If you have well water on your property, it’s necessary to have a potability test done periodically to ensure the safety of your drinking water. If your well test indicates issues with your water, then you have some choices to make on how to deal with it, depending on if the contamination is bacterial, algal, viral, fungal, or a particulate matter such as iron or manganese, or toxic ions such as arsenic, lead, mercury, nitrites or nitrates. Most of these well water issues can be solved with a well water purifier.
There are a few different types of well water purifier for home use:
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- Activated Charcoal Water Filter
Activated Charcoal Filters will absorb contaminents. This type of filter is best suited to the removal of organic compounds, such as bacterial and viral contaminants.
- Ultraviolet Water Filter
UV Filters kill bacterial and viral contaminants by passing water through an ultraviolet light source.
- Water Distillation System
Uses energy to boil the water and then uses a condensation system to catch and condense the steam, leaving the particulate and organic contamination behind.
- Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
Reverse Osmosis is the process of forcing water under pressure through a semi-permeable membrane, which allows the water to pass through but traps other particles such as bacteria and other organic contaminants, toxins, particulate matter and salts.
- Multi-stage Filtration System
Combines more than one of the common types of filtration, to solve more than one type of contaminant problem.
Once you have had your water analysed then you can determine the type of well water purifier will work best for you. As with most choices, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type of filtration system. For instance, distillation systems will give you very pure water with almost no organic or toxic contamination, but the energy costs to run a distillation system are quite high, and the water tends to have a flat taste, and lighter contaminants such as benzene will not be filtered out.
Balancing your purification needs with your budget, the size of the unit and the capacity you need to ensure adequate water supplies, and the choice between types of filtration that will work to filter out the contaminants that have been found in your water supply will allow you to make the best choice for your situation.
Activated Charcoal or Carbon Filtration System
95% of home water filtration systems are of the activated charcoal or carbon type of filtration system. Why? They’re easy to install, have a relatively low cost of use per gallon of potable water, and offer good performance at filtering out some of the most harmful contaminants, such as guardia and cryptosporidium. Even better, minerals in the water, which are beneficial for your health, are not filtered out. The filter itself is made of coconut husk, which is a renewable resource.
The disadvantage to carbon filtration is that the carbon or charcoal filter, though inexpensive and easy to replace, has to be replaced biannually and the filter has a tendency to clog up in areas with high sediment levels in the well water. The longer the filter is in place, the less effective it is. Also, these systems are susceptible to mold infestation if the system is left unused for a long period of time, so are unsuitable for a second home.
There are a few types of carbon filter systems. A carbon block system uses a solidified mass of carbon, and is the best at filtering out contaminants. However, carbon block systems have a very slow flow rate. Activated silver impregnated charcoal systems, also called chlorgon, adds bacterial killing abilities to the charcoal. When shopping for this type of system, look for systems that are rated for 1 micron and below, which will filter out cryptosporidium and guardia.
GE, Big Blue, and Watts are some of the companies which supply this type of filtration system.
Reverse Osmosis Filtration System
Reverse osmosis water filtration systems are starting to see more use, since they remove up to 99.9% of water contaminants.
The disadvantage to these systems is that they filter out good minerals as well as contaminants, much like distillation does. The result is a more acidic and tasteless water which, some health professionals argue, can be harmful to health over time. These filters are also slow, and there is some water waste, so they’re not practical in areas where water conservation is highly desirable, such as the desert areas in the southwestern US.
GE, EWS, and Tap Master are large manufacturers of these systems.
Ultra Violet Radiation System
A UV system uses Ultra Violet light to irradiate water passing through a glass element. This kills any living organism in the water that is irradiated.
The disadvantage to these systems is that they only work on organic contamination, and will not filter out nitrates, nitrites, arsenic, or other harmful non-organic solids. Also, when the element is starting to wear, the amount of irradiation lessens and the unit is less effective. Better units will incorporate an hour counter, so that replacement of the element can be performed on a regular basis to ensure effectiveness.
Watts and Millipore are manufacturers of UV systems.
Distilling water gives a very pure water with almost no contaminants.
The disadvantage is that the resulting water is tasteless, has none of its original and beneficial mineral content and the water is slightly acidic, which is not good for your health or your plumbing over a long period of time. Also, this type of system uses the most energy and the cost is prohibitive.
Multi-Stage Filtration System
There are some multi-stage systems which offer combinations of the above types of systems for a better overall performance, and a backstop if one stage fails. Some combine carbon filtration with UV irradiation, others combine carbon filtration with reverse osmosis. These systems, for obvious reasons, are usually more costly, but will also give you better performance and protection overall.