Many people are looking to install a whole house water filter.
They clean all the water that enters your home, so you never need to think about whether your water is safe to cook with, drink, or use for bathing, laundry, or washing dishes again.
Here’s what you should know if you want to install a whole house water filter.
1. What is a whole house water filter?
Just like its name implies, a whole house water filter is a filter installed near your water main.
It filters all the water that enters your home.
The water that comes out of every plumbing appliance in your home will be cleaned and purified before it enters the rest of your plumbing system.
This includes all fixtures from your kitchen sink to your toilet to your showers and beyond.
If you live in a place that has a lot of sediment or sulfides in the water, then whole house filters can help to eliminate nasty odors or tastes that would otherwise be present.
Whole house water filters may be paired with water softeners if you’re in an area with hard water.
2. When do you need to install a whole house water filter?
Homeowners normally install whole house water filters if they’re located in an area where sediment or sulfides would otherwise cause the water to taste or smell weird.
Having a water filter to eliminate this smell or taste boosts quality of life.
3. Where should you install a whole house water filter?
You should ideally install a whole house water filter near your main water shut-off valve.
This valve is located in a basement or utility closet near the perimeter of the house.
If a house doesn’t have a basement, it could be located elsewhere.
The reason you want to put it here is that it’s where all the city water or well enters your home.
You’ll just need one filter to clean all your drinking water.
4. How does a whole house water filter work?
A whole house water filter will connect to the existing plumbing line in a horizontal run after the main water shut-off valve.
You must attach the filter before the plumbing line branches out into other parts of the house to ensure everything gets filtered.
If you’re not able to identify the correct section, make sure you contact a professional from a plumbing company.
They can “tee off” a small section of a vertical pipe to create the horizontal section described.
This way, your whole house will have purified water.
5. How do you install a whole house water filter?
If you’re looking to install a whole house water filter on your own, here are the steps you should keep in mind.
Brush up on your plumbing skills
If you’re choosing to take this on as a DIY project, make sure you have at least basic plumbing skills.
You should know how to cut into and connect plumbing pipes.
If you’ve never done this before, you may be better off hiring a professional plumber.
You’ll also need the right tools.
Fortunately, most areas don’t require a permit to install whole house water filter systems.
That said, you’ll want to double-check to make sure you don’t have to get a permit just in case.
Additionally, if you have any doubts about your ability to successfully complete the project at any point, then you should hire a plumber.
Choose the right filter location
Above, we covered the typical location for this type of filter.
If you hire a plumber, they’ll be able to find the location for you.
If you’re doing this as a DIY project, then you should choose an accessible location because you’ll need two different filter units that you can access easily.
The first filter unit is a sediment pre-filter that catches dirt and rust particles.
The second is a filter unit containing an activated carbon filter that removes other heavy metals and harmful contaminants.
You’ll need to have access to both filters, so you can easily change them.
Be sure there are no obstacles that interfere with your access.
Be sure to follow these steps:
- Select a position near the main water shut-off valve
- Remember that a filter mounting bracket will be secured to either a wall or floor joist
- Install the water filtration system in-line with the existing plumbing line
- Look for a horizontal run after the home’s main shut-off valve before it branches off to other parts of your house
- Create a tee-off from a vertical section and mount the filter system beside it
- Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your filter model’s clearance and dimension specifications
Remove a section of the pipe
- Turn off the water supply and allow the water to drain into a bucket or ground if it’s outside
- Test that all the water has drained by opening a fixture on an upper floor
- Mark a section of pipe to remove to accommodate the filter system
- If your water filter consists of a single unit and doesn’t have a separate pre-filter, use the template included with your filtration system.
- Mark the pipe at the exact installation location and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure you cut the pipe correctly
- If your whole house consists of two separate units (a pre-filter and carbon filter), cut away a section of pipe that’ll account for two tees and a shut-off valve.
- You should also choose a length and configuration that’s efficient for the space you’re working in
- Clean the area of the pipe you’ll cut with an emery cloth
- Use a pipe cutter to make two cuts at the marks you made
- Remove the section of the pipe where the filter will be placed
- Place a bucket underneath the location to catch any remaining water in the line
- Remove burrs on the cut pipe with a reamer or deburring tool
Install the tees and a by-pass shut-off valve
You’ll need to change your water filter occasionally.
To make these swaps easy, you should install shut-off valves to isolate the units and a bypass valve to allow the water system to be used when the filters are changed.
- Install a copper tee on each side of the cut section of pipe if installing a unit with a pre-filter
- Connect them in between with a pipe and a ball-valve
- Dry-fit the sections to ensure they fit
- Skip to the next step if the unit you’re installing doesn’t have a pre-filter
Add two shut-off valves
- If you’re installing a single unit without a pre-filter, add a ball valve to either side of the pipe and the necessary fittings to connect to the filter unit. Make sure you dry-fit everything first
- If you’re installing a pre-filter and carbon filter setup, mount the units as instructed by the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Pipe the tees to the filters
- Add the ball valves between each tee and the filter
- Continue to pipe the necessary fitters to the respective filters
- Dry-fit everything
After you’ve hooked everything up, the bypass valve will remain closed.
The two valves feeding the filter will remain open.
When the system becomes clogged and impedes water flow, the filters need to be replaced.
Instead, you should close the two valves and open the bypass valve.
Solder the connections
- Clean and deburr the copper lines using the emery cloth as well as a deburring tool
- Clean the inside of the fittings with the emery cloth or a fitting brush
- Apply flux to the inside of the fittings and the copper pipe
- Heat the fitting using a propane torch
- Fill the joint with solder when it’s hot enough to melt the solder
- Wipe the joint clean once the solder is applied
- Solder fittings before attaching them to the filters so the heat of the torch won’t damage any internal water filtration parts
- Apply thread seat tape to any threaded fittings and thread into the filter valve as the manual instructs
- Be careful not to overtighten the fittings
Add a ground jumper cable if needed
Note: This step is only necessary if you have copper or galvanized water pipes.
These are present in some older homes that use metal water pipes as the electrical ground for the electrical system.
- Determine if your electrical panel has its ground wire attached to your water supply pipe
- Look for a ground clamp and wire attached to it coming from the panel box
- Install appropriate grounding clamps to the metal pipe on either side of the filter
- Secure a length of heavy-gauge wire across the filter from clamp to clamp and secure it tightly
6. How long does it take to install a whole house water filter?
Installing a whole house filter system may take an experienced plumber two to four hours.
If you choose to take it on as a DIY project, then it could take you a bit longer depending on your level of experience.
7. How often should you change your filter?
A whole house water filter should be changed every three to six months.
The specific date will ultimately depend on the kind of filtration system you own and what type of water it’s filtering.
Water type is a key factor that can impact how often you need to change your filter.
For instance, if you’re filtering municipal water, then you can likely go longer than if you’re filtering well water or water from a nearby source.
Another factor is how many replaceable filters your system has.
While a traditional system often has one filter, newer and more advanced systems may have two or three (sometimes more).
If they have more filters, then you can often change these less frequently than a system with one because those filters are used less thoroughly.
Finally, make sure you read your instruction manual.
It can give tips and tricks about when you should be changing the filter, and this can be important information to know.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines!
8. How much does it cost to install a whole house water filter?
The cost for a whole house water filter averages around $1,765 for unit and installation.
You can sometimes find lower-end systems at around $1,400 or higher-end systems at $3,500 (or more).
9. How much does it cost to maintain a whole house water filtration system?
Homeowners can expect to pay annual maintenance costs for their whole house water filtration systems.
This helps to keep the system in good working order.
The maintenance ranges from $50 to $300 per year.
This cost primarily includes swapping out filters and replacing worn-out parts.
10. What are the pros and cons of a water filtration system?
If you’re considering installing a whole house water filter, you may wonder what the advantages and disadvantages of this system are.
1. It’ll improve the smell and taste
If you’ve noticed a distinct taste and smell in your tap water, then you may want it filtered for that reason alone.
Everything from dirt, mud, organic decomposition waste, manmade waste, chemicals, etc. can cause your water to have a certain taste and smell that you don’t want.
Get a purification system to eliminate this issue!
2. It’s convenient to use
If you’ve previously used tap filters, filtration jugs, or other smaller systems, then you may be ready to be able to get water straight from your table.
It’s much more convenient to have clean water available this way for cooking, drinking, bathing, washing clothes, washing dishes, etc.
3. It’s cost-efficient
While you’ll need to front the cost to buy the filtration unit, it does cut down on costs over time.
For example, if you’re using filtration jugs and tap units, these will wear out faster and require replacement more often.
That just means more money!
A whole house filter can be a great investment if you’re able to save up that initial chunk of change.
1. It’s expensive
Some people are ready to invest in a whole house water filtration system that costs thousands of dollars.
Others get sticker shock when they price out the systems.
Depending on your needs, you’ll want to research what will work best for your family.
If you get water from a local water source that has a lot of chemicals or sediment, it can be worthwhile to invest in a full water filtration system.
However, if you just need a glass of purified water to drink, you may want to opt for a cheaper system.
2. It’s not selective
If you install a whole house water filter, then you can’t choose what’s filtered.
It filters the sink, shower, washing machine, garden hose, etc.
Even when you don’t need to purify everything, it purifies it.
Not everyone needs this!
3. It removes all chemicals
You may be thinking, “Well, that sounds like a good thing, right?”
Wrong in some cases!
If you choose a whole house water filtration system, it removes all chemicals.
This means it’ll remove fluoride that benefits your teeth.
If you need the whole house water filter for other reasons, then you’ll want to talk to your dentists about the impact of not having fluoride in your water.
A whole house water filter can be a simple improvement that improves the quality of your life and the value of your home.
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Disclaimer: we are not lawyers, accountants, or financial advisors and the information in this article is for informational purposes only. This article is based on our own research and experience and we do our best to keep it accurate and up-to-date, but it may contain errors. Please be sure to consult a legal or financial professional before making any investment decisions.