Domestic water filters have advanced tenfold from the bulky under-sink cylinders of old, or DIY gadgets that were once attached to tap heads. Their primary function – to remove all heavy metals, inorganic minerals and chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride, aluminium, pesticides, lead, etc – still remains the same, but homeowners can now choose from all manner of slim fitting, water saving systems, with added bells and whistles such as ultraviolet light disinfection, mineral pH enhancer, extra hydrogen or the addition of ozone, all which aim to enhance the users’ health.
Simon Newell of Renewell Water (renewellwater.com), says its best-selling Pro Elite system works by using reverse osmosis to restore mains treated water back to its purest form. "A pump using triple-vortex technology pushes water through a series of different filters, each of which has membranes, with tiny pores 1,000 times finer than a single strand of hair, filtering out everything nasty from man-made impurities to the likes of parasite cysts, including cryptosporidium. It will ionise the water naturally and increase the oxygen content, so you are left with pure, turbocharged H20," says Newell.
Added extras to filter systems also include pH neutralisers which are handy for households suffering from acidic water (telltale signs include corrosion to radiators, copper cylinders, pipes and fittings). "Iron-removing filters is another option and popular in counties Cork, Limerick, Tipperary and Clare, where iron in well water and unsightly iron stains in sinks and bathtubs is a common problem," says Colom Dawson from Perfect Water (perfectwater.ie).
The addition of hydrogen molecules is another hot topic. Hydrogen water is having a moment in biomedicine and beauty, with purported benefits centring around scavenging free radicals and reducing oxidative stress on cells. Meanwhile, “a 10-second rinse of your food with ozone-infused water can kill over 99 per cent of bacteria and 80 per cent of pesticides on the surface of your fruit and vegetables,” says Newell.
From a practical point of view, filters can be as compact as a small box measuring 40x40x15cm or a cartridge-and-pipe combination which needs at least 90x55cm of wall space. Although typically fitted under the kitchen sink, they can also be housed in a press nearby too. They’re always connected to the water mains and a separate tap (various faucet styles and finishes are available) is installed by the manufacturer, on the corner of a drainer or the edge of a worktop. Installation takes up to 90 minutes and the pump requires electricity, so an accessible socket behind or near a unit is essential.
A pitfall of traditional filter systems was the time it took to get a glassful of water, but the new-generation units are rapid-fill and fast-flowing. Given the scope of add-ons, it’s best to arrange a site visit with a filter manufacturer to see what type of water issues you have on your hands.
Reverse-osmosis, undercounter system start from €230 (eirsoftwater.ie, thewaterfiltermen.ie) and can go up to €750 for more advanced models (renewellwater.com). Fitting cost about €250 and annual servicing and changing of the filters, which go terrifyingly black and gloopy-looking after a few months, is recommended. Most manufacturers offer service and replacement packages around the €120-€150 mark.