Over the past three decades, I have personally talked to thousands of people looking to make the better water choice. Before making a decision, there are ten important questions to ask yourself and some important features to look for:
1) Does my water have an unpleasant taste, odor, or appearance?
If so, definitely consider filtration. If your water isn’t appetizing, you won’t drink enough and we all know how important hydration is. Bad taste can be caused by algae, chlorine, iron and sulphur (rotten egg) in the water. A solid carbon filter will take care of the first two, reverse osmosis the last two.
2) Are there any known contaminants in my water?
Check with your local water department. Request a free Consumer Confidence Report from them. Check out the EWG (Environmental Working Group) database for contaminants in your area http://www.ewg.org/tapwater/. If a well, you can have your water tested at a state-certified lab. Or, find a knowledgeable, honest filtration expert (such as myself!) to discuss what might be the common contaminants.
3) Are there any specific health conditions you are addressing or any contaminants that you are specifically attempting to reduce?
Research the various products by checking their NSF certification to see if those contaminants are listed. For example, if you have arsenic in your water, you will want to be sure the system you purchase is certified for that. Go to www.nsf.org
4) Does your water come from a public tap water source or do you have a private well?
If public, then you already know that it is likely you are dealing with chlorine and chlorine or disinfection byproducts. Also, if public, then some testing is being done regularly. A solid carbon block filter will probably be best for you. If a private well, then testing is your responsibility. You might consider a reverse osmosis unit.
5) Do you own or rent?
In my experience, most homeowners prefer an undersink unit. Renters tend to prefer a countertop system, since it is less expensive, easier to set up, and more portable when they move.
6) What does the system remove or reduce?
Insist on seeing the NSF certification. This is the industry standard. Go to NSF.org or look on the product website or speak to a knowledgeable distributor. Carefully read over the listing of contaminants reduced. Insist that the product has ACTUAL certification from NSF. Many companies try to do an end run around this procedure by going to some other independent labs, or by using the wording “tested by independent labs to NSF standards.”
7) What is the housing made of?
Stainless steel is obviously the best in terms of strength, reliability, structural integrity. Multipure has a line of stainless steel products. Most other companies use plastic housings which are more prone to breaking, leaking and maintenance difficulties in the future. Also, many folks are concerned about some of these plastics leaching into the water (if they are NSF certified, leaching is not a problem.)
8) What is the warrantee?
Once you choose a system, you want it to last. Multipure offers a lifetime warrantee on its housing. Many other companies offer 1-5 years, which is largely because they know that plastic housings have a limited lifetime.
9) What is involved in annual maintenance? What does that cost?
Many systems require filter changes every 6 months. With Multipure’s solid carbon block it is generally one year, which works out to about 9 cents a gallon. Reverse osmosis systems in general are much more complex and expensive to maintain, with multiple filters cartridges and variable service schedules.
10) How reliable is the company? Can you talk to a person?
Look for a company that has been around for a long time. You want to know that they will be there for you to order parts and replacement filters in the future. Multipure has been in business for 42 years. Its always good to deal with a person on the other end rather than buying blind over the internet. Talk to someone either on the phone or try to find a knowledgeable local dealer.