CBC MARKETPLACE: YOUR HOME »
Shopping for home water filter
Broadcast: November 14, 2000
Ines Colabrese; Research: Mike Gordon
Read the label
to make sure the product you are buying is certified. NSF International,
CSA and Underwriters' Laboratory certify water filtration products.
There are six different NSF standards for drinking water.
Canada wants to see any water filter claim backed up
by certification. And many products are certified. In
fact, all three products we looked at for E. coli reduction
are certified to reduce chlorine and make your water
taste and smell better.
Doulton ceramic filter is also certified to reduce lead
and other harmful contaminants.
certification is voluntary. In Canada there are no regulations
to protect you. So what should you look for if you're
shopping for a water filter?
may not be any regulations in place to protect you, but
there are some hints you can follow to make sure you're
getting the right filter.
asked Dr. Barry Thomas, toxicologist formerly with Health
Canada, what consumers should look for when buying a
water filtration system for the home.
The most common
water filtration systems use activated charcoal filters. This is
the least expensive option. Filters are used either in a jug or
are screwed onto a tap. Not recommended for people who draw their
water from wells.
are literally hundreds of products sold across the country
to filter home drinking water. Finding the right one
for you will take a little bit of research.
first thing you have to do," according to Thomas, "is
to decide whether you actually need a drinking water
treatment device. So probably the first question is,
is there a problem with your water?"
only way to answer that is to have your water tested.
Who you speak to and what it will cost are different
across the country. (See our guide.)
Check the Label
you've determined that you need a water filtration
the first thing to do is check the label. Make
sure the product is certified.
three main organizations that certify water filtration
products: the CSA, Underwriters Laboratory and NSF,
which certifies more products with more rigor than
any other company.
your system measure up?
you must read the label carefully. Not all NSF standards
are the same.
are six NSF standards for drinking water. Some are certified
for health effects, such as removing lead from water.
Others are for aesthetic effects, such as improving taste
and odour. The six are:
42: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Aesthetic Effects
44: Cation Exchange Water Softeners
53: Drinking Water Treatment Units - Health Effects
55: Ultraviolet Microbiological Water Treatment Systems
58: Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Treatment Systems
62: Drinking Water Distillation Systems
Water Filter Systems
use ceramic filters are installed under your sink. The filters are
fragile and require a lot of maintenance.
decided that you either need or want a water filtration
system. Now it's time to decide which type will suit your
needs. And there are several types:
people turn to this type of system. You can buy them for
a refillable pitcher - or mount them on your tap. They're
also the cheapest options, available at between $20 and
$60. Ongoing costs include replacement filters.
is forced through the filter, removing minerals and improving
type of solution works especially well in urban areas or
regions where water comes from a treatment plant. But it's
not recommended if you draw your water from a well.
systems can either be installed under your sink or where the water
comes into your home, depending on the system you purchase.
notes that if there is bacteria in your well water, they
could start breeding in the filter.
that use ceramic filters are installed under a sink and
are attached to one faucet. They are substantially more
expensive than the simple filters that are attached directly
to the faucet or used in a refillable jug.
filters are also high maintenance. They are fragile and
need to be cleaned regularly. Often they are teamed up
with activated charcoal or cloth filters to remove materials
such as lead.
systems can either be installed under a sink - or at
the point where the water line enters your home. However,
they are more often installed where the water enters
A reverse system
forces water through a membrane. One drawback is that a lot of water
osmosis systems vary widely in price. But you can expect
to pay at least several hundred dollars.
systems work by forcing water through a small membrane
which collects and contains bacteria and minerals.
water stays on one side of the membrane. Filtered water
passes through to the other side.
main disadvantage to this type of system is that there's
always more untreated water than treated - so you end
up wasting a lot of water.
system relies on UV rays to kill bacteria in water. Does not remove
contaminants like lead. Should be used in conjunction with activated
reverse osmosis systems, distilled water units can be
installed either at the point of entry or at the faucet
where you get most of your drinking water. Most systems
tend to be installed at the faucet.
systems also tend to vary widely in price and will run
at least several hundred dollars.
water filtration systems work by heating water to boiling,
then cooling and condensing it back to liquid form. That
leaves behind all minerals and bacteria.
systems use a lot of electricity, making them more expensive
to operate than some other systems.
that rely on ultra violet light do not rely on filters.
They are actually disinfection systems. UV devices are
installed where the water comes into your home. You can
expect to pay at least $500 for a basic UV system.
devices work by shooting UV light at the water, killing
bacteria. They do not get rid of lead or other minerals,
so you would still need some type of activated charcoal
system to work in conjunction with a UV system.
have been a lot of "boil water orders" across the country.
Boiling water is the cheapest way to kill bacteria in
your water. It is also very effective.
Thomas warns, people should be aware that boiling will
only disinfect water. For problems like lead, boiling
will actually concentrate it.