What Type of Water Filtration is Right For Me?

To answer that question, first you must determine what is most important to you. Is it better tasting water, removal of contaminants, ease of use, or the best quality water you can have? Do you live in an apartment where you cannot modify the plumbing? Are you on well water with specific problems? There are many variables, so lets get started.

Home Drinking Water Systems.

Water Filters

The simplest solution would be a counter top filter. A one stage carbon filter will remove a host of contaminants, and deliver purer and cleaner tasting water. To protect the longevity and efficientcy of the carbon filter, it is recommended that you precede that with a sediment filter, the sediment filter will filter out what would otherwise clog the carbon particles,  that would be the two stage countertop system. To really max out the benefits of this system, the final carbon block in the 3 stage system will give you the best quality that a counter top system can deliver. A Carbon Block Filter will filter down to 1 micron, and remove agents that cause Giardiasis and Cryptosporidiosis. These units are not to be used with water that is not potable! These units are easy to set up, they come with the faucet adapter, so there is no plumbing modification needed. The filters will need to be replaced every 6 mos to 1 year, depending on how much water you use, how many filters in the unit, and the water quality in your area.  The filters are standard, and can be bought just about anywhere. All our systems use standard filters to ensure they are available when you need them.

If you prefer to have a filtration system that is out of sight, an undersink filtration system in the two or three stage models will be right for you. It will not take up any counter space and are easily installed. All parts for a standard installation, including tubing, connections and faucets etc are included.  Both the counter top and under sink filtration units use carbon filters, and carbon will remove the following contaminants.


Arsenic Bacteria
Bad Tastes
& Odors
Chlorine Fluoride Hydrogen
Nitrates Radon Sediment Iron VOC's
** to
= Effectively Removes         = Significantly Reduces         = Minimal or No Removal

We also offer Activated Alumina Filters for fluoride/arsenic. Catalytic Carbon for Chloramines. Carbon filters fortified with KDF55 and KDF85. Bone Char Carbon filters for fluoride/arsenic and heavy metals. Read about them here. Our quality and our prices are the most competitive in the market.

Reverse Osmosis Systems.

Reverse Osmosis or hyperfiltration units removes many more contaminants than just a filtration system alone. For some, nitrates and fluoride in the water is a health concern, in which case, this would be the ideal choice. Let's bring up the same graphic to see what reverse osmosis will remove.  As you can see, a complete Reverse Osmosis system with the carbon prefilter and post filter will eliminate almost all contaminants.

Arsenic Bacteria
Bad Tastes
& Odors
Chlorine Fluoride Hydrogen
Nitrates Radon Sediment Iron VOC's

= Effectively Removes         = Significantly Reduces         = Minimal or No Removal

Reverse osmosis uses a membrane that is semi-permeable, allowing pure water to pass through it, while rejecting the contaminants that are too large to pass through the tiny pores in the membrane. Quality reverse osmosis systems use a process known as crossflow to allow the membrane to continually clean itself. As some of the fluid passes through the membrane the rest continues downstream, sweeping the rejected contaminants away from the membrane and down the drain. The process of reverse osmosis requires a driving force to push the fluid through the membrane (the pressure provided by a standard residential water system is sufficient - 50 psi+.

Since membranes are subject to degrading by chlorine, iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide, and to bacterial attack, a sediment pre-filter and an activated carbon pre-filter and/or post-filter is included with your reverse osmosis system. Water softeners can be used in advance of the RO system when household water is excessively hard to prevent pre-filter and membrane fouling. RO systems are generally the best choice for water contaminated with high nitrite levels as might be found in agricultural areas.

All our residential Reverse Osmosis Systems come complete with filters, membranes, housings, food grade tubing, connections, faucet and the pressure tank etc. you need for a standard installation.  Since Aquarium filters set up configurations vary, we offer systems that adaptable to most any configuration you may need.

Even though reverse osmosis is effective in removing bacteria and viruses, it is not recommended that your rely upon reverse osmosis solely if your water is contaminated with bacteria or viruses. The units are designed for use with potable water.

Both the Filtration Systems and the Reverse Osmosis systems are 'Point of Use" systems that are effective in delivering great drinking water right to a faucet.

To check to see if your carbon filter is still effective, use a chlorine testing strip available from hardware stores or pool supply stores. A positive reading for chlorine will tell you it is time to change your filter. For a reverse osmosis system, disconnect the the tubing after the pre-filters to determine water quality, but remember to turn water down to a trickle first!

Whole House Systems.

Whole House Systems, or "Point of Entry" systems are installed where the water enters the home, and ensures that all the water in the house is treated. If you are concerned about the water in your total environment, a Whole House System is what you should consider. There are instances where a point of entry system is recommended, as with very hard water, or a high iron or hydrogen sulfide level.

Water Softeners

Hard water leaves deposits that can, over time, choke the plumbing in your home. You will notice a hard white build up around the faucets, sinks and shower doors. It takes a lot more elbow grease to bring the shine back to your fixtures, and lots more plumbing replacements and repairs. Laundry will not be as soft, dishes will emerge from the dishwasher with spots and a film that builds up over time. Skin and hair will also be affected. A Water Softener is very helpful in reversing the hard water build up in your home, and tp bring softness and sparkle back. To obtain the best results with a water softener, a Point of Entry system is highly recommended. 

The Salt Free Water Conditioner/Softener should not be used where the feed water has detectable levels of iron or hydrogen sulfide, unless these contaminants are treated before the salt free system. Chlorine will also dramatically lower the life expectancy of the media. On municipal water sources that are chlorinated, a carbon filter preceding it is highly recommended. You should be aware of these points before making a purchase. A salt free system requires no maintenance, no backwashing, no electricity, and best of all, NO SALT! 

If however, you do have iron and hydrogen sulfide in your water, we recommend going with a brine based system. A brine based water softener is an ion exchange system that can eliminated up to 3 ppm of million of iron, and is effective against hydrogen sulfide as well. Higher levels of these contaminants is usually handled with a chlorination system. Followed by a carbon filter. Then the softener if needed.

Whole House Carbon Filtration

A whole house carbon filter will deliver chlorine free water with no objectionable taste or smell to every faucet in your home. Chlorine is harsh on skin and hair, and will fade clothes over time. Chlorine is not healthy in our drinking water, and it is also absorbed through our skin and through inhalation. A Point of Entry Carbon Filtration system is your best line of defense in chlorine removal.

Carbon will remove/reduce many volatile organic chemicals (VOC), pesticides and herbicides, as well as chlorine, benzene, trihalomethane (THM) compounds, radon, solvents and hundreds of other man-made chemicals found in tap water. Some activated carbon filters are moderately effective at removing some, but not all, heavy metals. In addition, densely compacted carbon block filters mechanically remove particles down to 0.5 micron, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium, turbidity and particulates. Although some iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide will be removed by Catalytic Carbon filters, a higher quality activated carbon filter, a Pyrolox  filter is generally preferred to remove these contaminants as the effectiveness of carbon filter against iron and manganese is generally short-lived if the contaminant concentration is high.

Regular Carbon filters are NOT generally successful at removing dissolved inorganic contaminants or metals such as minerals/salts (hardness or scale-causing contaminants), antimony, arsenic, asbestos, barium, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, copper, fluoride, mercury, nickel, nitrates/nitrites, selenium, sulfate, thallium, and certain radio nuclides. Removing these contaminants requires either a reverse osmosis water filter system or a distiller for pure drinking water. A  Bone Char Carbon system carbon filter, however is very effective against fluoride, arsenic and other heavy metals. Check them out on our Whole House Filters page.

Granular Activated Carbon  does not remove sediment / particulate material very well, so they are often preceded by a sediment filter. Sediment pre-filters also prolong the activate carbon cartridge life by eliminating gross contaminants that would otherwise clog the activated carbon thereby reducing the surface area available for absorption.  If sediment is present, you should install a sediment filter first.

Catalytic Carbon/KDF85 Filter

Catalytic Carbon For Hydrogen Sulfide and Iron Removal

Catalytic Carbon is specifically designed for the removal of Hydrogen Sulfide in water. Hydrogen sulfide gives off the characteristic "rotten egg" sulfurous odor. It is also highly effective in the removal of chloromines, iron and bromides. A backwashing schedule is recommended, no chemicals needs to be added to improve efficientcy.

KDF 85

Removes or reduces iron and hydrogen sulfide from municipal or other water supplies. Also controls scale, bacteria and algae, a factor to consider in well water applications. A KDF85/Catalytic Carbon Filter is highly effective against iron and hydrogen sulphide.

Whole House Iron/Manganese/Hydrogen Sulfide Removal Filter

If you have a problem with iron, manganese or hydrogen sulfide, the need for a filter to remove these substances will be obvious. The smell of hydrogen sulfhide is a characteristic "rotten egg" odor which permeates the air every time you turn on a faucet. Iron and manganese will stain, producing a reddish rust color in the case of iron, and a black coloration with manganese. Iron and manganese can be the host to bacteria that will form a bio film throughout your plumbing system.

This is not an easy problem to resolve. For high levels of these contaminants, hydrogen sulfide and iron, the old school method of chlorination and filtration works best. But lower levels of the the same contaminants are easily dealt with the catalytic carbon or  Catalytic Carbon KDF85. It is an  an extremely effective combination to deal with hydrogen sulphide and iron.

Whole House Sediment Filter.

Filter-Ag is a great media to use to clarify water with sediment. Clack Filter-Ag® has many outstanding advantages over the more common granular filter medias used for suspended solids reduction. Its fractured edges and irregular surface provides a high surface area and complex flow path for efficient removal of suspended matter throughout the filter bed, typically reducing suspended solids down to the 20-40 micron range.

The large particles of media allows for greater water flow. The large and irregular shape prevents the screening and caking of sediment in the top several inches of the filter bed as happens in the typical sand filter, thus preventing a rapid buildup of headloss and blinding problems. Filter-Ag’s light weight means lower backwash rates and better bed expansion to release trapped sediment and rinse the filter media during the backwash cycle. The combination of particle shape, size and density make it a good choice where quality water filtration and water conservation are important.

Although not intended to be an iron reduction media, extensive field experience has shown Filter-Ag’s rough and jagged surface to be very good at entrapping the fragile iron flock that forms after dissolved iron has been oxidized. Typical oxidation methods include aeration, ozonation and chlorination. The benefits of a whole house backwashable sediment filter is, cost savings, as you are not throwing away money on replacement filters. And ease of use, as you are not constantly monitoring, and replacing filters.

You may use the Big Blue Whole House filters for a smaller family, these measure 4.5x20'. They can house Sediment, Carbon and a Carbon/KDF filter which will require periodic replacement. A softener cartridge is also available, but that would be something to consider for point of use commercial purposes, ie. coffee machines, ice makers, hair salons etc. It may not be the best choice for a home.  A Whole House Point of Use System filter is typically 10x54" with backwash capability. Here is a visual, so you can see the difference between a 4.5x20' filter, and a 10x54' filter

difference in size between a 4.5x20 and a 10x54' filter

Control Valves:

Upflow valves: 

As you might guess from the name, upflow systems basically function as a downflow filter in reverse.  Instead of water flowing down through the filter media from the top of the tank, water travels down the distributor tube and flows back up through the filter media – carbon, in this case – and out of the tank.

Up-flow systems direct the water in the up-flow direction of the system. The water comes into the water system tank and flows through an upper basket and then down a riser tube in the middle of the tank. Once the water reaches the bottom of the riser tube it is then distributed through a lower basket attached to the riser tube. The water then flows from the bottom of the tank through the filter media in a swirling motion. The swirling motion is created by the reaction of the water coming out of the lower basket coming in contact with the bottom of the filter tank which is rounded or curved. An up-flow design eliminates the need for backwashing on most filters because the filter media is continuously being fluffed each time the water flows through the tank. Another advantage to an up-flow design is the amount of contact time the untreated water has with the filter media. An up-flow design also forces the filter media to swirl which in turn allows the media to have longer contact time with the water yielding better results

 Upflow filters are better suited to filtering city water than well water, as they are not equipped to handle sediment, rust, and odors like a downflow backwash filter. If you have sediment in your water, please add a sediment filter to your system. Because upflow carbon filters don’t go through backwash cycles, they also don’t create the wastewater that a backwashing filter would. A backwash cycle can use up to 60 gallons per cycle.

Manual Valve

Manual valve. How they work This is the Manual valve. It has very few  moving parts, and easy to use. When you need to backwash a filter, you put it into the backwash cycle for 10 minutes, followed by a rinse for 3 minutes, and then back into the service mode. That is all there is to it! Once a week schedule for backwashing is generally sufficient. For a more economical product, and ease of use, we recommend you get this rather than opting for a unit that does not backwash, read the section on the benefits of backwashing below:

Benefits and Importance of a Backwash Cycle.

As the filter operates in service mode, it collects particles in the filter bed. Also, since water's nature is to follow the path of least resistance, after a time it begins to cut channels through the medium. As channels or holes in the media bed form, water begins to flow around rather than through the medium. This process is called "channeling" and it reduces the effectiveness of the filter considerably.

The backwash is accomplished by sending the water down the riser tube from which it enters the filter tank at the bottom. The force of the water is such that it actually lifts the media bed, swirling and tossing the granular medium. The water leaves the filter tank through the control valve, which routes it through the filter's drain line. Particles that were in the bed are washed to drain. The backwash is an intense rinsing and tossing of the medium that lasts for several minutes. In a standard residential filter, a typical backwash lasts about ten minutes.

After the backwash, the controls initiate a "rinse" of the bed during which water flows downward through the medium, up through the distribution tube and out the drain. The purpose of this rinse is to rinse and settle the bed and prepare it for return to service flow. A regular backwash cycle prolongs the efficiency of the filter as well as provides cleaner water for your home.


In/Out Valves:

Simple point of entry (whole house) water filters that do not backwash to clean and resettle their filter media are often called "in/out" filters. The water simply goes in one side, passes through the filter media, then goes out the other side. There's nothing fancy about this type filter. It's a big tank called a mineral tank that is filled with granular filter media. It has a simple center tube called a "riser" to direct the flow of water inside the tank.

The most common style, is the downflow. Water enters the tank head from the left, is released into the top of the tank, and works its way through the media to the bottom of the tank. At the very bottom of the tank the water passes through the fine slots in the riser basket, then is forced upward through the riser to the tank head and exits the filter at right.

You can decide on the simple in/out, upflow, or manual valve, or go with a fully automatic, set it, and forget it, backwashing valve. We recommend the Fleck 5600 valve.

Fleck 5600
Residential Control Valve. Programmed Backwashing cycles.
  • Simple mechanical design is easy to use
  • Two valve body designs: one for downflow regeneration and one for upflow (covers every valve in the 5600 family - quick access to all internal components)
  • Injector/drain modules containing the brine valve, flow controls, and injector are removable from the valve's exterior
  • Ruggedly-built timer is designed with heavy-duty 3/8"  wide plastic gears
  • 5600 controls are user-friendly and easily programmable
  • Non-corrosive, UV-resistant, fiber-reinforced polymer valve body
  • Choice of 7 or 12 day clock or demand regeneration with a mechanical meter
  • Economical - small annual power consumption; keeps the time and activates the piston/valve mechanics with a single motor
  • Designed with double backwash
  • Bypass valve (Fiber-reinforced polymer or stainless steel)
  • Backwash filter
  • Upflow regeneration
  • Low water use piston (uses as little as 29 gal./regeneration)
  • Meter-initiated regeneration
When installing any system, please make sure that if you are hard plumbing this, the connection should be level, and a straight fit to your valve. Any discrepancy can torque the valve and cause leaks. You could also use flexible steel connections to avoid this.

Lastly, if you already have any of these systems, and you're looking for parts, we stock all the parts for any of the systems we sell. If your Whole House System needs the media eg. Carbon or Softener Resin replaced, please visit our page on how to rebuild,, as well as prices on various media.


Please note that we have a 30 day return policy. Please let us know within 48 hours if there is any damage to the system. Keep all packaging material etc. in case the shipping company wants to inspect the package. Items less than $500 will be charged a 15% restocking fee. Items over $500 will be charged a 28% restocking fee. Please contact us before you return an item.


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