Do I Need a Water Filter?

If you’ve been reading about the possible contaminants in most pubic drinking water, you might be thinking about getting a water filter so you can have cleaner water in your home. But do you really need one?

Dirty Water Glasses and Filter
When you find that your water has a odd taste, smell or appearance (rusty or cloudy), then it will be rather obvious that you need to take some steps to improve the quality. But if you have water that seems “fine”, that is another matter.

First of all, you should have your water tested to really see what you are working with in the first place. All municipal systems are going to be different so you shouldn’t make any assumptions about your water. Any drinking water in the United States could have low levels of:

  • Chemical solvents
  • Fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides
  • Heavy metal residues
  • Traces of gasoline, diesel, other fuels
  • Biological waste
  • Many other chemical compounds

Though this is a scary list, these contaminants are all permitted in low concentrations by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can do a little research to see exactly what levels are allowed and what levels are considered to be “safe”. Since water supplies are monitored and regulated, you should expect that your water is below these levels. But of course, nothing is perfect which is why you should get some testing done to see for yourself.

The EPA website maintains a state-by-state listing of water certification offices, and they can direct you to labs that will test water for private citizens. Check with each office to see the proper procedure and if there are any costs associated with the tests. Once you get the results, you can start making water filter decisions. Not all filters operate the same way and they don’t all remove the same compounds from water.

A basic jug filter or simple tap filter will do wonders at removing sediments, rust and chlorine. But if you have further contaminants in your water, you will need to look a little larger in order to get a really effective water filter system. Check the specifications on multiple units to see what they all will remove from your water. It would be a shame to spend a few hundred dollars on a system that won’t actually help you with the particular contaminants you have to deal with.

You do need to be realistic about your expectations when considering the purchase of a water filter. Nothing will create a 100% clean and pure water supply for you, so you will have to come to accept some levels of contamination in your drinking water. Once you have it installed, it’s a good idea to get your water tested again in order to really see that an improvement is being made.