How to Choose a Whole House Water Filtration System

How to know if you have hard water


How to know if you have hard water

Are you concerned about the water quality in your home in Upstate New York? Water quality concerns are definitely something that should be discussed, researched, and addressed if needed. For example, elevated mineral content like water hardness can cause stains and scale buildup that can cause premature failure of appliances, fixtures, and plumbing. Then there are contaminants that cause unpleasant tastes and odors. And finally, health-related contaminants that can be found in drinking water are often undetectable without a lab test.

Let’s explore common whole home water filtration systems, and how each component is designed to address a different contaminant. This will help you make educated decisions on what will be the best option to conquer your specific water quality concerns.

Understanding Upstate New York’s Water Quality Challenges

As a locally owned and operated business, Aquanology has years of experience effectively addressing water quality issues in the Upstate NY area. Here are a few:

Dirt and sediment

Water from natural sources such as lakes and wells will often contain soil particles, sands, clays and other foreign materials that make the water cloudy, dirty, and less appealing. Although sediment issues are most prevalent on private water sources, even public water sources can have sediment issues, at less noticeable levels.

Water hardness

Hardness is a generally used term for excess mineral content found naturally in ground water, most often the mineral calcium and magnesium. In elevated levels, hardness causes scaling, staining, and mineral buildup on water heaters, appliances, and fixtures, reducing their useful lifespan and efficiency. Hardness can also cause dry skin and hair from showering and bathing.

Microbial contamination

Water can also pick up harmful bacteria and other pathogenic microbes that have been well-proven to cause illness when such water is consumed, especially in young children or those with compromised immune systems.


Public water is often treated with chlorine to reduce the risk of bacteria contamination for customers using the public water supply system. However, chlorine can cause dry skin and hair, and many find drinking water with chlorine unpleasant. By the time the water has reached your home, the chlorine’s job is complete, and a whole house filtration system is a great option to remove it.

Taste and Odor

Contaminants, like sulfur and organics, etc. can lend a bad taste or smell to the water, making living conditions unpleasant. Other items like elevated iron, manganese, or other minerals can add disgusting flavors to the water.

Finally, there are health-related compounds that can be found in water supplies.

Nitrates – an agricultural fertilizer run-off.

Trihalomethanes – a disinfection by-product from chlorine commonly found in public water.

Lead – most often found in older homes, or areas with old water mains.


Specific Whole Home Water Filtration Systems to Address Specific Problems

A whole home water filtration system that is properly designed to address the issues you are dealing with will greatly reduce maintenance and repairs on plumbing and appliances and result in better-tasting water that creates less worry for you, the homeowner.

1. Sediment filtration systems

Sediment filtration systems are designed to remove dirt, sand, ferric iron, and other visual impurities from the water. This protects pipes and appliances, and creates more appealing water.

Sediment filtration can be as simple as a basic replaceable cartridge sediment filter to address mild to moderate sediment issues, or advanced backwashing sand filters to address more severe sediment problems. Specialized oxidation filters are commonly used to address high amounts of iron in water.

2. Carbon filtration systems

Carbon filtration is typically designed to remove common unwanted tastes and odors from water. By far the most common problematic odor that carbon is used to deal with is hydrogen sulfide (aka sulfur). In heavy sulfur cases, an oxidizer may be required in addition to the carbon filtration.

Carbon is also hugely popular for reducing the taste and odor from the common disinfection chemical chlorine. However, it is also effective at reducing by adsorption a wide range of chemicals and disinfection by-products. 

Carbon filters vary from basic replaceable cartridge style filters to more advanced backwashing carbon filters with granular carbon medias. Carbon is also available in catalytic form for better removal of certain contaminants.

3. Reverse Osmosis systems

Reverse osmosis systems work on the principle of using water pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane. Other molecules that are too large to pass are flushed to the drain. The result? Crystal-clear water that is rid of unwanted minerals and other harmful contaminants.

While reverse osmosis systems are very common for drinking-water-sized systems, they are also available as whole-home reverse osmosis systems that deliver excellent quality drinking water to every home tap. The area where reverse osmosis systems really shine is when the following water quality levels are very high:

  1. Sodium/chloride (salt water wells)
  2. Water hardness
  3. Sulfates
  4. A combination of minerals that cause high TDS

While whole home RO systems are usually a higher priced option, they are usually low maintenance if designed properly, and have the added benefit of requiring little to no salt for softening.

4. Water softener systems

Water softeners have been around for years, but are still a popular option for conditioning hard water. Hard water is caused by the ions in water, like calcium and magnesium, that form scale on surfaces that the water contacts.

A water softener works by exchanging hardness ions for sodium ions. The result is water that is easier on your skin and hair, requires less soap because of better lather, and prolongs the life of plumbing, fixtures, and appliances. Water softeners usually last for years and boast low maintenance, only requiring periodical replacement of salt.

Choosing the right system for your needs

A whole-house water filtration system can significantly improve your home’s water quality, but with various options available, selecting the right one requires careful consideration. Here are some factors to consider:

Learn about the water quality in your area. 

Even if you know what the area water quality averages, make sure to do your own testing on your own water source, as water quality varies even in local areas.

Determine what end result of water quality you need.

Do you need to be able to drink the water, or does it only have to be usable for general purposes? Is this a primary residence or a vacation home?

Weigh out the pro and cons between low cost options and more expensive, comprehensive options.

Usually lower cost basic filtration options will require more maintenance, but may be ideal in a case where very little water is used.

Figure out your available space. 

Whole house systems require installation space. Consider the footprint of each system type.

Consider Maintenance requirements.

 Some systems require more frequent filter replacements or salt regeneration compared to others.

Predict future needs.

Think about potential future water quality changes or if you plan to expand your household water needs.


Aquanology: Your Upstate NY Water Filtration Specialists

Call or email for a friendly chat about the water quality challenge you are dealing with. At your request, a technician from Aquanology will visit your home for a free water test and consultation. (In some cases, more advanced laboratory testing may be recommended as well.)

You Can Count on Our Expertise

We will assist you in determining needed changes to your existing water treatment setup, based on your budget and water quality expectations. If necessary, we can remove the existing system and install a new system designed to serve you for years.

Count on Our Reliable Service 

We can set you up with our affordable service plan or provide training for you to do your own service and maintenance, to keep your water conditioning system working in top condition. Don’t forget our “just-a-phone-call-away” service and support for emergencies that may arise.

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