Important Notice to Berkey Customers

January 21st, 2023

If you have purchased Black Berkey replacement elements from Watermatters™ since August 2021 that you have stored for future use, or if your elements are in use and ... More »

About Whole House Water Filters

A whole house water filter can improve the quality of all the water in your home. It can even help your indoor air quality by removing chlorine before it vaporizes into the ambient air you are breathing.

Health benefits of removing chlorine from your home’s hot & cold water

City water is chlorinated. Chlorine kills stuff, both good and bad. It does not distinguish between beneficial enzymes in your body and harmful bacteria in your drinking water. Without a whole house filtration system your daily contact with tap water also exposes your skin, hair and eyes to chlorine.

Chlorine is especially volatile when heated. It escapes into the air you breathe affecting your lungs and respiratory health. This ongoing daily contact with chlorinated water is the subject of studies linking chlorine exposure to negative health effects.

Position of whole house water filter in your home

A whole house filtration system installs on your home’s incoming water supply line immediately after the water enters your building and before it reaches your hot water tank. Consequently chlorine is removed from your water before it gets to your hot and cold water taps.

A whole house filter can protect you from chlorine while showering, bathing, brushing your teeth, rinsing hands and face at your bathroom sink, doing laundry and while washing dishes.

Percentage of chlorine removed by a whole house filter

Whole house filters have to process large volumes of water at flow rates fast enough to ensure that an adequate volume of water flows out of your tap at an acceptable speed. Whole house water filters can reduce chlorine to below noticeable levels. There are many variables that determine the effectiveness of this reduction. You should be able to expect a 90% or better reduction of chlorine if your whole house system is configured properly for delivering the gallons per minute your household requires and is maintained at appropriate intervals.

A whole house filter does NOT replace the need for a drinking water filter.

Typically whole house water filters process too much water, too quickly, to deliver the quality of water expected from a drinking water filter. Point-of-use drinking water filters have narrow tubes and sub-micron cartridges to slow down the water flow rate. This creates sufficient contact time with specialized cartridges for targeting health hazards such as chlorine, chloramine, THMs, lead, cysts, fluoride, arsenic, organic and inorganic compounds which are not captured effectively, if at all, by a whole house water filter. We recommend that you use a point of use drinking water filter tailored to your local water conditions.

A whole house filter can replace the need for a shower filter.

A whole house filter that reduces the disinfectant in your city tap water can replace the need for a shower filter.

Choosing a whole house water filter for your home.
There are two basic types of whole house water filters.

Big Blue Duo Cartridge-type whole house filters
This type of whole house system is typically used for chlorine and/or sediment reduction of all water entering the home. It is silent, compact, efficient, inexpensive, relatively easy to install and maintain, does not require electricity or a drain, and does not waste water other than during the initial flush of new cartridges. Once installed, most home-owners can maintain the system without the help of a plumber. Cartridges must be replaced when their service life is spent. As the capacity of the cartridges gets used up the overall flow rate of water to the rest of the home will slow down. This prompts the homeowner to replace the cartridges in a timely manner so as not to exceed useful and healthy service life of the cartridges.

Tank-type whole house filters
These systems use a large tank filled with a loose filtration material (such as carbon) chosen to address the homeowner’s water treatment issues. Typically they involve automatic backwashing (reversal of water flow) at timed intervals (every 4-5 days) to rinse and reposition the filtration material (media) inside the tank. This requires electricity and a drain for the backwashed water. Tank systems are more expensive to install. A homeowner is unlikely to maintain them without professional help as the spent filtration material is heavy, bulky and messy. However, once installed the filtration material can be used for several years between change-outs. Tank systems don’t slow down water flow into the rest of the home as the filtration media loses effectiveness so it is important to schedule maintenance reminders.

Choosing the right size whole house filtration system for your home.

The number of people, bathrooms and water guzzling appliances in your home will determine how many gallons per minute (gpm) of water must pass through and be treated by your whole house filter.
Water used for gardening and lawn maintenance may also need to be considered.

Your whole house filtration system should be sized according to the gallons per minute of water required by your household for average and peak demand periods.
Here are some guidelines based on home size.

Up to 2500 sq ft
Up to 3 bathrooms
1 – 4 people
5 – 8 gpm (gallons per minute)

Over 2500 sq ft
3 or more bathrooms
4 – 8 people
10 gpm (gallons per minute)

Over 3000 sq ft
Very large homes
Active household
15+ gpm (gallons per minute)


Does a whole house filter remove chloramine*?
(*Chloramine is the disinfectant used by certain municipalities such as Victoria, Abbotsford and Mission, BC.)

Chloramine is a disinfectant consisting of chlorine plus ammonia. It is more difficult and expensive to filter than chlorine. More carbon is required. A special type of carbon called ‘catalytic’ is most effective for chloramine reduction.

Does a whole house filter remove fluoride*?
(*Metro Vancouver and most municipalities in British Columbia do NOT add fluoride to municipal water.)

Effective fluoride reduction is difficult to accomplish. Fluoride filtration is unlikely to be thorough in a high volume, fast flow rate whole house system. It is best accomplished with a point of use system such as reverse osmosis or with the use of a specialized filtration media.