Want the Best Whole House Water Filter in 2021? 7 Reviews [+ Guide]
Written by: Tim Stanley // Last Updated:
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Whole house water filters, also known as point-of-entry (POE) water filtration systems, are perfect to clean all water entering a home before it gets distributed to the various outlets like faucets and showers.
A good filter will improve the smell and taste of your water and make it safer for consumption by removing potentially harmful contaminants. Some filtration systems might even reduce hard water minerals. This means less staining on surfaces, softer laundry, and healthier looking hair and skin.
The only problem: There are so many whole house water filters to choose from. And, of course, you don’t want to waste your hard-earned cash making a wrong buying decision. So which one is ideal for your needs? Here is our collection of the best whole house water filters currently available on the market.
Top pick for tap water containing chlorine and chloramine.
Apart from improved aesthetics, your water will be rid of sediments, a bunch of organic contaminants and some heavy metals, meaning it’s cleaner and more healthy to use for drinking, cooking and showering.
A 5-micron pre-filter traps sediments to prevent the carbon and KDF media bed from clogging.
KDF removes chlorine and heavy metal content, and controls the growth of algae, bacteria and viruses, and fungi.
Uses high quality, long-lasting catalytic carbon filter media to adsorb a large range of contaminants including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), herbicides, pesticides, trihalomethanes, …
SpringWell Water guarantees chlorine and chloramine reduction below the minimum detection levels for 1,000,000 gallons or 6 years.
Flow rate is 12 gpm which is perfect for up to 4-6 bathrooms.
1 larger and 1 smaller whole house filter system version available:
CF1 delivers up to 9 gallons per minute (used for 1-3 bathrooms).
CF+ delivers up to 17 gpm which is very high.
Easy to install if you’re handy with tools.
A bypass valve + illustrated instructions outlining every step are included.
Optional installation kit.
Maintenance is simple and kept at a bare minimum for maximum convenience. Cost for replacement filters: About $40 per year.
6-month money back guarantee: SpringWell offers a full refund if you’re not satisfied with the results.
You get a limited lifetime warranty.
SpringWell’s customer support is said to be helpful and cooperative.
The provided fittings are plastic which are prone to cross-threading. We would have preferred brass for example.
2. Our #1 Top Pick for Well Water: SpringWell WS4 Whole House Well Water Filter System (+ SpringWell CF4)
If you are on well water we definitely recommend the SpringWell WS4 – possibly combined with the SpringWell CF4.
The WS4 is not a bargain, but it’s the perfect solution to well water contaminated with iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide. Paired with the CF4, you get access to water 100% odorless and with the cleanest taste. It’ll also be much healthier with zero (or reduced) chemicals, organics, and heavy metals. Definitely 5 stars!
Please note: To learn all about the SpringWell CF4 whole house filter check the review above. Here are all the important details about the WS4:
SpringWell WS4 Whole House Well Water Filter System
SpringWell whole house water filter eliminates rotten egg smell as well as staining in toilets, sinks, showers, and on laundry. It also greatly improves water taste.
Uses air injection oxidation + greensand filter to trap a maximum combined of ferric & ferrous iron (up to 7 ppm), hydrogen sulfide (up to 8 ppm), and manganese (up to 1 ppm). The greensand also helps with arsenic and radium in water.
Safe for septic and sewer system.
Water pH of 6.5 – 10 is required for the process to be effective.
Shouldn’t be used with water that’s microbiologically unsafe or contains viruses without further treatment. Tip: Use live chat feature on website to contact SpringWell Water for more information.
Filters up to 20 gallons in one minute, enough water flow for homes with 4 or more bathrooms.
One smaller version available:
WS1 whole house well filter with 12 gpm service flow rate (1-4 bathrooms).
Treatment process includes daily reset of air pocket in the top of the tank and periodic backwashing of media bed to flush all accumulated contaminants down the drain. Both are controlled by electronic head and happen fully automatic. Set and forget!
Programmable via smartphone/tablet app thanks to Bluetooth function.
Easy to install for DIYers.
Bypass valve + illustrated installation guide is part of the package.
Optional installation kit.
Whole house water filter is 100% maintenance-free. Environmentally-friendly greensand lasts 18 to 25 years.
Manufacturer provides 6-month money back guarantee on all systems.
Tank, valve, fittings, and filter media are covered by lifetime warranty.
Filter comes with plastic fittings instead of metal.
3. The Runner-Up: Pelican PC1000 Whole House Water Filter
We wanted to provide you with an alternative for municipal whole house water treatment in case you don’t like the SpringWell CF4 for whatever reason. Thus, let us introduce you to the Pelican PC1000 whole house water filter system.
It’s a tad more expensive than the SpringWell CF4, but people who installed it could immediately tell the difference in their water quality: Clean & refreshing taste, odorless, and more gentle to the skin. All in all, the price is still fair making it an ideal choice for basic filtration needs.
Provides great-tasting and clean drinking water at every tap in your home.
Pure shower water for softer hair & skin and improved indoor air quality.
Eliminates both chlorine (96.6%) and chloramine.
Reduction of chlorine taste and odor was independently tested and certified according to NSF/ANSI Standard 42.
Also filters out other chemicals as well as non-chemical contaminants in your water, some that could be responsible for bad water taste and odor, and others with potential health effects.
e.g. pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, volatile organic compounds, industrial solvents, water-soluble heavy metals like lead
Sediment pre-filter removes particles larger than 5 microns – think sand and silt – which protects the rest of the filter system from clogging.
Uses high-grade catalytic granular activated carbon filter media (coconut shell based) instead of regular carbon for the highest filtering capacity and more effective and broader contaminant reduction.
Pelican PC1000 is guaranteed to remove chlorine + chloramine reduction below the minimum detection level for 5 years or 1.3 million gallons.
KDF-55, a bacteriostatic copper-zinc alloy, controls bacteria and algae growth inside the tank. It also further reduces chlorine and water-soluble lead, mercury, nickel, chromium, and other dissolved heavy metals.
Flow rate is 12 gallons of water per minute which is enough for large homes with 4 to 6 bathrooms.
There’s also a smaller version of the water system:
Filtration capacity of 650,000 gallons or 5 years and 8 gpm, perfect for small to mid-sized homes with up to 3 bathrooms.
Tank is wrapped in stainless steel for longevity.
Whole house water filtration system can be installed by DIYer to save money.
Everything comes pre-assembled and pre-loaded.
Built-in bypass valve included.
No electricity required.
Low maintenance requirements. Cost: $30-40 per year.
Backed by a limited lifetime warranty + 90-day money-back guarantee (if you don’t like the filter you get a refund no questions asked).
Pelican customer support is very reliable.
Priming the carbon can be a bit challenging.
We would have preferred metal instead of plastic fittings.
4. Our #1 Cartridge-Based Whole Home Water Filter for Tap Water with Chlorine: NU Aqua 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
In our opinion, the NU Aqua 3 Stage Whole House Water Filtration System makes the best choice if you are on chlorinated city water and you prefer whole house water filters working with filter cartridges. Just like the 3 products reviewed above, the NU Aqua provides clean water for the entire house.
The big difference, however, is that – and this goes for cartridge water filters in general – the system is much lower cost upfront. In fact, it’s surprisingly cheap, especially considering all the extra features. Bottom line: 4.5 stars!
People report drastic improvement as to how their water tastes and smells.
5-micron sediment filter made from polypropylene fiber traps larger particles – think sand, rust, dust, dirt, and debris.
Protects water-using appliances like water heater and extends their life.
Prevents premature clogging of the other water filters.
Granular activated carbon filter adsorbs chlorine taste and odor, herbicides, pesticides, industrial solvents, lead, and many, many other contaminants and chemicals (with health effects) that may be present in your water source.
5-micron carbon block post-filter further reduces contaminants listed above as well as giardia, cryptosporidium, and more.
15 gallons per minute water flow rate is perfect for small to large households.
Built-in pressure gauges allow for easy filter monitoring.
Pressure release buttons are a convenient solution to stuck filter housings.
Intuitive DIY installation + easy-to-follow instructions is ideal to save money.
Filter system is shipped preassembled.
Sediment + carbon filters need replacement every 100,000 gallons of filtered water or 6 months, so not much to do in terms of maintenance.
Replacement filters are affordable and standard-sized (20″ x 4.5″ big blue) so you could go off-brand if need be.
Stainless steel frame provides stability. You can wall mount or leave as free standing.
Comes with 6-month satisfaction guarantee: NU Aqua guarantees full satisfaction or you get 100% of your money-back.
The whole house filter is covered by a 3-year warranty.
Defective GAC filters might be causing a drop in water pressure.
5. Our #1 System Using Filter Cartridges for Well Water: Home Master HMF3SdgFeC
For people on well water that like filter cartridges we recommend the Home Master HMF3SdgFeC. It was specifically designed for chlorine free water supplies with low levels of iron. The promise: Provide an entire home with water freed from bad tastes and odors. Water that doesn’t stain clothes, sinks, and toilets etc., and that doesn’t damage water-using appliances. 4.5 stars!
Make sure to use our coupon code BOSFREEWH at checkout for FREE SHIPPING!
Home Master HMF3SdgFeC Whole House Water Filter System
High quality water filter is one of the best of its kind. People are very pleased with the results they see: Improvement in water quality right after installation – no more iron staining, clean water taste, and fresh smell.
No huge single payment upfront.
Filter stage 1 is a multi-gradient density sediment filter (25 – 10 – 5 – 1 micron nominal) that traps rust, sand, silt and other particles. It makes your water crystal clear and takes out harmful contaminants including bacteria and cysts.
Manufacturer says has triple the dirt holding capacity of similar sized filters.
Filter stage 2 is a specialized iron filter. Reduces up to 3 ppm ferrous (clear-water iron) and ferric (red-water iron).
Also helps with manganese and sulfur but both lower the filter life at up to 2-6 times the rate of iron. Ideal conditions: No hydrogen sulfide, no iron bacteria, and manganese below 1 ppm.
The post-filter uses granular activated carbon (20 micron nominal) to give the water a final polish removing chlorine, chemicals like pesticides, VOCs, and residual tastes and odors among other things.
Optimal pH level is above 7.0.
Whole house water filter shouldn’t be used with microbiologically unsafe water or water containing viruses without further treatment.
Filters up to 15 gallons per minute which is plenty of water and sufficient for homes with 4+ bathrooms.
Easy to install if you have any prior plumbing experience or are simply handy with tools.
Low maintenance which is convenient. Naturally, how frequently one has to change filters depends on water usage and quality. Most users are probably looking at biannual filter changes.
Customer support is impressive. You can send in your well water report and get recommendations from the knowledgeable staff members.
6. Our Number One Sediment Filter: Custom Home Master Three-Stage Water Filter System
If you want to remove nothing but sediments from your water you can do so using a custom Home Master three-stage water filter. The setup uses step-down filtration ideal for applications with several sediment water problems.
Step-down filtration? It means multiple filters in a row, each stage with a lower micron rating and thus a more thorough filtration than its predecessor. This approach prevents premature clogging of the finer filters. In our case, we use three 4.5″ x 20″ pleated sediment filters rated at 30, 5 and 1 micron.
Make sure to use our coupon code BOSFREEWH at checkout for FREE SHIPPING!
How to Create Your Own Custom Whole House Water Filter System
To create your own custom whole house filtration system, visit this link and go through the following steps (sounds more complicated than it is):
If you are on mobile scroll down to the “Options” section beneath the product image.
The 1st dropdown says “Stages”. Choose “Three Stages”.
The 3rd dropdown says “30 mic. sediment”. Choose this filter as your first stage.
The 4th dropdown says “5 mic. sediment”. Choose this filter as your second stage.
The 5th dropdown says “1 mic. sediment”. Choose this filter as your third stage.
Add to cart and order.
Done! Now Home Master will build the filtration system for you.
Custom Home Master Whole House Water Filter System
Best water filter for city and well water high in sediments.
30-micron and 5-micron sediment filters filter out larger contaminants in your water: Sand, silt, rust and dust.
1-micron filter also filters out cryptosporidium and giardia.
Each of the 3 water filters features a pleated design for maximum filtration capacity.
At first glance they appear way more expensive than competitor filters. However, the polyester material is more durable, and resistant to bacteria and chemicals in water. This allows you to clean and reuse every single cartridge 1 to 6 times before tearing – a huge money saver!
Do not reuse when treating cryptosporidium and giardia.
Thanks to 20″ big blue standard size you can go with cheaper aftermarket filters if need be.
This setup is not for microbiologically unsafe or non-potable water or water containing viruses without proper disinfection.
Absolutely no need to worry about flow rates. You’ll have more than enough water even if you’re living in a mansion.
Installing and maintaining this whole house water filter is simple.
7. Cheap Whole House Water Filter System: 3M Aqua-Pure AP903
The last of our whole house water filter reviews features 3M’s Aqua-Pure AP903. It’s not the best whole house water filtration system by any means, but it’s a solid alternative for everyone on a tight budget; a system that makes your water look, smell, and taste delicious.
Since it won’t help you get rid of most smaller contaminants like heavy metals and pesticides, however, it’s best suited for people who already have fairly clean water – municipal water ideally.
The AP903 whole house water filter applies carbon block filtration (5 microns nominal) with a non-woven pleat media to remove sediment, chlorine, and chemical contaminants in water. This improves water taste and smell and increases the life of water heaters and other appliances.
Can process an exceptionally high amount of water per minute, up to 20 gpm peak flow, ideal for large homes with multiple bathrooms.
304 stainless steel head is corrosion resistant providing a long service life and won’t affect the taste of drinking water.
Easy installation. The slim design allows for placement at the main water supply even if space is limited.
Filter can be replaced with a quarter turn – quick and easy with no tools needed.
Head comes with a 25-year warranty.
Minor disadvantage is a small percentage of users have to change the filter way more frequently than indicated by the manufacturer. It’s supposed to last 100,000 gallons or 12 months. Theirs was clogged after about 30 days (15,000 gallons) resulting in a significant water pressure drop.
Too expensive to replace at such frequency so you may need additional pre-filters to get rid of particles that could clog the 3M Aqua-Pure whole house water filter easily.
Which Whole House Water Filter Do I Need? Test Your Water Quality!
First things first. You need to find out more about the quality of your water. This allows you to purchase a whole house water filter capable of dealing with all or at least most of the contaminants lurking in it.
Are you on well water or on municipal water a.k.a. city water? If your water is sourced from a well, do you have access to a water quality report? If not, your best option is to send a direct sample to an independent lab. Alternatively, you can purchase a well water test kit which gives you a rough idea of what you are facing (hard water level, iron and other heavy metals, etc.).
If you’re on city water you can go here or visit this page and search for your utility. All reports in both databases are free!
Whole House Water Filter Types
Whole house water filters for city water usually focus on removing sediments, chlorine, chloramine, disinfection byproducts, and various chemicals responsible for creating unpleasant odor and taste. These systems are carbon-based and might even contain additional KDF media to reduce heavy metals and keep bacteria and algae in check. Units making use of bone char can even remove fluoride from water with enough contact time (see best fluoride water filters here).
Filters specialized in well water treatment will usually eliminate iron, manganese, and sulfur, which are the most common contaminants here. One example is the SpringWell WS4 using air injection oxidation + greensand filter bed. In case your well is also polluted with contaminants from agricultural runoff – think fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides – consider adding carbon filtration.
How about a salt-based or a salt-free water softener? Well, an (ion exchange) water softener has the purpose to provide soft water which doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with home water filtration.
A whole house filtration system has to provide enough filtered water for your kitchen, bathroom(s), dishwasher, washing machine, and all other household appliances that use water.
Therefore, high flow is mandatory if you don’t want to experience a water pressure drop when opening multiple outlets. 10 – 15 gpm is pretty standard for a whole house water filter. Less might not suffice for a large household.
On a side note: A bathroom faucet uses up to 1.5, a kitchen faucet up to 2.2 gallons per minute. The maximum water flow for a shower head usually doesn’t exceed 2.5 gpm.
When dealing with suspended solids, filtration effectiveness is measured in micron (one micron is a thousandth of a millimeter). Generally speaking, a smaller micron rating indicates more thorough filtration with more contaminants removed.
For example: Whole house water filters that only remove sand, silt, and rust might have a micron rating of 50. This means they trap the vast majority of particles with a minimum size of 50 microns, which won’t affect contaminants such as fluoride, lead, chemicals, and most pathogens like bacteria.
Other micron ratings are 25, 10, 5, and 1, followed by the sub-micron level. The dilemma: The smaller the micron rating, the lower the output water pressure and flow. This is also why whole house reverse osmosis water systems are super rare. Regular reverse osmosis water purification membranes are rated at 0.0001 micron which is great for TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) reduction. However, the process also reduces water pressure to a trickle if no additional booster pump is applied.
Whole House Water Filter Cost
You should not only take into account the initial purchase price of a whole house water filter, but also the lifespan and cost of replacement filter media/cartridges.
A system featuring a large media tank might cost much more upfront, but likely filters up to 1,000,000 gallons of water or more. This not only means virtually no maintenance requirements for several years, you also save tons of money in the long run.
Cartridge-based home water filters are cheaper in the beginning. Therefore, you need to replace filters every 6 months or so, so that replacement cost start to add up over time.
Whole house water filtration systems are way bigger than the average point-of-use filter. Don’t underestimate their size and make sure you have enough space for installation and maintenance.
Opposed to point-of-use units, whole house filters filter water at the point of entry, so all incoming water in your home before it gets distributed. This way you have access to filtered water at every outlet including water-using appliances.
Whole house water filters are also known as point-of-entry water filtration systems.
Why Do You Need a Whole House Water Filter?
If you look at the data, almost all US water supplies are contaminated. Not all of the contaminants are harmful, but many are. So the number one reason why you may need a whole house water filter is to protect the health of your family. And the purified water will taste and smell much better, too!
What if I drink nothing but bottled water? Well, what about the water you use for cooking and showering? For example, did you know that the largest chunk of your daily chlorine exposure does not come from the water you drink but from the water you use for washing? That’s because human skin is permeable for all kinds of stuff. Plus, you inhale some of the volatile compounds. Also, a lot of the bottled water on the market is plain tap water.
The second reason to use a whole house water filter is to prevent your plumbing system, fixtures, and appliances from taking damage due to water containing high levels of iron or sediments for example. This will result in reduced maintenance, fewer repairs, and ultimately safe you a lot of money.
How Does a Whole House Water Filter Work?
Whole house filtration systems connect to the main water line and filter all the water entering your home. How each individual system works depends on what type of filter process it applies:
Whole house sediment filters work by size exclusion.
Activated and catalytic carbon filters contaminants through adsorption into its surface pores.
KDF uses oxidation and reduction to remove chlorine, heavy metals, and certain inorganic contaminants from your water.
Bone char relies on adsorption and chemical reactions to remove fluoride and heavy metals from water.
Greensand oxidizes and then traps iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide.
Air injection oxidizes iron, manganese, and sulfur which are then trapped by subsequent filter stages.
What’s more, many systems come with various pre- and post-filters for additional contaminant removal.
How to Install & Maintain Whole House Water Filter Systems?
Installing a whole house filter system is certainly more difficult than setting up a POU unit. For one, it may involve plumbing. But it’s still doable if you’re handy around the house and have the necessary supplies and tools including tubing, fittings, and a pipe cutter.
In our opinion, getting everything up and running is moderately difficult. Here’s a brief overview of what you need to do if you don’t want to call a plumber:
Follow manufacturer instructions to properly activate any filtration media.
Shut off the main water supply.
Drain any remaining water.
Cut into the main water line.
Optional: Install shut-off valves on both sides of the system for ease of maintenance. Adding a bypass valve is usually not necessary. Most whole house water filters have one already built in.
Connect the whole house filter making sure it’s facing in the right direction. Use Teflon tape on all threads for sealing and adapters on ports if necessary.
Turn the water back on.
Open all valves except for the bypass.
Leaks? Use more Teflon tape.
Flush the entire water system for several minutes.
Whole house water filter systems using a large media tank don’t require maintenance at all. Only the sediment pre-filter needs regular replacement in case there is one.
As for cartridge-based filters, they do require some attention every now and then to perform at their best. Timely filter replacements usually do the trick:
Turn off the water supply.
Drain all remaining water.
Remove the first filter housing, take out the old filter, and insert the new.
Optional: Clean the filter housing with soapy water or bleach solution and rinse thoroughly when done. Lubricate/replace O-rings.
Screw the filter housing back on.
Slowly turn the water supply back on.
Flush the new filters as per manufacturer instructions.
How often should a whole house water filter be replaced? It depends. Is your water full of sediments? Apart from that, one filter might be designed to only last 3 months, while another is good for a whole year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Does a whole house water filter reduce water pressure?
Yes, it does. However, not all whole house filters affect outgoing water pressure equally. Thorough sediment filtration usually results in a higher pressure drop, whereas a whole home water filter based on activated carbon has much less of an effect.
How much does it cost to install a whole house water filtration system?
That’s hard to predict as it depends on the exact system as well as your plumbing setup. We would think the bare minimum is somewhere between $300-500 USD. That said, if you feel comfortable cutting into your main water supply line you might be able to complete the project yourself.
How do I choose a whole house water filter?
That’s exactly the question we tried to answer in our buying guide above. There are a bunch of factors to consider such as the quality of your water source, your filtered water demand at times of peak consumption, and your budget. But it all starts with water testing.
Can I drink the water filtered provided by a whole house filtration system?
Yes, you can. But there’s no guarantee that it’s 100% free from harmful contaminants. That’s why we recommend you do thorough testing before purchasing a system. After all, a whole house water filter must be suited for your specific water conditions.
Are whole house water filters worth it?
Yes, a whole house system is definitely worth it. With the right filter you not only get clean and great tasting drinking water in your entire home. It’ll also protect your home appliances from harm – think sediments.
How long does a whole house water filter last?
This completely depends on the type of system. For example, the SpringWell WS uses greensand media which is backwashed on a regular basis. This allows for an average filtration capacity of 18-25 years. In contrast, regular activated carbon filters may only last one year.
Where should a whole house water filter be installed?
You are free to install your whole house water filtration system wherever you want (as long as no freezing temperatures occur), but it needs access to the main water supply. The garage or basement is usually the preferred location. By the way, make sure to install your system after the pressure tank.
How do you maintain a whole house water filter?
That’s simple. Most units are fully automated and do everything themselves. This includes tasks like backwashing. Filter cartridges need to be replaced on a regular basis, though. Check the product manual for further instructions.
And keep in mind: We’ll add a new whole house water filter review occasionally. So come back for more!
About the Author Tim Stanley
Tim Stanley is our content creator veteran. His daily tasks involve everything from research to editing. His expertise: Water Softeners. When he is not working, Tim spends most his free time cycling and shaping his body doing calisthenics. To calm down he also likes to watch Netflix (who doesn’t?).
Learn more about Tim and the rest of the BOS Team.