Water filter opinions?

Posted by: CV

Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 12:20 AM

My friend, Cari, wanted me to ask this great pool of knowledge if any of you have opinions on a good water filter (for drinking water). The aunt she lives with wants to buy one, so she thought it would be nice to hose her aunt down with an informed opinion. I may have worded that differently than she did. Anyone?
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 01:58 AM

What kind? Under the sink, refrigerator pitcher, or on-faucet filter?
Posted by: CV

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:04 AM

Cari says under the sink and on-faucet.
Posted by: HomeDad

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:52 AM

I use a GE Smart Water filtration system under the sink in the kitchen. They are pretty cheap and easy to install. I'm sure most systems do about the same thing, most have different types of filters you can put in depending on how much filtration you need.
Posted by: Murph

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 07:40 AM

Nice work on the puns. Wait, Booooo!
heh heh, kidding.

Actually, I can't even help much. I live in the country and have my own well. Nothing but icy cold, clean, untreated water comes out of our taps.

We get it tested every year, mainly for for nitrate levels from farming, but we have never had anything but the best test results.
Posted by: SirQuack

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 08:17 AM

CV, why does her aunt believe she needs one? Most water treatment plants these days fully treat the water and in the many articles I've read there is very little difference in lab tests between tap and treated tap water.

With that said, my wife does use a Britta pitcher with filter in it that we keep in the fridge with cold water. However, I drink right out of the tap. Some nitrates and things are good for you.
Posted by: pmbuko

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 08:19 AM

For many people, filtering is a matter of taste more than a matter of removing perceived nasties.
Posted by: Murph

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 08:23 AM

 Originally Posted By: sirquack
CV, why does her aunt believe she needs one? Most water treatment plants these days fully treat the water and in the many articles I've read there is very little difference in lab tests between tap and treated tap water.

With that said, my wife does use a Britta pitcher with filter in it that we keep in the fridge with cold water. However, I drink right out of the tap. Some nitrates and things are good for you.


I'd guess her concern is taste. As per my post above, I'm so used to untreated water that I simply can't drink the tap water here at work or in hotels or anywhere treated for that matter. Just like in a swimming pool, my bodies natural reaction to the taste of chlorine is to spit it out.

I'm glad they treat water in the cities, but when I travel, it's bottled for me.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 09:25 AM

I have had a Whirlpool Ultraease under-sink system for about 3 years now. I can't find the system online anymore, but it's sort of like this. It consists of two different filters under the sink and a second faucet on the sink (4-hole sink). We have to replace the filters (a 30 second job) once a year or so. It has paid for itself many times over in the amount of bottled water that we haven't purchased.

I *am not* a plumber by any stretch of the imagination, and generally not all that handy around the house. But, I did manage to install it myself, and it wasn't too difficult. It did take me most of a weekend to do, but mainly because I had to re-do most of the water pipes under my kitchen sink because the previous owners had done some strange things with the fittings. It was a PITA (literally!) while doing it, but in hind-sight I did learn a lot.

We do really like the water that it produces. I know that every municipal water supply in the US is safe to drink, including ours. But there's a difference between 'safe' and 'tastes good'. We can really tell a difference between what comes out of the tap and what comes out of this thing. The water it produces is indistinguishable to us from any expensive bottled water. And I'm talking about the good stuff like Evian, Voss, or some of the other expensive ones that claim to come from Iceland or Norway, etc. Very clear, clean, and crisp tasting water. It's really nice. Not a trace of anything else in it. No particles floating around or anything else. Just, water. Unlike the tap water that tends to taste a little 'minerally' or 'treated' to us, and can occasionally look like there are a few particles of *something* floating around in it.

Everyone's water is different though. Maybe these filters are less effective in other places. In the midwest where I live, our water has a fair amount of lime in it. It also has *slightly* elevated nitrate levels (from field runoff, fertilizer, or... poo) than other places. Still *way* below the EPA limits, but it's there. That's clearly stated on the yearly water-quality assessment that I get from my city. So it could be that if you live somewhere away from farmland, your tap water might just be of higher 'tasting' quality. And of course, the source of water itself plays a big role too. Everyone's water comes from different places and contains different minerals and chemicals, depending on the geology and treatment options of your city. As an example, I know that the tap water at my in-laws, who live in northern Wisconsin, always seems to taste a lot better than our tap water. A little bit more iron in it, but otherwise a much 'crisper' and 'fresher' taste than our tap water. It's very drinkable, straight from the tap. I would imagine that if they had the same filter system, they wouldn't notice as much of a difference as we did.

So can I prove that the filters are actually removing anything? No, not really. Other than $60/year worth of filters from my wallet. But I will say that if our current system broke, I would not hesitate to buy another.

Posted by: CV

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 10:52 AM

You guys rule. I will have Cari read this thread.
Posted by: MarkSJohnson

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:00 AM

 Originally Posted By: PeterChenoweth
In the midwest where I live, our water has a fair amount of lime in it.


My wife would love that. She adds some lime to her water all the time.... or lemon, depending upon her mood!
Posted by: medic8r

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:01 AM

Maybe that's where they get the water for Diet Coke with Lime.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:48 AM

The mineral, not the fruit. ;\)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lime_(mineral)

And getting completely off topic...

I absolutely cannot stand the lemon & lime coke/diet coke mixes. I agree that a bit of fresh lemon or lime juice does add a nice component to coke/diet coke. But their canned stuff, blech. It's about the worst tasting chemical substitute for lemon/lime flavor ever. Tastes like pine-sol to me. Don't ask how I know what pine-sol tastes like.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:52 AM

How do you know what pine-sol tastes like?
Posted by: CV

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 12:02 PM

Wow, you just went there.
Posted by: medic8r

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 12:30 PM

Oh no he di'int!
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 01:12 PM

Mostly, activated charcoal is what it is.

The under-sink models have a big advantage over the faucet-end types in that they last a LOT longer. Just get whatever type of cannister they have at the local Blowe's or HD.
Posted by: anthony11

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:15 PM

An under-sink unit typically requires another hole to be drilled and another spigot, right? Something of a hassle with a stone counter :-/

I had a whole-house coconut-shell-carbon filter at my old place. Did a great job of filtering HS out of the well water, but needed periodic replacement. I'm on city water now, which smells like ass. There's a small filter inside my fridge, but the tap is also inside, not on the door, which makes it rather inconvenient. I'm tempted to have bottled stuff delivered so I can have a crock dispenser in my office -- I telecommute and for medical reasons need to drink copious amounts of water.
Posted by: terzaghi

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:17 PM

I would think they make under sink filters that connect to your existing line as well.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:21 PM

Sure, I was thinking having the filter for all the cold water going to the kitchen faucet. Wears out faster that way, but easy and elegant installation.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 02:49 PM

 Originally Posted By: anthony11
An under-sink unit typically requires another hole to be drilled and another spigot, right? Something of a hassle with a stone counter :-/


With a Dremel, anything is possible. ;\)

In my case it was easy because we just have a standard 4-hole stainless steel sink where the one end just had a blank in it. The filtered-water faucet goes there.

We used to have a fridge that had a water filter in it, but the fridge itself was an expensive POS nightmare (you really don't want to get me started on that), and we tossed it. Our current fridge doesn't have a built-in filter, but I have installed an in-line water filter in the basement on its water line. That was a piece-of-cake to install. Really simple.

The big difference is that without the filter, if we didn't use the ice fast enough it would get kind of a mildew-ey stale taste/smell after a week or so. Never does that now that it's filtered, and the ice is clearer.

I think that the major difference between installing and under-sink vs. basement filter would be in how much cutting you have to do.

The under-sink system I have came with the line splitters that screw into the shut-off-valve housing. So there wasn't any cutting or soldering involved*. Just shut off the water, unscrew water line connection at the to the sink at the shut-off-valve, put the splitter on, then screw the water line back on. Could literally take 5 minutes.

With an in-basement system, you probably won't have any connections that you can simply unscrew. The job will almost certainly involve cutting the copper/PVC/whatever water pipes that are in your home. That then will require re-connecting & soldering once you're done, which might be just beyond the reach of the DIY-er. That might even technically require a plumbing permit to do, I have no idea.

*In my case there was a lot of cutting and re-piping involved, because of the stupid way that the previous home owner/plumber did the water lines. It was a mess of connectors, loops, and bizarre fittings. I had to cut it all out and replace it with modern, up-to-code, plumbing.
Posted by: anthony11

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 03:03 PM

Reminds me of the fridge that came with this place. Brand new GE Profile. The water tap inside is a royal pain, but the freezer is worse:

o The sensor for the ice cube tray being full doesn't work properly, so it over-fills such that cubes get scraped off when the tray is pulled forward, and fall down the back of the freezer compartment

o It's a freezer-on-bottom unit, with the door attached to the slides on either side, and baskets hung from the slides, so it all pulls out rather than being hinged on one side. This makes it quite easy for stuff to slip through the basket on the bottom and wedge in the gap when the door closes, leaving an opening. Last month I had the whole thing ice up because of this. Grrr.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 04:43 PM

Ha! That's funny, Anthony. The POS nightmare fridge WAS a GE Profile.

I have not bought a GE product since, and I never will again so long as there is some other option.

Glad to see that they're still unable to make a decent fridge, because those sound like two very familiar problems, even though ours was a side-by-side.

And believe me, it doesn't take something getting stuck in the door for the fridge to freeze itself solid. Happened all the time with ours.


Posted by: HomeDad

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 05:45 PM

My sink actually already had a plugged hole that fit the spigot, many sinks do.
Posted by: tomtuttle

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 06:00 PM

Note to self - avoid GE refrigerators.

We have had a GE Profile dual-fuel range for about 5 years and it has been just great. Go figure.
Posted by: anthony11

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 06:50 PM

Their other models are probably just fine. The guy who built these places got a deal from a cousin or brother in law or something, so they may be oddball models.

We have a GE Profile dual-fuel range too that seems fine tho the oven seems to take damned near forever to heat up. I had GE Profile electric oven, uwave, dishwasher in my old place that were great. The dishwasher here seems a bit smaller, but even more quiet.
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:25 PM

Now I'm in the mood to share....

All I know is that when we bought our first & current house, we needed a fridge and I decided to splurge a bit and buy a really nice one. It was a GE Profile side-by-side, stainless steel, in-door ice & water, filters, all the bells and whistles. It was about $1,800, back in 2001. It was a really nice fridge. A lot of money for us.

After about two months, the fridge started randomly freezing itself. No ice, no water. One frozen block of ice. Then it'd go into a mega-defrost mode where it would melt everything in the freezer, and spoil most of the the things in the fridge. After a couple of weeks of fighting with GE to try to get someone to come fix it (under warranty), they finally sent a rude pair of techs that were mad at me for living 90 miles away from their office and making them drive all that way. They replaced some of the electronics, and added a whole bunch of styrofoam insulation along the back of the inside. Nice. $1,800 fridge with taped-up styrofoam all over the inside.

Three months later it started doing it again. This time leaking water all over the kitchen floor. Two more weeks of fighting with GE's tech support and they sent out a different pair of guys that told me to never buy GE products because they get 10 times more service calls on them than any other brand. They replaced something in the electronics again, and valves and wiring that control the water & ice machine.

Five months later, the touch-panel on the front started acting up, the ice machine started over-filling itself and would create one huge block of ice, and the mechanism that pushes the ice out of the door had started making horrible grinding noises, even without ice in it. Techs came out again and replaced the motor but didn't do anything with the panel or the ice machine because they couldn't 'replicate' it.

GE did then send me a letter of apology because of all the problems and offered to extend the warranty another 6 months. Yay.

Three months later - ONE month outside of the original, and FIVE months inside their promised warranty, it went completely haywire. It would flip its compressor on and off, then freeze itself, then actually heat up, stop making ice completely, become unresponsive to the buttons, etc. Called GE and they had no record of ever offering the extended warranty, and claimed they had no fax machines there to receive the letter they sent me. Out of warranty, nothing they could do. We were on our own. All they offered to do was give me the numbers of 'local' repair shops. 50% of which said they didn't work on GE products anymore because GE would never pay them for warranty work. One that did took a look at it confirmed that its computer was fried (again) and quoted me over $500 to get the new circuit boards.

We actually threw a party when the scrap-metal guy gave us $5 for it and hauled it off to the junk yard.

I'm sure GE has made a few good products over the years, but I will never give them another dime if I can help it. Not even their light bulbs.
Posted by: Ken.C

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/24/08 11:44 PM

About the only fridge worse than that I can think of randomly growled "Zuuuul..."
Posted by: a401classic

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/25/08 04:13 AM

 Originally Posted By: CV
Cari says under the sink and on-faucet.


http://www.espring.com/English/products/doc8061.aspx?pgid=142

Scott
Posted by: PeterChenoweth

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/25/08 08:35 AM

 Originally Posted By: kcarlile
About the only fridge worse than that I can think of randomly growled "Zuuuul..."


Exactly. We did often refer to it as being 'possessed'. It really felt like it was sometimes. It really sucked to come home from a weekend away and wonder if the fridge would still be cold. I even had an electrician come out and check my home's wiring, just to be sure that there wasn't something going on. He found nothing.

It's replacement fridge, an Electrolux, has worked flawlessly for 7 years now. (Knock on wood...)

Anyway....... that's far enough off topic for me now...

Yeah, I'd definitely say that the kitchen sink water filter idea is a good one. As others have said, just pick one up at your nearest Lowes, HD, or other hardware store. But do think about the replacement filters. Look at the costs of them, because that will be re-occurring. Lowes and HD both carry these under-sink sytems, but they will be from different manufactuers and not compatible with each other. Once you buy a system, you're going to be locked into their filters, so make sure you can conveniently get the filters. It is generally a once-a-year thing, but you do have to do it. Our system even has a light that changes colors to tell you the status of the filters. The system we have has apparently been discontinued, but Lowes still carries the filters. I know that eventually they won't and I'll have to put in a different system.

I'm not quite as sold on the whole-house systems. A co-worker had one of those installed. It always seemed suspicious to me because it literally was sold to them by a door-to-door salesman toting around water samples. Big-time scare tactics. It was one of those multi-thousand-dollar, reverse-osmosis, whole-house setups. While it did make their water taste better than 'tap', it didn't seem any better (taste-wise) than what was coming out of our $100 system. Nice to have filtered water at every tap, I guess, but it sure seemed like a waste to spend that much money for that super-water, only to literally just flush it down the toilet. ;\)

Good luck!
Posted by: michael_d

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/25/08 10:44 AM

RO (reverse osmosis) is the way to go. We have the stand alone conditioners throughout our facility. I replaced all the water bottle stations with them. The water is very good. They have some smaller, RO residential systems that may be more suitable for a home. http://www.vertexwater.com/
Posted by: anthony11

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/25/08 11:19 AM

Note that with an RO system you'll use more supply water as it flushes the concentrated stuff from the source side of the membrane -- as much as twice what comes out the tap. This may or may not be a problem for you, but it's good to be aware of it.
Posted by: anthony11

Re: Water filter opinions? - 07/25/08 11:24 AM

 Originally Posted By: PeterChenoweth
I'm not quite as sold on the whole-house systems. A co-worker had one of those installed. It always seemed suspicious to me because it literally was sold to them by a door-to-door salesman toting around water samples. Big-time scare tactics. It was one of those multi-thousand-dollar, reverse-osmosis, whole-house setups. While it did make their water taste better than 'tap', it didn't seem any better (taste-wise) than what was coming out of our $100 system. Nice to have filtered water at every tap, I guess, but it sure seemed like a waste to spend that much money for that super-water, only to literally just flush it down the toilet. ;\)

My old place had a whole-house system because the source was a well. It was a traditional softener with a carbon cylinder filter added, along with a couple of pleated paper filters. The softener wasn't entirely necessary, but the carbon filter did a great job of soaking up HS from the groundwater, and helped with stains in the tubs too.

An RO whole-house system would be massively expensive if it had enough capacity -- one of the things about RO membranes is that the rate of flow through the membrane isn't all that high, and I imagine a whole-house RO setup would have a storage tank after the membrane that would refill overnight.