Before Buying Water Filters Review Your Towns CCR
Whether you receive your water from a municipal water department or a private well, water quality is crucial. For homeowners who own a home with a private water source, the EPA recommends annual testing. This is your responsibility as the homeowner.
After your water is tested, the lab will present you with a report outlining their findings. This is called a water quality report. For homeowners who receive their water from a municipal water system, the local water department will issue an annual report called a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR). While these reports are slightly different in format, they both contain the same information and understanding the results is important!
What Exactly Is A CCR / Water Quality Report?
These reports provide a snapshot of water quality in a specific location and offer detailed data about any contaminants that have are present including the levels detected and how they compare to the recommended levels outlined in the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) drinking water regulations.
The EPA requires municipal water systems to provide a CCR report to consumers receiving water from those systems annually, typically around July 1st. If you are a homeowner with a private well, it is suggested, (but not legally required) that you test your water annually for a range of contaminants including heavy metals like arsenic and lead, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), nitrates, nitrites, and other manmade and naturally occurring contaminants that may be found in your local water supply. Your well water professional can help you to determine which tests you should have done.
While most contaminants levels generally do not exceed the EPA's public health limits and are not present at levels that are known to cause health-related issues, understanding the quality of your water is useful information. Even if contaminants are present in levels below the EPA guidelines, it is sometimes a good idea to consider a water treatment system to ensure that your water is free of any potential threats and healthy.
Knowing the contaminants present, and the levels of contamination is a critical consideration when choosing the proper treatment options. The independent public health and safety organization the NSF, publishes a list of common contaminants that may be present in drinking water, along with recommended treatment option. You can find the NSF Contaminant Guide here.
Water Filters and Treatment Systems
When it comes to treatment options, not all filters are created equal! Different water filters and treatment systems are designed to address different contaminants. No single treatment option can remove every type of contaminant. Some are designed to make your water taste better, while others are designed to filter out harmful chemicals or bacteria.
There are many different types of water filters, systems and treatment options available and choosing the right one can be confusing. Here are a few factors to consider when shopping for water filters or treatment systems.
• Look for NSF Ratings
The NSF is an independent organization that develops public health standards for products. One way to check if a water filter meets your needs to look for NSF Certification. You can check specific products on their database and see exactly what they are certified to protect against.
• Check the Pore Size
The pore size of a filtration system is the tiny holes in the filter that allow water through. The smaller the pore size, the smaller the contaminants they keep out. For example, if a filter has an “absolute” pore size of 1 micron (the average strand of hair is 100 microns wide), that means every hole is 1 micron or smaller so contaminants that are larger than 1 micron, like cryptosporidium are captured by the filter. If a filter has a “nominal” or “mean” pore size of 1 micron, some of the holes are larger than 1 micron and contaminants like cryptosporidium can pass through.
• Know Your Water Source
This is where the CCR and Water Quality Report comes into play. You need to identify potential hazards and any contaminants present in order to choose the correct treatment option.
• Water Testing - Know Why You're Considering Treatment
There are other reasons for choosing a water treatment system or water filter. If your water is free from harmful contaminants, but you are unhappy about how it tastes (for example a heavy chlorine taste) activated charcoal water filters can remove the unpleasant taste or odor. Reverse osmosis systems can also remove unpleasant taste and odor, as well as protect against common naturally occurring elements like lead, and arsenic.
• Consider your Lifestyle Needs and Budget
Determining the correct treatment option depends on your needs, lifestyle, and budget. No filter can remove all contaminants, but sometimes using a combination of systems can come close. For example combining a point of use reverse osmosis system with point of entry activated charcoal filtration, and UV light treatment can effectively remove natural contaminants like viruses, bacteria, and cysts, along with metals, some VOCs and organic contaminants.
Water filters and treatment systems can vary widely in cost, with simple filtration systems costing well under $100 to whole house systems that can cost well over $1000! You will also need to take into consideration the cost of installation as well as the ease of maintenance and ongoing costs, like filter replacement.
At Skillings and Sons, we can help you to choose the most efficient system to meet your needs. We offer a wide variety of water filters and treatment systems and are experts at installing whole house and point of use water treatment systems. If you're considering a water treatment option, give us a call. We'll analyze your test results and recommend the perfect system to fit your lifestyle and budget.