Home Water Treatment
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Most Minnesotans do not need to install water treatment at home to protect their health. If you know your drinking water is contaminated or you are concerned about a color, taste, or odor issue, first try to remove the source(s) of contamination or replace the contaminated water supply with a safer supply. If this is not possible, then home water treatment may be appropriate. Use this resource to help decide if home water treatment makes sense for you and what treatment options may be best for you.
- If you get your drinking water from a public water system, your water should be safe for drinking and cooking. Your water system and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regularly test the water for over 100 different contaminants and make sure the water meets all Safe Drinking Water Act standards. You can learn more about your water quality by reading your water system’s annual report (called a Consumer Confidence Report [CCR]). You can request a report from your utility or Search for your CCR.
- If you get your drinking water from a private well, you are responsible for regularly testing your well water to make sure it is safe for drinking and cooking. Learn more about testing recommendations and how to test your water at Water Quality/Well Testing.
Knowing what you want from water treatment will help you choose the best treatment option. Some common reasons people think about water treatment for their homes are:
- They do not like the way their water tastes, smells, looks, or feels.
- They are concerned about a specific contaminant (such as lead, arsenic, or nitrate) in their water.
There are many water treatment options. Deciding what option is best for you depends on what you want from your water treatment. This information sheet gives an overview of water treatment considerations and options. You may need to do additional research or contact a water treatment professional to find the best option for you. Below are some key questions to consider. In addition, Beware of Water Treatment Scams.
What contaminant would you like to remove or reduce?
Be sure to select a treatment unit certified by NSF, Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL), or Water Quality Association to reduce or remove the substance(s) you are concerned about. These organizations do not certify treatment units for all contaminants.
- Search for NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Units, Water Filters
- Find WQA-Certified Water Treatment Products
No single treatment unit can remove all contaminants in water. If there is more than one substance you want to reduce or remove from your water, you may need to combine several treatment units into a treatment system.
Do you want to treat all the water in your home or just drinking water?
There are two main types of home water treatment:
- Point-of-use (POU) water treatment treats water at one faucet. This unit can set on the counter, attach to the faucet, or be under the sink. This is a good option for only treating the water you use for drinking and cooking.
- Point-of-entry (POE) water treatment is installed on the water line as it enters the home and treats all of the water in the home.
What is your budget?
Prices vary widely for treatment options—anywhere from less than twenty dollars to thousands of dollars. Things to consider for your water treatment budget include whether you want to treat just your drinking water at one tap or all the water in your home, maintenance costs, and whether you will install the treatment yourself or hire a professional. Your household may qualify for one of the following grants (which you do not have to pay back) or loans (which you have to pay back) to help pay for water treatment.
- AgBMP Loan Program provides low interest loans to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District or see Agriculture Best Management Practices (BMP) Loan Program.
- Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants provide low interest loans for families with income below 50 percent of the area’s median income and grants for people over the age of 62 years. See Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants.
- Fix Up Program provides fixed interest rate loans to families who own the property. Go to Minnesota Housing and click on “Homebuyers & Homeowners—Improve Your Home”.
You can purchase and install a treatment unit on your own, or you can work with a water treatment professional. Search for water treatment professionals in your telephone book, online, or at Find Water Treatment Providers. If you work with a treatment professional, make sure they are a licensed plumber or licensed water conditioning contractor by using the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s License lookup. Here are some Recommended Questions to Ask a Water Treatment Professional.
After installing treatment, test the treated water to make sure the treatment is working. All water treatment units require regular maintenance to work properly. Maintenance can include changing filters, disinfecting the unit, backwashing, or cleaning out mineral build-up (scale). Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation, cleaning, and maintenance. Water treatment units that are not properly maintained will lose their effectiveness over time. In some cases, unmaintained units can make water quality worse and make you sick.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use
- Environmental Working Group. Find the filter that works best for you
- MDH. A-Z List of Contaminants in Water
- MDH. Beware of Water Treatment Scams
- MDH. Home Water Softening: Frequently Asked Questions
- NSF. Drinking Water Filters, Testing and Treatment
- The Private Well Class. Water Treatment Solutions