Keeping Your Water In Line: 10 Things to Know about Inline Water Filters

Thinking about an inline water filter to keep your home's water cleaner and fresher? Here's everything you need to know about these filters.

Darrell Smith
11.2019
Inline Water Filters
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According to a 2019 study by Northeastern University and the Environmental Working Group, about 19 million people in the United States are exposed to contaminated water. It seems that even here, you can't take water quality for granted.

Have you ever thought about installing an inline water filter to keep your home's water cleaner and fresher? Here's everything you need to know about them.

Types of Water Filtration

An inline water filter is only one of many water filtering or conditioning methods.

The simplest method is a water-filtration pitcher. You simply fill the pitcher from your faucet and then pour out filtered water. A carbon-spun fiber filter removes some contaminants as well as any chlorine taste and odor. A pitcher is a low-cost solution, but it may also be the least effective.

A more sophisticated option is to install a faucet filter equipped with a carbon block that removes almost all traces of lead and contaminants from the water that passes through it. You can also have a diverter fitted, which allows you to bypass the filter.

A countertop filter contains multiple filters that remove dirt, chemicals, and trace metals, taking water from your faucet via a plastic tube and returning the water through its own faucet.

Like a countertop filter, an inline under-sink filter typically contains multiple filters, but it sits hidden under your sink. Water passes from the cold water pipe, through the filter, and out of a faucet next to your sink.

The most sophisticated water filter is a whole-home system. Taking water at the point it enters your home, this multiple-filter system removes more contaminants than any of the other systems, but is much more expensive to purchase and install.

What Is an Inline Water Filter?

An inline water filter is normally fitted under the kitchen sink where it's attached to the supply of cold water, so that no cold water enters the system without having been filtered first.

Inside the main body of the unit is a replaceable filter cartridge that does all of the filtering work.

Benefits of an Inline Water Filter

Why use an inline water filter? What are the benefits?

Because an inline filter is installed within the water system, it's always on and continuously filtering all water that passes through it. There's no need for manual intervention such as a water-filtration pitcher requires.

Specifications of inline water filters vary, but they can effectively remove the chlorine that sometimes taints the smell and taste of drinking water. They can also remove trace metals, parasites that cause upset stomachs, and bacteria to protect you and your family from water-borne diseases.

Types of Inline Filter Systems

An inline water filter works by combining a number of filtering methods in a single unit, although different filters vary in the methods they use.

The simplest filtering method is a mechanical filter, which physically removes dirt, sediment, and other particles from the water. The filter can be as simple as a fine mesh that catches large particles or as sophisticated as a ceramic filter able to trap microscopic particles.

Carbon is effective at absorbing chemicals such as chlorine, so many inline filters use it to both capture particles and absorb chemicals. The carbon can either be in granular form or in a block.

Filters designed to protect appliances such as refrigerators or coffee makers use polyphosphate to reduce scale formation. They don't soften the water, but they inhibit the minerals in the water from forming limescale deposits.

Water-softening inline filters use a process of ion exchange that removes calcium from the water, so that it can't form as scaly deposits on the inside of pipes and appliances. The system uses beads of salt that have to be recharged regularly.

A reverse-osmosis filter removes dissolved contaminants in your water supply. The water is forced, under pressure, through a semipermeable membrane that catches particulates such as magnesium, calcium, and others.

Because each water filtering method has its strengths, the most sophisticated inline water filters use a combination of methods to produce highly-purified water.

Installing an Inline Water Filter

Installation of an inline water filter is a simple plumbing job that can be completed by any plumber or able DIY enthusiast. A new filter typically comes with installation instructions.

For an inline filter to provide filtered drinking water at your sink, you need space underneath to house the unit, and it will need to be mounted so that you have access to change filters periodically. You should check the dimensions of the filter and its mounting before you buy it to make sure your under-sink area is sufficiently large.

Locating an Inline Filter

Different kinds of inline filters need to be located in different places. An under-sink model obviously provides drinking water at your sink. A filter for a coffee machine or refrigerator is fitted between the water supply and the appliance.

Some dedicated inline water filters are designed for the appliance they protect. For example, some water filters are designed to fit in the drinking water compartment of a refrigerator.

Replacing Filters

An inline water filter may contain multiple filtration components, most of which have a specified replacement frequency. Luckily, this is simply a matter of ordering a new filter and swapping it for the old one.

A Perfect Cup of Coffee

Hard water can cause a build-up of scale on the components inside a coffee maker, so keep an expensive (or inexpensive) coffee maker in tip-top condition by fitting it with an inline filter.

Protecting your coffee maker from scale build-up means it lasts longer and is less prone to breakdown. It can also improve the taste of the coffee by eliminating any chlorine or other unpleasant flavors.

Ice Cold Drinking Water

A specialized inline water filter for your refrigerator reduces the chlorine odor and taste of the drinking water dispenser and ice maker, so you can enjoy an ice-cold glass of pure-tasting water at anytime.

Smaller Environmental Impact

Another great reason for installing a water filter is so you can stop buying water in disposable plastic bottles, which is an environmentally-damaging and unsustainable way of consuming water.

To provide America with its bottled water demand, companies use 17 million barrels of oil a year. Plus, only about 23% of these plastic bottles get recycled, which leaves the rest to end up in landfills and oceans.

And on top of these environmental reasons, the cost of filtering your own water is much lower than buying water in single-use bottles each day.

Effectively filtered water from your home will be as good or better than bottled water. Just take a reusable drinking water bottle with you to work, school, or the gym.

Consider an Inline Water Filter

As you can see from the long list of benefits, considering an inline water filter for your home and family would be a wise decision.

And if that wasn't enough water-based info for you, learn more about your tap water here.

WaterZen

WaterZen exists to improve your family's health by making information about the water you drink more accessible, straightforward, and easy-to-understand. We do this by providing clear, simple water-quality information for your area based on data from your local water provider, unbiased comparisons, health standards, and expert opinions.

The way we see it, when you're informed about the quality of your water and then empowered to protect your family (and your community), you've achieved "water zen".