Need Undersink Water Filter Recommendations

baltomom_gwJanuary 7, 2011

I've been looking at undersink water filters, and need some advice on what's best for our situation. We have Baltimore city water, which does not taste good to me, but is considered safe. Our house is old and sometimes the water is rusty looking. I have not had it tested. Currently, we use Pur water filter pitchers, but we drink a lot of water and go through filters quickly.

I want to filter lead, chlorine, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

Would RO be overkill in our situation? I had an RO filter in a previous house, and the water tasted "flat." Plus it takes forever to filter enough water for cooking, and it wastes a lot of water.

The water filtered through the Pur filters tastes fine to our family. The label says the Pur filters remove the things I'm worried about.

Can you recommend an undersink filter that will remove the problem contaminants, but leave some minerals so the water still tastes good?

Or is a RO filter the best way to go?


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The service life of an RO is dependent on the water you feed it. The more junk that's in the water the shorter the filter and membrane life of an RO and so the more costly it's operation.

First thing is you need to know what is in the water that you want to filter out. You don't filter rusty looking water for taste. Something is turning that water rusty. If the water is coming into the house clear then most likely you have old galvanized pipe and that rusty look is rust. Aside from looking icky that color is telling you that pipes are failing and you're getting ready for a water leak to happen sooner or later. Is the rust on the hot and cold side or just the hot side?

For a quality undersink filter or RO I can recommend these people... cause they know their stuff, sell quality products, and will take the time to talk on the phone to make sure you get what you need. I have no affiliation with this company.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 11:32AM
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There are few options that can produce better water than an RO. The 'flat' taste you are describing is one of symptom of success. Rememeber: water is an odorless, colorless, tasteless liquid. If you are tasting something, is is not water.

As mentioned, the rustiness should be understood and if it is coming from the municipal lines, then a whole house filter may be recommended in addition to a drinking water device. if it is coming from within, then alteration in plumbing may be needed.

An RO working properly doesn't waste water unless there is no shutoff or it is broken. The concentrate water can be made useful for other purposes as well. Cheaper models may drain up to 7 gallons for every gallon produced, quality ones provide a ratio of 2.5:1.

Some ROs do produce water very slowly (8-14gpd), but there are higher quality ones that can produce more water (up to 40gpd) than most people use for drinking and cooking. Water can be stored in special containers to make up for slow production. In other words, fill them up before going to bed and you'll have a fresh supply by the next morning.

Pharmaceuticals will not be able to be 'filtered' by convention filters Some pharmaceuticals may even pass through membrane technologies. Try always to get accurate water tests before assuming what is there and buying equipment that may or may not be addressing your particular water issues.

Andy Christensne, CWS

    Bookmark   January 7, 2011 at 10:45PM
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Thanks for your replies. I don't have rusty water from every faucet, so I think it may have to do with the fact that I do have some galvanized pipes. I'm going to have a plumber take a look at my house this week and see what can be done about that.

Is RO the only way to get pharmaceuticals out of our water? I'm pretty sure ours comes from the Chesapeake, so there have to be all sorts of chemicals and pharmaceuticals in it -- municipal water is not tested for these things, I don't think.

Where do I get accurate water tests? The city sent me a water quality report, but how do I find out what's in the water that's coming out of my tap?

One more question: I've heard that RO water is very acidic and can actually leach chemicals out of faucets and be hard on human bodies. You are supposed to drink water that's neutral or slightly basic. I'd like to avoid having to add minerals to the RO water. That's why I'm hoping I can find a good filter that will take out the contaminants and leave the minerals -- is this hoping too much?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2011 at 10:44PM
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You can get accurate water tests from a water testing lab. There should be one or two in your area. You could ask the city who they use.

RO will be your best bet for removing pharmaceuticals from your water since they are comprised of a very wide range of chemicals, and typically large molecules, perfect for removal with RO, but not necessarily removable with other filters.

RO water is not necessarily acidic. It will typically be slightly lower in pH than the water you start with, but, unless you water is highly alkaline and high in CO2 to begin with, pH will not change much. Your body wants water between pH of 6.5 and 9, easy enough to check.

RO water is, however, aggressive. It is so clean that it has a lot of ability to dissolve solids. For this reason, tubing for RO water should be plastic and the metal in RO faucets should be low-lead, preferrably stainless steel. RO water is not going to damage your body. On the contrary, drinking clean water will be good for your body. You do not need to mineralize your water. The amount of minerals you can get from water is miniscule compared to what you get from the foods you eat.

In any case, start with a comprehensive water test to make certain filtration is necessary.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 12:30AM
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FWIW....Kinetco K5 and a few others offer multiple-filter RO units purported to deliver absolutely pristine water free of all contaminants biological or otherwise. The additional filter modules add expense and the unit so configured requires specific and cumbersome maintenance from time-to-time to maintain their performance. Also offer mineral add-back modules for taste. For those with elevated concerns about such issues and some extra bucks to expend, such units are certainly available.

From one web source, here are filtration modules available for Kinetico K5. In addition to carbon pre-filter and GAC post-filter, three more of any of these can be plugged in:

"Sediment prefilter�used in well water applications to remove particulates and sediment
Carbon/Sediment prefilter�used with city water installations to remove particulates and sediment as well as chlorine
Chloramine prefilter�used with city water applications to remove chloramines, which many municipalities use in place of chlorine
Volatile organic compounds (VOC) filter�used to remove VOCs (including pesticides, paints and paint strippers, cleaning supplies, and building materials)
Purefecta� Guard�uses Purefecta technology to remove bacteria and viruses
Arsenic Guard�provides extra protection against arsenic V and arsenic III
Perchlorate Guard�used to remove perchlorate (a by-product of rocket fuel) from water
Mineral Plus�cartridge that adds magnesium and calcium into treated water
GAC postfilter�removes any unwanted tastes and odors from water"

I have two K5W's at two different locations (neither using the additional modules) providing 97% and 99% exclusion. Kinetico is high-end price-wise but if you've got the bucks, I recommend them without hesitation. (I am retail customer. No affiliation or interest of any kind in Kinetico otherwise.)

    Bookmark   January 13, 2011 at 10:50AM
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If I go with a whole home filtration system (such as Kinetico) that removes chlorine, VOCs etc. do I also need the drinking water system?

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 1:18AM
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You appear to have misunderstood. The Kinetico system described is a drinking water system. This is NOT a "whole home" system.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2012 at 10:42AM
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I did a ton of research and found the EWS system is the only one that removes Chloramine- currently used my many municipalities. They also have a whole house system with no maintenance for 8 years. Chloramine is a mixture of ammonia and chlorine. A nasty mixture used more and more due to the low cost.

Here is a link that might be useful: EWS system

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 7:39AM
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The unit you linked shows filters with a max. service life of one year. That, too, would be "nominal" because actual service life would depend on actual flow volume and concentration of absorbable contaminants in the water itself.

The imbedded video deals with chlorine, not chloramine.

The pictured system certainly is not the "only" system available that removes chloramine.

There is no mention at your link of an 8-year no-maintenance system and, even if there was, it's service life would depend on water quality and flow volume, not time.

Your "research" is pretty shallow.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:19AM
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Further, chloramine is not a "mixture" of chlorine (Cl2) and ammonia (NH3), which implies that two separate chemicals are just mixed but remain distinct. It is one of a group of compounds (generally NH2Cl when speaking of municipal water disinfectant). It is used because it does not dissipate as quickly as free chlorine AND because it has a lower tendency than free chlorine to convert organic materials into chlorocarbons (which tend to be carcinogenic).

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:53PM
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"I do have some galvanized pipes"

They are all very likely full of a LOT of buildup.

More on the hot side, but even cold lines of galvanized scale up.

I have had pieces of cold that you could not see any light through till the sections are cut into about 6 inch pieces.
That much scale and corrosion.
The hot lines had to be cut to around 3 inch pieces.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2012 at 10:29AM
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To add to aliceinownderland_id's comment, municipalities go to chloramination over chlorination for those reasons, not for cost. Adding ammonia, in addition to chlorine, requires the chemical cost plus the equipment and control systems to feed the chemical. It isn't cheap, but it does help the utility meet regulatory limits for disinfection byproducts (the chemicals made in tiny tiny quantities by chlorine reacting with organic matter in the water).

I think the pro/semi-pro folks on the board are overzealous in recommending RO. If a Brita/Pur filter is doing the trick now, an undercounter filter with sediment and carbon filters will likely do the trick. RO, by comparison, is going to cost more to buy and to own, plus it's sending water down the drain all the time.

I'd definitely replace the galvanized pipe if at all possible. When we pulled ours that was 50+ years old, it looked just like brickeyee describes.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2012 at 8:57AM
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You sound like you need an Aquasana water filter system. RO systems waste too much water. For every gallon of filtered water you need to use 3 to 5 gallons of water.

Aquasana under sink filter removes 99% of contaminants and leave the good minerals in the water. RO removes the bad and good.

You will nee dto replace the Aquasana cartridges every 6 months or 500 gallons used.

Here is a link that might be useful: Aquasana Under Counter Filter

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 12:28PM
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