5 On Your Side

Which Water Filter is Best For You?

Posted May 2, 2007 5:24 p.m. EDT
Updated May 2, 2007 7:42 p.m. EDT

— 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.