What Is a Water Filtration System?

April 26, 2023


A water filtration system is what you use to filter or purify water. This can be everything from a filter that removes dirt or particulates from the water to an advanced system that sterilizes it or removes unwanted toxins or metals. 

Find out more about the various types of house water filters available on the market so you can decide which is right for your home. 

What Are the Different Types of Filtration Systems and How Do They Work? 

There are six main types of water filters – mechanical, absorption, sequestration, ion exchange, ultraviolet, and reverse osmosis. For the best filtration results and the purest water, it’s usually a good idea to use a combination of filters to make sure that you are able to filter out everything from large unwanted sediment to much smaller microscopic toxins and metals.

1. Mechanical Filters

Mechanical filtration physically removes sediment, dirt, or any unwanted particles from the water using a physical barrier. It is the most basic method of filtration because it acts as a sieve, allowing clear water to pass but larger particles to get caught. A mechanical filter can be anything from a simple mesh filter that catches any large debris to a fine ceramic filter with a complex structure that can filter out much smaller organisms. 

These filters will usually come with a micron rating, which shows the smallest particle size the filter will catch. A 5 micron filter will remove most particles that are visible to the naked eye, like dust. 1-micron filters can remove microscopic particles, and a 0.5 micron will remove waterborne cysts like giardia and cryptosporidium. 

2. Absorption Filters

Absorption filters, sometimes known as carbon filters, do the job of mechanical filters, where they are able to stop larger particles from passing through the filter, but they also work by absorbing unwanted chemicals directly into the carbon filter. The reason carbon absorbs contaminants so well is that it naturally has a large internal network of small nooks and crannies that can easily trap impurities like chlorine. 

While carbon and granular activated carbon provide the same filtration abilities, most water absorption filters use activated carbon to reduce adding unwanted flavor and odors to the water. 

3. Sequestration Filters

Sequestration is when you chemically isolate a substance. This is different from other forms of filtration that remove the unwanted substance. Rather than removing it entirely, the chemicals are still in the water, but they are surrounded and isolated by additional chemicals that make them unable to interact with other chemicals. 

In water filtration, polyphosphate is used to sequester calcium and magnesium (the chemicals responsible for hard water, limescale, and corrosion). The polyphosphate surrounds the calcium and magnesium, making it impossible for them to form scale. 

4. Ultraviolet Filter

Ultraviolet (UV) water purification uses special UV lamps to sterilize water. The UV light is able to disrupt the DNA of microorganisms, making them inert in the water by eliminating their ability to function and/or reproduce. 

This form of filtration is able to destroy harmful microorganisms without introducing any chemicals to the water, but it is limited because it only focuses on living microorganisms. It may be able to destroy bacteria, viruses, and fungi spores from the water, but chemical toxins will be completely unaffected. A UV filter should only be used if the water is clear. If the water is murky or has any color to it, the UV light can be blocked. 

5. Ion Exchange Filters

Ion exchange filters, also known as water softeners, reduce the amount of magnesium and calcium in your water. Ion exchange removes magnesium and calcium by binding those chemicals to a negatively-charged sand-like bead. As the beads become coated in magnesium and calcium, they are cleaned by flushing them with a salt solution cleaning off the beads for further use. 

These filters are great at softening hard water, but they are specialist filters that only perform that one job. Alone, they are unable to filter particles or toxins from the water. Some ion exchange filters do provide some level of mechanical filtration in addition to the water softening, but this is not always the case. 

6. Reverse Osmosis Filters

Reverse osmosis forces water through thin semipermeable membranes. The water is able to safely pass through, but most of the contaminants are left behind, trapped by one of the membranes. These filters use normal water pressure to function, so they require no additional electricity, but because they usually come with multiple layers of filtration, it can be more expensive than other methods. 

What Do House Water Filtration Systems Do? 

Obviously, house water filtration systems filter your water to make sure that it’s safe for drinking, but there’s so much more to it than that. Water filtration helps you save money by improving the lifespan of your appliances and plumbing, improving the taste of your water, reducing potential plumbing issues, and reducing limescale and other mineral deposits. 

Is a Water Filtration System Worth It? 

A complete house water filtration system will cost around $2,000 to purchase and install. If you live in an area with extremely hard water or are using well water, this can be more. Because of how clean your water will be with a complete filtration system, you will see an immediate change in your budget so you’ll want to consider this when looking for the best water filtration system for home use.

Not only will you never have to buy bottled water again, but you will use less body soap and laundry detergent, your skin and hair will be more hydrated, your clothes will be more comfortable to wear, and your home appliances like your dishwasher will last longer. A water filtration system is a long-term investment that pays off over the years of ownership and makes it well worth it for most homes. 

Once installed, the biggest hassle with a water filtration system is maintaining the system. Some filters, like mechanical filters, are fairly inexpensive and only need to be replaced once a year to continue to filter your water. Other filters, like an ion exchange filter, have a more active maintenance schedule requiring you to refill your water softener with new salt pellets every few weeks depending on your water consumption. For the best water quality, you have to continually maintain the filtration system, or else it won’t be as effective. 

Contact Yes!

If you’re still struggling to know what the best water filtration system for home use is, contact Yes! Our team will work with you to help you find out which solution is best for your home and your needs. 

Last Updated: February 22, 2024