House Hacking Project: Water filtration
This week, we will explore a few tidbits about water filtration: refrigerator, under sink, and whole house. We have great water in North County, but the City of San Diego hasn’t fared so well in the past: details here (editor note: this isn’t fresh data, and likely has been remedied.) What can you do? Install filtration inside your home. Deciding on your level of needed filtration will be a personal decision.
Many newer models that have ice makers and water service have built in filters. This one is accessed right from the front of the unit, a 90 degree twist is all that is takes to replace. While not a reverse osmosis system, this is still effective at reducing flavors and odors. If you don’t have a filter, an inline one can be installed very easily. An example unit that can be utilized in a matter of minutes.
Under Sink Filter
This is a newer model of the current GE all in one reverse osmosis system. It comes with everything needed to install at your sink. Going with a name brand means that filters will be available in the future. This setup has used the same filters for over a decade, keeping your system in service. Time to get started!
Before you run out and buy an under sink solution, you need to have one empty sink accessory hole available, with room below to accommodate the lines. While you can make an opening in the sink or counter, it will add exponential complexity to the “bolt on” nature of this process. You start by removing the cap, then mounting the faucet in place. This is the hardest part of the job.
Next up, you need a water supply for your system. A very nice valve is included for this, and installs neatly inline with your cold water feed. The valve is needed to turn off the supply when servicing the system, that way the sink is still operable.
The heart of the system: filtration unit on the left, water accumulator on the right. This type of reverse osmosis system is affordable because of it’s limited volume of filtration. By including a 4 gallon storage tank, this allows ample headroom to supply a regular residence without running ahead of filtered water. The yellow line is the unfiltered supply, the orange line attaches to the storage tank, and the blue line is the filtered supply to the spigot.
The final step is to install a drain line for the system: “A suitable drain point and air gap (check your local codes) are needed for reject water from the Reverse Osmosis membrane cartridge.” These parts are also included, making installation a snap. When filtering occurs, you will hear a bit of noise as the reject water drains off. This part takes a little while to get used to. Once the system is sanitized and initialed, you are ready for great tasting water!
Whole House Filtration
This is a newer phenomenon, and one that can provide filtered water at every shower head and sink in the house. Dozens of companies sell products for this, but wouldn’t it be neat to know who supplies them? CAI Technologies produces and distributes to popular brands like GE and 3M, and many more. They sell direct to the public, at a fraction of the branded price. This popular model sells from CAI for $690, shipped. These get re-branded and sold for as much as $5000 locally. We came to find out about this relationship after a correspondent had an issue and needed parts for his filter system. He was able to find the original part supplier, and bought an entirely new unit cheaper than the parts needed to fix his branded unit.
Considerations for whole house systems are as follows: needs to be ahead of the in home supply point, and many will need a drain for back flushing the filter media. With lifespans up to ten years, this can be a solid investment.