Last updated: August 5, 2021

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House water filters are indispensable in a modern household. They improve the quality of the incoming tap water and filter out dirt particles and other unwanted pollutants. Our large house water filter test 2021 will help you choose the best device for you.

We have compared different models such as backwashers, activated carbon filters and ion exchangers and compiled an overview of the advantages and disadvantages so that your decision is as easy as possible.




Summary

  • House water filters ensure that the incoming tap water is thoroughly cleaned of dirt, chemicals and bacteria.
  • In addition to conventional sediment filters, other filter types such as activated carbon filters or ion exchangers are used. Complex systems such as the reverse osmosis system combine the various filter technologies.
  • A simple sediment filter belongs in every household and is easy to clean. Additional filter elements mean more maintenance, but they can improve the water quality even more.

The Best House Water Filter: Our Choices

Buying Criteria: You can use these Factors to compare and evaluate House Water Filters

Not all house water filters are the same. A wide range of models is available today. The following criteria will help you decide:

Retention of pollutants

A good house water filter must first and foremost thoroughly remove pipe debris and other small particles from the water. Even simple backwash filters for little money fulfil this purpose. Purely mechanical filters, however, do not remove limescale, chemical substances or microorganisms from the water.

Sophisticated combination systems are available for this purpose, in which activated carbon or special granulates for chemical water treatment are used in addition to the sediment filter.

Before buying, think carefully about how clean you want the water to be. A sediment filter is indispensable for the entire household, but toilet water, for example, does not have to be of outstanding quality. It is worthwhile to install additional filters only at individual taps.

Connection

The filter connection should be made of sturdy brass and must not leak under any circumstances, because the filter is exposed to high water pressure after installation.

Also pay attention to the connection dimensions. It indicates the size of the connection valve on the filter head and is given in inches. The size you need depends on the diameter of the pipes in your household. The most common sizes are 3/4", 1" and 1 1/4".

Maintenance & Cleaning

A house water filter requires regular cleaning to prevent contamination of the water. Different types of filters require different amounts of effort.

First and foremost, backwashable filters are of course much easier to clean than non-backwashable ones.

Every two to three months you have to rinse the filter to remove particles. This way, the filter remains serviceable for several years and does not require any additional maintenance.

Non-rewashable filters are consumable products and you will have to replace them every few months, which of course generates additional costs. Additional filter units such as activated carbon filters also cannot be cleaned. You will have to replace them regularly.

Lifetime

Even with proper cleaning, you will need to replace the filter cartridges from time to time. How often this is necessary depends on the water quality and flow rate or how much the filter is used.

If it is a combined system such as a sediment filter with additional pre-filter and activated carbon block, you have to change the individual filter cartridges individually. The following applies for normal consumption and average water quality:

  • Backwashers: After cleaning, they are completely clean again - only the material wears out over time. Good backwashers should be serviceable for a good two years.
  • Activated charcoal filters: Since the pollutants stick to the charcoal and cannot be rinsed out again, these filters can be used for much less time. They have to be changed after three to six months.
  • Ion exchangers: Ion exchanger cartridges for water decalcification can also be used for three to six months.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a House Water Filter

Why a house water filter?

House water filters are used to remove dirt particles, limescale, chemicals and other pollutants from the incoming tap water. Although the water is already qualitatively treated in the waterworks, it travels a long way until it reaches our household.

As it flows through the pipes, particles of sand and rust can be washed in. Often these pipes have been in use for years and are heavily calcified due to the high water pressure. Installation work on the pipes can also result in contamination.

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Especially in old buildings, many pipes are still made of iron or steel. The smallest particles can come loose and get into the drinking water. (Image source: pixabay.com / distelAPPArath)

House water filters are installed directly at the household water supply and filter all incoming water. In addition, additional filter systems, e.g. at the drinking tap, can further treat the water.

Are house water filters compulsory?

The European standard DIN 1988 legally prescribes mechanical sediment filters in houses with metallic pipes and also the exact location of the filter in the house. The filters used must meet current testing standards. The sole purpose of these filters is to remove suspended matter and small particles such as rust particles or grains of sand from the water.

However, older buildings often lack such filters, as this standard did not exist in the past. There is no obligation to retrofit them, but it is highly recommended. Especially here we find pipes that are still made of iron or even lead.

The removal of other undesirable substances such as chemicals, medicines or limescale is left up to each household. It makes sense to attach additional filters, e.g. for drinking water treatment, only to the corresponding tap instead of treating the entire household water.

Does it make sense to buy a house water filter?

In older buildings, the pipes are often characterised by severe corrosion or even still consist of the heavy metal lead. Here you should definitely retrofit. Rust particles, sand grains or similar particles can damage machines and appliances or seals in the house, as well as contribute to the wear and tear of the pipes through sedimentation.

Incidentally, German drinking water is strictly controlled, and there is no health risk. The additional treatment is therefore not absolutely necessary, but can serve to improve the taste or soften the water and additionally filter out substances that are still present in small quantities, including turbidity & taste substances, bacteria, chemical substances such as pesticide residues, medicines or hormones.

What does a house water filter cost?

The cost of a simple sediment filter is between 130 and180 euros. Although plastic models are available for around 40 euros, it is worth investing in a high-quality product for long-term use. The decisive factors for the price are the material of the filter and the flexibility of use.

Extras such as a pressure gauge, additional filter units or other accessories are also important. The following table gives an overview of the purchase and follow-up costs of the most common filter types:

Filter type Acquisition costs Follow-up costs
Sediment filter with backwash approx. 130 - 180 € approx. 20 - 50 € per replacement filter
Activated carbon filter approx. 150 - 250 € approx. 30 - 80 € per replacement filter
Ion exchanger approx. 150 - 250 € approx. 30 - 80 € per replacement filter
Reverse osmosis system approx. 150 - 450 € approx. 50 - 80 € per replacement filter set

In addition to the purchase price, you should also consider the follow-up costs. You have to replace filter cartridges regularly, some more often than others. How often this is necessary depends on the type of filter and the quality and quantity of the filtered water.

What types of House Water Filters are there and which is the right one for you?

Different types of filters are used, which work with different techniques and thus specifically remove certain particles and substances from the water. The following are common:

Filter type Advantages Disadvantages
Sediment filter with backwash Cleans water of dirt particles, easy installation, easy cleaning Filters only solid particles - germs, chemicals and limescale remain in water
Ion exchanger Decalcifies the water, water tastes better as a result and protects household appliances Full filter needs replacement, careful maintenance required
Activated carbon filter removes chemicals, pesticides and flavourings, making water very clean full filter needs replacement, careful maintenance required
Reverse osmosis filter Highly efficient process, very clean water as a result High energy and water consumption, trace elements need to be added again

Manufacturers often combine different systems. For example, there are filters that combine activated carbon with ion exchangers, special lime catalysts or UV irradiation, as well as multi-stage reverse osmosis systems.

Sediment filter with backwash

The purpose of conventional house water filters without additional functions is to clean the incoming tap water of minute particles. They are usually located directly after the water meter. This coarse cleaning is necessary because on its way from the treatment plant to our house, the water travels a long way through pipes, tubes, valves and seals, picking up the smallest particles such as abrasion from sealing pipes, tiny plastic particles, rust particles or microorganisms.

Backwashing is very easy to do and there is no additional cost. The majority of water filters have a so-called backwash function. During a backwash, you let the water run through the filter at full pressure in the opposite direction. This loosens the accumulated dirt particles and the filter remains clean.

Backwashing is very easy to perform and there are no additional costs. Filters without a backwash also exist, but their handling is much more complicated. You have to change the filter cartridge at least every four months. This costs money every time, and sometimes even a specialist has to do the replacement.

Advantages
  • Cleans water of dirt particles
  • Easy, quick cleaning
  • Simple assembly
Disadvantages
  • Filter can become contaminated
  • Filters only solid particles
  • Regular checks necessary

Ion exchanger

The purpose of ion exchangers is to soften the water. Water that is too hard causes limescale deposits that lead to rapid wear of pipes and household appliances. Regular descaling provides a remedy, but a central water descaling system prevents the damage completely. By water hardness we mean the amount of dissolved alkaline earth metals, i.e. mainly calcium and magnesium.

The calcium content is decisive for the calculation: 1°dH (German degrees of hardness) corresponds to 10 mg of dissolved CaO in one litre of tap water. A special filter makes sense at a hardness level of over 14°dH. Ion exchange consists of removing calcium or magnesium ions from the water and exchanging them for sodium or chloride ions. The hardness of the water is thus reduced.

Advantages
  • Decalcification of the water
  • Protects household appliances and pipes
  • Soft water tastes better
Disadvantages
  • Full filter can suddenly release concentrated ions
  • Filter can become contaminated
  • Regular replacement of exchanger resins

Activated carbon filter

Activated carbon filters a variety of unwanted & toxic chemicals such as pesticides or medicines. Despite drinking water treatment at the waterworks, such substances are not always completely removed. Activated carbon filters can also improve the taste of water by retaining unpleasant odours and flavours.

The large inner surface of the activated carbon causes dissolved particles to get caught on it (adsorption) and be absorbed by the carbon. The filter elements wear out over time and you need to change them at regular intervals. In contrast to ion exchangers, activated carbon can only adsorb uncharged particles. Minerals, salts and lime are not filtered.

Advantages
  • Removal of chemicals, pesticides, medicines, etc.
  • removal of unpleasant odours and tastes
  • removal of remaining larger particles
Disadvantages
  • Full filter can release substances in concentrated form
  • does not remove limescale
  • filter can become contaminated
  • regular replacement of full filter

Reverse osmosis

Reverse osmosis is a highly effective purification process that removes almost all dissolved substances from even heavily polluted water. Osmosis water is almost as pure as distilled water.

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Water purified by a reverse osmosis process is almost as pure as distilled water. (Image source: rclassenlayouts / 123rf.com)

In this process, electric pumps force the water through a membrane that is only permeable in one direction. Only small molecules such as water are allowed to pass through; larger substances such as nitrate, phosphate, minerals or heavy metals remain trapped. The result is highly pure water.

Advantages
  • Highly effective cleaning
  • Combined filter system
  • Low maintenance and long service life
Disadvantages
  • Removes all ions and salts from the water, which is not healthy
  • Membrane can germinate
  • High energy and water consumption

Facts worth knowing about House Water Filters

What is the pressure reducer for?

The pressure reducer is installed directly behind the water meter and has the function of reducing the high pressure in the pipes to approx. 2.0 - 2.5 bar for the domestic installation. For each floor we add another 0.3 - 0.4 bar, but too high a water pressure would cause damage to the piping system in the household.

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The pressure reducer is installed directly behind the water meter and reduces the high inlet pressure for the household pipes. (Image source: support.alfiltra.de / customer service by Alfiltra)

We usually install the house water filter directly after the pressure reducer so that it is effective for the entire household. Some models also have an integrated regulator for the water pressure.

How and how often do I clean a backwash filter?

The advantage of water filters with a backwash function is that they are easy to clean. You simply let the water run through the filter in the opposite direction. They are then clean and ready for use again, and there are no further costs.

The situation is different with filters without a backwash function, for which you have to buy a new cartridge every time you clean the filter. Simple backwashers at the house connection require cleaning about every two months. But you don't need a specialist to do this every time. You can simply flush it yourself. Here's how:

  1. Check the drain valve: Is there a water drain under the filter? If not, use a bucket to catch the water.
  2. Rinse: Open the tap below the filter and run the rinse for about five to ten seconds.
  3. Repeat the process: Depending on the degree of contamination and to make sure that all particles are really rinsed out of the filter, repeat the rinsing process once or twice.

How do I change the filter cartridge?

You also have to change the filter of a backwash unit from time to time. However, the process is simple and you can do it yourself. To do this, first turn off the water inlet and also the pipe leading into the house. The filter is then isolated in the middle and you can remove it with a filter spanner. Some water may still leak out. Replace the filters, tighten the filter housing and loosen both inlets.

Photo source: ronstik/ 123rf.com

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