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How Do Whole House Water Filters Work? Understand Everything

How Do Whole House Water Filters Work


Drinking clean water is a really important way to keep ourselves and our family healthy. But the water we get often has bad stuff in it that can make us sick. So, installing a whole-house water filter at the main water line that enters your house can be the best decision ever. 

First, you need to test the water quality and then look for the type of whole home filters. The point-of-entry systems work by passing water, typically through sediment filtration, carbon filtration, water softener, or other purification methods to remove contaminants and improve water quality.

If you want to keep yourself and your family super healthy, the top choice for cleaning your water is a whole-house water filter system. If you do not know how it works, keep reading to learn more! 

What are Whole House Water Filters?

Whole house water filters are connected to where all the water comes into your house. They do an amazing job by cleaning out all the impurities like dirt and chemical contaminants in your water after the cleaning, clean water flows through the pipes in your house and comes out of your taps, showers, toilets, and even water appliances. 

These water filters are special because they clean every drop of water in your entire home, unlike those small filters that only do a little at a time. These filters are super strong and do not just give you clean water to drink they make sure you have clean water for cooking and cleaning, too.

The working of whole-house water filters depends on the different types and multiple cartridges used in them. So you can pick the one that is right for your water needs. It is an easy way to have better water for your whole family.

How Do Whole House Water Filters Work?

Whole house water filters have an important job. It can pick up bad stuff like dirt, tiny bits, iron, which might be causing yellow stains, hydrogen sulfide, which might turn your water smelly, and hidden impurities like nitrates, PFAS, and arsenic.

Before the water you use in your house comes out of your faucets, it goes through a long process. Whatever your water has in it, a whole house water filter can remove everything, depending on the type and mechanism. Types and working of whole house water filters are as follows:

Whole house Reverse osmosis Water Filter system

If your water has lots of impurities in it, a reverse osmosis (RO) system can really help. It is super good at getting rid of things like sediments, pesticides, herbicides, PFAs, minerals, salts like sodium, heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, fluoride, nitrates, and many other unwanted impurities.

How Does Whole House Reverse Osmosis Work?

Whole home reverse osmosis filters have this super-thin filter called a membrane, which only allows the water molecules to pass through.  

In whole house RO system, water goes through many filtration such as pre-filtration and post-filtration, which are given as

  • Pre Filteration (Sediment and Ion Exchange Filter): This is the most important step toward water purification, in which a sediment filter as a first stage is typically involved. It can capture all the possible larger particles, such as sand, silt, and rust, which can clog the RO membrane. Further, this sediment stage can help to protect the filter’s lifespan.  

If you select a reverse osmosis system as a point of entry, there might be a stage of ion exchange where all the mineral content, such as calcium and magnesium, are removed. However, not every system avails ion exchange, the selection of this type of filter includes your choice, the hardness of your water, and your budget. 

Next is the main part, the heart of a whole home reverse osmosis system called the RO membrane. It can block PFAs, microplastics, pesticides, salts, nitrates, microorganisms, and many other harmful impurities. When water is pushed through the membrane under pressure, it leaves all the impurities left behind, resulting in clean, purified water.

  • Post-Filtration (Carbon, UV, and Alkaline): After going through the RO membrane, the water again undergoes another round of carbon filtration to remove left chlorine and other contaminants that are responsible for bad taste or odor. They also shield the RO membrane from potential harm caused by impurities.

In certain whole-house RO systems, there is an added step where they use UV light to make the water germ-free. This light kills tiny things like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa that can make you sick. It works as an extra layer of protection. 

In the RO membrane, after going through pre and post-filtration, all the essential minerals from the water are leached out. In this case, you can add an additional filtration as a whole-house alkaline filter where water minerals are restored to maintain the crispness and delicious taste.

After going through all the steps above, purified water is often stored in a tank (if any), ready for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and bathing.

Whole House Acid Neutralizers

If your drinking water is acidic, having a pH less than 7, it can ruin your pipes, machines, and laundry. It can make them rusty, leak, and leave weird green-blue stains. In this case, a whole-house water acid neutralizer is used

How Do Whole House Acid Neutralizers Work?

The core of the system is the calcite media tank. This tank holds a top-quality mineral called calcite, full of calcium and high alkalinity. When acidic water goes through this tank, the calcite dissolves into the water.

As the acidic water meets the calcite, a chemical reaction happens. The calcite boosts the water’s pH, making it less acidic. This process is vital to stop acidic water from harming your plumbing and appliances.

It is super important to get a whole-house acid neutralizer that is just the right size for your water use and acidity level. The system should be set up to raise the water’s pH to a neutral or slightly alkaline level so it won’t cause corrosion.

You will need to keep an eye on the condition of the calcite in the tank and ensure its working capacity. When the calcite runs low, you will need to add more to keep the system working well. After the water goes through the acid neutralizer, it is sent to every part of your house. Now, the water is ready to use in all your taps, appliances, and fixtures.

Whole House Carbon Filters 

Cities use chlorine and chloramines in pipes and water supplies to keep them free of germs. Even though they are safe to add, however, their extreme bleaching smell can be a bit strange. In this scenario, whole home carbon filters have a main job to get rid of chlorine in your water, making it safe, taste, and smell better. 

There is a special kind of activated carbon known as “catalytic carbon,” and it works like a superhero, especially when dealing with a challenging issue known as chlorine and chloramine. 

How Do Whole House Carbon Filters Work?

Activated carbon filters are filled with activated carbon. This special carbon has tons of tiny pores, which offer a large surface area to grab and trap impurities in the water.

When water goes through these filters, “adsorption” happens. It is like the activated carbon reaches out and holds on to organic stuff, chemicals, and things.

They may use a special kind of activated carbon called “catalytic carbon.” It is like a superhero for taking apart tough chemicals called “chloramines” that cities use to clean their water. It can break down chloramines and make the water cleaner and safer.

Besides, activated carbon filters also help to get rid of other impurities like volatile organic compounds (VOCs), pesticides, herbicides, and more. Importantly, you will need to keep an eye on the cartridge filters and change them or refresh them from time to time. 

The estimated cost for carbon filters generally ranges from $20 to $200, depending on the type, size, and brand.

Whole House Sediments Filter

A sediment filter is a great way to ensure your water stays clean and fresh while also protecting your appliances. 

If you do not take care of these impurities, they can cause problems like clogged pipes, lower water pressure, and harm to your appliances, which could lead to costly repairs.

How Does the Whole House Sediment Filter Work?

When water flows through sediment filters, the unwanted particles, including dirt, sand, clay, and tiny bits of rust, get physically trapped, preventing them from entering your water supply. 

Sediment filters play a key role as the first line of defense in a whole-house filtration system for carbon filters, water softeners, and other filtration systems.

When sediment filters team up with other filtration methods, the water that flows throughout your entire home is guaranteed to be clean. It’s free from physical impurities, making it safe for drinking, cooking, and all your daily household needs.

Whole House Water Softener

When it comes to tackling hard water, which is one of the most common water issues, You will need to add a water softener as a whole-house solution. Hard water is caused by having lots of dissolved minerals, especially calcium and magnesium, and it can create all sorts of trouble in your home, including pipes clogging, reduces water pressure, and shortens the life of your appliances.

If your home is dealing with hard water, a whole-house water softener is a wise investment that will actually save you a bunch of money in the long run. 

How Does Whole House Water Softener Work?

Within a water softener, there’s a special tank filled with tiny resin beads that carry a negative charge. As hard water flows through this tank, the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions present in the hard water are attracted to and trapped by these resin beads. 

In exchange for capturing these minerals, sodium or potassium ions (which come from a brine solution) are released into the water. This process effectively makes the water soft by removing the minerals responsible for its hardness.

Over time, the resin beads in the water softener tank become filled with calcium and magnesium ions and need a good cleaning or “regeneration.” To do this, a solution made from salt or potassium chloride is typically used to flush the resin tank. This flush recharges the resin beads and gets them ready for another round of ion exchange. 

Water softeners improve your water quality. They prevent issues associated with hard water and limescale, making your skin and hair feel softer. It also helps you save energy and make your appliances last longer. Cleaning becomes more effective, and your laundry remains vibrant and soft.

Whole House Ultraviolet Purification Systems

Ultraviolet purification offers a solution for those worried about living organisms like bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi in their water. Whether you are using well water, facing a natural disaster, or dealing with a boil water advisory, an ultraviolet purification system guarantees access to safe, filtered water. 

How Does Whole House Ultraviolet Purification System Work?

Inside the UV system, there is a special UV lamp or bulb. When your water flows through the system, it passes near this lamp. This lamp emits a kind of light called ultraviolet (UV) light, which is harmful to tiny living things like bacteria and viruses.

The UV light messes up the DNA of those tiny living things in the water, like bacteria and viruses. This damage stops them from making more of themselves and spreading diseases through your water.

To make the UV treatment work even better, it is a good idea to have other filters, like sediment filters, before the UV system. These filters get rid of bigger bits and pieces in the water that could hide the tiny living things from the UV light. When your water has been pre-filtered, the UV system can get rid of 99.9% of those tiny living things. This makes your water safe to use and drink.

Whole House Iron Filters

A whole house iron filters are specialized to remove sulfur or rotten egg-like smell, manganese, and iron. They are extremely helpful in areas with high iron content in the water, as this can lead to problems like staining on surfaces, an unpleasant taste, thick biofilms, and even damage to appliances.

How Does Whole Home Iron Filters Work?

When water that has iron (usually in a form called ferrous iron) goes into the iron filter, the filter adds an oxidizing agent like air or potassium permanganate. This is important because it changes the iron in the water from soluble form to insoluble. The insoluble form, called ferric iron, does not dissolve in water and is easier to get rid of.

The water, which now has the changed iron that won’t dissolve, goes through a tank filled with greensand or other iron-specific material that is good at trapping iron. This material catches the iron particles so that they can’t go into your plumbing.

Sometimes, the iron filter needs a good cleaning. It does this by making the water flow backward through the tank. This loosens up the trapped iron and washes it away down the drain. This cleaning helps the filter keep working well.

Advantages of Using Whole House Water Filters

The advantages of whole-house water filters are as follows:

Clean and Safe Water 

The big advantage is that these filters make sure all the water in your home is clean and safe. This means the water you use for drinking, cooking, bathing, and everything else is pure and free from all chemicals and impurities.

These filters do a great job of improving the taste, smell, and overall quality of your water, making it better for all your daily needs. So, you can use the water without any concerns about health or unpleasant experiences.

Better Hair, Skin, and Health

Whole house filtration systems are an excellent way to take care of your skin, hair, and overall health. They help protect your family from the effects of chlorine in your shower water. 

This, in turn, leads to softer, smoother skin and hair because chlorine can strip away natural oils and moisture, leaving your skin and hair dry. By reducing your exposure to these chemicals, you can enjoy the benefits of healthier skin and shinier, more manageable hair.

So, getting a whole house filtration system is not only about improving your water quality but also about ensuring your family’s well-being.


Whole house water filters are super convenient. Once they are set up, you will always have pure water flowing throughout your home. You won’t have to bother with extra filters or systems on specific faucets. It is an easy way to get clean, safe water for all your daily needs, like drinking, showering, and more.

Disadvantages of Whole House Water Filters

Here are some Disadvantages of Whole House Water Filters;


You should know that whole-house water filters are costly to get and install. Plus, to keep them working well, you might have to spend more on regular maintenance, like changing filters. 

So, while they offer many benefits, it is good to be aware that there is an initial cost and ongoing expenses to consider.


Changing filters is a bit like giving your whole house water filter a regular health check. It is necessary to keep your water clean and safe. How often you need to change filters can differ depending on the filter type and the quality of your water.

While it might take some effort and involve a cost, it is all about ensuring that you enjoy good water in your home. Usually, the advantages are worth the maintenance.


Whole house water filters play an important role in ensuring clean and safe water throughout your home. They make sure that all the water you use, whether for drinking, cooking, or taking a shower, is clean and safe. 

There are different types of these filters, each with its own special power to deal with specific water problems. We have discussed them in this article. These systems have lots of benefits, like ensuring your water is clean and safe, improving your hair and skin, and making your life more convenient.

If your home is dealing with hard water, a whole-house water softener is a wise investment that will actually save you a bunch of money in the long run. 

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