There are many types and sizes of filters available to address the various types of potential water quality issues experienced with Cambridge town water or private wells. There are cartridge style water filters and whole house water filters which will be reviewed in the balance of this write-up. Both matching the right technology and sizing the system to meet the water usage demands of your home are critical to selecting the best approach for your situation. Additionally, a professionally plumbed system is paramount as well as maintenance of the system throughout the years to optimize the useful life and proper functioning of your new water filtration equipment.
WATER FILTER CARTRIDGES
There are various types and sizes of water filter cartridges with differentiating features relating to what you are trying to mechanically remove from the water. These filters do not work on removing dissolved impurities from the water as other technologies must be used for this purpose (see section below on Whole House, Point of Entry Filters).
SEDIMENT WATER FILTER CARTRIDGES, as their name implies, are for removing sediment (particulate matter) from the water supply. The key characteristics relate to the micron rating of the filter designed to remove particles at or greater than a specified size and also capacity in terms of how long the sediment filter will work before it is no longer able to remove sediment. Specifying a micron rating that is too small for installation at the water’s point of entry into your home, for example, may cause an unacceptable drop in water pressure. Specifying a micron rating that is not small enough may produce less than optimal results in keeping sediment out of your water supply.
SEDIMENT FILTERS ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE sediment can be abrasive to all of your water using appliances and can also negatively affect other types of water filtration or water softening equipment that you may have installed or are planning to install in your home or other facility. Removing sediment is also a good step in providing better drinking water, although not the only step if a higher level of purity is desired. For more on high quality drinking water, see the link at http://reverse-osmosis-purification/.
CARBON WATER FILTER CARTRIDGES use activated carbon to remove chemicals (such as chlorine, volatile organics and others) and some bad tastes and odors from water. Carbon filters are also components of reverse osmosis purification systems to remove chlorine from water prior to flowing to the systems’ membrane which can be negatively affected by the chlorine. Water passes through activated carbon, which is porous, trapping certain particles that are attracted to the porous material in a process known as adsorption. At some point, adsorption capacity is exceeded and the filter must be changed. As with sediment water filters, the micron rating and size of the filter must be matched to the specific situation.
There are also other types of water filter cartridges for very specific purposes such as pH neutralizing, pipe protection and others.
WHOLE HOUSE, POINT OF ENTRY WATER FILTERS
A water softener is a type of whole house water filtration system that is designed for removing hard water minerals (magnesium & calcium) as well as dissolved iron and manganese from the water. For water with high levels of iron or manganese (“the stainers”), an “up-flow” water softener is recommended to prevent mineral build-up in the bottom of the water softener. Also, high efficiency water softeners that are more efficient with both water and salt usage are preferred.
WHOLE HOUSE, BACKWASHABLE (Self Cleaning) SYSTEMS
In situations where there is high water usage and the use of cartridge filters doesn’t make sense, a point of entry system may be the solution. These systems do not require the frequency of change-outs that cartridge filters do and have the ability to automatically clean themselves, extending the life of the media inside the tank. Another example would be if your town supplied water is high in chlorine and you wish to eliminate it from your water supply, a point of entry carbon water filter will have enough capacity to last much longer and also remove more of the chlorine due to longer “contact time” that the water has with the filter.
In addition to the above systems described, there are many other types of systems to remove bad tastes & odors, sediment and many other objectionable minerals and contaminants in the water. Starting with a water test will dictate the right approach. For more information on common bad odors & tastes in New England water supplies, see the link at http://bad-odor-taste-water/.