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The Effects of Hard Water on Your Skin and Hair

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Hard water is known for leaving mineral trails in its wake. From crusty faucets to stain rings around toilet bowls—wherever hard water goes, remnants stay behind long after the water has drained. You may already know that calcium and magnesium mineral stains are slowing down the efficiency of your home, but the effects of hard water can also show in your skin and hair.

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The Effects of Hard Water on Skin

Warning signs of hard water include:

Dry and itchy skin

Stiff and tight skin

Increased sensitivity

Amplification of existing eczema or psoriasis

Persistent dry skin and itchiness is a common symptom of hard water. Dry skin may be caused by high mineral content found in hard water, as these minerals strip your skin of natural oils that would otherwise keep your skin healthier and moisturized.

Hard water also prevents soap from lathering correctly and you will likely notice fewer suds in bathwater. This can lead to soap scum staying on your body even if you think it has been washed away. The soap scum can clog your pores, leaving your face susceptible to acne breakouts.

When your skin is dry, this can lead to skincare issues. It’s important to keep your skin moisturized, but if you use hard water your skin may dry out and feel tight. You’re also more likely to be left with bumps and razor burn due to hard water after shaving.

Researchers at the University of Sheffield have reported hard water igniting the development of eczema—a skin condition that leaves a dry, red rash on the body. Similarly, those experiencing psoriasis could see an increase in irritability when they use hard water.

It’s not just your skin feeling the negative impact of hard water, it’s also your hair and scalp.


The Effects of Hard Water on Hair

You may notice hard water affecting your hair through:

Fading color

Flat, dull and brassy hair

Increased dandruff

Dandruff is a fact of life for many people. But they often treat the problem by using special shampoo and conditioner products to keep the flakes to a minimum. What won’t help, however, is washing your hair with hard water. The same minerals irritating your skin are likely worsening dandruff on your scalp. Hard water can also cling to your scalp’s natural oils, leaving your scalp feeling greasy even if it’s just been washed.

The effects of hard water don’t end on the scalp. Hardness minerals can build up onto the hair, resulting in less lathering and less effective cleansing. You’ll need to use more product to get the same result, so you’ll go through shampoo and conditioning products more often. Hard water can also fade new hair color treatments quickly and has been known to flatten perms faster.

No matter what product is being used, hard water’s effects are hard to mask when it comes to making your hair shine and your scalp healthy. This means more trips to the salon and increased stress on your self-care budget.

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Challenges Affecting Personal Hygiene & Your Bathroom Routine

Dull hair and itchy skin are only the beginning of the personal hygiene challenges related to hard water. The leftover minerals in your water could also create a difficult experience for you in your bathroom.

Everything from residue stains on your shower to the white crust around your sink’s faucet could be from hard water. Mineral buildup in your home’s plumbing from unsoftened water can also cause weak water pressure to your showers and faucets. Even your fading, scruffy towels can be caused by the washing machine using hard water.


How to Protect Your Skin & Hair From Hard Water

By now, you can understand the widespread effect hard water has on your skin and hair. Specialty lotions and new hair products may help minimize the effects of hard water on your skin and hair, but a water softener will eliminate the issue at the source. Water softeners remove the hardness minerals from your water before they reach your showerhead (and the rest of your home) so you can take control of your beauty routine.

Leave skincare and dandruff issues in the past. Experience softer, healthier skin and hair by installing a water softening system in your home.

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Hard Water Basics: What Is Hard Water & What You Can Do About It

Over 85% of North American households live in areas with hard water. Yet many homeowners are still unsure of the effects of hard water on a house and what consequences their family may face because of it.

To respond accordingly to a hard water problem, it’s important to take a step back and understand what hard water is and where it comes from.

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What Is Hard Water?

Hard water contains varying amounts of dissolved minerals like calcium, lead, and magnesium — with the very real possibility of many more. Water picks up these minerals as it trickles from its source and gets transported to your supply. The hard water level and specific minerals in your water depending on where it comes from and how long it takes to get to your home. The main reason many areas have different levels of hard water is that no supply is the same.

Hard water can have annoying to downright detrimental effects on your home and family, no matter the severity. White, chalky residue on sinks and higher utility bills from appliances working overtime are just a few signs (and costly results) of hard water. Learn how to take the best care of your home and family by understanding the level of hard water in your area and its potentially costly effects on your daily life.

How Is the “Hardness” of Water Measured?

The level of hardness in water is measured in grains per gallon (gpg). One grain is equivalent to 17.1 milligrams of magnesium or calcium dissolved into one liter of water. Soft water is lower than 1 gpg, whereas hard water is anything over 7 gpg.

For example, a single aspirin is equivalent to 5 grains — when dissolved into a gallon of water, the unit of measure would be 5 grains per gallon. Your local municipal water supply may use mg/L or ppm to measure water hardness. If so, then use this calculation: 1 gpg = 17.1 mg/L or 17.1 ppm.

How Do I Find My Water Hardness Level?

You can find out how hard your water is by reviewing the annual drinking water quality report, contacting your local water municipality (if the report neglects to include a hard water rating), or by using a free water test kit.

If you suspect you have hard water but don’t have the time to test its hardness rating, there are symptoms that will help you identify if it’s a problem. You can do this by taking a brief quiz. Select which symptoms you’re noticing, and then find the right solution for your home.

If you’re reading this and nodding your head about all the hard water problems you’re noticing in your home, you can act now. View our wide selection of water softeners and find the best system for the size of your home.


How Water Softeners Work

Water softeners are the key to cleaner dishes, brighter clothes, lower energy bills and a healthier family — especially in places with critical hard water problems. Investing in a water softener makes life easier with minimal work needed from a homeowner.

Water softeners should be installed on a water pipeline before the water heater. After installation, the water softener will do the work for you — simply monitor salt level every 2-3 months.

The Water Softening Process

  • Once installed, hard water enters the resin tank and flows through resin beads
  • Water circulates in the tank where tiny resin beads swap minerals in the water for the tiny sodium ions they’re holding
  • This iron exchange results in soft water that can then enter the home
  • When the resin beads have maximized their ability to hold the minerals, they need to go through a regeneration

The Regeneration Process

After the minerals have been stripped from the water, they can’t stay in the tank forever. An automated system will begin a regeneration process that will flush the minerals out of the softener and down the drain. Here’s how it works:

  • Resin beads are “washed” with a highly concentrated brine solution created from the salt tank
  • The brine solution forces the minerals out of the resin beads and replaces them with the sodium ions
  • Once the resin beads have been recharged, the brine solution, along with the minerals, are flushed from the softener down the drain

Experience the difference a water softener can make.

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Water softeners are now built to time the regeneration process automatically. Depending on your machine, the process will occur in one of two different ways.

 

Older machines: A set timer on a predetermined schedule (i.e. every 3 days at 11pm) to regenerate no matter if the resin beads actually need it or not.

Newer machines: A computerized sensor monitors bead depletion and other metrics based on water use to regenerate only when needed. These demand-initiated regeneration softeners are ideal for saving money and energy by using less water and salt.


When to Refill a Water Softener

Generally, homeowners should open the lid of their brine tank and check for a salt refill every 2-3 months. Water softeners will do the bulk of the work for you, but it’s important for you to maintain the salt levels so the machine can work properly. When a refill is needed, it’s important to purchase high-quality salt pellets and fill your tank no more than half full to avoid salt bridging. The more you know about maintaining your water softener, the longer it will last.

Key Signs a Tank Is in Need of a Refill:

  • The salt appears overly wet or dry
  • The tank is less than half full of salt
  • Water has started to build-up
  • A salt bridge has started to form
  • Salt is sitting at the same level as the last checkup

What to keep in mind:

  • Machine age: The older the machine, the more often you must refill because older machines are not as efficient as newer models.
  • Level of hard water: The harder the water in your area, the more often you must check and refill your tank.
  • Size of the tank: Naturally, the smaller the tank, the more often you will have to refill.

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What’s Contaminating Your Home’s Water

258 million Americans — nearly 80 percent of the population — receive their water from treatment facilities. While these facilities claim to remove water-borne illnesses such as E. coli from your drinking water, they can’t do anything about the pollutants that enter your water after it leaves their facility. Here is a look at some of the culprits contaminating your home’s water.


What Are the Main Causes of Water Contamination

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1. Agricultural Runoff

In 2014, people in Toledo, Ohio were told to steer clear from their water. Approximately 400,000 people couldn’t drink their water for 3 days. The cause of this water crisis was the formation of an algae bloom on Lake Erie.

Nitrates are also a threat to our water supply. They find their way into our water sources when rainfall transports excess fertilizer from crop fields into nearby rivers and lakes.

The EPA’s legal limit for nitrates in water is 10 parts per million (ppm). But a study by the National Cancer Institute discovered that water containing nitrate levels of just 5 ppm could increase the risk of a handful of cancers, including colon, kidney and ovarian.

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2. Fracking

There are 137,000 fracking wells across the United States. Many of these wells are sprinkled across the country in the Marcellus Shale (Appalachian Basin), Bakken Shale (North Dakota & Montana), Haynesville Shale (intersection of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas) and Eagle Ford Shale (Southern Texas).

353 chemicals are used in fracking operations and all of them have the potential of reaching water sources.

In 2011, a Duke University report found that methane contamination was 17 times more likely to appear in areas within a mile of a fracking site. Methane is a colorless and tasteless gas that can occur naturally or through landfills and gas well drilling. Water well owners who live near fracking sites should test their water for this contaminant.

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3. Industry Runoff

In 2018, the state of Minnesota settled a lawsuit with the 3M Company and the manufacturing giant paid $850 million in damages. The state claimed 3M had polluted drinking water with PFCs, which is a form of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances that are known as “PFAS.”

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals that have been manufactured in a number of industries. PFAS are in packaging materials, stains and other water repellent fabrics, cleaning products and fire-fighting foams. These dangerous “forever chemicals” have been known to interfere with the body’s natural hormones and increase the risk of cancer.

These chemicals affect people through their drinking water. The Environmental Working Group and Northeastern University found that 16 million Americans have received water from sites that have been contaminated with PFAS. Overall, 94 sites in 22 states have reported PFAS contamination.

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4. Service Lines

The Safe Water Drinking Act (SWDA) was created in 1974 and last amended in 1996. This law authorizes the EPA to establish the “national health-based standards for drinking water to protect against both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that may be found in drinking water.”

It doesn’t require school districts to test drinking water for lead contamination, according to Rhea Suh, the president of the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC). In 2016, New York became the first state to test its school district’s water.

The state found that 82% of the 5,000 districts studied had at least one tap that exceeds the state’s lead action level. In New York, the threshold at which action must occur is 15 parts per billion (ppb).

Another big concern with lead leaching into tap water is the number of lead service lines still in use across the country. This became a predominant issue in 1991 when the EPA implemented the lead and copper rule.

At the time of the ruling, the EPA estimated 10 million service lines were in use across the country. Nearly 30 years later, 6.1 million lead service lines are still in use.

This can have detrimental effects on young people and children. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated.” They found lead exposure in young adults and children can lead to startling health problems. Lead exposure can lead to behavioral problems and learning disabilities.

Is My Water Contaminated?

There are several steps you can make to ensure your water is safe. The first is discovering if your water is contaminated or not. You can start this by smelling your water. If there’s anything fishy, take action.

However, some contaminants can’t be detected by smell alone. You can reference the Environmental Working Group’s tap water database by simply entering your zip code.

What Should I Do If My Water Is Contaminated?

If you suspect your water is contaminated by agricultural runoff, industry runoff, fracking or lead pipes, you should find a filtration unit for your home’s drinking water. Whirlpool and EcoPure have several filtration systems that can reduce lead and other harmful contaminants from reaching your family.

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Is Your Furry Friend Safe? How Water Contaminants Affect Your Pets’ Health

Are you giving your pet a fresh bowl of water straight from your tap? That bowl of water might not be as fresh as you thought. If you wouldn’t drink your tap water, your pets shouldn’t either.

If you do not have a system in place to soften and remove contaminants from your water, you could be stunting the growth of your dog or cat and exposing them to dangerous chemicals.

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Hard Water Effects on Dogs and Cats

Magnesium and other alkali earth metals accelerate water hardness when these minerals are present near your water source.

Calcium, on the other hand, is an element that naturally exists in water. The source of calcium in water is rocks such as limestone, marble, calcite, dolomite, gypsum, fluorite and apatite that have dissolved into the water. Like magnesium, calcium is a determinant of water hardness.

While there is no conclusive evidence suggesting pets could be harmed by drinking hard water, a 2016 Trupanion study found a relationship between medical claims for pets with urinary issues and areas of the United States with very hard water.

Trupanion’s study concluded that in areas with extremely hard water, cats – especially males – were three times more likely to have urinary complications than male cats in areas with lower levels of hardness.

Dogs aren’t in the clear, however. While dogs don’t develop kidney stones from hard water, they can be exposed to struvite or calcium oxalate stones. These stones can harm the bladder and lead to your dog getting a urinary tract infection.

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Give your entire family the gift of soft water.

Browse EcoPureHome’s selection of water softeners, so everyone in your house can benefit—pets included.

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Tap Water And Pets: A Guide to Potential Contaminants

 

Lead

Lead is a toxic metal that is very unsafe to consume. If there are excess amounts of lead present in your water system, your pet will be affected. Water isn’t the only source of lead poisoning but it is one of the most frequent.

Common symptoms of lead poisoning include stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. If pets are exposed to lead for a longer period of time it may cause neurological symptoms such as seizures. They may also experience fatigue, poor appetite, extreme anxiety, blindness and other changes in behavior.

Chlorine

Chlorine is purposefully dissolved into the water at treatment facilities across the country. They add this chemical in the water that goes to your home because of how effective it is in killing pathogens.

Chlorine levels up to 4 milligrams per liter in water are considered safe for human consumption. However, areas that have a high bacteria count in their source water tend to use more, leading to the increased likelihood of chlorine contamination in your water.

It is very probable that the health issues that chlorine causes in humans are similar to the issues it causes in our pets. If your pets drink water with high amounts of chlorine, they might experience GI irritation, red eyes and itchy skin.

Iron

Iron is a natural element that tastes metallic in high concentrations. Small amounts of iron are safe for your pets to consume. However, higher amounts of iron in your water may cause symptoms in your pets such as diarrhea and vomiting, pain and swelling in the abdomen, loss of appetite, low blood pressure, and fatigue.

Nitrates

Water that is high in nitrates is most common in water sourced from a well because it is often exposed to soils with this contaminant. The health risk of over-exposure to nitrates in your pets include abdominal pain, fre­quent urination, diarrhea and other signs. Other symptoms include tremors, coma and occasionally convul­sions.

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What to Do If Your Pet Is Drinking Contaminated Water

It is extremely important that you test your water for contaminants that could be affecting your pets’ health.

If you know your water is contaminated, but don’t know if you need either a filtration or softening solution, you can use this guided shopping tool to pin down the best solution to keep your pet safe.

Our pets are our best friends. We are responsible for maintaining their health while they keep a smile on our faces. Whatever water solution you choose to install in your home, remember it’s on you to keep them hydrated and healthy. Ensure your pet is protected from unhealthy water by knowing the signs of contaminated water and acting fast, so you can keep them away from the vet and safe in your arms at home.

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Gain peace of mind with a water filtration system.

Reduce common water contaminants with either an under sink or whole home filtration system.

 

Why Does My Water Smell? 5 Common Smells & Their Causes

Water is as essential to everyday life as breathing and sleeping. When our body needs oxygen, we breathe without thinking about it. Sleeping happens naturally to reset our body for another day. When we’re dehydrated, we don’t go for another iced coffee, we turn on the faucet to receive water.

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But how likely are you to replenish yourself if your home’s water smells like rotten eggs?

It’s a problem that can occur with no warning. Water that smells can have a negative impact on our drinking and personal hygiene habits. Here are a variety of different scents — like rotten eggs — you may be smelling out of the faucet:

  • Sewage
  • Musty
  • Sulfur
  • Metal
  • Fishy

So why does your water smell? Let’s investigate and dive into the causes and solutions to these smelly water issues.

1. My Water Smells Like Sewage

When the aroma of dirt, grime and waste strikes your water supply, the smell can be appalling and insufferable like a busy city street after heavy rainfall. But your water supply doesn’t need to be clogged like the city’s sewage system.

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The sewage smell you’re experiencing can be caused by several factors. It could be the bacteria left by food and soap in your drain. The scent from the bacteria is actually a gas that originates in the drain and makes its way up to the faucet resulting in your water acquiring a dirty smell.

Another reason your water smells like sewage could be the hot water heater’s temperature is too low. Were you away from home for a long period of time and shut it off in fear of pipes bursting? The smell could be originating from the bacteria that harvested itself in the lower temperatures while the hot water heater was turned down. The bacteria isn’t harmful to you, but the smell can become quite pungent.

Another cause could be the result of hydrogen sulfide entering the water supply. This gas can actually hurt you by causing nausea, headaches, delirium and convulsions.

What you should do

First, grab a glass of water from the faucet while plugging your nose. Walk away with the water in hand, then take a whiff once you’re in another room. If the water smells normal, the odor is coming from bacteria build-up in your drain.

To remove the smell emanating from your drain, pour ¼ cup of baking soda down the drain followed by ¼ cup of white vinegar. It’s going to bubble, but let this continue for 10 minutes. While you wait, boil a pot of water on the stove and then pour it into the drain. This will disinfect your pipes and remove the foul odor.

If your water still smells after you’ve removed yourself from the sink area, try turning up the temperature in your water heater for 24 hours. Run hot water through your faucets frequently during this timeframe to flush your home’s water pipes.

If the smell persists, you need to contact your local water testing lab. They can test the water for contaminants and detect hydrogen sulfide.

Whirlpool also offers a solution to water that smells like it’s coming from a sewer. The Whirlpool Central Water Filtration System WHELJ1 Series is a proven water filtration system for treating water problems. It can chase away the sewage smell and keep your water smelling like nothing at all.

2. My Water Smells Musty

Your water should smell fresh, not damp and aged like it’s been sitting in your basement for a week. While your water certainly doesn’t smell like mold, a musty scent could faintly resemble just that.

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If your water smells musty, it could be from erosion in your water pipes. The metal decaying from the pipes could affect the smell. Generally, the smell is the worst thing that can happen if your water is musty. But if it lingers and becomes stronger, a bigger problem may be on your hands.

What you should do if your water softener smells musty

If your water softener smells musty you need to perform some basic maintenance steps. The first thing you should do is pour a 16 oz bottle of cleanser down the brine well. It’s common practice to do this once every 4 months so your system can clean itself and remove any unpleasant smells.

If you can’t stand the musty scent any longer and it’s coming from your kitchen faucet, it’s time to invest in a quality water dispenser with a filtration system. A filter can catch the erosion coming from aging water pipes. This will leave your water free from additional sediments.

3. My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your water smells like rotten eggs or sulfur, not only will it be too pungent to enjoy, but we strongly recommend you don’t even think about drinking it.

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Your water smells like sulfur because of the presence of sulfur bacteria or hydrogen sulfide. Sulfur bacteria thrives in oxygen deficient environments such as plumbing systems. The bacteria then feasts on decomposing organic matter. This leads to the creation of hydrogen sulfide, which becomes trapped in the plumbing system.

Sulfur bacteria alone is not a threat to your wellbeing. But it promotes the growth of other harmful materials such as iron bacteria that can clog wells, plumbing and irrigation systems. Elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide from sulfur bacteria can make you extremely sick and cause nausea and convulsions.

What you should do

If the smell is only coming from warm water out of the faucet, it’s most likely your water heater. If this is the case, contact a water system professional to replace your magnesium anode. This attachment is connected to a plug on top. Replacing the original anode rod may cut the production of hydrogen sulfide gas at the source. However, the rod’s removal will most likely decrease the life expectancy of your water heater.

You can also use a chlorine bleach solution to flush the water heater. Increasing the temperature in the water heater can also help remove the bacteria. Both of these solutions can be tricky, so always proceed with caution. We strongly recommend you consult with the manufacturer and get a professional to help you.

If the smell occurs when both warm or cold water is running, it could be coming from one of these three sources:

  • Water Softener
  • Distribution System
  • Groundwater

EcoPureHome offers a handful of solutions to fix these problems with an array of water softeners. Consider the amount of water you and your family use and check the amount of space you have available for these systems. You can kick the smell of rotten eggs with a new and more efficient water softener.

4. My Water Smells Like Metal

The reason your water smells like metal is because old metal piping has been slowly deteriorating into your water. Manganese, zinc, iron or copper could be rusting away over years of use. Generally, these traces of metal aren’t harmful, but they do present a less than ideal odor from your water.

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There is always a possibility that lead is in the water. Most cities stopped using lead piping in the 1920s due to its toxicity. However, it took until 1986 for lead pipes to become banned in national plumbing codes. If you have a home that was built before 1986, you could be in danger.

What you should do

If you suspect lead is why your water smells like metal, you can request a water test from your city’s water treatment center. If the test doesn’t show there’s lead in the water but the smell endures, turn to a filtration system that can reduce the smell and taste from the water.

The metallic smell coming from your water could be a product of a low pH level. Low pH means your water is acidic, which can lead to a smell resembling metal. To balance the pH level, you may need a new water softener. The right water softener will balance your water back to a consistent pH level, leaving your water scentless.

5. My Water Smells Fishy

You would never drink water directly from a pond or lake. There are too many microscopic bacteria swimming around that could get you sick. If your home’s water smells fishy, the same bacteria could be infiltrating your water supply.

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Naturally occurring organic compounds could be the culprit. The compounds we’re talking about here are barium and cadmium. Barium appears naturally when mineral ore seeps into groundwater. Cadmium, while organic, enters water supplies through industry runoff such as fertilizer.

You can also point your finger at excessive levels of chloramines. Chloramine has been used as a disinfectant to treat drinking water since the 1930s. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approves the use of chloramines. Excessive use of this compound, however, can lead to a fishy smell from the water.

It takes a lot for these compounds to actually affect you or make you sick, so the threat level is relatively low.

The worst case scenario is that the fishy smell is coming from harmful algae blooms in the water. When this happens, residents receiving water from the infected distribution center are told not to drink, cook or bathe with the water. There isn’t much you can do other than wait it out.

What you should do

It’s unlikely algae blooms are the reason your water smells fishy.

If the smell persists, you should contact your water provider. They are required by the EPA to maintain the levels of organic compounds in the water supply so it’s safe to use.

You can also go a step further and take action in your own home by installing a water filter. Whirlpool has several options to help filter your water and chase away pungent smells preventing you from using your home’s supply.

Whirlpool has your back for all smelly water issues. You can browse our home water supply solutions online and find what’s right for you.

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Bottled Water vs. Water Filters: What Should I Use?

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By now, you’ve discovered there’s something fishy about your water. It either smells funny, leaves a bad aftertaste or seems to be too cloudy to be safe. You don’t know what’s wrong with your water, but you know it’s unsafe for you and your family. It’s time for a better solution for your drinking water.

You have 2 options in the battle for better tasting water: bottled water vs. water filters.


Bottled Water

Bottled water’s greatest benefit is its mobility — you can carry it with you and drink anywhere. The cap is sealable so you don’t have to worry about spilling, and the bottle is durable enough to withstand falling on the ground or being crushed by the other items in your bag. You can also buy bottled water anywhere. This makes it more convenient than other solutions like a water fountain, where sanitation is questionable.

Water Filter

Unlike regular tap water and bottled water, you’re in control when it comes to water filters. There are many types of filtered water solutions you can buy for your home. You can purchase 1- or 2-step filtration systems for your kitchen faucet to remove chlorine and sediment. Reverse osmosis filtration is another option that filters other chemicals and dissolved solids that may have found their way into your home’s water source.

Convenience isn’t just for bottled water. Water filters can be purchased to filter all the water in your home or just the water coming from your sink. Under-sink filters are compact so you’re not wasting valuable storage space.

As you can see, there are plenty of good options if you want to avoid unsanitary home water. Let’s dive into the bottled water vs. water filter matchup and highlight a variety of considerations you should make when you want better drinking water.


What’s Cheaper: Bottled Water or Water Filters?

If you want to go the extra mile in protecting your family from unhealthy water, you’re going to need to make an investment. Bottled water and water filters are relatively cheap, but over time, the cost adds up. You need to find the solution that has the most bang for the buck.

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How Much Does It Cost to Drink Bottled Water?

Let’s start by breaking this down on a yearly rate. It’s a no-brainer that buying bottled water in bulk (35-48 bottle/pack) is much cheaper than going to the gas station to purchase a single bottle of water for $1.99.

Where can you buy bottled water in bulk? Giant box stores are one option. But places like Sam’s Club and Costco require a yearly membership fee that ranges from $45-100 per year.

At the time of publishing, the top-rated water bottle item at Sam’s Club lists a 40 pack of 16.9-ounce bottles of Ice Mountain for $5.44. That’s roughly a dollar per gallon.

How long will that 40 pack last? According to the Mayo Clinic, water consumption varies by gender and they believe men should drink 3.7 liters per day (about 1 gallon), while women should drink 2.7 liters.

Sticking with our cost/gallon of bottled water from Sam’s Club, if you’re a single person, drinking bottled water is going to cost about $400/year. This number will double for a family of 2 and triple for a family of 3, and so on.

How Much Will a Water Filter Cost Me?

While the cost of drinking bottled water progresses incrementally, a water filter is going to be more expensive upfront. A simple yet effective filtration system can go for less than $100.

Every 6 months, the filter will need to be replaced on nearly every filtration system. Replacement filters generally cost around $50.

If you’re using your home’s water to drink a gallon of water per day, we need to consider how this reflects in your water bill. According to the EPA, if your home’s water bill is set at a uniform rate structure, the average charge is $0.00295 per gallon. Drinking a gallon of water per day from your home’s tap will cost you roughly $1.08 per year.

When you combine the small increase in your water bill, the cost of the system and one filter replacement the first year, you’re spending about $164/year to use a water filter. And remember, the system chosen in this example is easily installable, so you won’t need to pay someone to come to your home.

In case you haven’t done the math, it’s about $250 cheaper to use a water filter in the first year than it is to buy bottled water. You save even more the following year when all you’re doing is replacing the filter every 6 months.


What It Removes From Your Water

In the debate between bottled water vs. water filters, the number of contaminants being removed should shift the argument one way or the other. As we have discovered, water filters are cheaper, but are they removing as many contaminants? Is it possible they’re removing more than bottled water?

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Bottled Water

There are two main types of bottled water. The difference between the two is the source of where the water comes from.

  1. Spring Water: Evian, Crystal Geyser, Ice Mountain
  2. Purified Water: Smartwater, Dasani, Fiji

To use “spring water” on their label, brands such as Evian, Crystal Geyser and Ice Mountain must actually get their water from a spring. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ensures spring water companies adhere to good manufacturing practices by setting quality standards.

Spring water companies typically filter their water with 5-micron filtration, which removes sediment and microbial cysts from the water.

To combat the growth of microorganisms in the water after it’s bottled, these companies use a treatment called ozone. This disinfection method allows the bottled water to sit on shelves of supermarkets for months at a time.

Purified water is the most regulated form of bottled water for the FDA and the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). The IBWA was formed to raise the standards set by the FDA for stricter bottled water regulations.

They state in their Bottled Water Code of Practice that “Purified water is water obtained by distillation, ion-exchange treatment, reverse osmosis, or other suitable processes.” To acquire the IBWA certification you must comply “with the regulations of the federal Environmental Protection Agency with respect to drinking water. It (your water) contains no added substance.”

To adhere to the standards set by the FDA and IBWA, purified water companies do a great job of filtering water. But there’s a different story to tell when the water goes in a plastic bottle.

How Plastic Bottles Impacts Your Water

Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism organization, released a report in 2018 that said 93 percent of bottled water showed signs of microplastic contamination. Their research included 11 brands — including Dasani, Evian and Aquafina. They found 63% of the plastic debris in bottled water (10.4 particles per liter — twice as much as tap water) were fragments like polyethylene terephthalate (PET).

The migration of PET from the plastic bottle — mainly the cap — to the water poses a problem for bottled water drinkers. Although the health risks are still being assessed, microplastics are harmful to the environment and are rarely recycled.

Water Filter

Many people think that if their home is supplied with city water, their water is already being treated for harmful contaminants. While this is true, municipal centers can’t do anything about the contaminants that find their way into your water while traveling from the treatment facility to your home. Corroding water lines, agricultural run-off and excess chemicals like chlorine can enter your home even after being treated.

There are a number of filtration systems that reduce and remove different water contaminants. Some are more thorough than others — so it all depends on the type of filtration you wish to install. Here are some examples of common filtration systems you can install and what they remove.

To pinpoint the exact system you need, you’ll have to identify what’s in your water first. If your water smells or tastes off, you can start with our smell guide and discover the solution you need.

Environmental Factors

The bottled water industry reached $18.5 billion in 2017, producing 13.7 billion gallons of water. While the industry continues to boom, concerns over its environmental impact are worthy enough to consider in the bottled water vs. water filter debate.

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Bottled Water

According to the IBWA, it takes 1.32 liters of water to produce a liter of bottled water. While this isn’t great for water waste numbers, bottled water has the lowest water-use ratio of a bottled beverage product.

Nestle Waters boast about the same water-waste ratio, but how much water are they taking from lands that need the water, like California, a state susceptible to long droughts?

Then, there’s the issue of plastic. Most plastic used for bottled water is made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Companies claim they use this material because it’s thinner plastic, thus cutting back on plastic waste, but it still takes 2.7 million tons of plastic every year to bottle water around the world.

Water Filter

FIltering your home’s water causes no substantial environmental impact. However, a whole home filtration system does take energy — roughly the same amount of energy it takes to use a digital alarm clock.

Water waste is nearly non-existent with home filtration systems. The only filtration style that produces any water waste is reverse osmosis. It usually takes 3 or 4 gallons of unfiltered water to produce a gallon of purified water from an RO system.

This ratio seems high, but when you consider the amount you’re drinking per day, using an RO system is equivalent to flushing your toilet a few more times than usual.


What’s the Best Water Filter for Your Home?

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When we match up bottled water vs. water filters in the battle against contaminated water, the clear winner is performing your own in-home filtration with a water filter.

The next step is picking from the types of filtered water that’s best for your home. Under sink filtration systems provide a convenient way to receive safe tap water from your kitchen or bathroom faucet. Whole home filtration systems can eliminate unhealthy water contaminants throughout your entire home.

Find the right water system for your home.

By answering a few questions, you can find the water treatment system that’s perfect for your family.

Find Your Solution

Either way, you win when you process your water through a filtration system before drinking, cooking or cleaning. Let’s find out which filtration system your water needs.

When Should a Water Softener Be Replaced?

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Water softeners are to your home’s water like oil is to your car. You can refuel your car with gas so it works one trip at a time, but eventually, the oil needs to be changed. Your car works past the oil change due date, but it won’t work as efficiently.

It’s the same idea for your water softener. You can replenish it with salt every so often, but eventually, the system needs to be replaced so your water is properly softened. This is why replacing your water softener is just another maintenance task to ensure your home’s water feels healthy.


How Long Do Water Softeners Last?

Water softeners work at a high level for 10-15  years. The lifespan greatly depends on regular water cleaner use. We recommend pouring this solution in your system every 4 months to ensure a longer life for your softener.

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Anything past 15 years is a bonus. Plus, your water softener will become less effective while using more salt. That’s why it’s important to know when a water softener was installed when moving into a new home. Keeping an updated timeline on when it was installed will help you identify when a replacement is needed.

You should also keep track on a notepad or near the wall where your water softener is installed on how often you replenish the system with salt. If you start noticing the salt intake is increasing over time, you will know it’s time to start looking for a brand new water softener. Other signs around your home will tell you when it’s time to replace your water softener.


How to Know Your Softener Isn’t Working Properly

1. Scale buildup inside water-using appliances
2. Reddish stains around drains and faucets
3. White crust buildup on faucets
4. Mineral spots in bathroom and dishes

5. Clothes feel scratchy and the color is fading
6. Lower water pressure in the shower
7. Using more soap to lather hands and dirty dishes
8. System regenerates soft water on a timer system

Have You Noticed Any of These Symptoms?

It might be time for a new water softener.

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More Telltale Signs You Water Softener Needs to Be Replaced

If you like to keep a clean home and stick to a strict cleaning regimen, it’s sometimes difficult to notice hard water stains collecting in your bathroom or inside appliances. Our partners over at HomeWater 101 have provided an excellent look at alternative ways you can tell your water softener needs to be replaced.

How Do You Know If You Have Hard Water?

If you’re still not sure if your water softener is working correctly, you can try a few more tests such as going to your city’s website and reading the water quality report, or you can use the water bottle test. Learn more in this HomeWater 101 video.


Water Softener Maintenance Techniques

1.Water Softener Cleanser

Dumping water softener cleanser into your water softener every 4 months will help your system run efficiently. This solution cleans the inside of your system of contaminants, iron and scale buildup to maximize the softener’s performance.

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2. Set Hardness Level Correctly

Make sure the water softener isn’t overworking itself by producing more soft water than you need. And if your hardness setting is too high for your area, it will use more salt than is necessary for your area’s water.

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3. Check for a Salt Bridge

Sometimes a layer of salt can form inside your tank that prevents the salt you add to the system from activating the resin bed. If a salt bridge has formed, use a broom handle to break up the layer of salt.

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Of the options listed, the easiest way to maintain your existing system is by using our water softener cleanser.


Need help finding a replacement water softener?

If it’s been a while since you’ve shopped for a water softener, get the assistance you need with this Interactive Guided Shopping Tool to find the perfect match.

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The True Cost of Hard Water Plumbing Problems and How to Fix Them

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Are you struggling to keep up with plumbing problems such as clogged drains, appliance breakdowns and scale buildup? The likely answer is hard water. Hard water is often the culprit for irreparable damage and poor performance in appliances, water heaters, pipes and more … which, unfortunately, leads to increased repair and replacement costs. So, if you’ve recently moved, or noticed your appliances aren’t performing as well as they used to—that money going towards maintenance costs is likely due to hard water-related plumbing problems.

Is Hard Water Your Issue?

Save money in the long run with a water softener purchase today.

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The True Cost of Hard Water Plumbing Problems on Your Home

85% of Americans live in hard water areas, some more concentrated than others. This means (without the right softening systems) many homes are taking on irreparable damage and additional costs from water-using appliance maintenance, replacements and more, all because of hard water plumbing problems.

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Is hard water bad for your house?

The answer: Yes. The minerals in hard water, such as calcium and magnesium, cause buildup in pipes, weaker water pressure and shorter lifespans of water-using appliances. This consequence can trigger frequent appliance replacements and increased maintenance costs.

How do hard water plumbing problems cost you?

  • Clogged pipes and drains result in decreased water pressure, meaning more plumbing maintenance fees, costly replacements and higher utility bills.
  • Inefficient dishwashers and laundry machines mean more cycles and therefore more energy usage.
  • Water heater requires 29% more energy to heat hard water, causing energy bills to rise.
  • Appliance lifespans can decrease 30-50% because of more wear and tear.

What do you do if you have hard water in your house?

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The answer: Install a water softener on your main water line to reduce the effects of hard water on your home and lower your spending on maintenance and energy bills.

Compare options and features, like household size and hardness removal level, and choose the right water softener for your family. Learn more about our options and get a water softener to help keep your plumbing and water-using appliances in good condition for much longer.

Do water softeners save you money?

The answer: Yes. The Water Quality Research Foundation found that hard water can lead to costly damages on the heating element in water heaters and other water-using appliances. These damages can be avoided or reduced with the addition of a water softener, leading to notable cost savings in two major ways:

  • Less appliance usage and energy usage
  • Less maintenance needed for your water heater, appliances, plumbing and pipes

Learn more about what hard water is and how water softeners work to help you make an informed decision about the hard water in your home.

Not Sure Which Water Softener Solution Is Right For You?

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How to Maintain Your EcoPure, Whirlpool or Kenmore Water Softener

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Water softeners are built to last a decade or more. There are several ways you can optimize the performance of your softener, but knowing how to use water softener cleanser in your EcoPure, Whirlpool or Kenmore system will go a long way in extending its life


How to Use Water Softener Cleanser

  1. Wait until salt levels are low
  2. Open the lid of the water softener
  3. Remove the brine well cover
  4. Pour entire 16 oz. of Softener Cleaner into the brine well
  5. Replace the brine well cover and close the water softener
  6. Press and hold the recharge button for 3 seconds (to manually regenerate the system)
  7. Wait 2 hours before using your water
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The manufacturer recommends using a bottle of water softener cleaner every 4 months to keep your system running efficiently. 85 percent of Americans live in hard water areas which means their home is using water that may have high levels of magnesium, calcium, and sometimes iron.

As your water softener works to remove these minerals from your water, they can create a buildup inside of your system, even after the system regenerates. Water softener cleanser, an acid-based cleaning solution, helps keep your water softener operating at full efficiency by removing these residual minerals from the valve and resin bed where the buildup can occur. Cleanser can be used in all brands and models of water softeners but is especially important for homes with high levels of manganese and/or iron in their water.

Want to learn more about water softener regeneration? Here’s a video explaining the process:

Do You Clean Your Water Softener Enough?

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Extend Your Water Softener Warranty

The manufacturer’s full parts and labor warranty on the Whirlpool Water Softeners can be extended with regular purchases of Whirlpool Water Softener Cleanser. The Whirlpool WHES30 and WHES40 water softeners come with a 1-year full parts and labor warranty that can be extended to 5 years. The Whirlpool WHESFC water softener comes with a 2-year full parts and labor warranty that can be extended to 10 years. To participate in the warranty extension program, you must register your system on Whirlpool’s website and hold onto your system and cleanser receipts. By registering, you’ll receive email reminders to use Whirlpool Water Softener Cleanser every 4 months.

The EcoPure EP31 and EP42 water softeners come with a 1-year parts warranty that can be extended to 5 years with regular purchases of EcoPure Water Softener Cleaner. To receive the warranty extension, you must register your system on EcoPure’s website and hold onto your system and cleaner receipts. After registration, you will receive email reminders to use EcoPure Water Softener Cleaner every 4 months.

Additional Water Softener Cleaner Instructions

Whether you have an EcoPure or Whirlpool system, knowing how to use a water softener cleanser is a great first step in optimizing its performance. There are several other maintenance tasks that should become a part of your softener checklist throughout the lifetime of your system.

Interested in learning more about how you clean your water softener? Watch this video:

Why does my softener need salt and what’s the right type?

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Contrary to popular belief, salt does not directly soften your water by itself.

The softening process occurs when hard water enters the system and passes over the resin beads, which attract the hardness minerals in exchange for sodium ions, making soft water. Once the resin beads are completely coated in the hardness minerals, it’s time for the regeneration process, and this is where salt comes in. Salt combines with water to form a brine that then washes the resin bed and rids the beads of the hardness minerals. The high concentration of sodium replaces the calcium and magnesium stuck to the resin bead and prepares the beads to continue softening the water.

That’s why salt always needs to be present in your system. When you first get your softener, check salt levels at least once a month until you establish a refilling schedule.

There are three types of salt with the highest composition of sodium chloride (NaCl) to pick from for use in your brine tank: rock, solar and evaporated salt.

Rock salt is the least expensive option and contains higher levels of insoluble minerals, which means over time the inside of the brine tank may become muddy in appearance. Solar salt, meanwhile, is a much cleaner option than using rock salt and comes in pellet or crystal form. Evaporated salt is 99.9 percent sodium chloride, making it the purest and most effective option. Using evaporated salt will also lead to less overall maintenance for maintaining your water softening system.

In addition to sodium chloride, potassium chloride (KCl) is a good option for negating the effects of hard water in water softening systems. Using potassium chloride, though more expensive, would benefit members of households who face sodium-related health concerns.

Are you using enough salt? Be sure by watching this video.

Breaking the Salt Bridge

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Another maintenance step you can take to make sure your water softener is running smoothly is breaking the salt bridge that can form inside your tank.

Salt bridges are caused by high humidity or the wrong kind of salt poured into the system. That’s why you should install your water softener in a dry part of your home.

When a salt bridge forms, your water will not touch the salt in the system. This stops the creation of brine, which recharges the resin bed in your system and ultimately softens the water.

We recommend taking a broom handle and pushing it into the salt. Try to puncture several holes in the salt so the bridge breaks up into pieces. This will allow the salt to make contact with the water once again.

Pouring cleanser into your water softener is a great first step in ensuring the longevity of your system. Reference your owner’s manual if any issues arise between routine maintenance checks and always make sure you have a bottle of cleanser ready if you suspect it’s time for a cleaning.

Time for an Upgrade?

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How Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Works

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To understand how reverse osmosis works, we must understand the principles of osmosis and how it explains the action water naturally wants to take. Recall the lesson we learned in junior high science class: water wants to find its equilibrium.

Say we have a cup. Inside the cup, we have a thin piece of waterproof clothing dividing it into two equal sections. We’re going to call this our “semipermeable membrane.” We fill one half of the cup with saltwater and the other half with the same amount of fresh water.

Suddenly, the water level on the side that contains saltwater will rise because the fresh water moves through the membrane to the highly concentrated solution (saltwater). The water movement is an attempt by the water to have both sides of the cup contain the same ratio of salt.

The water in the cup is finding its equilibrium.

For reverse osmosis water filtration, we simply add pressure to this equation and replace salt with common water contaminants.


What Is Reverse Osmosis Filtration?

Reverse osmosis happens when pressure is used on a highly concentrated solution (contaminated water), forcing the solution through a membrane to a lower concentrated solution (uncontaminated water).

This leaves you with two solutions of water. One that is highly concentrated with contaminants that will wash away down the drain and another solution of uncontaminated water that’s ready for consumption.

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The key to effective reverse osmosis filtration is the semipermeable membrane. The semipermeable membrane removes inorganic solids such as salts from water as well as lead and other harmful chemicals.


Curious about reverse osmosis systems?

See EcoPureHome’s selection of powerful reverse osmosis systems
and discover a perfect solution for your home’s unique water needs.


6 Steps to the Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration Process

  1. The water from your city’s municipal center or well enters your home
  2. Water enters RO system’s carbon sediment prefilter
  3. Pressurized filtered water moves to the RO membrane
  4. The processed water moves to the storage tank and leftover water with dissolved solids drains away
  5. Once the faucet is activated, water from the storage tank flows through an activated carbon postfilter
  6. RO filtered water flows from the faucet

How Is Reverse Osmosis Different From Traditional Filtration?

What differentiates reverse osmosis filtration from traditional techniques is the presence and power of the membrane. The rate at which the water passes through the membrane allows for pure H2O to flow from your faucet.

Traditional filtration methods rely on a stand-alone substance to eliminate contaminants. Here is a general list of filtration materials you will see in water filters. They all have different advantages and disadvantages, but they all agree that their style of filtration is best for your home.

Activated Alumina
Removes fluoride, but could make water taste metallic

Activated Carbon
Inexpensive and removes chlorine, but can’t remove dissolved inorganic compounds

Ceramic Filters
Cheap and simple, but extremely slow

Ultraviolet Purifier
Eliminates bacteria, but expensive and increases your electricity bill

Water Distillation
Removes contaminants and bacteria, but takes hours to work and requires electricity

Reverse osmosis filtration systems utilize an activated carbon filter and dispel the leftover dissolved inorganic compounds that can be harmful for your health.

The micron rating scale tells us how much more effective RO filtration systems are compared to traditional forms of water filtration.

What Is a Micron Rating?

The micron rating tells us the average size of the openings in a filter. The higher the micron rating, the larger the substance that can pass through the filter.

Micron is defined as one-millionth of a meter and is a popular unit of measurement in tech and science fields. RO systems remove contaminants that are bigger than .001 microns. Carbon filters remove contaminants bigger than .5 microns.

What Do RO Filters Remove?

RO filters remove a number of contaminants that cannot be seen with the naked eye. The following is what’s removed when passed through the reverse osmosis filtration process:

  • Chlorine
  • Sediment (Dirt, Sand, Silt, etc.)
  • Microbial Cysts
  • Lead
  • Chemicals
  • Dissolved Solids
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Experience the difference a reverse osmosis system can make.

Get bottled water quality right from your tap with a reverse osmosis system. Choose from two leading brand names and get started.


What Are the Benefits of Reverse Osmosis Filtration?

1. Improves Diet

One of the exclusive benefits tied to reverse osmosis filtration systems is that it’s a safe way for individuals on sodium-restricted diets to enjoy tap water. Not only does it produce water that’s safe to drink, but it’s also safe to use while in the kitchen preparing food, cleaning vegetables and boiling water.

2. Flexibility

RO filters are safe to use no matter where your water comes from. Nearly the entire population receives water in one of two ways: from a well or municipal center. Reverse osmosis filtration systems are created to extract dissolved solids that contaminate well water. It also removes excess chemicals that are used to treat water at municipal centers.

3. Convenience

Installing a reverse osmosis filtration system is a do-it-yourself project. The systems are slim enough to fit right under your sink. They also take up little space on the counter with a space-saving faucet design.

The Whirlpool Reverse Osmosis Installation Process


How to Change a Whirlpool Reverse Osmosis Filter

Performing a Whirlpool reverse osmosis filter change requires a new pre-filter/post-filter set and no tools. Here’s how you change a Whirlpool reverse osmosis filter:

  • Turn old filter in the system counterclockwise a quarter turn
  • Once the filter is loose, pull it out
  • Turn the new pre- or postfilter clockwise into the correct slot — “pre” and “post” will be marked on the system
  • Replace the system’s battery so the EZ-Change™
  • Indicator Light doesn’t go out before the next filter change
  • “Purge” the water from the old filters in your tank by allowing the faucet to run for a couple hours
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The two encased carbon filters are easily replaceable after six months while the membrane can last two years. However, it’s important to keep in mind the longevity of both the filters and membrane depends on the quality of the water coming from your home’s source.

Whether your water smells fishy or you suspect lead contamination, a reverse osmosis filtration system can provide you and your family with safe, clear and chemical-free water for years to come.

Not Sure if Reverse Osmosis is Right For You? Try EcoPureHome’s Interactive Shopping Guide.

EcoPureHome’s guided shopping experience can help you find the right solution for your home’s unique water needs.

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Which Cities Have the Hardest Water in America?

Water Hardness Map of the USA

Do you have hard water in your area? Explore the map to find out!

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Top Cities With Hard Water

Many regions of the United States experience problems with hard tap water, but some cities are more prone to the issue than others. If you live in one of the cities below, there’s a good chance the water in your home requires a softening solution.

Indianapolis, Indiana

The Indianapolis area faces issues with water hardness, so residents rely on in-home softening solutions to remove high levels of calcium and magnesium. Municipal water sources in the region include both surface and groundwater, both of which may contain water hardening minerals. In Indianapolis, water hardness levels range from 12–20 grains per gallon, which is very high compared to the majority of the nation.

Whether sourced from creeks, streams, rivers, reservoirs or aquifers, challenges with water hardness arise from the fact that much of Indiana lies on limestone bedrock. The pipes underneath Indianapolis absorb microscopic minerals from this limestone, which make their way to the water supply that enters homes. If you are an Indianapolis resident who has noticed your skin is itchy or your dishes are spotty, it may be time to purchase a water softener.

Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas is known for its casinos and entertainment, but it’s the area’s hard water that affects homeowners on a daily basis. With an average water hardness of 16 grains per gallon, the calcium and magnesium that exist in Vegas water stay in Vegas water — without a capable water softener.

So what’s the reason for water hardness in Las Vegas? The area sources 90% of its water from Lake Mead, a body of water located just 24 miles southeast of the Las Vegas Strip. The mineral-rich Colorado River feeds Lake Mead, picking up calcium and magnesium along its path. What starts as soft snowmelt becomes hard water by the time it reaches the lake, and local municipal water filtration does not remove these minerals.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Hard water is a challenge that many Minnesotans deal with on a daily basis. Fortunately, not all Minnesotans face issues with hard water. The Mississippi River, a water source for a large number of Twin Cities residents, provides softer water than those who rely on groundwater. While much of the water that makes its way down the mighty Mississippi flows above the rocky surface, water from the ground absorbs minerals from the area’s natural limestone bedrock.

If you do happen to reside in an area with high water hardness levels, it’s important to take action to prevent discolored dishes and clogged skin pores. A salt-based water softener is the most effective solution for this issue, and you are likely to notice an immediate difference in your water following an installation. The Minneapolis area may be home to hard water, but residents don’t have to resort to a long-distance move to fix the problem.

Do you live in one of these metro areas?

If you’re concerned you may have hard water, take a minute to answer a few questions about your home’s water for a personalized product recommendation.

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Phoenix, Arizona

Phoenix-area residents are all too familiar with the effects of hard water. In kitchens across the region, you’re likely to find appliances coated with a chalky residue, hinting at the presence of hard water. This is because the majority of Phoenix-area water originates from mineral-rich reservoirs. The Colorado, Verde, and Salt Rivers feed these bodies of water and are the true culprit of the area’s high calcium and magnesium concentration in tap water.

If your home’s water seems to have a problem with hardness, installing a softener can extend the life of your appliances, keep your skin looking healthy and prevent the discoloration of dishware. With an average water hardness of 12–17 grains per gallon in the city of Phoenix, it’s no wonder many residents turn to softening equipment in their homes.

San Antonio and Austin, Texas

In the Lone Star State, residents of San Antonio and Austin regularly contend with hard water issues. In fact, the region is home to some of the hardest water in the nation, with levels measuring 15-20 grains per gallon. In order to understand this problem, it’s important to look at the type of rock that lies below much of Central Texas — limestone. As water in the area comes in contact with limestone, it absorbs a variety of minerals, including calcium and magnesium that lead to water hardness.

If you live in Central Texas and you’ve noticed your water is leaving stains on your appliances or leaving your skin feeling itchy, it may be time to install a water softener. This equipment provides many benefits, but one of the most obvious is that it can make cleaning easier. Hard water leaves behind a residue that is much more difficult to remove than it is to prevent from forming in the first place. Take action against hard water now, and you’ll be thankful later.

Tampa, Florida

Although Florida is home to a large number of natural lakes, the fresh water in the state is susceptible to water hardness. The Tampa area, in particular, presents water softening challenges that are less common in areas like the Panhandle or Jacksonville. The vast majority of this metropolitan area’s tap water originates from groundwater, and as it passes through mineral-rich soil and stone, calcium and magnesium dissolve into the water supply. Although high levels of rainfall help to dilute the water, hardness still often fluctuates up to 17 grains per gallon.

Living in Florida is all about adapting to the elements. Just as air conditioning has made building interiors more bearable, water softeners lead to water that is more practical for life at home. A water softener removes the problematic elements in hard water, protecting your dishes, appliances, pipes and even your health from the negative effects of hard water.

Los Angeles, California

Southern Californians live in one of the world’s mildest climates, but unfortunately, not all of the tap water is quite as pleasant to use and consume. Hard water from municipal water sources is common throughout the Los Angeles area, and while it does not pose a health risk, hard water is a significant nuisance for anyone who’s spent time scrubbing away its stubborn residue. For many in the area, the Colorado River is the main culprit of hard water, as public water sources do not filter out its high calcium and magnesium contents.

The good news for Los Angeles residents is that water softeners present a simple solution to water hardness problems. Not only do salt-based softeners effectively remove problematic mineral concentrations from tap water, but they also use very little energy to do so. In the long run, that’s great for both your wallet and the environment.

Chicago, Illinois

The Windy City is home to a pesky problem — hard tap water. Residents are up against higher-than-average concentrations of calcium and magnesium minerals from local tap water, and it can lead to costly issues at home in the long run. Dishwashers, washing machines and sinks are all susceptible to staining from hard tap water in the Chicago area. Those who get their water from groundwater sources have a higher risk of hard water because the rock below the surface throughout most of Northern Illinois has a high concentration of minerals. Calcium and magnesium make their way into subterranean pipes carrying tap water, and these are the main causes of water hardness.

If you suspect an issue with water hardness in your home, it’s time to take action. While you’re not putting your health at risk by consuming hard water, you could be doing damage to your wallet. Appliances that use hard water have a reduced lifespan, and they are not usually cheap to replace. A water softener is an investment for the future, and it’s one that many Chicago residents feel they cannot live without.

Sacramento, California

Sacramento residents get their water from two main sources: groundwater and local rivers (most notably, the American River). Those whose water supply originates from groundwater have a higher chance of experiencing hard water issues in their homes, and if you’re among this group, you may want to consider purchasing a water softener to tackle the issue once and for all.

If you have noticed your skin feels itchy after a shower, or there is chalky residue below your faucets, you could be facing a hard water problem in your home. On the bright side, a simple water softener installation is all it takes to resolve the issue. Once your softener is in place, you’re sure to notice a difference in the quality of your water.


Take Steps Toward Softer Water

The hard water minerals in these areas of America can do some serious damage to your home and skin. If you live in or near one of these cities, you should consider installing a water softener. Use our guided shopping tool to help identify the perfect system for your home.

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The Doomed Life Cycle of Bottled Water

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The world’s obsession with single-use plastic water bottles has hit catastrophic proportions. While organizations and scientists are straining to calculate exactly how our consumer habits are affecting the health of the globe, some blatantly negative returns on our plastic obsession are in plain sight.

The Ocean Conservancy organization discovered the severity of the problem when in 2016, they set out to clean coastlines across the world during their annual International Coastal Cleanup. The data that came from the litter collection raised alarm around the globe.

The Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanup Report calculated a cleanup of roughly 1.58 million plastic beverage bottles along 14,997 miles of coastline. If you stacked all these plastic bottles, you would have a structure 372 times higher than the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa in Dubai (828 meters).

Plastic bottle pollution is occurring on a mass scale, poisoning oceans and harming wildlife around the world. And this is without exploring the impact of microplastics called nurdles. We’ll go into depth on those later.

For now, let’s examine the life cycle of a plastic bottle of water we would purchase at a convenience store. Is it doomed from the start? We’ll let you decide.


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The Birth of Bottled Water

The Wasteful Production of Plastic Bottled Water

So, what’s the big deal with our plastic bottle addiction? For starters, to produce plastic and distribute it around the world, these companies need oil. In fact, 45 million barrels of oil per year are needed to produce bottled water for Americans alone. That’s more than 1 trillion gallons of oil.

What about the water itself? The production of a single-liter bottle takes 2 liters of water. Add another liter to fill the bottle and you’re at a 3:1 liter ratio on water used to fill just one bottle.

Is Bottled Water the Same as Tap Water?

Some bottled water brands will create an elaborate, fictional narrative about where their water comes from as a mask to cover the truth. They may lead you to believe their water starts in a cloud, gets filtered through volcanic rock that’s been untouched by mankind and then is bottled in its purest state.

The EPA tells us a different story about bottled water, “All our drinking water comes from similar sources, either from sources we can see, such as rivers and lakes, or from sources we can’t see, such as underground aquifers.” In fact, Food & Water Watch tells us 64% of bottled water comes from municipal tap water — the same source that delivers water to your sink at home.

The other 30 percent of bottled water comes from common filtration methods, in addition to receiving water from a similar ground source as tap water. Reverse osmosis, distillation and ozonation are a few of the techniques used. These methods aren’t exclusive to bottled water companies. People can actually perform these filtration techniques with their water, too.

Bottled water companies have come under fire for purchasing land and extracting their own water from the environment. Nestle found themselves in hot water after taking 36 million gallons from a national forest in California while the state was battling a historic drought.

Better water, right from the faucet.

A reverse osmosis system is a great alternative to relying on buying packs of bottled water. Get the same water quality you get from bottled water without all the plastic waste.

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Plastic Bottled Water’s Single-Use Purpose

When we walk into a store ahead of a big road trip, we understand the bottle of water we’re grabbing is not the best economic decision for our bank accounts. But we do it for the convenience. And that convenience could be costing us 2,000 times more than just using our municipal tap water at home.

Now imagine each individual in the United States, Canada and Mexico buying one plastic bottle of water in a single day. That’s how much is purchased around the world each day. That’s 500 million single-use plastic bottles purchased worldwide, every 24 hours.

What About Recycling?

While the Earth Day Network tells us 23% of single-use plastic water bottles are recycled, what becomes of the plastic? According to a Guardian investigation, many types of plastic aren’t being recycled, they are placed in a landfill, burned or stockpiled.

There are several reasons for this. About half of the plastic waste created in America is exported to foreign markets for recycling — mainly, China. The waste that isn’t exported can’t be processed in America efficiently to meet the demands of the amount of recycling collects because of the lack of processing plants. These plants are privately owned and expensive to run. Owning a recycling process plant is simply not good business, therefore there aren’t enough to send our recycling to.

Instead, our plastic waste is recycled into purgatory. It isn’t broken down at a sufficient rate, so it sits, lingering in warehouses and landfills.


The Lingering Death of Water Bottles

So where does the plastic go that isn’t recycled? The same place where our trash goes. But instead of degrading away, plastic tends to linger. According to The Balance, it takes 6 months for an orange peel to degrade and 5 years for a milk carton. How long does it take a plastic bottle to degrade? 450 years.

The longer plastic water bottles are in landfills, the likelier they are to end up in the ocean. The World Count calculates that anywhere from 60-80% of marine trash is plastic. How much plastic is that exactly? Plastic Oceans International estimates 8 million tons of plastic finds the ocean each year.

Effects of Plastic Pollution on Marine Life

Birds are attracted to bright and reflective objects because they believe it’s food. Pieces of plastic trigger the attention of birds which leads to startling facts like 40% of seabirds have ingested plastic.

What scientists have found in these birds are what we call nurdles — small pellets of plastic used to manufacture plastic products. Nurdles appear during the decomposition process of plastic and they spread in the water and are carried across the globe by currents. Some wash up on shore and can be found on numerous beaches.

Whether nurdles are on land or in the sea, animals are consuming this type of plastic. According to National Geographic, 700 species of marine animals have eaten or become entangled in plastic.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: A Floating Plastic Graveyard

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a concentrated area in the Pacific Ocean where great sums of garbage, including plastic, has collected. The patch consists of multiple gyres, which is a system of ocean currents. These currents have brought together trash in the ocean to create a patch twice the size of Texas. However, this isn’t a floating island of trash, the Discovery Channel’s “The Swim” explains it as more of a smog of microplastic particles.

Single-use plastic packaging is the number one culprit for the creation of this giant field of ocean pollution. Proving a bottled water’s lifecycle is doomed to end by contributing to an environmental crisis.

Scientists estimate by 2050, there could be as much fish as plastic in the ocean. And we’re only contributing to the plastic crisis everytime we spend $1.99 on a liter of plastic-encased water.

Better, eco-friendly options are available when it comes to safe and clean drinking water. It up to us individually to educate ourselves and help decrease the size of our global plastic footprint.

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Water Filtration System Maintenance Tips and Tricks

Buying and installing a home water filtration unit is a great first step in providing clean and healthy water for you and your family. If you want to maintain the freshness coming from your faucet, some home water filtration system maintenance is required.

The following is a guide for maintaining the functionality of your whole home or under sink filtration system.


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Basic Home Water Filtration System Maintenance Tasks

The simplest way you can guarantee filtered water is coming from your faucet is by replacing the filter. Over the duration of a filter’s life, captured sediment accumulates quickly. Whole home cartridge filters can go up to three or six months before needing to be changed, while under sink systems can use the same filter for up to six months.

The time until you need to change the filter is dependent on the quality of your water, as well as how much water you’re using.When you leave an old filter in the system for longer than that, you run the risk of having sediment flow past the filter because it can’t hold any more debris.

Ensure your water safety by always changing your water filter on a regular schedule.

How to Change an Under Sink Filter

EcoPure and Whirlpool under sink filtration units make it easy to replace the filters. The encased filter technology allows for a convenient water filtration system maintenance process. Here’s how it works:

  1. Twist the old filter counterclockwise a quarter turn
  2. This will release the filter allowing you to pull it out
  3. Twist the new filter clockwise into the slot
  4. Replace the system’s battery so the light doesn’t go out prematurely
  5. If you have a reverse osmosis system, “purge” the water from your tank by allowing it to run for a couple of hours

If you have a reverse osmosis filtration system, follow the same steps when replacing the membrane every 2 years. If you have questions or concerns about a specific system you purchased, you can find our owner’s manuals page and download the operation manual for your system.

Prefer to learn by watching videos?

Watch this video to learn how to replace your under sink water filters

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How to Change a Whole Home System’s Filter

Whole home filtration systems are great for homes that have an influx of sediment in their water and it’s causing damage internally to the home’s pipes and slowing down water-using appliances. Like the under sink units, the easiest water filtration system maintenance you can perform is replacing the filter regularly. Our BRWEFS whole home filtration system has a closed sump with a lid that uses 2 latches to close. Here’s how you can change this whole home system’s filter:

changing a whole house water filter

1

Grasp the bottom of the sump and pivot it upward slowly

changing a whole house water filter

2

Pull sump down to remove from head

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3

Over a sink or waterproof surface, unsnap the lid clamp by pulling the latches in opposite directions — do not remove the clamp halves

changing a whole house water filter

4

Detach the lid and remove the used filter cartridge from the sump

changing a whole house water filter

5

Throw away the old filter

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6. Check that sump is dry and free of debris

7. Remove protective caps on new filter and insert new cartridge into the sump

8. Align filter cartridge within sump ensuring the two triangular points on the filter match up with the notches in the sump

9. Attach lid, snap the latches back together, insert filter ports back into the system and pivot back to service position

Open Sump Whole Home Filter Change

Filter changes for an open sump whole home water filtration system is a little different, but just as easy. Open sump systems can use large and standard capacity replacement filters. The filter change process is the same for each.

  1. Turn off water supply.
  2. Release pressure in the filter by pressing the vent valve on top of the filter head or by opening a cold water faucet downstream of the filter.
  3. Turn the sump to the left to remove from the head. Be careful, as the sump is full of water. Do not lose the large o-ring seal
  4. Ensure the inside of the sump is clean. If not, wash with warm soapy water; rinse.
  5. Remove the wrapper from the new filter cartridge and insert the filter cartridge into the sump. Some cartridges fit either way, while others fit only one way. Follow instructions on the wrapper.
  6. Lightly lubricate the o-ring seal, in the sump, with silicone grease. Be sure it is fully seated in the groove.
  7. Hold the sump up to the filter head, aligning the center hole in the cartridge with the protrusion on the bottom of the head. (If the sump will not tighten up to the head, you may have the cartridge in upside down or not centered in the sump. Take the cartridge out and check for correct orientation.)
  8. Being careful not to cross-thread, turn the sump to the right onto the filter head and tighten securely. Do not overtighten.
  9. Partially open a house faucet downstream of the filter housing. Then, slowly open the water supply shutoff valve and allow the filter housing to fill with water. While it is filling, press the filter vent valve to release air in the filter.
  10. Close the faucet. Then, check for leaks between the sump and the head.

Whether you’re working with an open or closed sump, new whole home filters need to be purged to release the loose material in the new filter. You can do this by running a faucet in your home for at least 5 minutes. If you have more troubleshooting questions, you can go to our owner’s manuals page to find the right fix for your system’s maintenance issue.


Whole Home Water Filtration System Maintenance

Whirlpool and Brita Central Water Filtration systems require little to no maintenance. The internal filter is programmed to cleanse itself every 14 days. It flushes, cleans and drains the filter so you don’t have to install a new one.

The only real water filtration system maintenance you have to perform is when the weather dips or it’s not being used for more than a month.

Whole Home Filtration System Maintenance Before Vacation

If your home will be unoccupied for more than a month, there are several things you can do.

First, you can turn off your home’s water so the filtration unit doesn’t receive any more water. You should also turn off the Clean Rinse function so the same water isn’t filtered every 14 days. If you choose to turn off the Clean Rinse function, we recommend running two filtration cycles manually when you return home and use the water.

Another option you have is unplugging your unit and draining the excess water from the system. This step should always be taken if there is potential for the water inside the unit to freeze.

How to Prevent Your Water Filtration System From Freezing

If your Central Water Filtration system is located in a summer cabin or lake home, you run the risk of the water freezing in the system if it isn’t properly drained. There is an excessive weight hazard on this unit due to its size, so you should always have two or more people helping you drain your system. Not only will this help protect you, this will protect the system from slipping out of your hands and shattering on the ground.

How to Drain Water from the Unit

  1. Close shut-off valve on the house’s main water pipe
  2. Open a faucet to allow pressure to ventilate in the unit
  3. Shift the stem in the bypass valve to the bypass position. If using a 3-valve bypass system, close the inlet and outlet valve, then open the bypass valve.
  4. Unplug the power supply and remove the cover and drain hose
  5. Remove holding clips at the inlet and outlet
  6. Separate system from bypass valve
  7. Lay a piece of wood at least two inches thick near the floor drain
  8. Move system closer to the drain and slowly tip it over until the rim is on the piece of wood with the inlet and outlet over the drain
  9. Do NOT let the weight of the system rest on the inlet and outlet
  10. Tip the bottom of the system up a few inches to drain the water

When the system is done draining, leave it laying on the piece of wood so it’s in a horizontal position and the inlet and outlet are off the ground.

When you return home and want to start using your central water filtration system again, lift the system upright and put it back in its old position. Reconnect the system to the bypass valve by following the How to Drain Instructions above in reverse order. Check to make sure all the leadwire connectors are secure and the wiring is away from the valve gear. Plug the system back into the power source. The system will automatically complete a Clean Rinse cycle and return to normal operation.

As someone who cares about their water, it’s important to keep a checklist with these water filtration system maintenance steps. Proper maintenance will allow your filtration unit to last for many years to come. If you need more maintenance tips and tricks, find your unit’s installation guide by going to our owner’s manuals page.

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