If you live in a developed country, you likely have access to all the fresh, clean water you need. Or do you?
In the U.S., more than 25 million people drink water from systems that don't meet federal health standards. In many cases, people drink water with dangerous levels of contaminants.
Avoiding water-borne illnesses using a freestanding water filtration system is relatively easy. However, purchasing the correct system is vital to ensure the highest quality of drinking water.
This article will help you explore your options. Read on to learn about ten consumer water filter buying mistakes every day.
Skipping the Water Test
Some people jump on the water quality bandwagon without knowing anything about the water flowing from their taps.
Maybe they're lured in by the marketing efforts of one of the more well-known water filter brands. Or they know their water doesn't taste right, and they assume any filter will make their drinking water taste better.
Not testing the tap water is a mistake that could cost money and health.
When considering options for water filters, it's essential to know that not all filters do the same job. One category of water filter types removes sediment from water. The other filters harmful contaminants such as lead, arsenic, bacteria, and viruses.
Before determining what filter to buy, it's helpful to know what you need to remove from your water.
The only way to find out is to perform water testing. Then you can look for a filter that targets your specific needs. You can take a simple water quality quiz here.
Failing to Research Performance Data
You're buying a water filter to eliminate toxins and harmful contaminants. How can you be sure a specific product will pass the test?
One of the best ways to ensure that you're purchasing a water filtration system that lives up to its claims is to review its performance data.
Not all water filtration companies make it easy to access performance data. The ones worth your time and investment will publish the data so that consumers can see precisely how well their water filters work.
Here are a few points to look for when looking at water filter performance data:
- Contaminants found in the tested water
- Contaminant levels before and after filtration
- Testing by an independent third party
- Testing should comply with NSF standards
The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF International) is an independent research organization. Their mission is to test products for compliance with public health standards.
Be cautious about buying from water filter brands that don't offer performance data results.
Relying Solely on a Pitcher Water Filter
Water filter pitchers may do a decent job of removing particles that affect the taste of tap water, but not all filter out the most dangerous contaminants to human health.
Most basic pitcher filters don't remove lead—a contaminant found at unsafe levels in the drinking water from many U.S. cities. Exposure to lead can cause brain damage in children.
What about forever chemicals such as PFAS?
These chemicals are difficult to break down. They not only cause environmental problems, but they also impact human health. Water filter pitchers—and most other water filters—aren't certified to eliminate these substances.
Failing to Research Filtration Technology
Not all filters use the same filtration methods. Knowing your options for water filters helps determine which type of filter best meets your needs.
To understand water filtration technology, you don't need to be a scientist. Freestanding water filters for home use usually rely on one of these filtration technologies:
- Reverse osmosis
If you cannot find enough information while doing online research, speak with a knowledgeable customer service specialist who handles the brands you're interested in buying.
Believing Misleading Claims
Water filter buying mistakes that are easy to make are those made when reading a brand's marketing materials. Most brands employ sharp copywriters to make their products stand out in the crowd. The claims made in an advertisement may or may not be entirely accurate.
One misleading claim states that the filter removes 99.9999% of bacteria. Another claims to remove 100% of detectable dissolved solids. Yet another brand claimed their water filters were manufactured in the U.S. when they weren't.
You can avoid buying a filter based on misleading claims by doing what you read in the previous section—learning everything you can about filtration technology. Then, look for scientific data to back up what brands say about their filters.
Do Not Buy Knock-Off Filters
Take care when replacing water filters. Nearly all freestanding water filtration systems use replaceable filters, also called elements. This is because the filters wear out after processing several thousand gallons of water.
Most reliable brands recommend consumers buy the filter made specifically for their products. However, in some cases, replacement filters are interchangeable.
Buying a knock-off filter to save money usually backfires. Companies that manufacture these filters use deceptive advertising to make consumers think they're buying a filter similar to the one they're replacing.
Unfortunately, there's a high risk of buying a knock-off that an independent testing facility hasn't tested. The knock-off likely won't remove contaminants at the level you need to protect your health.
Ordering the Wrong Size
Water filter manufacturers often offer multiple-size units ranging from one quart to six gallons. Several factors help determine which size best suits your needs.
First, determine how many people live in your household. A lower-capacity filter should work if it's only you and one other person.
Next, consider the space you have available to devote to a water filter system.
In a large kitchen with ample counter space, a six-gallon filter won't overwhelm you. However, counter space is likely limited if you want to use a water filter in an RV so a smaller-capacity filter will work much better.
Ordering the wrong size filter could mean you won't have enough water to keep everyone in the household hydrated.
Only Relying on Personal Recommendations
Most people still rely on word-of-mouth when shopping for household products, including water filters. While there's nothing wrong with listening to personal opinions, you'll want to back up the views with data.
A friend's recommendations make a good starting place. You may even have a chance to see how their preferred water filter works and taste the water.
It's still essential to do your own research before purchasing. That way, you can determine whether or not a brand can back up the claims made by a friend.
Not Understanding Filter Maintenance
All water filters need regular maintenance. Otherwise, you may start to notice an off-taste in your filtered water.
The most popular freestanding filters require monthly cleaning. Cleaning entails disassembling the unit and washing the water containers in warm soapy water. You'll also clean the spigot and small parts.
If you buy a stainless steel system, it's possible to clean the outside with a solution of vinegar and water. This keeps the exterior looking shiny.
You'll wash the filter elements every 3-6 months. Most brands recommend using a scrubbing pad and cool water. The pad helps remove surface pores that can interfere with water flow.
After washing, you'll prime the filters. Use the instructions that come with your filter to determine the correct way to prepare the filters for use.
Routine maintenance extends the life span and also helps maximize the flow rate. Remember that no filter element lasts forever, and you'll eventually need a replacement.
Choosing Price Over Quality
Savvy consumers always look for ways to buy quality products at the most economical price. Comparing water filter costs is a critical step in buying, but the price isn't the only thing to consider.
A lower price may or may not impact quality. And just because a specific brand comes with a higher price tag doesn't mean higher quality.
Instead of focusing only on the cost, pay close attention to the water filter features offered by each brand. You may discover that paying slightly more for one brand over another means buying a water filter that offers most, if not all, of the features that are important to you.
Buying a lower-price and lower-quality filter could mean poor performance. It might also result in the need to replace filter elements more often than you'd like.
No More Water Filter Buying Mistakes
Buying a water filter shouldn't cause stress or overwhelm. It's not that complicated.
You'll feel satisfied with your purchase when you know how to avoid water filter buying mistakes—such as buying the wrong size, forgetting to learn about water filter technology, or studying each brand's performance data. You'll also take the necessary steps to ensure high-quality drinking water for your household.
The Berkey Clean Water experts want to ensure you buy the best water filters available today. We make placing an order for your new water filtration system easy. Order online today or contact us at 1-800-392-3321.