How Do Water Filtration Systems Work?


Thinking about buying a water filtration system for your home? If so, you may be wondering how they actually work. After all, how can a little water filter in your home effectively filter out virtually all of the pollutants, chemicals, and other contaminants that your city’s water treatment plant has left behind? Here’s an in-depth look at water filtration systems for your home, how they work, and how you and your family can benefit from having clean, pure, filtered water on tap to enjoy anytime you want.

Why Install a Water Filtration System?

As you probably know, the water we drink comes from a municipal water treatment facility. Depending on the area in which you live, the water that comes out of your tap, though safe to drink, may feature a sour or salty taste or unpleasant metallic smell. This can result in you and your family not wanting to drink much water, which can lead to a variety of health problems. After all, our bodies are over 70 percent water, and it is vital to our well-being to drink plenty of water so we can remain properly hydrated throughout the day. When we drink other beverages, such as sugary soda or juice, instead of water, we are compromising our good health and potentially setting ourselves up for serious complications down the road. Medical conditions including kidney failure, edema, and seizures can be associated with dehydration. Additionally, the positive benefits of drinking enough water, such as healthy weight management, improved complexion, and proper flushing of toxins from the body, become much harder to achieve when you neglect to drink water throughout your day.

If you’re not drinking enough tap water because you can’t bear the taste of it, we’ve got some good news for you: purchasing and installing your own water filtration system in your home is much easier and more affordable than you have ever imagined! Most domestic filters work by providing multiple levels of water purification so that your drinking water is as clear, clean, and free of contaminants as possible. This ensures a great-tasting glass of water every time!

Water Filtration Basics

There are five main types of filters often working in conjunction with one another in your home water filtration system. These include mechanical filters, absorption filters, sequestration filters, ion exchange filters, and reverse osmosis filters. Together, they filter out just about every contaminant in your water, leaving only fresh, clean drinking water behind. Let’s take a look at what each filter does to better understand how your water filtration system works to effectively remove chemicals and other particles from your drinking water.

Mechanical Filters

Your water filtration system comes equipped with a mechanical filter, which is designed to physically remove particles, dirt, or sediment in your drinking water. The mechanical filter can consist of anything from a basic mesh strainer to a porous ceramic filter that can remove even the tiniest of organisms. A mechanical filter’s micron rating tells you how effective it is in terms of removing particles. For example, a micron rating of 5 will remove most particles that are visible to the naked eye, while a micron rating of 0.5 will remove pathogens such as giardia and cryptosporidium. Basically, the lower the number in a mechanical filter’s micron rating, the more it is able to remove from your drinking water.

Absorption Filters

An absorption water filter uses carbon to capture contaminants commonly found in water. Carbon is extremely effective at absorbing particles thanks to its large internal surface full of chemical-trapping crevices. Most domestic water filters feature GAC, or granular activated carbon, which uses absorption to effectively reduce impurities that cause water to have an unpleasant taste. Some high-end filtration systems use a carbon block filter element, which is more effective than GAC and carry a very low micron rating.

Sequestration Filters

In order to effectively remove virtually all impurities from your drinking water supply, sequestration filters are a common part of most domestic water filtration systems. A sequestration filter works by isolating substances such as calcium and magnesium, which can cause limescale and corrosion in your water pipes. This is done using food grade polyphosphate, which is not harmful and will not soften your water. Basically, the polyphosphate will work to keep the minerals within the solution, preventing them from forming as scale on any surfaces they come into contact with as water goes through the pipes.

Ion Exchange Filters

The ion exchange process softens hard water by swapping out magnesium and calcium ions for hydrogen-based ions. This removes the hard minerals that can cause limescale. Ion exchange filters typically use a type of resin which comes in the form of tiny beads. The same resin beads are commonly used in water softeners, and need to be periodically recharged to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

Reverse osmosis, or RO, removes dissolved inorganic solids like magnesium and calcium ions by forcing water through a semipermeable membrane under pressure. This causes the water to pass through while contaminants are trapped in the membrane. Reverse osmosis is one of the most highly effective ways of removing impurities from drinking water, which makes a reverse osmosis filter a highly desirable feature for your home water filtration system. Since RO filters use water pressure to filter water through the membrane, they do not require electricity, which can add up to a significant savings on your energy bill! On the downside, however, these filters produce a certain amount of waste water. Reverse osmosis is used for any application that requires water to be 99.9 percent pure- for example, RO is increasingly being used to treat water used to make coffee. Though the inclusion of a reverse osmosis filter can drive up the price of your home water filtration system, the quality of your drinking water may be well worth the higher price tag.

Contact a Water Filtration Expert Today

As soon as you decide to purchase and install your home water filtration system, be sure to ask your plumber or service technician any questions you may have about your particular brand of water filter, how efficient it is at removing contaminants, particles, and impurities from your water, and tips for proper filter maintenance to ensure a long life. Once you’ve tried a glass of fresh, pure, filtered water, you’ll never want to go back to drinking regular tap water again!