5 On Your Side

Which Water Filter is Best For You?

Posted May 2, 2007

— Many people are concerned enough about what comes out of their tap that they drink only bottled water. Another option to ease the concern is a water-filtering system. Plenty of systems are available, and Consumer Reports has some ideas to figure out which type is best.

For some people, only a whole-house water filter will do. It removes sediment and some chlorine from her water. And she plans on installing a carbon filter, too.

"I think the carbon filter gives an extra level of protection -- just to be on the safe side," said resident Mary Kay Barton.

Consumer Reports recently tested 27 carbon filters, which includes countertop and undersink filters as well as reverse-osmosis models. Some filters did a better job eliminating some contaminants while other filters did a better job at removing different contaminants.

"It's crucial that people have their water tested before they buy any filter, so that they know what type of filter to get," said Jim Nanni, of Consumer Reports.

To assess the filters, testers use water that is contaminated with lead and chloroform. The test predicts how well a filter will remove certain pesticides and other organic compounds such as benzene.

"We test for how quickly a filter clogs. And, of course, we also test for how well it removes bad tastes," Nanni said.

Testers found countertop filters attach to the faucet, which means no plumbing changes are required. Consumer Reports named the $50 Kenmore Countertop Water Filter Model No. 34551 a best buy. It did an excellent job overall.

The undersink and reverse-osmosis filters are more complicated to set up. You need to make some plumbing changes and drill a hole for the dispenser. Again, Consumer Reports named a $55 Kenmore Model No. 38454 a Best Buy.

The Consumer Reports Best Buy for reverse-osmosis filters is a $160 Whirlpool Gold Model No. WHER-25. Testers said while water flow is slow with this type of filter, it is the only kind that removes arsenic.

To get maximum performance from any system, Consumer Reports urges people to make sure to replace the filter according to the manufacturer's recommendations.


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  • waterfilter May 3, 2007

    Hundreds of contaminants have been found in tap water! The consumer will never find an affordable "water test" that can reveal this many chemicals, pesticides and on and on. The $10 to $50 tests will give you a handfull thats it. Just how often are you going to test tap water? May I suggest your time and hard earned money is better well spent comparing filters using the NSF. http://www.nsf.org/consumer/drinking_water/index.asp?program=WaterTre

    Note: Reverse-osmosis
    "Best for removing a wide range of contaminants, including dissolved solids, and is the only filter certified to remove arsenic". Consumer reports gets this one very wrong! A stand alone R/O system does NOT remove a wide range of contaminants. Do a little homework here. R/O stand alone systems do not remove chemicals and pesticides period. Total dissolved solids are MINERALS. The navy developed the R/O to take SALT out of sea water. Don't me mislead.

    If you are paying more that 8 cents a gallon for pure healthy

  • blu-burd May 3, 2007

    I have well water and have whole house double charcoal filter that makes it taste good.I change filters one time a year.

  • owlady May 3, 2007

    Taste... is what I am looking for in drinking water only.
    I prefer to purchase a case of Dasani bottled water (on sale of course) for my drinking water. When cooking, it does not really matter since I have City Water/Sewer and already pay enough for this service. Why pay anymore for these water systems? No thanks....

  • Slip Kid May 3, 2007

    This report is just about useless. Between the WRAL edits and whatever limited content CR allows outside of CR publishing, the report does not offer any coherent information. This report is either designed to sell Sears filters or tease you into going directly to CR for a subscription.

    Since I have a CR web subscription, I'll now have to go direct to the source for this report. Come on WRAL, certainly you can do better?!