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Water is the lifeline of any home. Beyond drinking it, we use it to bathe, cook, and clean things like dishes and clothes. That makes having clean, quality water all the more important. Depending on the source of the water, it can contain various degrees of harmful contaminants like chemicals, sediments and organic matter. Even treated water sources from cities and towns might not be in the best condition.
This is where a home water filter system can be handy. These systems take the water that enters your home from a single source and treats it to remove these various harmful contaminants. When buying one, you should think about the source of your water and likely contaminants you may find. Some systems treat things like lead or iron better than others. For hard sediments like calcium, you will also want something with a built-in water softener using salt or a salt-free process. Finally, if you want to retain some of the healthy minerals in the water, keep an eye out for options with a remineralization process.
Here are the best whole house water filtration systems for your household.
Best Overall: Pelican PC600 Pelican Premium 10 GPM Whole House Carbon Water Filtration System
A long-lasting and effective whole house water filter, the Pelican PC600 is a 10 GPM whole home water filter with a 5-micron pre-filter for catching sediment and a carbon filter media that targets the most common sources of water contamination. A layer of bacteriostatic media inhibits the growth of bacteria within the unit. The 10 GPM flow rate and 1-inch ports are generally considered sufficient for the water flow demands of a household up to four people with two to three bathrooms. This system meets the NSF 42 standard for water filtration systems.
Carbon whole home water filters are considered particularly well suited for capturing chemicals and contaminants responsible for odors and sub-par taste. Activated carbon filters are the most commonly recognized water filtration media.
For this particular whole home water filter, the pre-filter requires semi-regular replacement (every six to nine months), but the carbon filtration media has a long-lasting service life of up to five years or 600,000 gallons. When it's time, you can replace the filter when it’s no longer viable instead of needing to replace your entire whole home water filter system.
“[Activated carbon filters] can remove a number of contaminants like mercury, disinfection byproducts, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), but there are a number of contaminants these filters cannot remove. Replacement of these filters on schedule is key to ensure they reduce contaminants as certified.”
Sydney Evans, a science analyst for the Environmental Working Group
Best Budget: GE GXWH04F Whole House Water Filtration System
For significantly less than many of the picks on this list, this budget whole home water filter will filter sand, sediment, and debris that would otherwise contaminant your water supply. While this single stage water filter only removes larger particles from the water, it’s an affordable option for improving the appearance and composition of your home’s water.
Reviewers frequently install this budget whole home water filter to reduce chlorine and sediment that might otherwise affect appliances, like a water softener or an icemaker. It also has satisfactorily eliminated visible particles, or "floaties" as one reviewer put it. These filters do need to be changed with a higher frequency than some other whole home water filters—the manufacturer estimates the lifespan for a filter to be about three months. The good news is that replacement filters are affordable, too.
Best for Easy Maintenance: 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filtration System
If you’re looking for a top whole home water filter that is effective and easy to maintain, it’s hard to beat the conveniences of the 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Quick Change Water Filter. This water filter meets NSF standard 42 and has a sediment filter to trap particles greater than 5 microns in size. The activated carbon media targets chlorine and other common contaminants, while also reducing scale that can affect appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, and more.
The biggest advantage to the 3M AP904 whole home water filter is its super simple filter replacement, thanks to a "sanitary quick change" feature. When it’s time to change the filter (after about 100,000 gallons, depending on water quality), simply unthread the canister and replace with a new filter tank. The filter easily clicks into place and there’s no leakage or chance for contamination. This is a big improvement when compared to some other whole home water filters that require wrenches, drip pans, and the potential for a wet mess as you wrestle one filter out and a new one into place.
However, keep in mind that this isn’t the most robust water filtration system on the market—it’s mainly targeted towards removing larger sediment particles and reducing chlorine to improve taste and odor. But if that’s your main objective for a water filtration system and you like easy filter changes, then this system is a great option.
Best for Well Water: iSpring WGB32BM Whole House Filtration System
The iSpring WGB32BM is one of the best whole home water filters, and is especially well-suited to handling the filtration needs of well water. This three-stage system uses a pre-filter to collect sediment like sand, dirt, and rust, which often infiltrate drinking water from underground wells. The second stage filter targets chlorine, VOCs, and other contaminants with a carbon block filter. Finally, to handle the specific needs of well water, the iSpring WGB32BM has a heavy metals filter that reduces iron, manganese, and other heavy metals often found in well water.
The first two stages have a filter life up to 100,000 gallons, but the heavy metal filter will need more frequent replacement—it's only rated for 50,000 gallons (depending on iron levels in your water supply). Reviewers that previously tried only a two-stage whole home water filter have been very satisfied with the performance of this iSpring model. Over and over, homeowners report that the sulfur smell and metallic taste of well water has been remedied with the iSpring WGB32BM.
Best with Water Softener: Pelican 15 GPM Whole House Water Filtration
If you want to filter your water and condition it at the same time, then look for a whole home water filter with water softener alternative, like the highly-rated Pelican PSE2000. Often referred to as a water conditioner, this system filters the most common contaminants from home water supplies, while also reducing water hardness. It meets NSF standards 42 and 61.
What sets the Pelican PSE2000 apart is the fact that it has been DVGW-certified to prevent 99.6 percent of scale—making it the only water softener alternative to do so. Traditional water softeners require salt, electricity, and longer contact times with water treatment. However, the Pelican PSE2000 uses special NaturSoft granules that never need replacing and soften water with only 5 seconds of contact. This makes for a system with excellent performance and far less maintenance than other water softeners.
In addition, this whole house water filter has four stages of filtration prior to softening your water for use. It filters sediments that can cause cloudiness and reduce filter life, then removes common contaminants with two carbon filters, and finally moderates the growth of bacteria and algae with a copper-zinc media filter. This system is rated for 15 GPM and with 1-inch port sizes, it won’t impact the flow rate or pressure of most homes.
Best for City Water: Home Master Whole House 2-Stage Water Filtration System with Multi Gradient Sediment
Municipal water treatment facilities generally add chloride or chloramines to sterilize water supplies. However, if you’re looking to improve the purity of your drinking water, a top priority is often removing chlorine, chloramides, and other contaminants. Chloramine is a residual disinfectant that can be more difficult to remove from the water, but this whole home water filter is equipped with KDF85 filtration media and catalytic carbon to remove both chlorine and chloramides. It also proves to be a superior filter for hydrogen sulfide, which can give water an unpleasant taste and odor.
If you have city water that is treated with chloramines, then this whole home water filter is the best option. Even if you have city water treated with chlorine, the addition of KDF85 media is said to extend the life of the of the carbon filter media. Additionally, the first stage of this water filter system is a multi-gradient sediment filter that traps particles in four layers—25, 10, 5 and 1 microns. You can plan to change the filters on an annual basis, or after filtering up to 95,000 gallons of water.
Best for Heavy Metals: Express Water Heavy Metal Whole House Water Filter
If you’re specifically shopping for a whole home water filter to tackle heavy metals, this three-stage system from Express Water is the specialty system you may be looking for. Water filters through the sediment stage to shed contaminants like sand, rust particles, and dirt. Then, the KDF filter media in stage two takes on heavy metals like iron, lead, mercury, and aluminum. It also removes chloramine, hydrogen sulfide, and arsenic. Finally, the activated carbon filter in stage three captures chemicals like chlorine, pesticides, and trace pharmaceuticals. It’s a great option if your water has a high iron content or older plumbing in your house has led to the presence of rust in your water.
Reviewers rave about the improved taste of drinking water with this whole home water filter. One person said that their water, which used to taste like pennies, now tastes great. Just keep in mind that this whole home water filter takes up considerable room—each of the three canisters is about 18-inches tall with a 5- to 6-inch diameter.
Why Trust The Spruce?
For this roundup, we interviewed Sydney Evans, a science analyst for the Environmental Working Group, for background information on the different types of water filters, what they do differently, and how to pick the right one.