Water filters are a great way to give tap water a pleasant, clean, healthy taste while removing any contaminants that might still be hanging out in your home’s water.
But traditional water filters can be a pain to use. You’ve got to add water to a special pitcher and let it slowly drain through a filter.
Faucet water filters make the process of getting healthy, filtered water quick and easy.
With a filter that attaches directly to your kitchen water faucet, you turn on the water and get as much as you need.
If you’re thinking about adding a faucet-mounted filter to your kitchen, read on for an in-depth buying guide – designed to help you find the best type and model for your needs.
In This Article
Quick Look The Best Water Filters
How Does a Faucet Water Filter Work?
The best faucet water filters are designed to do one thing: filter unwanted sediment and contaminants out of tap water.
Contrary to common belief, most faucet filters are not designed to purify water entirely and should not be relied on to remove hazardous contaminants. While most home water filters will give your water a nice clean taste, they will not remove bacteria or other harmful diseases.
The majority of home filters on the market are made to use with water that has already been purified and has already been made safe for human consumption.
The best faucet water filters really excel at removing all of the extra stuff the local water treatment plant can’t get out of your water. But, if you’re dealing with untreated water, you’ll want to make sure you use a purifier to remove anything that could make you or your family sick.
Home water filters are also effective at removing chemicals like chlorine, lead and, in some cases, fluoride from tap water. Filters can also reduce or remove mineral content – helping to soften hard water when needed.
How Faucet Filters Work
Faucet style filters typically rely on a thick, but porous, material to filter out unwanted debris, sediment, or other things that water purifying tends to leave behind.
Most filters have a cartridge that’s filled with the filtering material. As water runs through the cartridge, any contaminants that are still in the water get trapped in the filter while the water continues to flow out of the filter. This process makes your water cleaner quickly and simply.
Depending on the filter, chemical and mineral content will also be absorbed by the filter.
The Filtering Process
As water passes through a filter, it goes through several different stages in order to get all of the contaminants out of the water.
The first step is usually a small screen filter which just filters out larger objects. This will catch larger debris like visible bits of dirt or other objects the water might have picked up on the way to your sink.
Next, the water will pass through a thick activated carbon filter or other filtering material. This stage of the filtering process usually removes most of the unwanted stuff from your water.
Activated carbon filters – the most common type of water filter – are excellent at removing smaller bits of debris as well as chlorine, lead, and other unwanted contaminants and pharmaceuticals while leaving behind fluoride and other helpful minerals.
Should I Buy One?
Water filters are a smart addition to any kitchen. While water treatment facilities in developed countries like the US do a great job of ensuring that virtually all tap water is safe to drink and free from harmful diseases, they don’t get everything out of the water.
Even though the water coming out of the faucets in your home is likely very safe for both you and your family to drink, it may still be filled with debris and small amounts of minerals and chemicals that you probably don’t want to pump into your body on a daily basis.
If you live in a rural area and get much of your water from a well, you’ll see even more added debris and mineral content in your water.
Most of us are aware of the added junk in our water, though. That’s why we buy bottled water that’s been filtered or purified. But, the trouble with bottled water is the high price and substantial environmental impact that comes with continually buying and throwing away bottles.
A water filter will allow you to quickly and easily filter water right at home without the environmental impact of using plastic bottled water. And a faucet water filter will help you do it faster and more efficiently.
Water filters are also a great way to remove chlorine and lead from water. Even the simplest type of water filters can remove nearly all chlorine and chemicals from your drinking water.
The Benefits of Installing a Faucet Water Filter
There are a lot of benefits to owning and using a faucet water filter. Here are just a few of the biggest pros to this type of water filter.
- Quickly filter water right at your sink. One of the biggest advantages of faucet filters is how quick and easy it is to filter water. Just turn the faucet on, and you have filtered water!
- Reduce your environmental impact. Like we discussed above, if you’re buying bottled water, you’re creating a lot of added, unnecessary waste. Plastic bottles take many years to break down and can create a significant environmental impact – harming wildlife, plants, and more.
- Save Money. Water filters are very affordable, especially when compared to the price of bottled water. Most filters will last for many months and cost you mere fractions of a penny per gallon of filtered water.
The Downsides of Installing a Faucet Water Filter
Like anything else, faucet water filters are not without their downsides. Here a few reasons why you may not want to buy one.
- Not enough sink space. Most faucet-mounted water filters are relatively bulky. With the filter connected directly to the faucet, you’ll need a sink and kitchen space large enough to accommodate the filter assembly. If your sink already feels cramped, this type of filter may not be the best choice for you.
- You have exceptionally dirty water. If you live in a rural area or get your water from a well, you may have water that’s dirtier than most. In this case, you may want a larger pitcher-style filter with a larger filter. This will allow you to more efficiently filter large amounts of water.
Best Faucet Water Filter: Buying Guide
There’s more to picking the right water filter system than simply grabbing one off the shelf at your local big box store. You need to know what you’re looking for and be sure to check any relevant reviews.
You’ll want to be sure to pick one that fits both your space needs and your filtering requirements. For some, simply removing some extra sediment and a few trace minerals will be more than enough.
But, many water filter buyers are looking for something that will help reduce their water to its purest possible form.
Faucet water filters come in a few different shapes and sizes.
The most common types attach directly to an existing kitchen faucet. These require few or no tools at all to install and can be easily and quickly set up in just a few minutes – even if you don’t consider yourself “handy”.
The other type of faucet filter typically requires the installation of a second faucet. With these more permanent faucet filters, you’ll also need to install a filter under your kitchen sink or counter.
If you really want to get your water as pure as possible, you need a reverse osmosis filter.
Reverse osmosis is a slightly more complicated process than we can deal with here, but it’s safe to say that this process can filter out far more than the average filter.
Reverse osmosis can be used for water purification and is used by many water treatment plants to clean water – on a much larger scale of course. This process is so good; it can even remove salt from saltwater!
The reverse osmosis filtration process removes just about everything from water, though, which can be both good and bad. Water does still contain essential minerals, so be sure you understand what you might be missing before you filter it out.
But, if you want to remove chemicals like chlorine or fluoride, a reverse osmosis water filter system is the best way to do so.
The most common type of home filter are carbon filters.
Carbon filter are very simple and are inexpensive to produce. This makes these filters affordable and easy to maintain, and the filter can also be easily changed out by the home user.
Rather than the more complex osmosis process, carbon filters simply pass water through dense, but porous activated carbon material. As the water passes through the filter, other material in the water is removed.
Carbon filters are good at removing larger material like sediments and chlorine but cannot remove everything like a reverse osmosis filter can. While a carbon filter cannot extract fluoride or many types of chemicals, they can effectively remove chlorine from water.
If you want to improve the taste of your water and clean out larger contaminants, a simple carbon filter is the way to go.
Change Sensor Notification
One of the biggest challenges most water filter system owners face is changing the filter on time.
If you forget to change the filter or wait too long, the filter can become dirty and clogged. When this happens, the filter will stop filtering and may begin to pass water through the unit very slowly.
A clogged faucet filter can be especially annoying since the water is coming right out of your kitchen faucet.
But, since most filters can process hundreds of gallons of water and can be used for several months, it can be tough to remember when to replace the filter.
Because of this, many water filter system manufacturers have added sensors that can detect when the filter needs to be changed. These sensors rely on time and other factors to determine when the filter is ready to be swapped out.
If you’re looking for a worry-free water filter experience, be sure to look for a model with a good change filter sensor. Not all models come with this sensor, so be sure you look for models with sensors when shopping – the sensor will save you time and the headache of trying to remember when you last changed the filter.
Filter Life Length
Water filters can usually filter anywhere from 100 to 300 gallons of water. For the average user, this means you’ll need to change the filter every 30 to 90 days, depending on your water usage.
This may sound like a lot of time and gallons of water, but costs can add up quickly depending on the model of filter. If you go through a lot of water, you’ll want to consider the estimated life of the filters you’re purchasing and how quickly you’ll need to change them.
Reverse osmosis filters can last for quite some time given the process used in this filtering method. But most carbon filters can only process a few hundred gallons at most. Since carbon filters process water as it passes through the filter, they tend to fill up fairly quickly.
Be sure to read through the manufacturer’s specifications and as many water filter system reviews as you can find to determine how long the filters in most models actually last.
Average filter life is one drawback to even the best faucet water filters. Because of the size of most carbon faucet filters, most simply do not last quite as long as pitcher style water filters or under sink mounted faucet filters.
This is one area where you may need to trade some filter life for the convenience of a faucet filter.
Like any other kitchen appliance, size should be a factor as you shop for a faucet water filter. Buy one that’s too big, and it will always be in the way when you’re using your sink.
On the other hand, if you buy a filter that’s too small, it may not have the filtering capacity you need.
Faucet mounted filters can vary pretty widely in size and capacity. With many models, the filtering unit swivels up and out of the way, freeing up sink space under your faucet. Other models, however, are fixed in a single position.
Size and space requirements are the biggest difference between simpler carbon filters and reverse osmosis filters. Reverse osmosis filters are, by necessity, much larger than their carbon filter counterparts.
The reverse osmosis process requires two different chambers for liquid to move between, making the filter assembly much larger than carbon filters. This makes it almost necessary to mount reverse osmosis filters below a sink or countertop.
While the filters are much larger, mounting them below a countertop and out of sight frees up a considerable amount of space above the counter and around the sink. A reverse osmosis filter typically does require another faucet to added, but the secondary faucet is usually very small.
If you’re short on space above the counter, be sure to consider a reverse osmosis filter. Otherwise, check your space needs and select a carbon filter that best meets your needs.
You’ve taken the time to match all of the other appliances in your home to a nice black or chrome finish, so why not make sure your faucet filter matches as well?
Faucet water filters are available with a white finish, a chrome finish, and sometimes in other colors or finishes. The many choices available make it easy to find a filter that can match your existing faucet and overall look of your kitchen.
Fit and finish is another area where reverse osmosis filters really shine. Because the bulk of the unit is mounted under the cabinet and out of sight, you don’t have to worry quite so much about the appearance of the filters.
Pick a faucet with a matte or chrome finish that will look nice in your kitchen, and you’re ready to go.
Water filters are available at several price points. Whether you’re just looking for a basic filtration system to improve the taste of your water or want to radically reduce what’s in your water, filters can be purchased for as little as $20 to $30.
Prices can go all the way up to several hundred dollars, though, depending on the model.
Carbon filtration systems are typically very affordable, with most costing between $20 and $100. Reverse osmosis filters, on the other hand, can be much more expensive. Most reverse osmosis filter systems will set you back around $200 to $400.
Another thing to consider when pricing water filters is the cost of the replacement filters. While the initial cost of the filtration system may be very appealing, replacing the filters may not be quite as affordable.
Be sure to price both the filtration unit and the price of replacement filters before buying – you’ll thank yourself when you begin buying replacement filters.
Installing a standard faucet-mounted filter is a fairly straightforward process that is nearly universal across the board for these types of filters. Installing a reverse osmosis filter, on the other hand, can be a bit more work (more on that in a moment).
To install a faucet-mounted filter, you will first need to remove the aerator on your kitchen faucet.
Not sure what the aerator is? You’re not alone.
Thankfully, the aerator is pretty hard to miss once you know what it is. The aerator is simply the small cap-like piece found right at the end of your faucet. It’s a small screen that screws on over the opening at the end of the faucet where the water flows out.
This part is not typically screwed on very tightly, and you should be able to remove it easily with your fingers – no wrench required.
If the aerator cap is too tight to remove by hand, trying using a small pipe wrench or large pair of pliers. Be gentle though, and take care not to damage the chrome finish or appearance of your faucet.
Once you’ve removed the aerator, you’ll need to look in the parts included with your new faucet filter to find an aerator and cap that fits your faucet. The aerator is the first step in the filtering process, so don’t forget to install it.
After you’ve found and fitted a new aerator, you will then need to attach the filter to the new aerator. The new aerator cap should be threaded on both ends, with one end screwing into the faucet and the other ready to accept the new filtration system.
Most filters are made of plastic and only need a simple hand-tightening, so be sure to go slowly and do not over-tighten the filter.
When you attach the new aerator and the filter body, you want to place some Teflon tape on the threads. This will prevent water from flowing out around the connection on your filter. Many filtration kits come with Teflon tape, but it can also be found at any hardware store and most big box stores.
Once the filter-unit is attached, you may need to insert the filter. Once the filter is inserted, turn it on and let the water run for a few minutes. This will allow the filter to activate and clean anything out of the filter that might have been left behind during the manufacturing process.
Some filters may prescribe a process for preparing the filter for use like soaking the filter in water for a specific amount of time. Be sure to check over the manufacturer’s directions and follow these procedures if necessary.
Installing a Reverse Osmosis Filter
If you’re interested in the benefits of a reverse osmosis filter system, be aware that you will need to take a few more steps to install one of these filters. Not only will the filter need to be located beneath your sink, but you will also need to attach the sink’s water line to the filter and install the faucet.
As difficult as this may sound, it can still be done with common hand tools in just a few hours of work. Be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s directions closely though if you decide to install one of these filters.
If the installation process is a little too intimidating, most plumbers can easily and quickly install this type of water filter.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Regular cleaning and filter changes are one of the most important aspects of owning and using a water filter. If you don’t keep the filter clean, it’s not going to do what you want it to do – providing you with healthy, clean water.
In fact, drinking water from a dirty filter will likely do the opposite. You’ll end up drinking water that is dirtier and more contaminated than it was in the first place.
The most important aspect of keeping your filtration system clean is to change the filter regularly. If your filter has a change filter indicator, this is very easy – simply switch the filter when the indicator tells you to do so.
As tempting as it may be to use the filter just a little bit longer or change it out a little sooner than indicated, it really is best to just stick with the manufacturer’s recommendations if you want to get the most out of the filter.
If your filter does not have an indicator, be sure to mark your calendar with the date when the filter should be changed. For many filtration systems, the filter needs to be replaced every 30 to 90 days.
If your filter manufacturer recommends changing the filter after a set number of gallons have been filtered, remember that the average American consumes around 1 to 2 gallons of water per day.
You can also measure how much water you typically drink in a given day. Then, divide the total number of gallons you can filter by your daily usage for an approximate number of days the filter can be used.
Cleaning the Filtration Unit
Sometimes, you may need to clean out the filtration unit, not just swap out the filter. This can occur if live in an area with hard water or see a lot of limescale build up.
If you start to see signs up build up inside the filtration unit or the assembly looks dirty when you change the filter, try making a cleaning solution with vinegar and water.
Mix equal parts vinegar and water and wipe down the unit with the solution and a clean towel. The vinegar will help quickly remove build up from your water supply.
Can I install a filer on a pull-out faucet?
The short answer is yes; you can install a water filter system on a pull-out faucet. But it really depends on the faucet you’d like to install the filter on.
If your pull out or pull down faucet has a connection that is similar to a standard sink and can accommodate a filter, then, of course, you can install a filter. You may want to consider how the filter will affect the function of your faucet, though. If the filter makes your faucet awkward and unwieldy, you might want to think twice about adding the filter.
What types of chemicals do they filter out?
Water filters can remove many chemicals from water. The number and type of chemicals removed will depend mainly on the type of filter being used though.
Carbon filters do a great job of removing large things like sand and sediment. They’re also very good at removing chlorine — which is often used in water treatment facilities. They’re not good at removing fluoride though.
If you want to remove fluoride and other chemicals, you’ll want to go with a reverse osmosis filter.
Is an under the sink filter better?
Under the sink filters can perform better in some situations but are not always the best choice.
One area where faucet water filters really shine is their simplicity and ease of use. Even if you know nothing about plumbing, you can easily install one of these filters in less than 10 minutes.
Faucet water filters also do a great job of filtering out most of the things people do not want in their water. Sediments, bad taste, chlorine, and lead can all be removed by a simple faucet filter at a relatively low cost.
Meanwhile, under the sink filters cost substantially more and are much harder to install. But, many under sink filters are better at removing all contaminants from water.
While many buying guides or reviews may try to steer you toward an under the sink unit, be sure to keep the costs and installation process in mind.
What are the most popular brands to consider?
The reviews are in… and some of the best faucet water filters to consider are Brita, Pur, Culligan, and DuPont. These brands have been around for many years and have established themselves as trusted leaders in the marketplace, making water filters for many different applications.
Ultimately, picking the best faucet water filter system will come down to your personal needs and application, but these top brands should definitely be a part of your consideration. Be sure to check the reviews for the filters you’re considering.
Why does the water from my faucet water filter feel greasy?
One of the most common issues new water filter users have is the slippery feeling a filter can give to the water. While it might feel like something has been added to the water, this actually occurs because some of the minerals have been filtered out of the water.
If you’ve ever lived in or stayed in an area with soft water, you know this slippery feeling well. With fewer minerals in the water, you’re left with a sensation of being more wet because you are truly wetter. Fewer minerals in the water means more of it will come in contact with your skin, leaving you with a slightly greasy feeling.
If you don’t like the sensation of filtered water on your skin or hands, then just use the filtered water for drinking and switch the filter off to wash your hands or dishes.
Finding the best faucet water filter doesn’t need to be complicated.
As you shop for the right filter, be sure to keep your filtration needs in mind and what type of filter will best fit your space and capacity requirements.
Read reviews of the models you’re interested in and ask yourself how much you’re ready to spend and how far you’re willing to go to install the filter.
Now that you’ve read the buying guide, it’s your turn! Get rid of the plastic bottles and start looking for the right water filter for you today.