The 8 Best Whole-house Water Filters of 2022

The Express Water 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System is our top pick

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GE Water Filter System

The Spruce / Jay Wilde

A clean, healthy water supply is the lifeline of every home. However, depending on the source, your supply could contain various impurities—including heavy metals, sediment, bacteria, viruses, and high amounts of chemicals like chlorine and hydrogen sulfide. If your water tastes bad, smells weird, has a strange color, contains visible particles, looks suspiciously cloudy, or is staining your clothes or dishes, a whole-house water filter can take care of the problem. Water filter systems use various filtration methods, such as fine physical barriers, KDF (kinetic degradation fluxion), carbon, and UV light. After installing one, your home's water supply is treated in one place to remove the contaminants in question, before it makes its way through each pipe and into every faucet.

When purchasing a whole-house water filter for your home, it's important to consider several factors: flow rate, which is an indication of how quickly the water will pass through the system and to your desired location, and maintenance requirements, like how often the system needs its filter replaced and whether you have to dismantle the entire unit when doing so. It's also key to remember that a long-lasting whole-house water filter is going to be as expensive as a new, not-so budget-friendly refrigerator—upward of $2,000 or more, according to Richard Epstein, licensed master plumber and member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board. Calling in a professional to help you understand your options and what will work best for you is essential.

You'll want to make sure the system is designed to filter the specific impurities lurking in your tap water. If you're not sure what's contaminating your supply, or you're simply looking into the whole-house water filters available to you, Epstein says, "It's best to have the water tested by a certified lab or consultant, as well as a comprehensive review of appliances and fixtures, in determining what will work best. This will help determine your needs for whole-house filtering and point-of-use needs." He adds that "whole-house filtering doesn't necessarily mean drinking grade water at every location, as this can get expensive."

You can test your water by providing a sample to a state-certified laboratory. It's best to contact your local health department or the laboratory to ensure you're capturing the samples properly and don't need assistance. After the results come back, you can decide which whole-house water filter will work best for your needs, alongside a professional who can also help you install it.

We researched some of the finest filtration systems for every concern, home size, and budget, taking into account filtration method, flow rate, maintenance requirements, and effectiveness. Our top pick, the Express Water 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System, works to remove contaminants via three filtration methods and doesn't require a full dismantling to change the filter. While we love that it has simple maintenance requirements and is backed by a one-year warranty, remember that you'll find the best option for your home and needs by consulting a professional first.

Here, some of the best whole-house water filters for every household.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Express Water WH300SCKS 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

4.3
3 Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Deodorizes water supply

  • Simple maintenance requirements

  • One-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't filter bacteria or viruses

  • Can be very leaky

Who else recommends it? Bob Vila also picked the Express Water Whole House Water Filtration System.

What do buyers say? 91% of 700+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.

The best filter for your home ultimately depends on what's contaminating your supply. Having said that, the Express Water WH300SCKS 3-Stage Filtration System addresses a long list of contaminants—including lead and organic matter—making it an effective option for a variety of households. With this system, your water will pass through a sediment filter first, which takes care of small particles and organic matter. Next, the KDF filter removes trace heavy metals, including lead, iron, mercury, and copper. Lastly, your supply is deodorized with the activated carbon filter to improve its taste and smell. The carbon also reduces chlorine levels and takes care of turbidity, which is the clarity of your water.

The only thing this whole-home filtration system doesn't remove is bacteria and viruses. It can also be quite leaky, since some parts that connect to your plumbing are made of plastic and not as durable. However, this system otherwise has a sturdy, stainless steel construction that'll last for years to come. Replace the filter for each of the three stages every six months or so, but know it's easy to do without dismantling the system.

Number of Stages: 3 | Flow Rate: 15 GPM | Dimensions: 29 x 23.5 x 8.5 inches | Filtration Method: Activated carbon, sediment, and KDF

Best Budget: GE GXWH40L High Flow Whole House Water Filtration System

High Flow Whole House Water Filtration System
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Improves taste and smell

  • Easy to install

What We Don't Like
  • Filters must be replaced frequently

  • Doesn't remove heavy metals or bacteria

GE's single-stage High Flow Filtration System (model GXWH40L) is as budget-friendly as it gets when it comes to whole-house water filters, but it's also effective at eliminating sediment, chlorine, and rust.

It uses GAC (granular activated carbon) and a sediment filter to get rid of particles while improving the color, taste, and smell of your tap water. We also like that it's easy to install. While this whole-house filtration system is much more affordable than others in its category, one thing to note is that you'll need to buy replacement filters every three months or so. Typically, budget-friendly systems aren't made to last either, so you may want to splurge on a more expensive system for less worries (and water impurities) going forward.

Number of Stages: 1 | Flow Rate: 10 GPM | Dimensions: 15.25 x 9.75 x 8 inches | Filtration Method: GAC, sediment

Best Splurge: Pentair PSE1800-P Whole House Filtration System with NaturSoft Water Softener

Whole House Filtration System with NaturSoft Water Softener
Courtesy of Amazon.
What We Like
  • Improves taste and smell

  • Removes 99.9 percent of bacteria

  • Includes water softener

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't remove heavy metals

If you're working with a higher budget, you may consider this whole-house filter from Pentair (model PSE1800-P)—which actually is in line with what Epstein says you can expect to spend on a long-lasting whole-house filter. The single-stage system boasts four filtration methods, including a physical sediment filter, GAC, coconut-shell carbon, sand, and ultraviolet light.

Not only does it get rid of particulate matter and improve the taste and smell of your water, but it also promises to eliminate 99.9 percent of bacteria. What's more, the included water softener prevents scale buildup and gets rid of the distinct hard water smell without removing minerals that actually benefit your health, like calcium, sodium, potassium, and magnesium.

Number of Stages: 1 | Flow Rate: 7 GPM | Dimensions: 48 x 12 x 12 inches | Filtration Method: UV, sediment, GAC, coconut-shell carbon, sand

Best for City Water: Pelican Water PUV-14 Whole House Water Treatment and Disinfection System

Whole House Water Treatment and Disinfection System

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Kills 99.9 percent of germs

  • Long-lasting filter

  • 10-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't remove heavy metals

  • Doesn't remove sediment

If your home uses municipal water, we recommend the Pelican PUV-14 Treatment and Disinfection System. According to the manufacturer, it uses powerful ultraviolet light to eliminate 99.9 percent of harmful microorganisms. This includes viruses, fungi, waterborne pathogens, and bacteria, such as E. coli, cryptosporidium, and giardia.

Not only that, but the UV filter lasts an entire year, and the system itself uses about the same amount of energy as a low-watt light bulb. One thing to note is that the Pelican Disinfection System doesn't get rid of heavy metals or sediments.

Number of Stages: 1 | Flow Rate: 14 GPM | Dimensions: 23.5 x 3.5 x 3.5 inches | Filtration Method: UV

Best for Lead: APEC Water Systems CB3-SED-KDF-CAB20-BB 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

3-Stage 15-GPM Whole House Water Filtration System

Amazon

What We Like
  • Filters lead and iron

  • Improves taste and smell

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't remove bacteria

You can't taste, smell, or see lead in drinking water. But if this heavy metal has been detected in your supply, the APEC 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System (model CB3-SED-KDF-CAB20-BB) is a solid solution.

After removing sediment, rust, and VOCs with an ultrafine pleated barrier, it captures lead, iron, and other heavy metals with a KDF filter. Finally, your water will pass through a carbon filter, which takes on hydrogen sulfide and chlorine to help leave you with crisp, clean water. This APEC system can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water before needing to change the cartridges.

Number of Stages: 3 | Flow Rate: 15 GPM | Dimensions: 20 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches | Filtration Method: Sediment, KDF, carbon

Best for Chlorine: A.O. Smith AO-WH-FILTER Single-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

Single-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

Lowe's

What We Like
  • Six-year warranty

  • Improves taste and smell

  • Compatible add-ons

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't filter sediment

  • Doesn't filter bacteria

For households dealing with the unpleasant smell and taste of chlorine, we suggest the A.O. Smith Single-Stage Water Filtration System (model AO-WH-FILTER). Thanks to its advanced granular activated carbon filter, it claims to remove 97 percent of the odor for a full six years.

This water filter also reduces mercury levels and eliminates turbidity, leaving you with crystal-clear H2O. While it won't get rid of particles or pathogens, it's compatible with various add-ons, including A.O. Smith's sediment filter, a UV sterilizer, and a whole-house descaler.

Number of Stages: 1 | Flow Rate: 7 GPM | Dimensions: 26 x 8.5 x 8.5 inches | Filtration Method: GAC

Best for Well Water: iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System

iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Big Blue Water Filter Triple-stage 15-GPM Mechanical Filtration Whole House Water Filtration System

 Home Depot

What We Like
  • Reasonably priced

  • Filters most common contaminants

  • Improves taste and smell

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't filter lead

The best option for filtering well water is the iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage Filtration System. It uses robust carbon and sediment filters to eliminate organic particles often found in underground wells, like dirt, sand, and rust.

This whole-house water filter also tackles chlorine and VOCs (volatile organic compounds), along with hydrogen sulfide, to remove the icky sulfur smell. While it's not designed to get rid of lead, the iSpring targets other heavy metals like iron and manganese. It also comes with a one-year limited warranty and lifetime technical support.

Number of Stages: 3 | Flow Rate: 15 GPM | Dimensions: 24.25 x 7.75 x 27.75 inches | Filtration Method: Coconut-shell carbon, sediment

Best with Water Softener: Pelican Water PRC-5 5-Stage Whole House Water Filtration with NaturSoft Water Softener

Triple-Stage Whole House Water Filtration with NaturSoft Water Softener

Home Depot

What We Like
  • Includes water softener

  • Improves taste, smell, and color

  • Five-year warranty

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't remove heavy metals

Hard water at home? Your best bet is this water filter-softener combo from Pelican (model PRC-5). The five-stage filtration system first captures sediment and particulates, then eliminates chlorine and chloramines with activated carbon.

While it doesn't specifically kill bacteria, the bacteriostatic media stops microorganisms from growing. More to the point, the included NaturSoft feature softens your water supply while treating scale buildup in your plumbing, faucets, and appliances without adding any harsh chemicals.

Number of Stages: 5 | Flow Rate: 15 GPM | Dimensions: 59.5 x 19 x 19 inches | Filtration Method: Sediment, GAC, bacteriostatic

Final Verdict

The best whole-house water filter is the Express Water 3-Stage Water Filtration System. This comprehensive solution calls on activated carbon, KDF, and a sediment filter to eliminate chlorine, particulate matter, cloudiness, and multiple heavy metals, including lead. A more expensive option for your home is the Pentair Whole House Filtration System with NaturSoft Water Softener that helps eliminate that distinct hard water smell and bacteria.

What to Look for in a Whole-House Water Filter

Contaminants Filtered

As Richard Epstein, licensed master plumber and member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board, notes, it's best to have your water tested before purchasing a whole-house water filter, as filtration systems vary in terms of what contaminants they eliminate. Some of the most common impurities include chlorine and hydrogen sulfide, which can affect the taste and smell.

There are also substances that can pose a health risk, such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other waterborne pathogens, along with heavy metals like lead, iron, mercury, and copper. Lastly, most (but not all) water filtration systems capture particulate matter, like sediment, sand, dirt, and rust.

Flow Rate

Flow rates for water filtration systems are measured by gallons per minute (GPM). Generally speaking, slower flow rates are better, as they allow more contact time with the screening media, thus removing more impurities.

The right flow rate for filtering your water supply can also be determined by the size of your household. For instance, if there are two people living in a home with one bathroom, a flow rate of up to 7 GPM is ideal. However, households with five or more people and three or more bathrooms will likely require a faster flow rate of around 15 GPM.

Required Maintenance

After initial installation, most whole-house water filtration systems are relatively easy to maintain. The most important thing is that you change the filters regularly. Be sure to check the manual, as some need to be replaced as often as every three months, whereas others can last an entire year.

Since every model is unique, you may want to look for an option that doesn't require dismantling every time you replace the filters. And just like your other HVAC systems, you're wise to have your water filter serviced by a professional at least once a year.

FAQ
  • Are whole-house water filters worth it?

    While many models are in the $500 range, Epstein notes, "A good whole-house water filter can cost you $2,000 or higher, depending on the degree of filtering." For many homes, water filters are well worth the investment.

    To determine whether it's a worthwhile purchase, Epstein says to consider your immediate needs. "Are you drinking or consuming high levels of tap water? Is the water discolored? Does the water smell? Are there high particle levels?" Answering these questions can illuminate the urgency and need for a filtration system in your home.

  • Do whole-house water filters remove lead?

    Some whole-house water filters remove lead and other heavy metals like mercury, iron, copper, manganese, chromium, and arsenic. However, not all systems are designed to eliminate lead, even if they can filter other heavy metals, so be sure to check the product description before purchasing one.

    If there is lead in your water supply, Epstein recommends getting a reverse osmosis system that meets NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) certification standards. Whole-home water filters with kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) media can also be effective in removing lead.

  • Where are whole-house water filters installed?

    "They are usually installed where the water service enters the dwelling in order to filter all the domestic water," explains Epstein. Your main water shut-off valve is likely somewhere on the perimeter of your house, such as in your garage, basement, utility room, or potentially the basement. Additionally, Epstein says power is typically required, and "drainage may be required for automatic washdown of the filter."

  • How long do whole-house water filters last?

    While it depends on the capacity and the size of your home, the tanks of most whole-house water filtration systems last anywhere from three to 10 years. Some high-end ones can last as long as 20 years.

    The filters, however, don't last very long and need to be replaced regularly. Sediment and carbon filters usually need to be switched out every three to six months, and UV water filters typically last about a year. KDF media can last for much longer, often upwards of six years.

Why Trust The Spruce?

This article was written by Theresa Holland, a copyeditor and commerce writer specializing in home improvement and lifestyle. Theresa has contributed to The Spruce since 2019 by writing full product reviews and covering HVAC, cleaning essentials, appliances, and kitchenware.

For this guide, she interviewed Richard Epstein, licensed master plumber and member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board for insight into contaminants, safety concerns, and types of filters. Before landing on her final selections, she researched the potential health risks of impure water and treatment certification standards, considering dozens of models from various manufacturers and retailers.