There are several sources that can tell you what kind of problem(s) you have. Most cities have a health department that will take a water sample and have it tested by the state. There is usually a nominal charge for the test and they can test for more parameters that a local private water treatment company can test for. The positive aspect of their test is that they are in the business to inform and not to sell. They can tell you what the problem is but they will not recommend what you will need to correct that particular problem. The opposite is true of private water treatment dealers in that their primary purpose is to sell. While they do inform, the information they get will be used as a basis to determine the equipment you will need to purchase in order to correct a given problem. Unscrupulous dealers will oversell you something and ignore your requests for help.
Knowing this, what do I do?
I would suggest you start with a private treatment company. Pick two or possibly three companies to come out and test your water. Some suggestions, however: Since they will be trying to sell you something, the test should be free unless you are a renter. In regards to renters, the majority of landlords are not receptive to having anything attached to their plumbing because of the possibility of leaks and faulty installations. Also, if a renter purchases a filter system and defaults on the payment, then the newly installed filter becomes the property and responsibility of the landlord.
Most water tests should take from thirty minutes to an hour. When the test lasts beyond that time frame it is usually because there are a lot of water problems. You have a lot of questions and most professional salespeople will bring a demonstration kit. When someone does a demonstration presentation of what the equipment will do for you remember this; these demonstrations are designed to sell equipment and they do work. Most of the time, the salesperson will walk away with a sale. Do not fall for being told the price will change tomorrow if you do not take advantage of the deal today. Any time you feel extra pressure to make a decision, discontinue the discussion. Get everything told to you in writing. Take the salesman’s business card and keep it with the proposal. If possible, go to their store and check out the equipment that is being proposed to you. Check their references–ask for any customer’s phone number who lives in your neighborhood and call them and see what they have to say. Water treatment equipment is an appliance that corrects a given problem. It is also an investment. You do not want to be saddled with something that does not work properly or having to work with a company you hate to deal with.
The Bottom Line
There are three price ranges with quality water treatment equipment: expensive, more expensive, and obscenely expensive. It will be your choice as to which one to buy. Our next blog will continue a discussion of well water and how to use the color of stains to give you an indication of what kind of problem you have.
I am on city water and I think I need a water filter. How do I know what I need and where do I start looking?
The best way to start looking for a water filter is to first determine what you want vs what you need. Almost everyone wants to purchase a water filter that will remove everything in the water, one that will need little or no maintenance, one that will be relatively easy to install, and one that will cost less than $75.00. Heck, I want that and I sell water filters. But, the truth be known, there is no such animal. The person that does sell these filters also probably has a device in his warehouse you can put on your car and triple your gas mileage for only $14.95 plus tax and shipping. So what should you do?
First, start with a water test from a reputable source taking into consideration whether you use a well or you use municipally treated water. There is a big difference in these two sources of water. Most municipal water treatment facilities have a monthly water quality report that is available to the public free of charge. Get this report and do an internet search for the contaminant (s) you have questions about.
Do not search any site that tries to sell a water filter to you because the purpose of this site is to sell filters and only provide the information that will lead to a sale. I have been on some of these sites and a few were scary enough to make me want me to buy what they were selling. Most contaminants are regional contaminants. For example, if you have hard water, your neighbors will have it as well.
This may also include problems such as lead, arsenic, uranium, silver, high pH, low pH, iron, chlorine, or chloramines. These problems may be localized or statewide and if you are on a private water system they may be present only at that particular location. Once you have determined what it is that you want to remove then go to the next step. If you try to remove a contaminate that isn’t present in your water this is really a waste of money. A lot of money has been wasted on removing “what if’s” contaminants.
THE NEXT STEP
There is no such thing as a bad filter only a bad filter application. Your first decision will be what you want over what you need. Note: Your wants will cost you more than your needs. Whether you created these wants or your salesman created them, in the long run, they will cost you money.
Remember back to the days of the single blade razor. Single blade—fairly inexpensive. Then came the double blade—more expensive. Then triple blades, then four blades, then five blades and with every step up in the number of blades came a step-up in price. Now they are back to single blade razors and back to a lower price. I realize that some contaminants are hard to remove and the treatment methods may be quite involved, but it is up to you to become a customer and not a victim. And, in water treatment equipment sales the word “blades” has now been replaced with the word “stages.”
Get several estimates. Get all guarantees in writing. Do not give in to pressure tactics. The price tomorrow will be the same as the price today. Get references and call them. Never buy anything over the phone. If possible go to their place of business, check to see how long the company has been in business, and ask to see their customer list. If they are a reputable company they will be more than glad to let you see it,
And above all, if you are a man reading this, bring your wife in on the decision-making process. Her intuition alone will save you a lot of money and more than a lot of aggravation and “I told you so.”
This is my first blog. The upcoming blog will relate to well water filters, and in the future, we will be discussing many subjects from contaminants to controversial waters such as high alkaline water as well as the different treatment methods available to the consumer.