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Drinking Water Filters - Frequently Asked Questions

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Which drinking water filters do you recommend?

How do water filters work?

What is the difference between RO Purification & Filtration?

Does a Reverse Osmosis Purifier waste water?

If we move, can we take the filter with us?

Do we have to change our water filter cartridges every 6 months?

How do we know when to change the cartridges?

How long do the cartridges last?

Do we have endocrine disruptors and hormones in our water?

How do we take endocrine disruptors and hormones out of our drinking water?

What is a UV filter?

Do you recommend whole house filtration?

How can we deal with hard water / limescale?

Is there an issue with Fluoride in our water?

Do we need to filter for heavy metals?

Which drinking water filters do you recommend?

The Pearl-T activated carbon block filter to take out taste and odour problems caused by Chlorine, Sediments, Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs - eg pesticides, herbicides), Chloramines, Trihalomethanes (THMs - carcinogenic chlorine disinfection by-products).

The Pearl-B which has the 0.5 Micron MAXVOC-975 cartridge. This deals with the same problems, but gives added insurance against bacteria and filters out chlorine resistant cysts as well (eg Cryptosporidium, Giardia).

For a larger household, say 5 or more,

The Oyster-TC duplex system which does the same as the Pearl-T but with 2 cartridges to extend filter life so is cheaper to run per litre.

The Oster-TBC which has the same cartridge as the Pearl-B but an additional 10 micron carbon block pre-filter for an extended cartridge life of 16,000 litres as a pair.

Click this text to go back to all the drinking water filters

These are undersink water filters with a separate tap for sink or adjacent worktop mounting. We have a good range of taps including 3 way taps.

 

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How do water filters work?

Very briefly, they work in two ways:

Mechanical Filtration Like a very fine sieve to remove particulate matter and sediment. The finest of these is the 0.5 Micron MAXVOC-975 cartridge which we use to make the Pearl-B and Oyster-TBC (see previous question).

 

Electrokinetic adsorbtion. The contaminants 'stick' to the acvtivated carbon.

Activated carbon is made by grinding bituminous coal, peat, or peanut or coconut shells and baking in controlled conditions to 540C in the absence of oxygen which bakes off the impurities.Then superheated steam at 870C activates the carbon and creates a massive network of pores that greatly increases the surface area of the carbon. This surface area is why carbon can absorb such large quantities of various compounds. This is called Granular Activate Carbon or GAC

Coconut shell carbon is, by far, the superior carbon and adsorbs the widest spectrum of chemicals the most efficiently.

Health note: This is not a problem if you or yours have a nut allergy. This carbon has been sterilised and acid washed. It is just carbon but activated to remove harmful chemicals from your drinking water.

The newest and best activated carbon technology is Coconut Shell Activated Carbon Block. This is coconut shell GAC which has been further pulverised into smaller particles, then fused and then extruded. The result is all the top chemical adsorption qualities of coconut shell activated carbon but with finer particles giving a much larger surface area and much more activated carbon in the same volume as GAC; and with smaller micron ratings and a longer service life.

An additional benefit of carbon block is that the water is distributed radially & evenly through out the media without 'Water Channeling'.

GAC is a loose media (like sand) and can suffer from 'Water Channeling" where the water keeps to the same waterways through the media. This results in some of the media not being used and leads to early depletion.At Fountain Filters we use coconut shell activated carbon block cartidges in all the water filter systems except the Pearl-M Heavy Metals filter which uses a special mixed media GAC/KDF-55 cartridge and the Pearl-B which as a special, washable, 0.2 micron cartridge

 

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What is the difference between RO Purification & Filtration?

According to the OED - semantics. However, to water treatment professionals the difference is huge. Very briefly; RO membranes let through water molecules to give 'purified water' and the waste water with the contaminants goes down your drain. The resulting 'purified' water has up to 99% of everything taken out - including all the good elements.

The water filters use ativated carbon block cartridges targeted at a range of threats typically found in public water supplies. Particulates are removed mechanically and chemicals are adsorbed by the media electrokinetically. These filters waste no water and leave the good elements in your water.

We no longer manufacture or sell RO systems, This is because RO systems artificially soften the water and expert medical opinion and the Department of Health warn of the correlation between cardiovascular disease and consumption of soft water.

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Does a Reverse Osmosis Purifier waste water?

Yes. ROs waste around 3 parts to 1 part purified at best. If you were to use 10 litres of purified water, at least 30 litres will go down the drain. Our water filters waste no water at all.

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If we move, can we take the filter with us?

Yes, but: you will have to leave the saddle valve behind in the closed position. The tap is your decision. All the rest you can take with you. We stock self-piercing saddle valves and taps at competitive prices. We stock all the parts you will need for both your new home as well as your old one including tube end stops (to prevent possible disasters!)

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Do we have to change our water filter cartridges every 6 months?

No but we have to remind you every 6 months. We have to abide by the water treatment industy's "best practice"; as private citizens - you do not.

Nevertheless, you must change every 12 months or risk bacteria break through..

Our cartridges are longed lived (see cartridge life explained) and most people get far moe than 6 months life out of them.

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How do we know when to change the cartridges?

We recommend that you trust your senses of smell and taste. There is warning of imminent depletion because the flow of water slows out of the tap. Final depletion is marked and sudden and most of our customers carry a spare cartridge against this eventuality.

Alternatively, we can supply an automatic shut-off water meter. You can set this for the amount of water we give for each model and the meter will shut off the filtered water at the specified amount.

There is more information at 'cartridge life explained'.

There are systems available (not from us) with an indicator. It is easy to assume that these indicators are measuring contaminants - they do not. In fact, they are measuring a pressure drop caused by particles on the surface of the cartridge. This is NOT a measure of cartridge depletion as the activated carbon for chlorine and chemicals may still be active - or if the water is clean, it may not measure at all so showing, inaccrately, that the cartridge is not depleted.

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How long do the cartridges last

The life of all water filter cartridges is dictated by the amount of water filtered and not by time. Despite what you read elsewhere.
Neither we nor anyone else can tell you how long a filter cartridge will last in terms of time. We do not know how many people there are in your household nor do we know how much filtered water you and yours will use for drinking and food preparation.

We express the life span in litres. A rule of thumb is to allow at least 3,000 litres per adult and 1,500 per chiild per year.
Our page "Cartridge Life Explained" goes into more detail - link at the bottom of this page.

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Do we have endocrine disruptors and hormones in our water?

For most of us, probably not. However, all our Pearl and Oyster models will remove them as well as chemical residues from pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs).

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How do we take endocrine disruptors and hormones out of our drinking water?

Select your choice of any the Pearl and Oyster Models.

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What is a UV filter?

It is not a filter. UV kills bacteria with a lamp which radiates ultraviolet. That is it.  If you are on a public utility water supply you do not need UV because your water has been disinfected with chlorine. The remaining issue is cysts such as cryptosporidium, giardia etc which are chlorine resistant and our models Pearl-B, Pearl-DSC, Pearl-DUC and (for the larger household) Oyster-TBC will filter out cysts.

If you have a private water supply (private wells, boreholes, streams etc) you have very different problems and need to click on "PRIVATE Water Supplies" in the index on the left

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Do you recommend whole house filtration?

For most people on public water supplies and using a single system on the incoming mains supply - not really unless a household member has an allergy problem with chlorine or organic chemicals. Whole house filtration only adds around 1/10th of a penny per litre but by far the greater proportion of domestic water is flushed to drain. Also, the filter will remove the chlorine anti-bacterial disinfection deliberately dosed by the water supply company. A far superior recommended method is to plumb-in the in-line 'Moby' system to each cold tap and the cold feed to the hot water system. In this way you can select only those outlets that need filtration at the point of use and, for example, not bother to filter the water to the toilets. A little more expensive at first but far cheaper to run.
Page link to Whole House Systems here >> Click on this text

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How can we deal with hard water / limescale?

These issues do not adversely affect the taste and odour of water. In fact most people prefer the taste of hard water.

Water is 'hard' because it contains calcium &, perhaps, a little magnesium both of which, we are told, are good for us. For potable use, medical and other expert bodies favour hard water over soft water and over 'softened' water in particular because of the added sodium.

It is irritating to de-scale a kettle but a lot of people use denture cleaning tablets overnight and even vinegar(a bit slow) to good effect.

The biggest problems with hard water are caused by limescale in your pipework, tanks, valves, cysterns, kitchen equipment and, especially, your hot water system. We suggest you consider either a Whole House Ion Exchange System (aka Salt Softener, Base Exchange) or an electronic solution - we do not sell either..

Unlike drinking water filters, for an ion / base exchange salt softener we urge you to buy locally at a good DIY store, ironmongers or plumbers merchant. These are electro-mechanical devices and you need to be able to get hold of parts quickly when needed. Softeners are not complicated, rest assured, but you do need to view & understand them and sort out a supply of salt. The softener must be installed with a separate hard water feed for potable water for which you will need a water filter, available on this website, to remove chlorine, sediments, Volatile Organic Chemicals (eg pesticides, herbicides), chloramines, Trihalomethanes (carcinogenic chlorine disinfection byproducts).........

For an electronic solution we suggest 'Scalewatcher' only because our our water filter customers have spoken well of this product. We have absolutely no links with Scalewatcher in any way other than the Internet hyperlink at the very foot of this page. We are just trying to be helpful and you will still need a water filter.

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Is there an issue with Fluoride in our water?

There are no taste and odour issues but there is much debate about the benefits to teeth and the toxic nature of the fluoride dosed.

However, Fluoride is only an issue if your water supplier doses it in to your water and if you do not want it.

Fluoridation is not currently done at a nationwide level but the situation keeps changing with more areas being fluoridated.

Firstly, do you have an issue with fluoride in your water?
Secondly, if you do have an issue, is your water fluoridated? Your local health authority or water supply company will be able to tell you - your doctor's surgery ought to be able to give you a contact phone number.

If you want to remove the fluoride, the Oyster-TF Click on this text

If your water is not fluoridated at the moment but becomes so, the cartridge for fluoride will fit the housings of the Pearl and Oyster models so you can always upgrade later if needs be.

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Do we need to filter for heavy metals?

Only if you live in an older house that still has lead pipework in which case the solution is the Pearl-M on this link >> Click on this text

Author: Fountain Filters
Copyright © 2006 UK Water Sales Ltd. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10th November 2011.

 

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