Having a well water system provides one of the cleanest water sources available. But even well water can have potential contaminants. Should you have a whole house water filtration system for well water? We’ll look at ways to supply water for your homestead and the best options for a whole house water filtration system.
My grandparents had a pump on their artesian well when I was growing up. When the water tank was low, we would turn on the pump and fill the tank. Once the tank was full, we would turn it off. This was usually a morning and evening task as the holding tank only held a few gallons of water.
Because the well was fed by a spring, there was a drain left open to allow for overflow when the pump wasn’t in use. This drained into the livestock pond so that nothing was wasted. A well water filter system wasn’t even considered.
In hindsight, there were hard water minerals in the water. I’m not sure how much iron content was in the water but I know there were brown stains in the sinks, toilet, and washing machine.
It was safe water with no harmful chemicals. There were no bad tastes in the water that I remember and the water pressure was always good.
Why You Should Have A Whole House Water Filtration System For Well Water
That was then. Our world is different now and having clean water for water consumption and household use is a source of concern. Fewer than 100 years ago, private wells were the common source of water. There were few places with city water supplies.
In that same time frame, the majority of our underground water sources here in the United States have become contaminated. Water contaminants from the overuse of pesticides and herbicides in big ag, harmful contaminants from nuclear plants and industry, fracking, and poor waste management have contributed to the common issues of poor water quality.
The Environmental Protection Agency has been busy these last 50 years fielding complaints about the health risk to those on municipal water as well as private well owners. It’s not just about the taste of your water, sadly, it’s about the common contaminants in both which put your health at risk.
This has put the necessity of filtering well water at the top of the priority list for most of us. Even if we have a pure water source, it is a good idea to run a water test. It takes a short period of time for poisons or other toxins to leak into a spring or river and ruin a good water source.
Unless you know the source of your water flow and know all that it is exposed to, the best option is to install a water treatment system with filtration media. Improving the quality of your water by using such a system can be life-saving.
The Necessity of a Clean Water Supply
You can go without food for up to 40 days but your body is permanently damaged after just 3 days of no water and death is probable.
Water is as necessary to life as oxygen is. In our toxic world, having clean water for drinking, cooking, and bathing is harder to find than ever before. This goes for the health and well-being of our livestock and gardens which feed us as well.
Ways to Provide Water For Your Family
Now that I’ve laid out all the bad things about our water supply, let me say that there is good news. There are many options to choose from for a whole house water filtration system. Your choice may depend on your water source so let’s start there.
Water Supply From A Well
No matter which type of well you have, you probably had to have someone dig it. We were blessed to have a well already on the farm when we got there. It needed a sediment filter but otherwise, it was in excellent health.
When having someone drill your well, the cost can quickly mount. The depth to which they must drill to find water and the sub-terrain that has to be drilled through determine a large portion of the cost. They may also create additional costs to drilling your well.
Our daughter had a well dug on their new farm. It had to be drilled twice because of the type of water they found with the first one. They had to pay for two wells to be dug. It can be a costly endeavor but it is a better option than municipal water for them.
If you’re living off-grid, you need to consider that an electric water pump uses a great deal of energy. Be sure your energy supply can handle the draw.
You can defray some of the load by turning the pump on in the early morning and filling your water holding tanks while the supply of energy from the power source is high.
Installing a hand pump on any well is a good idea. If the electricity goes off or the power grid fails, you can still have a reliable water supply.
In the worst-case scenario, you can carry buckets of water from the well to where you need it. Being prepared could be a matter of life and death so you can never overestimate the importance of water for your family and livestock.
If you determine the water supply is near the surface, you may choose to dig your own well using PVC and garden hoses. This system of well drilling will only work in areas where there is only clay and dirt, not stone. If nothing else, it may provide an alternative source of water for the garden and livestock.
The old-timers tell me they used to determine the location of water to dig a well by what is called witching for water. The person doing the “witching” uses a new sprout from under a peach tree or a green forked branch from a peach tree. They hold the “wand”, as the branch is called, in their hands and walk around in a particular area until the branch turns down.
I don’t have any experience with this or know if it works every time, but I know several people who have found water on their homestead using this method.
You may be able to determine the location of an underground spring by observing the soil. If you have a certain area that is always wet, there’s a good chance that’s where to dig a well.
Digging a well doesn’t mean you will find good water. You may dig and find no water at all, or you may have a well dug and find water that tastes bad. Then if you dig just a few feet away, you may find a well with a 30 GPM flow rate and an endless supply.
Tips When Digging a Well:
- Avoid digging your well near cisterns, septic ponds, or septic tanks.
- Keep your well at least 50 feet from sewer lines.
- Don’t dig a well near runoff from raw animal waste.
Importance of Testing Your Well Water
The National Ground Water Association recommends testing your well water at least once a year. By regularly testing your water at the source and at the various filtration stages of your system you will get an accurate picture of how your whole house filtration system is working.
It’s important to know if your whole house water filter removes things like coliform bacteria, nitrates, e. coli, hydrogen sulfide, and contaminants with larger particles.
Test your water supply immediately if any of the following occurs:
- Any change in the taste, odor, or appearance of the well water
- If you a have broken well cap
- If your well is exposed to floodwaters
- If you discover there is a history of bacterial contamination in the well
- If you, your family, or animals experience recurrent gastrointestinal illness
- If any new equipment is installed on your whole house water filter system
Who should test your well water?
Your local health department or environmental office will offer tests or know who does offer water testing in your area. They can test for nitrates, coliform total numbers, fecal coliform, volatile organic compounds, and pH.
By doing a quick web search you will find licensed laboratories in your area that can perform more thorough tests for you. We choose to use an independent lab to test our water. They offer a wider variety of testing options and packages than our local health department.
We are more comfortable using an independent lab than with using a government agency that may have a vested interest in the test results.
Water Supply From A Stream or River
Having access to a river or stream on a homestead is invaluable. Not only for a clean water source but also for hydropower. It’s easy and inexpensive to make use of this water source.
You will need to test the water by sending it to an independent lab. It’s a good idea to have it tested two to three times a year.
It’s a straightforward process to set up a water supply system from a river or stream. All you need to do is set up a water pump, the lines needed to pump the water to the storage tanks, and set up your whole-house filtration system or under sink filter.
Using stainless steel holding tanks is a great option. The size of the tank you need depends on how much water you use.
Rivers and streams are easily infected by animals dying in them that you can’t see or someone dumping something into it near your home and you not being aware of it. For this reason, you should frequently monitor all stages of filtration of the water from the source to the faucet. Ensuring that your system is working properly will help to keep your water supply safe.
Water Supply From Rainwater Collection Systems
When I was growing up, we had a rain barrel off the front porch in the corner where the roof lines met. We used it for watering the chickens and other small animals and for washing our hair. My grandmother also used it for watering her flowers and her kitchen garden.
There are countless types and sizes of rainwater collection systems. You can create DIY water systems like we did or purchase a complex multibarrel system. The options are innumerable, and you can decide what works for you.
Rainwater is a free resource anyone can use. We certainly do.
NOTE: I can’t believe I have to say this, but some states, California for example, have made it illegal to collect rainwater. The state says any rain that falls belongs to them because it would feed their water supply. In essence, the law says you are stealing from the state if you catch rainwater or any water runoff from rain or melting snow.
Best Whole House Water Filtration Systems
When choosing the best whole house water filter system for well water, you have to consider some important things:
- Filtration Technology – There are numerous filtration technologies for whole-house water filtration systems. Some types of filters are better at different filtration processes than others. To get a filtration system for well water that addresses total dissolved solids, iron, harmful microorganisms, heavy metals, and deadly toxins means it will need special filters.
- Filtration Performance – A system that says it removes at least 90% of known pollutants is always better than one that says it removes less than that. However, the truth lies in the independent testing results. Anyone can make a claim, but you need to see the evidence to support it. Don’t just take a company’s word for it.
- Water Flow Classification – The problem with filtration systems is that there is a reduction in water flow. If you have a large home, you may see a more noticeable difference in water pressure than a tiny house would. You will want to choose a water filter that provides a high water flow rate. Some of the better systems provide 15 to 20 GMP. Most households require at least 12 GPM flow rate for comfort and effectiveness.
Choosing the right whole house filter for well water is not solely based on these three considerations. It will take some investigative work to decide what will work for you. The results from your water test will largely determine the type of filtration system you need.
Types of Filters Used
There are several types of water filters used by whole house water filtration systems. They include activated carbon, resin, reverse osmosis filter, water ionizers, UV purifier filters, and infrared or ultraviolet light filters.
- Activated carbon filters absorb pollutants and prevent them from passing through the filter. They’re best used to remove pesticides, lead, iron, and bacteria. A common material used in an activated carbon filter is coconut shell.
- Resin filters perform well in removing iron and last longer than other types of filters while still providing adequate water flow. They do not remove toxins.
- Reverse osmosis uses pressure and semi-permeable membranes. They work well at removing heavy metals and even fluoride but do not work well for removing dangerous pesticides and other pollutants.
- Water ionizers use an electrical charge to purify water. They can filter heavy metals and pesticides but not all brands do the same thing. Make sure to check that the brand you choose will remove the contaminants contained in your water supply.
- UV filters are best at killing bacteria. Although, a UV filter does not remove other contaminants in drinking water.
- Infrared Filters use light and heat to soften water. This is helpful if your water supply is hard water. Some bacteria are killed with UV light, but not many and they don’t remove any toxins or other contaminants.
Some systems use multiple filters. This is the best way to destroy bacteria, remove heavy metals, filter out pesticides and other contaminants, and fluoride.
Systems with multiple filtration stages provide for complete coverage and the best results for clean water.
#1 Express Water 3 Stage Whole House Water Filtration
As a whole house water filtration system, we like that it uses three stages to remove more than 80 common pollutants found in most well water. These include heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, sediments, bacteria, iron, and chemicals such as paint, dye, pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.
In the first stage, a microfiber filter removes sediment. In the second, a carbon filter removes lead, sulfur, bacteria, iron, and other heavy metals. Then the third stage uses a second carbon filter to remove pharmaceuticals, pesticides, paint, dye, and other chemicals.
This system has a flow rate of 0.25 gallons per second, which is roughly 15 GPM making it adequate for any household.
All three of the filters need to be replaced every 100,000 gallons. For most of us that would be every 6 to 12 months for a family of four.
#2 iSpring 3-Stage Whole House Water Filtration System
This system is designed to filter heavy metals, chlorine, pesticides, iron, and sediments. It uses a three stage filtration process similar to the Express Water. The difference is in the third stage where an activated carbon filter is used. It does not filter bacteria.
This system is said to be an easy DIY installation. You’ll install a storage tank for pre-filtered water as well as the filter system.
All three of the main filters must be replaced every 100,000 gallons which is every 6 to 12 months for a family of four.
There’s also one filter that needs to be replaced once a year and the semi-permeable membrane needs to be replaced every three years. The cost of a three-year kit is around $115. This isn’t much when you consider the necessity for clean drinking water.
The water flow rate is 12 to 15 GPM.
#3 Aquasana Whole House Water Filter System
This whole house water filtration system removes pesticides, chlorine, and heavy metals. It houses a salt-free water conditioner for hard water.
The system is designed to work for 1,000,000 gallons or up to 10 years. It uses activated carbon filters to remove contaminants, making it ideal for removing heavy metals, sediments, and toxic pollutants. It does not, however, remove bacteria.
It’s recommended to change the filter every 3 months for peak performance. This is more often than other whole house water filtration systems for well water.
It lets you know when it’s time to change the filters which is nice. The filters are supposed to be easy to replace.
It only provides a 7 GPM water flow rate. This is below the average of 12 GPM required by most homes. If your water heater is small, if your house is small, and if you don’t mind a slightly lower flow rate, it is an effective option.
All of these water filtration systems for the whole house require electricity to pump water through the filtration stages.
With the power grid being fragile, and with weather patterns changing, it’s nice to know there are a few good choices for powerless water filtration.
Water Filtration Without Electricity
The best and only system I recommend is the Berkey Water Purification System. We saved and purchased our first system about 3 years ago. We could not believe the difference in the taste and quality of our water.
It costs less than whole house filtration systems and will last a lifetime with good upkeep. I’m impressed with the variety of systems they have from personal water bottles and travel kits to family systems.
The filters are good for 2 – 5 years depending on how many gallons you filter, and the condition of the water being filtered. Their website is extremely helpful as is their customer service.
We also recommend the Lifestraw. This is ideal when hiking or camping or visiting a family member who is on city water or unfiltered well water. They are portable, practical, and protective.
The importance of clean water for you, your family, and your livestock outweighs the small investment, and it pays for itself with immeasurable returns.
What type of water supply do you have for your homestead? What type of water filtration system do you use and why?