5 of the Best Whole House Water Filters

Posted by
John Woodard on June 18, 2019

whole house water filter can protect family and guests in your home from waterborne illness and provide clean drinking water. But finding the right whole house water filter is not always easy. Whole house water filter systems are complex because no one filter can solve all of your water problems. They include a combination of water filters and disinfection methods. This buyer's guide will help you decide which whole house water filter is best for your water needs.

What is a whole house water filter? 

A whole house water filter treats the water throughout your entire house from your water line's point-of-entry (POE). If water flowing to your faucet, shower head, laundry machine, and other appliances leaves scale, produces a chlorine taste, or contains bacteria, then you could benefit from a whole house filter. Each type of whole house filter is designed to solve a particular problem. Whole house carbon filters are best at removing chlorine taste, while whole house water softeners treat hard water.

Whole house water filters vs. whole house filtration systems

Each type of whole house water filter treats a different problem. Water with more than one problem or an issue that requires a multi-step solution requires a whole house filtration system. A whole house filtration system is made up of two or more whole house filters that work together to provide the desired level of water quality. 

Whole house water filtration is a worthwhile investment, but it may not be the most cost-effective solution for your water. If your water is safe to shower in or use for cleaning, then an under-sink or countertop water filter for clean drinking water may be all you need. Whole house UV disinfection is beneficial for any home in the event of a Boil Water Advisory, but bacterial treatment is only necessary for well water. 

View our picks for the 5 best under-sink water filters & 5 best countertop water filters.

The Best Whole House Water Filters

Whole House Water Filter Product Reviews

Rusco Spin-Down Filter - Best Whole House Water Filter for Sediment


  • No frequent filter changes
  • Able to clean 


  • Not the best for fine sediment 

Why the spin-down filter is the best whole house filter to remove sediment

Rusco spin-down filters are full of grit, not just because they trap sand and sediment, but because they can withstand high temperatures and trap heavy debris. Here are the qualities that make the Rusco great at sediment removal:

Protective and durable

Sediment filters are the first filters installed in a whole house system because they protect other filters in your system and your home appliances. Dirt and debris in water clogs or damages whatever it passes through. If your whole house system includes UV disinfection, then living organisms can hide behind the particles and pass through the system undetected.

The Rusco filter is an excellent choice for well water, often full of sediment. If you plan to use a Spin-down filter to pretreat water, make sure the filter mesh size is small enough. Unless you get a 500 to 1000-mesh filter, very fine particles slip through. Rusco filters are best at removing large dirt and debris, which may not be necessary for many homes on city water. A standard sediment filter is great at removing smaller particles. 

Read more about Rusco spin-down filters and sediment trappers.

filter mesh size

Low-maintenance and long-lasting

Standard sediment filters require frequent filter changes, but Rusco Spin-Down filters last for years. Unless your filter housing cracks or another part breaks, then you don't have to worry about maintenance fees. The Spin-Down filter can be cleaned with periodic flushing by simply opening the flush valve. You can see accumulated debris through the clear filter housing. Installing an automatic flush valve eliminates manual flushing. 

Rusco replacement parts:

FWS UPCF-0835 - Best Whole House Water Filter for Chlorine


  • Up-flow Vortech tank
  • No back-washing necessary
  • No electricity required


  • Changing media can be a hassle

Why the UPCF-0835 is the best whole house filter to remove chlorine

Carbon filtration is the best way to remove chemical tastes and odors in your drinking water, and the FWS UPCF-0835 is one of the best performing carbon filters.

Up-flow filtration

Water flows down the center of the filter tank and back up through activated carbon. This upward flow provides the water plenty of opportunity for contaminants and chlorine in the water to adhere to the surface of the carbon. The Vortech distributor inside the tank keeps the media in motion to prevent contaminants from cutting a path through the carbon, or channeling. The up-flow filtration eliminates the need for backwashing and gives the carbon greater capacity.

Multi-purpose tank

The filter tank comes with granular activated carbon coconut shell media. When loaded with calcite media, the tank also works as a pH neutralizer for acidic water. 

Activated carbon is the best choice for chlorine removal, but it must be catalytic to remove chloramines. Adding catalytic carbon media to the tank will convert chloramines into chloride molecules and prevent them from leaving cancer-causing byproducts in your drinking water.

How often should you replace the carbon media? Every 3 to 5 years.

FWS AN-0948 - Best Whole House Water Filter for Acid Water


  • Up-flow Vortech tank
  • Best at buffering pH
  • Fiberglass tank


  • Not enough contact time with high flow

Why the AN-0948 is the best whole house filter to treat acid water

Acidic water can corrode your plumbing and appliances. If the pH of your water is less than 6.7, then it's on the acid side of the pH scale. You need an acid neutralizer to buffer the pH. The Fresh Water calcite filter is the most efficient option. Here's why:

The Vortech distributor

The FWS AN-0948 filter tank has a distributor plate at the bottom with super fine slots angled like a fan blade. As water flows up through this plate into the filtration media, it moves the media in a vortex-like motion to provide longer contact time with the water. Acid water dissolves the calcite to buffer water's pH. If the media does not have enough time to dissolve, then the water's pH remains acidic. The Vortech distributor moves water through media better than a standard backwashing filter, which makes it more efficient at neutralizing the water.

The fiberglass tank

Not only is the fiberglass calcite filter tank durable, but it's also non-corrosive. Acidic water leaches many materials it comes in contact with. Fiberglass, however, is resistant to leaching. 

How often should you replenish the calcite? Once a year.

Neo-Pure NPHS-075 - Best Whole House Water Softener


  • High-efficiency
  • Uses less water than most softeners


  • Uses some water to regenerate

Why the NPHS-075 is the best whole house softener for hard water

The Neo-Pure water softener uses 75% less salt and 65% less water than traditional softeners, saving you from frequent and expensive maintenance. 

Up-flow brining 

All water softeners use water to regenerate, but the Neo-Pure significantly reduces the amount of water used by up-flow brining. A water softener uses resin to capture hardness minerals and replace them with sodium. When the resin fills with these minerals, it must re-charge or regenerate with a brine solution of salt and water.

Water softeners with down-flow brining are inefficient. The hardness minerals released during brining reattach lower in the bed of resin. This means more water and salt are needed to complete the regeneration process. The Neo-Pure softener, on the other hand, uses up-flow brining. In an up-flow tank, only the resin holding the hardness goes through the regeneration process. An up-flow system uses less salt and water, making it more efficient.

How often should you replace the softener salt? Once a month, or as needed based on water usage.

How often should you replace the softener resin? Once every 15 ayears. Chlorinated water reduces resin life, but if you install a carbon filter before the water softener, then the resin will last its normal lifespan. 

Viqua D4 Plus - Best Whole House System for Bacteria


  • Intuitive power supply
  • High lamp output


  • Expensive replacements
  • Doesn't work without power

Why the D4 Plus is the best whole house system to treat bacteria

When treating bacteria-infested water, UV disinfection is the most efficient and requires the least maintenance. It treats water using a powerful UV lamp instead of chlorine. Here's what makes the Viqua D4 UV system superior:

Compact, but powerful

The D4 is the perfect fit for an average-size home. This compact UV can be installed easily in more confined spaces to protect your family when your water is compromised. You can select a system with a prefilter kit to ensure that all of the bacteria is deactivated.

Helpful features

This UV system's user-friendly features set it apart from other systems. The controller includes indicator lights to let you know if a part of your system fails. An LED display lets you know how long you have until the lamp needs replacing, and an alarm notifies you when it's time to change it. The controller monitors the intensity of the UV lamp and includes a diagnostic test if the system malfunctions.

If you prefer a less expensive system with fewer features and a lower flow rate, the Viqua Silver is another great option.

How often should you replace the UV lamp? Once a year. 

How often should you replace the quartz sleeve? Every two years. 

How to choose a whole house water filter

Whole house water filters come in many different types and may require prefiltration. Finding the filter best suited for your water in the appropriate size can be challenging. Here's a list of things to consider to help you find the best water filter for your house.

1. Determine if you are on well or city water.

Whether your water comes from a well or city source makes a difference in which whole house filter or system options you should consider. On city water, you may have only one specific water quality concern, but untreated well water often requires more than one type of filter.

Whole house water filters for city water

If your water comes from a municipal source, then it's already been purified of pathogens, dangerous contaminants, and minerals like iron and manganese. But most water treatment plants disinfect water with chemicals that make your water taste bad and leave chemical byproducts like trihalomethanes in your water. 

If you're on city water, then it's a good idea to treat your water for these contaminants:

Chlorine and chloramines: One of the benefits of city water is that it's already been treated for living organisms that could make you sick, but the treatment often involves chemical disinfectants that leave behind cancer-causing byproducts. Simple carbon filtration removes chlorine, but chloramines need catalytic carbon to alter the molecule's structure and convert it into chloride to remove it. 

Water hardness minerals: Drinking mineral water is safe and often preferred, but water with excess minerals is problematic. Too much calcium and magnesium create hard water. When water heats up, these minerals turn to scale that builds up in your plumbing pipes and ruins appliances. Hard water makes lathering soap and washing your clothes difficult and dries out your skin.

Whole house water filters for well water 

When treating well water, a homeowner has more contaminants to contend with. It's up to the well owner to make sure the water is safe before it enters his home. Like a city water plant, a well owner must disinfect his water by chlorination or UV disinfection and treat the water for iron and other harmful contaminants.  

Learn how to install a whole house water filter for well water.

Most well owners should treat their water for these contaminants:

Bacteria: One of the benefits of well water is that it hasn't been treated with chemical disinfectants like city water, but this also means that it's up to the well owner to make sure the water is safe to drink. You can use chemicals to disinfect your well, but ultraviolet water treatment is safer and easier to maintain.

Sediment: Removing debris from your water makes all your filtration equipment operate more efficiently. Not to mention, it protects appliances and makes your drinking water more palatable. Sediment also shields bacteria, so they're unaffected by UV light. 

Water hardness minerals: As with city water, excess hardness minerals are common in well water. On city water, you can use a salt-free water conditioner to prevent scale without softening the water. However, hard well water must be softened with a whole house water softener. Iron and manganese in well water ruin anti-scale conditioners.

2. Test your water.

Both city-treated and well water can collect new particles from the ground or plumbing pipes on the way to your home. Some of these contaminants are harmful, like lead, while others make water unusable, like excess hardness minerals. Home water test kits help identify unwanted or dangerous contaminants that need removing.

If your water contains lead, then you have two options: a special carbon blend for lead reduction or a reverse osmosis system. It's best to treat lead at the point you drink from rather than through the whole house. Lead enters the water supply from old plumbing pipes. If you treat it at the point of entry, then the water continues to travel through the lead pipe to each point of use, contaminating it again. 

3. Determine what size filter you need.

The size of a whole house filter is determined by its capacity for flow rate and daily water demand. The standard size filter works for a three bedroom, two bathroom home. Each of our best whole house filter picks comes in different variants. Rusco sediment filters are sized according to the size of your plumbing connections, and UV systems are sized by flow rate. You can choose a filter with greater capacity, greater flow rate, or larger plumbing size. 

4. Consider the cost.

Cost is the last thing to consider when choosing a whole house filter. You must choose a type of filter that will solve your specific water problems. A sediment filter is one of the cheapest options, but if your water needs to be treated for chlorine or bacteria, then it will not get the job done.

How much does a whole house water filter cost?

The price of different whole house water filters varies by filtration method. UV systems are often the most expensive to buy and maintain because of their advanced technology. Whole house sediment filters are cheaper because the technology is as simple as particles blocked by a material with tiny pores.

Once you've determined the type of filter you need, you can compare the cost of different systems within that category. For example, if you're looking for a budget-friendly UV system, then you may prefer the Viqua Silver Series over the D4 Plus. The Silver Series does not offer as many helpful features, but it disinfects the water just as well. 

Should you install a whole house water filter?

Whole house water filters vs. under-sink filters

Under-sink water filters make the water at your tap drinkable. Whole house water filters make the water in your entire home usable. You may not need to treat water used for cleaning clothes and washing dishes as extensively or for the same reason as the water you consume. For example, hard water is safe to drink, but you may want to soften it to protect your appliances. You would choose a whole house water softener rather than point-of-use ultrafiltration system, which just filters the water from your tap. On the other hand, you may want to drink reverse osmosis water because of its extensive filtration, but RO water for your entire house may be unnecessary. In this case, you would choose an under-sink RO system.  

Whole house water filter or reverse osmosis?

Usually, a reverse osmosis system is installed at the point of use. Reverse osmosis is only used to filter water in the whole house in special circumstances. Reverse osmosis filtration removes most dissolved particles from water. Such extensive filtration is not often necessary for the water throughout your home and is reserved for drinking water. Using a whole house RO system is expensive and requires a lot of maintenance. However, if the specific contaminant(s) you're dealing with are best removed by reverse osmosis, then you may want to consider a whole house reverse osmosis system or nitrate-specific resin in a water softener.

Types of Whole House Water Filters

If you've tested your water and determined that a whole house water filter is right for you, then it's time to decide what type of whole house filtration is best.

Water Softeners

A whole house water softener is best if your water contains excess hardness minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Whole house water softeners protect homes with hard water from scale and soften the water to make showering and cleaning easier. A salt-free water conditioner also protects from scale build-up but does not provide the same benefits of softened water. Water softeners are the best options for well water because iron or manganese will ruin a water conditioner or any other scale inhibitor.

Read more: What is a Water Softener and How Does It Work? | 5 Benefits of Having a Water Softener | Home Water Softeners

UV Disinfection Systems

Whole house UV disinfection is best if your water contains bacteria, or you want safe drinking water during a Boil Water Advisory. 

Whole house UV disinfection is commonly used on well water but also provides additional protection for city water when the water source is compromised. Well water must be disinfected by chlorination or ultraviolet light. Chlorine disinfection can be a hassle and a hazard. A UV system deactivates living organisms and viruses with less maintenance and greater efficiency.

Read more: What is a UV Water Purifier and How Does It Work?

Acid Neutralizers

A whole house acid neutralizer is best if your water is acidic or has a pH less than 6.5. 

A whole house acid neutralizer balances water's pH and prevents greenish stains from pipe corrosion on your appliances and metallic-tasting water. Acidity does not make water harmful to drink, but the materials leached into acid water through plumbing are a health hazard. Calcite, or calcium carbonate, buffers the pH to neutral without over-correcting the problem.

Carbon Water Filters

A whole house carbon filter is best if your water tastes and smells like chlorine.

Whole house carbon filters are common in homes on city water. Carbon filtration reduces bad tastes and odors from chlorine and chloramine disinfection and other chemicals like pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals stick to carbon's surface, so the more contact time the water has with the carbon, the more effective the system. Adding a carbon filter before a water softener extends the life of the softening resin. 

Read more: Activated Carbon Filters 101

Sediment Filters 

A whole house sediment filter is best as a prefilter for other filtration systems and protection for appliances.

Whole house sediment filters are common in homes on well water. Large particles collected in water as it travels from the well are blocked from passing through the sediment filter. A typical sediment filter contains pores that are too small for dirt and debris to fit through. These filters need regularly depending on the amount of sediment in the water. Rusco sediment filters trap debris in the base of the filter and can be cleaned periodically and reused. 

Read more: What is a Sediment Filter and How Does It Work? | What is a Rusco Spin-Down Filter and How Does It Work?

 Filter Filtration Type Size Maintenance Cost of Maintenance Price
Rusco Filter Sediment Based on plumbing size (3/4") Periodic flushing  $0 $54.35
UPCF-0835 Carbon 3-4 bathrooms carbon: 3-5 years $110 $334.99
AN-0948-1190 Acid neutralizing 1-2 bathrooms calcite: annual $25-50 $499.99
NPHS-075 Water Softening 1-2 bathrooms salt: monthly; resin: 15 years $7; $70 $629.99
D4 Plus Germicidal UV light Based on flow rate (12 gpm) lamp/ sleeve: annual $139 $995.00

Reviews for best whole house water filters from our guests

5 stars for Rusco Spin-Down filters

They're simple, and they WORK

Very easy to install. You can see them work. You can see what you need to clean. -- Ernest L.

5 stars for the calcite neutralizer

Excellent product

Calcite dissolves easily in my chemical tank. Will order again. -- Richard A.

5 stars for the Neo-Pure water softener

Very satisfied with this softener and the service. 

The installation went smoothly. Programming is easy. The videos are helpful. Very satisfied. -- Herbert S.

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