What's the Deal with Water Filtration?

Did you know that drinkable water wasn’t always an easily accessible resource? In fact filtered water has only been reliably produced in the past 200 years. To briefly discuss the history of water filtration, it is interesting to know that water filtration has been a “pipe dream” since the 1600s. It’s clear that access to filtered water has catapulted humanity to previously unthinkable heights.

Understanding Water Filtration

So, why is that? Water, as it is naturally found is a pretty magnificent breeding ground for bacteria and other contaminants… Therefore drinking water was a surefire way to get sick in the past. Thinkers in the 1600s knew that water was a source of life, yet posed a significant danger to those who consume it. Their question was simple: “How can we as a society reap the benefits of water without this risk?” The answer to that question was to develop the technology to filter water.

Understanding the world of water filtration can seem daunting, but it is possible with a little bit of help. To get a solid grasp on everything water filtration, we’ll be discussing a few topics. We’ll start by talking about what is in the water that is arriving in our homes. Next we’ll be breaking down how filtration works. Lastly we’ll talk about the difference between filtration, softening, and conditioning. Once we’ve got a clearer understanding of water filtration, we’ll briefly walk into some of the solutions we provide here at Dutton Plumbing.

What’s in my Water?

Have you ever wondered what is in your water? It isn’t uncommon to question one’s water. After all, we drink, bathe, and cook with this material. To explain what we’re really looking for, let’s look at who delivers our water. These groups are called water municipalities, their primary concern is getting water from point “a” to point “b”. To accomplish this, municipalities use certain chemicals like chlorine to treat the water. These chemicals are a great resource for this transporting water but aren’t great for someone to drink.

So now we know who delivers our water water… But we still don’t know what specifically is in it. This will differ from one location to another, however this resource is a simple and effective way to know what they find in your water. This resource is called the EWG Tap Water Database with just a zip code, give it a try! https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/#.Wr0zydPwbUI

Did you use the EWG Tap Water Database? You might be saying to yourself, “Yikes!” Which is what we see as well! So, while we need these municipalities to distribute water safely, we don’t necessarily want the extra chemicals they’ve added to get it to us. Our favorite metaphor in this regard is to “unwrap” the water. What do we mean? Think about when buying food at a local grocery store. It was likely wrapped tightly in a plastic bag. We certainly want to eat the food, but we don’t just eat the plastic bag. We unwrap the food and It is essentially the same situation with tap water. We’re truly grateful to have the water conveniently delivered, but it isn’t quite ready for consumption just yet.

Water Filtration Basics

Have you ever wondered how a filter works? Today is your lucky day! We’ll be breaking down how a filter works on a general scale. At the most basic level, a filter is a tightly packed material that restricts something from passing through. A great real life example is paper coffee filters. The ground coffee beans are placed in the filter, and the hot water is put on top of the beans. The brewed coffee flows through the filter while the beans remain on top. In terms of water filtration, the concept is the same, but the particles are much smaller than the ground coffee.

Not all filters are the same, but most work using the incredible properties of activated carbon. This material is basically charcoal that has been processed to maximize surface area. Activated carbon reacts with water chemically which effectively neutralizing chlorine and other chemicals. Additionally, this material can be used to physically block particles that are too large to pass through the filter. Other types of filters use a myriad of techniques to achieve a reduced chemical and particle content in the water.

One of these alternative techniques is called reverse osmosis. You’ve probably heard the term used on the back of a water bottle. But what exactly does that mean in terms of water filtration? Understanding osmosis will help us figure out why this works. Osmosis causes a fluid (in this case water) to move from high pressure to low pressure. This is what happens when a corner of a paper towel is dipped into water, the water “drinks” into the paper towel. In order to perform reverse osmosis, water would have to flow from low pressure to high pressure. As one might imagine, doing that is a fairly tricky operation to accomplish. A reverse osmosis system forces water through a series of permeable membranes at incredibly high water pressure, stripping the water of chemicals and particles almost entirely. This effectively produces two streams of fluid. The primary stream is highly filtered water, the other is a smaller stream of wastewater with an increased volume of particles, chemicals, and anything else the system has removed.

Filtration, Softening, or Conditioning

One of the more complicated areas of water quality is the confusion between filtration, softening, and conditioning. We’ll explain a simple distinctions to understand what each are. Filtration is all about removing things from a fluid. For example, I have sediment in my water, so I’d filter it out. Softening has to do with the “hardness” of water, is best explained as the amount of calcium, magnesium, and other materials are in water causing build up. To soften water, one could use a system to add salt into the water which binds with those materials, rendering the water undrinkable, but it is better for the plumbing system. Last but certainly not least is water conditioning. Water conditioning is to combat hard water without adding chemicals or minerals such as salt. One such process is known as ionization. Here at Dutton plumbing, we provide solutions for filtration and water conditioning.

Types of water treatment systems

While we’re on the topic of water conditioning, let’s take a quick detour to talk about the HALO Ion. As the name implies, it is an ionizer for water. A number of the solutions we have include a HALO Ion so it is important to address exactly what that is, and why it matters. In the most basic sense, this unit forces particles to stick to one another, not the inside of one’s pipes. To briefly touch on what this is doing, think about calcium, which builds up on teeth in the form of plaque, calcium does the same thing inside of pipes. This hard, crusty material builds up in one’s pipes and appliances. The HALO Ion magnetizes this calcium to another particle so it can’t bind to one’s pipes, instead it flows through the system without getting stuck.

Whole House vs Point of Use

One important distinction to know about water filtration is that the point of installation does matter. Whole house units are found close to the source of water as it enters the home, filtering water before it reaches any of the taps or appliances in the home. Point of use filters, such as the under the counter and HALO 6-Stage units only filter water at one location in the home. There are benefits to each of these solutions, but the main distinction comes from the expected level of quality one can expect from the unit. A whole house unit like the HALO 5-stage passes through an incredibly sophisticated process to filter and ionize water, where an under the counter unit like the HALO Under The Counter 2 will only be passing the water through two carbon filters.

Just because a unit is under the counter doesn’t mean it can’t be an impressive piece of hardware. Taking a brief look at the HALO 6-stage unit you’ll see that this unit is filtering water via carbon filters, a reverse osmosis process, and finally through a pH enhancer. However, impressive this unit is, it isn’t filtering all of the water in the home, which means that appliances like your water heater, dishwasher, washing machine, and fridge are all dealing with sediment and minerals that are present in the water system.

Interested in having a water filter or conditioner installed? Call today to(805) 316-4409

What Solutions Do We Have?

Now that we understand the water that is arriving in our homes, we understand the value of removing chemicals prior to consumption. We’ll be able to consider a couple options for filtering and condition water. It makes sense to look through all of the options as one option might make more sense than another.

HALO 5-Stage Filter

A HALO 5-stage filter is a whole home system that passes water through activated carbon and other materials to reduce chemicals, suspended particles and sediment before it enters one’s home. In the last stage the water will pass through an inline HALO Ion unit to protect one’s plumbing system. This unit effectively allows filtered water to flow to everything from the water heater to the kitchen sink.

HALO Mini 2 and 3

Sometimes a large units like the HALO 5-stage are too big for a condo, small home, or are not allowed in a restrictive homeowners association. Whole home filtration is still a possibility in these situations! One solution is the HALO Mini 2 and 3. These compact units filter water through 2 stages of filtration. The HALO Mini 3 includes a HALO Ion Elite stage in order to condition the water entering the plumbing system.

HALO 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis with enhanced pH

This under the sink unit provides some of the highest quality water available. This unit runs through carbon filters, a reverse osmosis operation, and a pH conditioner. The reason the pH conditioner is important is due to the effect of reverse osmosis. Removing all of the particles and chemicals from the water will tip a water mildly or dramatically toward the acidic side of the pH scale. The pH conditioner balances the water just on the side of alkalinity so the highly filtered water is clean and healthy.

It’s important for us to spend a little longer talking about this impressive little unit. In particular we’re excited to talk a bit more about the enhanced pH and why it is so cool to have a source of this water in the home. Anyone who has purchased health drinks with alkalized water knows that one can easily spend a significant amount of money purchasing it on a regular basis! For individuals that exercise regularly, having a source of alkalized water is a great resource since it improves water retention, which allows one to rehydrate more effectively.

HALO Under The Counter 2

Only need filtered water for cooking and drinking? This small unit fits under the sink and passes water through 2 stages of filtration to remove chemicals and particles from the water on demand. This neat little unit provides a source of filtered water for all of one’s cooking and drinking needs in a small form factor.

Here at Dutton Plumbing, we’re proud to install water filters and conditioners! We can test your water and help you figure out which solution is best for you! If you’re interested in having a water filter or conditioner installed, simply call us at (805) 316-4409