How Do Water Filters Work?
You may have been using your pitcher or faucet mount water filter for years without actually understanding how these products work. Most home filtration systems use compounds like carbon or charcoal to help remove contaminants from your tap water. Pitchers tend to rely on granular carbon--meaning the filter cartridge is filled with grains of this material to help bond with chemicals like chlorine as well as metals such as zinc, copper, and mercury.
Faucet mount water filters generally have a block of solid carbon inside their cartridges. The water is able to slowly penetrate this porous material, and the filter catches contaminants before the water flows out of your tap. Filters equipped with solid carbon tend to do a better job filtering out lead--which may be important if you know that this dangerous metal leaches off the sides of your pipes.
Why Do Filter Cartridges Need to Be Replaced?
If your water filtration system is doing its job correctly, the contaminants that it removes from your water supply will be trapped inside the filter cartridge. With granular carbon filters, the surface area of the individual grains will eventually become covered with contaminants and start to lose their efficacy. Similarly, the pores that the water flows through in a solid block of carbon will start to get blocked by large bits of chemicals and/or metals. You may start to notice the flow of your filter is impeded if the water takes longer to flow through. On the other hand, color, smell, or taste might be your only indicators that your filter is no longer doing its job and that the cartridge needs to be replaced. In order to avoid a period of time during which your filtered water remains contaminated, it's a good idea to follow the cartridge replacement schedule laid out by your filtration system. Guidelines will vary based on the product, and it may be recommended that you replace the filter a few times each year or even more often.
Considerations When Changing Your Filter
Just as you should read the instructions for your water filter to determine a replacement timetable, it's also important to follow the directions for replacing the cartridge. Every product will differ slightly, and you may be required to soak the filter cartridge in water for several minutes before installation or to let some water run through the filter before it's safe to use.
Keeping your water supply pure and free of contaminants is easy when you replace the filter cartridges in your system with our selection of products available at drugstore.com.
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