Clean, drinkable water is necessary for all life. Today, we're all trying to make healthier lifestyle choices for ourselves and our families. If you get your water from a private well, one way to ensure that you have a constant supply of clean water is by adding a filtration system to your home. One option for affordable water treatment is a Point-Of-Use (POU) filtration system. POU systems use a variety of different treatments from a simple filtered pitcher (like those made by Brita, or Pur) to more advanced technologies like UV light systems where water passes through a particular frequency of ultraviolet light that kills bacteria before being released from the tap.
Let's answer some frequently asked questions about point-of-use filtration systems.
What exactly is a point-of-use filtration system?
POU water treatment systems are designed to treat small amounts of water, specifically for drinking or cooking. The typical POU system can sit on the counter, attach to the faucet, be installed under the sink, or be completely portable like a pitcher system. Many “fixed” systems include a separate spigot located near the kitchen sink that dispenses filtered water specifically for consumption and cooking. POU systems employ some different treatment methods that are effective at removing some organic and inorganic contaminants.
What are the different types of POU systems available?
There are four types of POU systems that are typically used in the home. Each has its set of pros and cons, and all need some form of periodic maintenance to remain effective. The price point varies, but all are affordable and efficient at treating small quantities of water. They include:
Activated Carbon – Granular Activated Carbon is a commonly used water treatment because it's so effective. It removes organic compounds like benzene, trichloroethylene, and various other pesticides and petroleum related compounds. A Granular Activated Carbon system is easy to maintain using filter cartridges that need to be changed once or twice a year. Some finer filters can remove lead and microbiological contaminants. Most gravity drip pitchers use activated carbon filtration.
Distillation – One of the oldest forms of treatment, distillation removes minerals, most chemicals and bad tastes from tap water. Distillation uses a heat source to convert the water to vapor, then feeds the vapor into a condenser which cools it and converts it back to liquid form. Some distillation systems use AC filters to further remove contaminants. Distillation produces small amounts of water daily.
Reverse Osmosis – RO systems force water under pressure through a series of semipermeable membranes and then several filter steps. A pre-filter is used to capture larger molecules like chlorine, and then membranes to capture smaller contaminants. The water is then run through an AC filter to a storage tank. Reverse Osmosis systems typically produce 3 to 10 gallons of clean water per day.
Ultraviolet (UV) Light – UV systems are becoming more popular for home use. The treatment consists of water passing through a Ultraviolet light source which is at the precise wavelength needed to kill most microbes that may be present like bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoans, and cysts.
What about the maintenance of water treatment systems?
Point-of-use systems are relatively easy to maintain. Most use filter cartridges which are readily available and easily changeable. Filters need to be changed out one or two times a year and are relatively inexpensive. UV light systems require the light to be kept clean, and the light source needs to be changed periodically. Gravity drip pitchers also use cartridges but may need to be changed more frequently, about every two months.
How do I know which water treatment system is right for me?
The best way to determine which system best fits your needs is to have your water tested and analyzed before you purchase a system. Speak with your water professional and arrange to have your water tested. They can then analyze your results and recommend the perfect POU system to meet your needs.
Point-of-use systems offer affordable, effective water treatment for most homeowners. POU systems can provide your family with plenty of clean, pure water for drinking and cooking and can remove most contaminants. When choosing a system, make sure to not only consider the cost of the system, but also the ongoing costs of maintenance and operation.