What to Consider When Choosing the Best Faucet Water Filter
Before deciding on a filter, consider some important factors that can help you make the best decision, including the type of filter, material, flow rate, and installation requirements. By understanding these features, it’s easier to decide which option would be the best faucet water filter for your home.
There is a wide range of contaminants that can be present in tap water, including pesticides, microorganisms, organic compounds, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and harmful heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic. Water contaminants vary by community, and knowledge is power. Start by researching what’s affecting your own water supply through the National Drinking Water Database created by the Environmental Working Group.
- Chlorine and chloramine are two common substances used to disinfect public water supplies. They help to make the water safe to drink, but if the levels of chlorine and chloramine are too high, they can cause eye and nose irritation, as well as stomach discomfort. Due to their use in water treatment, these contaminants can be found in the drinking water of most communities.
- Fluoride is another chemical that some municipalities choose to add to the drinking water because fluoride, in small amounts, may be good for dental health. However, if the level of fluoride increases, it can actually cause pitting and staining of tooth enamel or even bone issues in adults that have experienced long-term exposure. Naturally occurring fluoride can also sometimes be found in groundwater sources in the western United States and around the Great Lakes regions.
- Lead leaches into the water through the public water supply when aging pipes begin to corrode. This is a common contaminant across the country because lead pipes were a popular choice for city infrastructures before science caught up with innovation and it was discovered that lead is a toxic chemical that can cause neurological damage, impaired formation of blood cells, and impaired function of blood cells.
- Agricultural chemicals, like herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides are used in rural communities to protect crops. However, these chemicals can seep into the groundwater, contaminating nearby wells. Contaminated well water can cause headaches, skin rash, eye irritation, cancer, endocrine disruption, and birth defects.
- Industrial chemicals are known for producing harmful runoff that can contaminate nearby well water systems and groundwater. Those who have wells should consider the possibility of contamination, especially if there is an industrial processing facility nearby. Contaminated well water can cause skin discoloration, nervous system damage, organ failure, developmental delays, birth defects, and reproductive issues.
Always check to make sure the filtration system can take care of the contaminants you’re most concerned about. Regardless of which microscopic contaminants they’re best at keeping out of drinking water, faucet-mounted filters considerably improve the taste of H2O.
- Reverse osmosis filters are the most effective option for treating home water because these systems can use more than seven different filters to remove up to 99 percent of contaminants. However, these systems are not made to be mounted to a faucet. Connect reverse osmosis filters directly to the incoming water supply.
- Carbon filters are commonly used in faucet-mounted products. These filters absorb and release water, trapping chlorine, pesticides, and solvents within the carbon. They aren’t as effective at removing nitrates and sodium.
- Ultraviolet filters are another type of filter that doesn’t attach to the faucet. However, connecting one of these filtration systems to the incoming water source is a good idea. The ultraviolet rays kill bacteria, parasites, and viruses. These filters are essentially useless at filtering mineral contaminants, so it’s advised to pair this system with a reverse osmosis system.
Faucet water filters are typically made with either plastic or stainless steel. Some manufacturers may offer a range of different finishes, but these are usually stainless steel filters that have metal plating over the original material just to give it a different look. So the decision comes down to plastic or stainless steel.
- Plastic faucet water filters are inexpensive and resistant to corrosion and rusting. Some products are thick and durable, but the average plastic filter will need to be replaced more frequently than stainless steel filters because they don’t have the same resilience.
- Stainless steel faucet water filters cost a bit more initially, but last longer and tend to do a better job, with fewer leaks. These filters can also blend in with the faucet and sink to match the kitchen aesthetics.
Flow rate refers to the amount of water that flows through the filter within a set time period and it’s typically measured in gallons per minute (GPM). Whole-home water filters must be capable of filtering many gallons of water per minute since most showers and dishwashers can use up to 5 GPM.
However, faucet water filters don’t have the same water pressure demands. Most of these smaller filters have a set flow rate of 0.5 GPM with very few exceptions. This is about enough to fill up seven or eight standard glasses of water in 1 minute.
Filter Life and Usage
The filter life is typically indicated in the product information or on the manufacturer’s website. After this time period, the filter becomes less effective until it does very little except get in the way of regular faucet use. However, the total life of one filter can differ significantly from other, even identical products. This is due to usage.
Filter life is tied directly to usage. When the faucet is left running, it wastes water and also reduces the filter life, forcing the user to replace the filter cartridge at a higher frequency. By using the filter only for drinking water or cooking water, you can extend the life of the filter, saving time and money.
When the filter starts to lose its effectiveness, the entire faucet-mounted filter does not need to be replaced. Simply remove the filter cartridge and replace it with a new cartridge. Most manufacturers also produce cartridge replacements, so it’s easy to find a compatible option.
These cartridges typically have a lifespan measured in gallons of water that can range from 100 to 1,000 gallons, depending on the product. After a certain amount of water has been filtered through the cartridge, it begins to lose effectiveness. Some filters also come with cartridge replacement recommendations from 1 month to 3 months so that it’s not necessary to try and measure the amount of water flowing through the filter.
Style and Finish
Most faucet water filters have a plastic or a stainless steel design, but this doesn’t prevent manufacturers from adding additional color options and metal finishes, giving options to match the aesthetics of a home.
- Plastic filters can theoretically have a wide range of color choices because plastic is simple to dye during the manufacturing process. However, most producers offer standard kitchen and bathroom colors like black, gray, and white.
- Stainless steel filters have a sleek appearance already, but if the kitchen has bronze, copper, brushed gold, or any other common metal finishes, then finding a faucet water filter that matches may be an ideal solution. The number of finishes available for a specific product depends on the manufacturer. Some producers prefer to only make stainless steel and chrome-plated products.
After sorting through the nitty-gritty details of filter types, filter materials, flow rate, and filter cartridges, there are just a few more things to consider before deciding on the best faucet water filter. The filter size, the filter change sensor, and the replacement filter cartridges also can affect the decision on the best filter.
- Filter size is key for people who have smaller sink areas. Oversize filters may not fit properly and could cause problems. Even with a larger sink space, some filters can look out of place simply because they dwarf the faucet. Keep in mind the scale of a sink and faucet when choosing a faucet water filter, and invest in an adaptor if necessary.
- Filter change sensors notify the user when the filter cartridge needs to be replaced. This is typically indicated by a small light on the side of the filter that can either activate when the filter needs an immediate cartridge change or a few weeks prior, giving time to get a new cartridge before the old one is rendered useless.
- Replacement filter cartridges come in a range of different types. Costs can vary depending on the manufacturer. Look for the appropriate cartridge for a faucet water filter by checking the product information and the manufacturer’s website.
A faucet-mount attachment generally offers a quick installation. Unscrew the aerator and then swap in an adapter provided with the faucet-mount water filter. Models often include multiple sizes to offer options that may best fit a faucet. The body of the faucet-mount filter snaps into place.
Manufacturer instructions will cover how to check that the filter inside the model is good to go. It only takes a matter of minutes to get the best faucet water filters fully functional. Once installed, many offer the option to toggle between filtered and unfiltered water.
Our Top Picks
The top picks described here were selected based on the above criteria and considerations, with significant attention given to efficacy and overall value. These products are considered to be among the best faucet water filters on the market.