Learn about water filters for your home's water supply. Find out whether a whole-house or point-of-use filter better suits your needs.
LESLIE: Well, if you’re a slave to bottled water, it might be time to consider switching to the tap and going with a water filter.
TOM: You know, many of you are concerned with the quality and taste of your tap water, so we turned to the experts for help. We want to welcome Kevin O’Connor , host of This Old House , and Richard Trethewey , This Old House’s plumbing expert.
Kevin, Richard, people love their bottled water but municipal water actually is very safe, isn’t it?
KEVIN: You got that right. Municipal water utilities provide endless, safe, drinking water to homes across the U.S. but many homeowners receive their water from a residential well and others have concerns about the taste or the appearance of their water. That’s where a residential water filtration system comes in.
RICHARD: Well, your first decision is do you want a whole-house filter or a just a point-of-use filter. The whole-house filters are sediment filters. They have spun cartridges that are installed right near the water main. Now a sediment filter not only protects you but it also protects the appliances like water heaters and dishwashers and even clothes washers.
KEVIN: Alright, so if I use a whole-house filter  or these sediment filters, as you call them, will they also affect taste and color and other impurities?
RICHARD: Usually not and you really wouldn’t want them to. Why filter the water that you want to use to water the lawn or fill the toilet? To affect water taste or color, a point-of-use carbon filter or reverse osmosis system is really the right choice.
KEVIN: Right. And to see a video of several different types of water filtration systems, visit ThisOldHouse.com.
Now Richard, with the point-of-use systems, how frequently do you have to change the filters?
RICHARD: Well, it’s funny. It’s a direct relation to how dirty the water is. If it’s doing its job, you might have to change it every month or so. You know, why have a filter that doesn’t take anything out?
TOM: You know, in the years I spent as a home inspector, I’d find these filters that looked like they’d been on a faucet for years and I’m thinking they’re doing the opposite; they’re probably poisoning the water, not cleaning it.
KEVIN: (overlapping voices) That’s right. That’s right, that’s right. And if you have a filter that clogs regularly, people say, “I don’t like that filter. Give me one that stays in forever.” But it’s actually just doing its job.
TOM: And sometimes you get a lot of complaints about reduced water flow with those as well.
KEVIN: Yeah, a little bit. As it’s doing its job, it can reduce the amount of water that comes through.
TOM: So, for the most part, I think we can rely on the quality of the municipal water that’s available?
KEVIN: Absolutely. It’s something we all take for granted.
TOM: Fantastic. Richard, Kevin, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
RICHARD: Thanks, Tom.
KEVIN: Always good to be here.
LESLIE: Hey, well being a New Yorker, you know we’ve got the best tap water; so I am fully a fan of tap water and have been for years. So jump on that bandwagon and start saving some money, folks. If you want to check out the different types of water filtration systems in action, visit ThisOldHouse.com; tons of videos there, you can see how everything works.
TOM: And This Old House is brought to you by The Home Depot. The Home Depot – more saving, more doing.