A home water treatment system is a device or appliance that purifies, filters, conditions or softens the water in a home. Home water treatment systems that purify and filter water have grown in popularity as consumers have become more concerned about the quality and safety of their municipal water supply. Systems that soften or condition water are most commonly used in areas with “hard water,” which is water that has a high calcium or magnesium content.
Regardless of the design and purpose, a home water treatment system will typically fall into one of two categories. The first category is known as a point of entry, or POE, system. In a point of entry system, water is treated at the point where it enters the home and is typically accessible throughout the entire home. A POE system is usually quite large and is typically installed in a garage or basement of a home.
The second category of system is known as a point of use (POU) system. In contrast to a POE system that treats all of the water that enters a home, a POU system only treats water at the point that it is used. POU systems are frequently installed on faucets, countertops or underneath the sink. Both water filtration and water softening systems may be of the POU or POE type.
There are four main types of purification or filtration systems that are popular today. The first type is an activated carbon system. An activated carbon home water treatment system filters and purifies water through the use of a filter containing activated carbon, which is also commonly known as activated charcoal. As water flows through an activated carbon filter, particulates and contaminants adhere to the carbon granules, removing it from the treated water.
An activated carbon home water treatment system is effective at contaminants such as algae, fungi, pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine. These types of systems are also effective at improving the taste and smell of water. They are not as effective in removing smaller particulates, and running hot water through the filter may release the contaminants that have adhered to the carbon granules. Consistent replacement of the carbon filter is necessary for an activated carbon system to remain effective.
The second type of system is known as a reverse osmosis system. This type of system uses a thin membrane that water is forced through. As water is forced through the membrane, particles and contaminants are filtered out. A reverse osmosis home water treatment system is effective at removing bacteria, salt and very small particulates and organisms but is not as effective in removing contaminants such as chlorine, pesticides and solvents.
The third type of home water treatment system filters water through the distillation process. Water is boiled, vaporized, and collected in a different compartment of the treatment system as it condenses. While distillation is effective in purifying water, it can cost more to operate than other similar systems. A fourth type of system uses ultraviolet (UV) rays to kill organisms in the water. A UV system is not effective in removing particulates in water; therefore many treatment systems incorporate a combination of filtration and UV technology.
Water softeners work by removing calcium and magnesium in water. As water enters the softener, it flows through plastic beads that are negatively charged. The negatively charged plastic beads attract the positively charged calcium and magnesium. This causes the minerals to adhere to the plastic beads, thereby removing the minerals from the water.