.

Types of Drinking Water Problems

Aesthetic problems come from otherwise harmless contaminants that affect the color, odor, and taste of water. Such substances are chlorine, sulfur, iron, and manganese. These problems are usually easy to deal with using a conventional activated carbon filter.

But if your drinking water contains dangerous levels of other pollutants, you’ll need to choose a water-treatment technology that is appropriate for eliminating the toxins. For the sake of discussion, it’s easiest to group toxic pollutants into four categories: organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, radionuclides, and microbiological organisms.

Organic chemicals include solvents, pesticides, synthetics, resins, and other manmade chemicals known as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). VOCs are often linked to cancer and/or nervous system, liver, and kidney disorders. A particularly nasty compound, trihalomethane (THM), can be created after water has left a treatment plant and the chlorine reacts with decaying animal and plant matter, creating chloroform, a suspected carcinogen.

Inorganic chemicals include nitrates and nitrites, asbestos, fluoride, and metals such as arsenic, mercury, and—the most notorious—lead. Many of these occur as natural mineral deposits. Some, such as copper and lead, leach into water as it travels through pipes and treatment by your water utility doesn’t remove them.[GARD align=”right”]

Nitrates and nitrites are produced by industry or farming. Inorganic chemicals are linked to a variety of health problems. Lead is known to cause brain damage and is particularly toxic to infants and pregnant women. Pre-1930s plumbing in some areas utilized lead pipes, and solder used to join copper piping in homes before 1986 has a lead content of about 50%.

Radon gas, the most common radionuclide, occurs naturally in a number of regions, including Western mountain states and parts of the Northeast. The EPA estimates that up to 17 million people may have water with excessive levels of radon, which can enter the air through showers and steam.

Microbiological contaminants, including protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, are normally killed by chlorination and treatment. Cysts, such as cryptosporidium and giardia, are more resistant to municipal treatment. Normally, bacterial pollution problems occur only when water treatment breaks down or if a home’s water supply is tainted by waste. Cyst problems tend to occur during times of heavy storm runoff.

NEXT SEE: Water Filters Buying Guide

Featured Resource: Find a Local Water Treatment Installation Pro

Call for free estimates from local water treatment pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

Is Your Drinking Water Safe?

In Flint, Michigan, as many as 12,000 children have been exposed to drinking water contaminated with high levels of lead that may cause any of many serious health problems. In addition, the drinking water may be the reason for an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in the county that has killed 10 people and affected another 77.

clean water drinkingGeoffreyWhiteway | FreeRangeStock

Your water may look clean—but that’s only half the story.

Don’t Count On the Law

For the public’s protection, Congress enacted the Clean Water Drinking Act in 1974 and strengthened it in 1986, setting minimum water quality standards for most homeowners. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all water utilities comply with the regulations, all testing isn’t necessarily accurate, and not all known contaminants are on the list. Enforcement is difficult on national, state, and local levels. And, because of decreases in the budget of the EPA’s drinking water office and state drinking-water budgets since 2006, protection of public health are at risk.

Theoretically, our biggest water suppliers—large metropolitan systems—have the best drinking water because they have the equipment and resources for frequent, mandated testing (the frequency of testing depends on the number of people served). Also, with major utilities, when something goes wrong, they are required to notify their customers. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen in Flint.[GARD align=”left”]

Wells are another story. Systems that serve fewer than 25 people or 15 service connections are regulated only by state and local laws or by their owners.

Testing Your Drinking Water

Unless issued by your local health department, “free home water testing” offers are usually a come-on to get you to buy water-treatment devices after a couple of carefully staged tests.

Independent lab testing. The best way to be sure your water has harmful pollutants is to have it tested by an independent lab (see below).

You must test for each type of pollutant separately. If you get your water from a municipal utility, quality can change daily, so most tests are of marginal value (and usually unnecessary). Nevertheless, it may be a good idea to check for lead because lead can leach into the water from old lead-based plumbing—that’s what happened in Flint, Michigan.

water test kit watersafeWater Safe

You can buy a water test kit online for under $20. If you have a well, get the well water test kit instead.

Get on the phone. You can also discover plenty of information without testing. Call your health department or water supplier and request copies of water-treatment reports and note any violations. Find out the frequency and scope of the tests. Ask whether your area is known for any particular hazards, especially those that might enter water between the treatment plant and your tap.

If you have a well, at the very least check it once for mineral content, lead, and radon (where radon is a threat) and once or twice a year for bacteria and nitrates. If you have concerns about contaminants in well water, contact your local health department for a recommended course of action. It may handle certain tests, such as bacterial testing. A partial chemical test that will detect magnesium, calcium, sodium, iron, fluoride, chloride, and nitrates is usually relatively affordable. To test for chemicals such as solvents, pesticides, and petroleum products can be very expensive because each requires its own test.

How to get an independent lab test. Find an independent testing lab by asking your water utility or your state health department for a recommendation or checking “Laboratories” in the telephone directory or on the Internet. Or, buy a water test kit online. This will include proper supplies and instructions for collecting a sample, which you mail to the testing lab. If you have a well, be sure to get a well water test kit. Another more comprehensive option is to contact an affordably priced water analysis company, such as National Testing Labs (800-458-3330) or Suburban Water Testing (800-433-6595). A lead-only test costs about $35; a comprehensive test for bacteria, organics, and inorganics runs $137 to$167.

Some filter makers offer this service, too. For example, you can call the GE Answer Center (800-626-2000) and request a water test kit and information on GE’s SmartWater line of filters and treatment devices.

Once you have reports or test results, compare them with the EPA’s maximum allowable contaminant levels. (For a free copy of these listings, go to www.epa.gov or call the EPA’s National Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791.) Note any pollutants that exceed federal standards. Record these, and then use this list to select an appropriate water-treatment device.

When you compare results, note any pollutants that exceed federal standards. Record these and then use this list to select an appropriate water treatment device.

What Might Be In The Water?

Aesthetic water problems come from otherwise harmless contaminants that affect the color, odor, and taste of water. Such substances are chlorine, sulfur, iron, and manganese. These problems are usually easy to deal with using a conventional activated carbon filter.

But if your drinking water contains dangerous levels of other pollutants, you’ll need to choose a water-treatment technology that is appropriate for eliminating the toxins. For the sake of discussion, it’s easiest to group toxic pollutants into four categories: organic chemicals, inorganic chemicals, radionuclides, and microbiological organisms.

Organic chemicals include solvents, pesticides, synthetics, resins, and other manmade chemicals known as volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). VOCs are often linked to cancer and/or nervous system, liver, and kidney disorders. A particularly nasty compound, trihalomethane (THM), can be created after water has left a treatment plant and the chlorine reacts with decaying animal and plant matter, creating chloroform, a suspected carcinogen.

Inorganic chemicals include nitrates and nitrites, asbestos, fluoride, and metals such as arsenic, mercury, and—the most notorious—lead. Many of these occur as natural mineral deposits. Some, such as copper and lead, leach into water as it travels through pipes and treatment by your water utility doesn’t remove them.[GARD align=”right”]

Nitrates and nitrites are produced by industry or farming. Inorganic chemicals are linked to a variety of health problems. Lead is known to cause brain damage and is particularly toxic to infants and pregnant women. Pre-1930s plumbing in some areas utilized lead pipes, and solder used to join copper piping in homes before 1986 has a lead content of about 50%.

Radon gas, the most common radionuclide, occurs naturally in a number of regions, including Western mountain states and parts of the Northeast. The EPA estimates that up to 17 million people may have water with excessive levels of radon, which can enter the air through showers and steam.

Microbiological contaminants, including protozoa, bacteria, and viruses, are normally killed by chlorination and treatment. Cysts, such as cryptosporidium and giardia, are more resistant to municipal treatment. Normally, bacterial pollution problems occur only when water treatment breaks down or if a home’s water supply is tainted by waste. Cyst problems tend to occur during times of heavy storm runoff.

NEXT SEE: Water Filters Buying Guide

Featured Resource: Find a Local Water Treatment Installation Pro

Call for free estimates from local water treatment pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

 

Water Filters Buying Guide

Is your tap water safe to drink? Because unhealthy levels of contaminants such as bacteria, lead, and pesticides are found in both metropolitan and well water supplies, it’s important to know whether pollutants exist in your water. And, if they do, you need to know how to supply your home with clean water.

Buying the right water filter can ensure clean, safe drinking water.

Buying bottled water is the quickest and, initially, cheapest way to get clean drinking water. But over the long haul, it is far more expensive. Producers of bottled waters are regulated by the same standards imposed on public water systems and are also self-regulated by the International Bottled Water Association. Club sodas, carbonated waters, seltzers, and waters containing more than 1 percent flavoring are not covered by these standards.

Water filters are the more permanent solution. Many types of water filters are made, and they range widely in sophistication and price. They may use reverse-osmosis, activated carbon, or ultra-violet rays to clean or purify water. Should you buy an under-the-sink reverse-osmosis filter, or will a simple spout-mounted carbon filter do? Scores of companies claim to have the latest and greatest answer to your water needs. What are your other options?[GARD align=”left”]

The effectiveness of a water filter at removing specific contaminants depends upon the technology used. So, it’s important to know what needs to be removed from your water—and that involves testing.

This section of HomeTips explores the issues of clean drinking water, how to get water testing accomplished, comparing filter technologies, and how to install a water filter.

Types of Water Filters

If the only problem with your water is grit, dirt, sediment, rust, or other such particles, a screening filter may be sufficient. Made of fiber, fabric, ceramic, or another screening medium, these simply catch particles—including, in some cases, small organisms like cysts and some bacteria. But don’t rely on them to handle disease-causing organisms, VOCs, metals, or the like.

Simple carbon filter attaches to faucet, polishing taste and removing some contaminants. Photo: Culligan

Carbon Water Filters

If your water tastes, smells, or looks bad, a filter containing activated carbon (AC) may solve the problem. If you want to remove chlorine, pesticides, herbicides, radon, trihalomethanes (THMs), and some inorganic chemicals, carbon may do the trick.

Some, but not all, carbon filters are effective at reducing lead content. Solid-block and pre-coat absorption filters trap lead. Check the certification of the unit you’re interested in buying and, if claims are made regarding lead removal, ask for proof.

You can’t rely on a conventional carbon filter to remove salts, nitrates, nitrites, and some metals. And you shouldn’t rely exclusively on one to remove organisms. In fact, be aware that a carbon filter will accumulate the contaminants removed from water, and bacteria may even breed in it, so you must replace filter cartridges religiously, according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

A carbon filter that contains pesticide silver may be registered—but, remember, is not endorsed—by the EPA. Studies show that these are not fully effective at eliminating bacterial growth or microbiological contaminants. Again, be sure any such claims are substantiated.

Effectiveness of a particular carbon unit is a factor of the amount of activated carbon it contains. You can buy under-counter, countertop, and faucet-mounted styles, but the $30 faucet-end models are only marginally effective. Whole-house systems are available for $3,000 and up. Known as point-of-entry (POE) systems, these are recommended where a contaminant such as radon poses a threat to the entire household.

APEC reverse-osmosis drinking water filter

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

If you must remove inorganic chemicals such as salts, metals (including lead), minerals, nitrates, asbestos, and some organic chemicals, consider a reverse-osmosis (RO) filter.

Actually, most models include carbon pre-filters and post-filters, which will catch sediment, pesticides, herbicides, THMs, and radon. RO filters remove lead, but some don’t remove chlorine (if this is claimed, request proof of performance). The carbon post-filter is used to improve the water’s taste. Pre- and post-filter cartridges should be replaced annually.

Most RO filters are connected directly to plumbing and are located beneath the sink. A small tank stores clean water until needed, and tainted water drains out through a line connected to the sink trap. Drinking water flows through a special, separate sink-top spout. Some models have an automatic valve that eliminates the waste typically associated with RO filters—conventional models waste about 3 gallons for every gallon of water they produce. They generally cost upwards of $250.

Countertop water distiller purifiers water by turning it to steam. Photo: Megahome

Water Distillers

If you just want a portable, sink-top appliance that will rid water of most dissolved solids, such as salts, asbestos fibers, metals, minerals, particles, and some organic chemicals, an inexpensive distiller may be just the thing. Distillers heat water until it turns to steam and then condenses the steam back into water in a separate chamber, leaving behind anything that won’t travel in the steam. Unless coupled with a carbon filter, they will not remove all chemical pollutants and all bacteria. Most have to be filled manually, they use a considerable amount of electricity to operate, and they may take several hours to produce 1 gallon of water. Though prices range up to $1,500, most are less than $400.

UV Water Purifiers

Ultraviolet (UV) disinfection devices, which typically cost $150 or more, may kill bacteria and viruses, and clear the taste and odor of water, but they are not effective against chemical pollutants and may not work against cysts and spores. UV devices are sometimes used in combination with carbon filters to kill bacteria. [GARD align=”left”]

Buying a Water Filtering Faucet

With the popularity of water-treatment devices, a number of manufacturers have introduced products that integrate water systems seamlessly into the kitchen. For example, the Steaming Filter Kitchen Faucet by American Standard is an elegant kitchen sink faucet with a built-in, under-sink water filter—with this, you don’t need a secondary spigot at the sink for clean water.

American Standard streaming filter faucet

Filtering faucet delivers filtered water right through the main tap. Photo: American Standard

Frigidaire offers a built-in PureSource Ice & Water Filter in its Gallery Side-by-Side refrigerators, and the GE Profile Performance Side-by-Side refrigerator offers a “Water by Culligan” built-in filter. Just be sure whatever product you buy utilizes the type of filter needed to mitigate your water problems.

Before you buy, shop around, scrutinizing price, features, capacity, frequency, and cost of filter replacement and warranties. For a listing of certified units and the contaminants they remove, you can contact the independent testing organization NSF International at (800) NSF-HELP and request the Water Fact Kit. You can also its Certified Product Database at www.nsf.org. By doing your homework, you’re sure to find a product that will offer your family clear, clean water for many years.

Shopping for a Water Filter

To find the right treatment device for your problems, shop around; you will find distinct differences in price, installation methods, maintenance requirements, and warranties. Be wary if a salesperson claims a device has EPA approval. The EPA doesn’t test or approve products, it only registers them. (For a listing of certified units and the contaminants they remove, contact the independent testing organization NSF International at 800-NSF-MARK or www.nsf.org. You can locate certified dealers by contacting the Water Quality Association at 630-505-0160 or www.wqa.org.)

Featured Resource: Find a Local Water Treatment Installation Pro

Call for free estimates from local water treatment pros now:
[telnumlink] 1-866-342-3263[/telnumlink]

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