Home Water Treatment Units: Point-of-Use Devices Fact Sheet - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Home Water Treatment

Home Water Treatment Might Not Be the Best Option for Everyone

It can be difficult to determine whether you need a water treatment unit in your home or what type of unit would be best for you. Most Minnesotans, whether they drink from a public water supply or a private well, have drinking water that does not need treatment for health protection. Water treatment units are best for improving the physical qualities of water—the taste, color, or odor.

If your drinking water has a contaminant that might make you or a family member ill, it is best to remove the contamination source or replace the unsafe water supply with a safe water supply. Home water treatment units should only be used to lower health-related contaminants in emergencies or if there is no other safer source of drinking water available.

Selecting and Maintaining a Home Water Treatment Unit

No single treatment process can remove all substances in water. If you decide to install a home water treatment unit, the unit (or units) you choose should be certified by NSF, UL, or Water Quality Association (WQA) and specifically labeled to reduce or remove the contaminant you are concerned about. If there are several substances you want removed from your water, you may need to combine several treatment processes into one system.

You should continue to test your drinking water after you install a treatment unit because there is often no way to know if a treatment system has failed. All home water treatment units require regular maintenance to work properly. Regular maintenance can include changing filters, disinfecting the unit, or cleaning scale buildup. You may choose to use and maintain two or more treatment units to provide additional protection from treatment unit failure.

Home water treatment units that are not properly maintained will begin to lose their effectiveness over time. In some cases unmaintained units can make water quality worse.  

Types of Treatment Units

Point-of-use (POU) water treatment units are designed to treat small amounts of drinking water for use in the home. These devices can sit on the counter, attach to the faucet, or be installed under the sink. An example of a common POU unit is a water pitcher with a small built-in filter that you might purchase at a department store or drug store.

Point-of-entry (POE) water treatment units are installed on the water line as it enters the home and treat all the water in the building. An example of a POE unit is a water softener.

To learn more about which type of water treatment device might work for your home, view the Summary of Treatment Options Table (PDF).

For More Information

If you have questions or would like more information, contact:

Minnesota Department of Health
Drinking Water Protection Section
625 North Robert Street
P. O. Box 64975
St. Paul, Minnesota 55164-0975
651-201-4700 or 651-201-4600

For more information on home water treatment units, contact:

The Water Quality Association
Consumer Affairs Department
4151 Naperville Rd.
Lisle, Illinois 60532-3696
630-505-0160

Minnesota Water Quality Association
P. O. Box 48452
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55448-0452
763-754-2123

NSF International
789 N. Dixboro Road
P. O. Box 130140
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48113-0140
800-673-6275

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Updated Friday, June 02, 2017 at 11:06AM