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  • Writer's pictureMatt Weber

Filtered Water from Every Faucet

Install a central water filter for your house and have purified water from every tap. A whole-house filter can eliminate any odor or chlorine taste and make the water safer for drinking and cooking. Filtered water can even improve the softness of hair and skin after baths and showers.

At my house, we added an A. O. Smith Central Water Filter (model AO-WH-FILTER), which is designed to reduce chlorine taste and odor by over 97 percent. We coupled the central filter with a Whole House Sediment Filter (AO-WH-PRE0), which filters down to 20 microns. The sediment filter reduces sand, rust, etc. from your main water supply before it reaches the central filter, minimizing mineral buildup in kitchen and plumbing appliances.

Installation Basics

A professional plumber should have no problem installing the filters. A.O. Smith also includes detailed installation instructions with the filter kit, so a DIY’er with the right tools and basic plumbing skills should be able to complete the job. The filters must be installed inside the home along the main water line before it connects to the water heater.

The main water source will need to be turned off to the home prior to installation. We used copper pipe to install my system right where the supply line enters the house. You can also use PVC, CPVC, steel or PEX pipe to plumb the system.

A shut-off valve should be installed on the water line prior to the filters, so you can perform maintenance like changing the sediment-filter cartridges. The smaller white sediment filter should be installed as a pre-filter (after the shut-off valve but before the central filter).

The central filter (the large black one) is the next component in line, and it needs to be installed vertically to maximize contact with the filter media. The weight of the tank should be supported from below, and the simplest way is to keep it on the floor. The central filter must be located indoors, protected from direct sunlight and freezing temperatures.

Note: Before connection to the plumbing system, the large central filter needs be flushed out with water to remove the fines from the carbon medium. This can be done with a common garden hose. Connect the included garden-hose adapter to the filter’s inlet port and turn on the faucet so the discolored water flows through the filter and discharges from the outlet port into a suitable drainage area. The first few gallons will look black and cloudy due to the carbon fines. Once the water is clear, the filter is ready for final installation. I assume that if you don’t complete this step, the first person to shower after the filter is installed will be drenched with blackened water (which sounds like a funny practical joke or grounds for divorce—take your pick).

Although we rebuilt our water-supply line with soldered copper pipe, both the filters connect to the plumbing using threaded connections (wrapped with Teflon tape). Make sure not to over-tighten the fittings, which might cause damage and leakage. Also, avoid using pipe dope, which voids the warranty. The A.O. Smith instructions permit use of NSF-certified pipe primer, glue and plumber’s tape.

Want to learn how to solder? Check out our recent blog post complete with step-by-step instructions and short “how-to” videos from the Copper Development Association.

When installing the water filters, use only lead-free solder identified for potable water applications. Use fluxes intended for use with lead-free solders. Avoid using ‘self-cleaning’ fluxes. Your local hardware store can advise you on the proper flux.

Pro Tip: Copper pipe must be completely dry for soldering. To remove standing water from the existing house plumbing, insert a large tube and cap the end with your thumb. Pull out the straw, release water into a bucket, then repeat until dry.

How the System Performs

After installing both filters, I noticed a difference in the first glass of water I drank. The water is completely odor-free and has a lighter, crisper taste. The whole-house system we installed is ideal for households of four or more people, and the central water filter lasts up to six years or 600,000 gallons.

The cartridges in the smaller sediment filter last up to six months before requiring replacement. Since the installation, we’ve replaced the sediment cartridge, which went in light and white and came out heavy and brown, which is a testament to the junk it’s removing from our water supply. Two thumbs up!

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