If you’re in an area where you need extra filtration for your water, a whole house filter is ideal. You won’t need to worry about additional time or gadgets: your H2O will be filtered before it reaches your faucet.
But with so many different models on the market, how do you know you’re choosing the right one? Start by checking out our reviews of seven of the best whole house water filters available today. Then take a look at our buying guide to help match them to your needs.
Aquasana’s whole house water filter system wouldn’t look out of place in the laboratory of some mad scientist. But the technology here is anything but nutty.
It consists of a million gallon Rhino tank, pre-filter and post-filter, and shut-off valves. Also included in the package are all the brass fittings and couplings you’ll need for installation.
Connect it up and you’ll have a system that will remove up to 97% of chlorine from your water. It will also take care of other contaminants like lead, mercury, and industrial solvents. This system won’t, however, affect the total dissolved solids in your water.
If your concern is the disinfectant chloramine, AquaSana makes a four-year chloramine filter which will get rid of that. There’s also a version designed specifically to filter well water.
The pre-filter prevents sediment from entering the system, and the design uses two tanks and up-flow filtration. This helps to prevent clogging. At the same time, it keeps the water in contact for longer with the media that extracts contaminants.
The filters and tanks are built to last – you can choose from models lasting between three and ten years.
And when the time comes to change them, it’s a simple task. The system comes with a Pro-Install kit that includes a by-pass switch. The switch allows you to replace the tanks without interrupting the water flow.
Maintenance is simple too. You won’t need to drain or back-flush the system. Just change the pre- and post-filters once every three months for the best performance.
There are also a range of optional extras. Choose the salt-free water conditioner to protect your pipes from a build-up of limescale. It will be a particularly valuable addition if you live in an area with hard water. Also available is a UV filtration system to protect against viruses and bacteria.
So far, so good – but there are a couple of things to bear in mind with this system.
The first is that installation is far from straightforward. We’d strongly recommend bringing in a professional. Take that cost into account when comparing prices with other systems.
The second is that there’s no weather protection here. You’ll need to install it in a space that’s heated so it stays working effectively when the temperatures drop.
Eliminates up to 97% of chlorine, as well as other contaminants
Long-lasting tanks with life cycles ranging from 3 to 10 years, depending on your chosen model
Range of optional extras to offer additional protection from UV rays and limescale
Installation is challenging – take into account the additional costs of hiring a professional
Express Water’s whole house system uses three stages of filtration to remove contaminants. Chlorine, iron, lead, mercury, arsenic, sediment, pesticides, solvents, and volatile organic compounds will all be eliminated. The result is better tasting water that won’t stain your clothes or toilet bowl.
The first filter catches sediment like sand, silt or rust. The outer layer attracts larger particles, while smaller ones are caught in the inner layer. This also means the filter lasts for longer before needing to be replaced.
The second filter captures heavy metals like iron, lead, arsenic, sulfur, and chloramines. It will also take care of algae, viruses, and fungi. It’s made of catalytic carbon, copper and zinc granules.
The final stage of filtration is an activated carbon block. This will remove chlorine, pesticides and other chemicals. It’s the key part of the process in terms of improving the taste of your water.
Every filter housing is connected using industrial quality high capacity flow connectors. And every connection is rated to handle up to a quarter of a gallon per second at 40-80 psi.
That means you’ll be able to cook, shower, wash up and use the lavatory all at the same time. And you’ll be able to do it without any drop in water quality or pressure.
Every part is made from 100 percent food-grade materials, and there’s a robust stainless steel frame. This allows it to be either mounted positioned on the ground. You’ll need a dry, level surface, and protection from direct sunlight and freezing temperatures.
The housing for the first filter is translucent, so you can see when it needs to be replaced. There’s a pressure gauge for each filter too, so it’s easy to monitor the system.
The filters can be used to treat up to 100,000 gallons, depending on the quality of the incoming water. Depending on your rate of use, they’re likely to last between six and twelve months.
When the time comes to change them, it’s pretty easy to do. The housings twist off and the filter will drop down. Just bear in mind that there’s no drain at the bottom. That means you’ll probably find there are some small spills to mop up.
Installation is fairly straightforward. The water can enter or leave at either end, but depending on your set up, it might take a bit longer to do. If you need help, there’s a support center available on weekdays.
Treats up to 100,000 gallons before filters need to be changed
Three-stage filtration for sediments, heavy metals, and drinkability
Pressure gauge on every filter makes monitoring the system easy
No drains on the bottom of the filters
Needs protection from direct sunlight or freezing temperatures.
If sediment is your problem, there’s no need to pay for a more complex system than you need. Culligan’s filter focuses on removing sediment and limescale. It’s a good option to prolong the life of appliances in hard water areas.
And if you have problems with rust staining toilet bowls and clogging sinks or showers, this is a great fix.
It uses one-inch stainless steel inlet and outlet connectors. The housing is certified against leaching contaminants into your water.
There’s a bypass shut-off valve to allow you to change the filter without interrupting the water supply. Water from the new cartridge won’t spray everywhere, though a small spill is unavoidable.
There’s also a battery operated filter timer to show when the filter needs to be changed. The light will flash red when it’s time to do it. You can also double check by taking a look at the filter through the clear housing.
The filters are a standard ten inches, so when it’s time to change them you’ll have plenty of choices.
The package also includes a housing wrench and mounting bracket. There’s an O-ring, but no spare is included. If you choose this filter, consider buying a spare O-ring at the same time. If yours is broken during installation, you’ll have water leaking everywhere while you wait for a replacement!
The filtered flow rate with this system is four gallons per minute.
One thing to bear in mind is that the by-pass handle is very hard to turn. We’ve heard of plenty of cases where people have resorted to using the wrench to move it. It will loosen up over time, but you’ll need to apply some elbow grease until then.
Great for dealing with limescale, rust and other sediments
Made from certified food-safe materials
Uses standard one-inch inlet and outlet connectors
Dupont’s system will filter up to 15,000 gallons of water before needing to be changed. It’s a good choice for either a home or office.
It comes with a universal 500 series poly block cartridge. That means that when those 15,000 gallons have been used up, it will be super-easy to fit a new filter.
It uses a polymer filter media to trap sediment, rust, and limescale. Any particle down to 10 microns in size will be caught and removed from your water. That’s a major boon for appliances, which won’t clog and malfunction.
If you’re concerned about the flavor of your water, though, you’ll need to buy a separate filter. There’s no activated carbon element here, so it won’t affect the taste much.
The housing is effective and inexpensive, though. There’d be nothing to stop you from reusing it with different filters.
We know some people who’ve bought three and replaced the filters in two of them to create a three-stage system. You could use the sediment filters as replacements for the first filter stage. And you’ll still be getting a very cost-effective system.
The flow rate is a healthy 5 gallons per minute. It will work with a range of water pressures, anywhere from 30 to 90 psi.
It needs to be kept to below 100 degrees Fahrenheit to work effectively. So if you’re in an area that gets hot summers, install it somewhere it will stay cool.
The inlets and outlets are three-quarters of an inch and it’s easy to install. It won’t restrict your water pressure either.
This is a pretty basic system. There’s no by-pass valve, and you won’t find a pressure gauge on the filter. But if you need those things, they can be bought separately and added in. It’s not difficult to do. And adding a by-pass valve will make life much easier when it comes to changing the filter.
Good quality housing
Buy more than one to create multi-stage filtration systems
Very competitively priced
If you want a by-pass valve, you’ll need to buy it separately
No pressure gauge – though again, you can buy one separately if you want it.
3M’s whole house system will work effectively with both mains and well water. Filters are available to remove sediment and limescale and improve drinkability. The resulting water will be just as good for your household appliances as it is for you and your family.
One of the real selling points with this one is just how easy it is to remove and replace the filter cartridges.
Simply unscrew the old cartridge from the housing and screw the new one into place. You can do the job by hand – there’s no need for a wrench. And you won’t ever have to touch the filter media, so it’s very hygienic.
The flow rate here is an impressive 20 gallons per minute. That’s enough to meet the needs of even large households. And it has minimal effect on the water pressure.
There’s a choice of filters depending on what you need. If you want to get rid of chlorine as well as sediment and particulates, choose the AP917HD-S. It will remove chlorine tastes and odors from up to 100,000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced.
That means less frequent changing of the cartridge. And it will save you money too.
The same cartridge will prevent limescale clogging up washing machines, dishwashers, and hot water tanks. We have, though, heard of some cases where the limescale reduction hasn’t been as significant as expected.
The stainless steel head is corrosion resistant for a long life. The filter uses one-inch inlet and outlet connectors, making professional installation straightforward.
The one major downside here is the price – it’s expensive. And if your water quality is very poor, you’ll find you need to replace the filter well before the 100,000-gallon point.
Handles both sediment and chlorine
High capacity – up to 20 gallons per minute with minimal impact on water pressure
If you hate the idea of changing water filters, Whirlpool’s system could be the one for you. It uses what Whirlpool call “Filter Sense Technology” to automatically flush the system every fourteen days. That greatly extends the life of the system.
It does, of course, use up some water to do this. Each system flush uses about 10 gallons. If you’re in an area with water shortages, or on a metered supply, this might not be the right choice.
So how long can you expect to go without changing the filter? Well, that depends on your water use. We know of customers who’ve had the same filter for eight years without changing it. For others, the lifespan is more like three or four.
All parts are certified by the National Sanitation Federation as being food-safe. That means you won’t have to worry that your filter is leaching chemicals as well as removing them!
It comes with a by-pass valve to avoid any drop in water pressure. Also included are three clips (one spare), a drain hose, two hose clamps, a grommet, and an adaptor elbow. And you’ll get a manual to help your plumber with installation.
It’s possible to install it outdoors too. But take note – if you live anywhere that doesn’t have a very mild climate, that will affect its lifespan. There’s a warranty of three years for the electrics, and five years on the tank. There’s also a one-year full warranty on parts and labor.
This is a surprisingly cost-effective solution, but there is a compromise. Unlike other filters that will remove particulates down to 10 microns, this will let through anything smaller than 40 microns. That’s still half the width of a human hair – but it won’t be rigorous enough for some contaminants
Automatic back flush prolongs system life
Possible to install outside – but protect it against extreme temperatures for longer life
By-pass valve avoids drops in water pressure
The back flush uses extra water – 10 gallons each time
Won’t remove particulates smaller than 40 microns.
If you’re looking for an economical two-stage filter system, check out this offering from iFilters. The cheapest on our list by a very long way, it’s small enough to be installed under your sink. It can also, however, be used as a whole house system.
The two stages here are sediment and chlorine odor and taste. The sediment filter is made of polypropylene and the chlorine filter of activated carbon. They will filter out any particles of five microns or larger. And all the parts are certified as being food-safe, so you can use it with confidence.
Both filters have clear housing so you can keep an eye on their condition. They connect to your pipework with a three-quarters of an inch NPT port. There’s also a quick-release button on the cap to help with speedy filter changes.
As with all filters, the lifespan will depend on the quality of your water. This isn’t the largest system, so you can expect to have to replace the filters more often. In average conditions, a cartridge will last for around six months. Bear that in mind when considering overall costs.
One other disadvantage with this system is that it has a relatively low flow rate – three gallons per minute. If you’re looking for a system to suit a household with high water use, this won’t be the right one.
But for small households looking for an economical filtration system, this is well worth considering.
Filters out both sediment and chlorine
Clear housing makes monitoring the filter condition easy
Quick-release buttons allow speedy filter changes
Low flow rate of 3 gallons per minute
Smaller filters will need to be changed roughly twice a year.
If you’re not sure which is the right filter for your circumstances, read on! There are three Cs to think about when you choose your whole house water filter…
Start by identifying the chemicals and particles you want to remove from your water. In an area with hard water, a filter that removes sediment and limescale will keep appliances working effectively for longer.
If you have a well, use a testing kit to identify what’s in your water. You may need a filter that can handle heavy metals like iron or arsenic.
And if you have city water, you may want a filter that can remove the odor and taste of chlorine.
Some whole-house systems specialize in one function, although you can usually add others separately. Others have a two or three-stage filtration system to cope with multiple issues.
Check the size of your pipework to make sure your chosen system will connect up easily. That will mean less work for your plumber, and less cost for you.
Most systems have one-inch connectors that will fit on standard pipework. Some have three-quarters of an inch instead. So measure up before you make your final choice.
Finally, ask yourself how much work you’re prepared to do to take care of your filtration system. Generally speaking, large filters will last longer but require you to spend more money upfront. Smaller ones will be cheaper but need to be changed more often – so may work out more expensive over time.
Look for features that will make the task of changing the filter easier. Filters that unscrew without the need for a wrench, quick-release buttons, and by-pass valves are all handy features.
And some systems even back flush themselves automatically to prolong filter life. Just remember that they’ll be using extra water with every flush, so they won’t be right for everyone.
Ready for pure water throughout your home?
That brings us to the end of our round-up of some of the best whole house water filters out there. We hope it’s helped you decide on the right choice for your home.
Our top pick is Dupont’s WFPF13003B. This simple one-filter system is cost-effective, well built and easy to install. Use one on its own, or connect up to others for high quality and economical multi-filtration system.
But if you need a filter to cope with high levels of water use, go for the 3M Aqua-Pure system. It’s pricey, but you’ll get excellent capacity and consistent water pressure.
Whichever system you choose, you’ll be confident in the quality of your water. And that’s definitely money well spent.