The fact that water quality isn’t assured for local communities these days is a sign that you should install some type of water filtration system. This is particularly true if the place you’re in is known for having issues about the water source, or the basic filtration as provided by the local water services.
Unfortunately, many of the small-scale solutions have the following issues:
For water filter pitchers, the problem is two-fold: you can only filter so much water at a given time, and at the same time, the filtering process is gravity-based, so you may have to wait for some time to have your filtered water ready for use.
For countertop filters, the issue is about space and aesthetics: few countertop filters look elegant, and usually are relegated to the secondary kitchen. Even then, they tend to take up space on the countertop, which can be a hindrance for food preparation. In terms of water throughput, even larger countertop filters will have a limit to how fast they can filter water. It probably won’t be the same as the normal output from your tap.
If you encounter these limitations, but you feel you aren’t ready yet to invest in a full whole-house water filtration system, then your best choice is to use an under counter or under-sink water filtration system.
Under counter filters are so named because of their location – they are usually installed under the kitchen counter, or, in some cases, under the sink. Unlike a countertop filter, where the point of connection is an extra faucet piping option or the faucet itself (through the use of a special lever switch), the under counter water filter usually requires that the whole plumbing system for the kitchen counter be modified. The filter output usually leads to the kitchen tap itself, or a separate faucet for potable water.
Under counter water filters are usually larger than countertop filters, given that it has more space to use under the counter without being in the way. This allows it to handle a larger volume of water.
Like many whole-house and countertop filters, under counter filters are modular. However, their modularity depends on how many filters the base unit can accommodate. The simplest ones usually have only one filtering tank, while the most usually have connectors for three or four. If there is enough space, one can even connect post-filtration systems, such as active ionization filters and ultraviolet light emitters.
The basic filters, though, involve solid-block and granulated filtration tanks. Solid-block tanks are usually made of carbon or ceramic blocks where water is forced through, preventing most particles, including heavy metals and microorganisms from passing through. These filter types can filter down to 0.5 to 1 micron, depending on the way they are made. Granulated filters are usually installed after the solid-block filters, to remove chlorine, fluorine, and other minerals that may pass through the solid-block filter. Some filters can also alkalize the water, or remove odd tastes and smells.
The first thing you should do before installing an under counter filter is to check on the following:
Under counter filters only make sense cost-wise, if you have a large enough group of people who will need the water volume that an under counter water filter will provide. Do observe how much drinking water is used in a day, and use that as a basis for what kind of water filter system you have to buy.
Different places have different kinds of water. In some places, the basic treatment of the water may not need filters that will soften the water – that is, remove minerals from it. In other cases, you may need to alkalize the water a bit, given how acidic the natural water source is. It’s a good idea to inquire with the local government offices and with local water experts and neighbors to find out what kinds of filters you will need. From there, you can decide how many filtration tanks you will need for your under counter water filtration system. If the water quality in your area has some unique contaminants, you may even have to spring for special filters that can address those contaminants, specifically. Reverse-osmosis filters may be requires for some metals and chemicals.
An under counter water filtration system usually costs about $150 to $250, depending on the filtration systems and throughput that you need. However, you should also take into account installation costs and filter replacements costs as well. Depending on the water quality in your area, you may have to replace your water filters once or twice a year. You should figure all these costs in to see if it’s worth it, or if you can live with a countertop filter, or a water filter pitcher or three.
Under counter water filters technically can be upgraded, by adding more tank mounts under the counter as you save more money for a more complete filtration system. However, if you can, you should spring for the tank mounting system that is best for your needs at the outset. In other words, if you really do need three or four mounts so that you have three or four filtration tanks to clean your water supply, then you should do that at the outset, and then simply add more of the actual filters as time goes on.
You should also consider that you should have a separate faucet for potable water, as more acidic water is actually good for partial disinfection, such as when you are washing the dishes or when you are taking a bath. Alkaline water may sometimes even encourage some microorganisms to flourish, so having alkalizing filters attached to your main faucet may not be such a good idea.
When installing your under counter water filtration system, it’s important that you do your research, and you plan, so that you won’t spend more than you should, while at the same time give yourself enough leeway to add more filters as needed.