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What You Need to Know About Finding the Best Water Filter for Your Home

Follow these tips to find the right water filter to help remove chlorine or lead from your drinking water.

While many people have good quality water around the world, many homeowners are adding a water filter to their kitchen to help remove chlorine, lead and other things you don’t want lurking in your glass of drinking water — and to make it taste better. Plus, certain water treatment systems protect and can extend the lifespan of appliances, including dishwashers.

Still you may wonder: “What is in my tap water?” and “How do I get it out?”

Finding the right water filter seems like it should be easy -- they just filter the water, right? It’s more complex than that.

“Starting to look for the right water filtration system for your home can be overwhelming,” says NSF’s international water systems expert Rick Andrew. With hundreds of products on the market, there are some that “may not exactly do what they promise on the packaging,” he adds.

Not to worry. Rick shares everything you need to know to find the best water filter system for your home:

  • Consider your options. The first step is to understand what contaminants are in your water. If you have city water, your water supplier can give you its most current water quality report. In the U.S. and Canada, it is called a consumer confidence report. You can find out where your water comes from, how your water is treated, what it has been treated for and what’s in the water that comes to your home. If you’re on a private well, you may consider having your water tested by a nearby drinking water lab.
  • Select the system targeted for your purification needs. Not all water filters remove every type of impurity. When shopping for a water filter, pay attention to the contaminants it is certified to remove, and make sure these are the contaminants important to you. As an example, if your family has concerns about nitrates in your well water, you can search NSF’s certification listings to find treatment systems specifically certified for nitrate reduction. In this case, finding a product that can reduce nitrates would be the deciding factor in choosing the best water filter for you.
  • Beware of product claims that look too good to be true. There are many products on the market claiming they are best or will do more than what seems possible. These products typically don’t have any certification, and instead rely on claims made solely by the manufacturer without any proof that they are true.
  • Look for certification. One way to figure out what a water filter does is to look for an NSF certification mark on the label. You can look up specific products in the NSF database to see what your water filter is certified to protect against. NSF certification verifies that a water filter will reduce the contaminants the manufacturer claims (for example, chlorine, lead or mercury).

Rick also advises to regularly change the filter because no matter which water filter you choose, it is not going to work properly if you do not replace it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

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