Clean, refreshing water is essential for a healthy life. However, with concerns about tap water quality, many homeowners are wondering what they can do to improve the quality of their water. 

In this interview with Gary Beutler (Gary the Water Guy), you’ll find answers to the top questions about home water filtration and get expert tips on choosing the right filter for your house and simplifying the filtration process. Gary is a founder of Water eStore, which helps homeowners with water treatment systems, filters, water softeners, and replacement parts. 

Watch this video interview with Gary to learn more about water filters, their cost, water purifiers, filter replacement frequency, how to identify harmful substances in water, and what additional appliances you need.

Here are the top home water filtration questions covered in this expert interview:

About Water Expert 

Pauline: Gary, please tell us about yourself and your expertise.

Gary: So I'm Gary the Water Guy, and I simplify water filtration to help families learn more about water filtration and conquer. I say conquer their crappy water. I've been in the water filtration industry for over 20 years. I started the water store in Midland. Then, I started my YouTube channel, Gary the Water Guy, in 2011. On my YouTube channel, we've had 12 million views. We have 450 water filtration videos. And they're all about how it works, how to install, and how to maintain. We have two e-commerce stores - for our Canadian customers and for the US. I do a lot of work promoting water filtration and explaining about water filtration.

Pauline: Thank you very much. That's such a big experience. And I also noticed you have a pretty nice background. It's somehow connected with your professional activity.

Gary: Yes. There's all kinds of different water filtration stuff that we have in the background here. A lot of our customers run city water, but a lot more are on well water. So they have their own private wells. Because of that, they often have problems with taste, smell, discoloration, staining, and are even worried about the safety of their water because often with well water or even lake water, the water has bacteria in it. So we need to make sure that we've got a solution that's going to make sure their water has been fixed for them.

What Are Consequences of Low-quality Water Consumption?

Pauline: What consequences threaten us if water becomes insufficient or people consume and use low-quality water for everyday purposes?

Gary: You can't make water. Whatever water was there at the beginning of time, whenever this planet was formed, is still there. We keep processing that water over and over and over. In North America, we have lots of water, and we're very fortunate that way, but we need to make sure that whatever we do, we're efficient with that water. Now, the problem is because we keep processing that water over and over and over again, we have to make sure that that water is clean and clear and is not going to make anybody sick. That's the primary concern. We've heard stories from Parkersburg, West Virginia, and lots of other places where people have become more than sick. They've actually died from the water - the water's caused cancer in some folks. And that's why it's so important that people are aware of the importance of water that's clean, clear, and bacteria-free.

What Harmful Substances Are Found in Water, And How Can They Be Tested?

Pauline: How can consumers check the water without tools? What are the red flags? Like smell, taste, color, etc., so we can watch out for water before using it.

Gary: The water should be clear, colorless, and odorless. If any of those situations exist, then there's a problem with your water. And if you're on a municipal water system, like you live in a city or a town, you need to contact your water provider and find out what's going on because something just isn't right. When we've heard stories about Flint, Michigan, and other places, they had those signs: the water did not look right, it had color in it, and there was a problem. That's for sure. 

If you're on well water, then you need to have it analyzed. You need to have the water tested by someone to find out exactly what's in it causing those conditions.

Pauline: What's the worst thing that could be in the water? From your experience, what was it?

Gary: Right now, we're hearing more and more about PFAS. PFAS are a series of 5,000 artificially made, in other words, made by industry chemicals that have never existed in nature and don't degrade in nature. One of the biggest things that we've heard about is Teflon. The company DuPont made Teflon in Parkersburg, West Virginia.Their employees started getting sick in the sixties, seventies, and eighties. But the problem is that PFAS, those chemicals, is in the water supply. They've done tests in the blood of people throughout the world, and 98% of the people throughout the world, including you and me, have some PFAS in their blood. That's a big concern if you have it in your water and you're ingesting it on an ongoing basis. Again, a lot of the folks in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and the areas around DuPont polluted their water. They became sick. What happened? They ended up having cancer in their kidneys, cancer in their colon, and that's about the worst that can happen.

Which Water Purifiers Are the Best?

Pauline: What are the best water purifiers?

Gary: In terms of making your drinking water super pure, I definitely recommend reverse osmosis drinking water systems. They are small systems typically located underneath the sink or if you have a basement, they can go in your basement. They're fairly small. How they work is they take your water and force it under pressure through a membrane. The good low mineral content water goes through the membrane and gets stored in a small pressure tank. Itt's available for whatever it's time for you to use. The bad high mineral content, water gets flushed to the drain. 

The beauty of reverse osmosis is not only does it get rid of those PFAS, but it also gets rid of PPCPs - pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Our body will only absorb so much of the pills that we take, and whatever's left, we excrete, so excreted pharmaceuticals end up in the water supply. So reverse osmosis will get rid of that. It'll also remove the chemicals from the water, the chemicals that they use for water treatment. They'll remove those chemicals, including chlorine and chloramines. It'll get rid of fluoride, which is again a highly debated topic right now if fluoride should be in our water supply or not. And it'll also get rid of bacteria in the water. So, in terms of drinking water, a reverse osmosis drinking water system is definitely the way to go. 

If your water is hard or you have a lot of chlorine in it, you also want to get rid of that too for bathing and things like that. There are automatic back-washing filters that will remove that from your water. If your water's hard, you're getting those crusty stains everywhere. You've got crusty streaks on your shower doors; your glasses are looking kind of opaque because they've got this film on them; that's hard water. And for that, you would need a water softener.

Home water filters

How Frequently Should Filters Be Replaced?

Pauline: How often do we need to change these filters?

Gary: Generally speaking, we design systems so the filters can be replaced once a year. We size it based on the concern and that's the ideal situation. The water filtration products that we recommend, you can do the maintenance yourself. We have YouTube videos that show you how to replace the filters. We actually have YouTube videos that also show you how to install and a lot more information about how they work, too. If you have a water softener, you would be adding salt to that. A modern high efficiency water softener, doesn't use a lot of salt throughout the year, might use five or six 40 pound bags, depending on how hard your water is and how much water you use. Reverse osmosis drinking water system, a high efficiency one. Like I say, those filters would need to be replaced once a year.

What Are Additional Appliances for Home Water Filtration?

Pauline: What other appliances should people have at home so they can be sure that they use high-quality water? I mean good water that can be used for domestic purposes.

Gary: If your water's hard, you need a water softener because a water softener is going to make your home a lot easier to keep clean, but it's also going to save your water-using appliances, your dishwasher, your washing machine, your hot water heater, all those other things. Because what they do is they get rid of the scale buildup within all those pieces of equipment. And that scale buildup is going to shorten the lifespan of those pieces of equipment and make them work much less efficiently. 

One of the big benefits of a water softener is you use less soap. It will typically pay for itself in about two or three years. 

It's a very good investment in your home and for your family. It also makes hard water very itchy, your skin becomes very itchy, your hair becomes frizzy, and those kinds of things.

Because of that, it also helps with your family. But the biggest benefit of having a water softener is that it makes your home much easier to keep clean. You don't get that scale buildup all over the place around your appliances, anywhere that water touches, and that's a big factor. 

If you have a lot of chemicals in your water and you're finding that members of your family are getting rashes on their skin, that's from the chlorine or the chloramines in your water. Chlorines are chlorine and ammonia added together. Those are chloramines, which many people find very difficult, especially if they have sensitive skin. You can get an automatic back washing filter that removes that from the water. The beauty of those systems is that there are no filters to replace. They just clean themselves once a week. Typically, they last about 15 to 20 years before the stuff inside needs to be changed. 

If you're on well or lake water, it's a whole different ball game. Your water might be brown, and you might have tannins in it. There are tannin filters that get rid of that. If you're on lake or well water, you need to make sure you've got something to ensure that the water's bacteria-free because if you don't do it, no one else will. You don't have the city looking after that for you. You would normally need an ultraviolet disinfection system to make sure the water is bacteria-free after you've cleaned it up.

What Are the Top Water Filter Companies?

Pauline: And if we talk about buying a filter, what are the top water filter companies and what's your recommendations?

Gary: It gets a bit more difficult when we start talking about brands because you have two ends of the market. You've got the big box stores, and I don't recommend buying the stuff from the big box stores because what happens there is that not only can you not get any good recommendations because, of course, the folks that work there look after a whole bunch of different things, not just water filtration products. They have to know about electrical stuff, cleaning products, and that kind of thing. So you can't get really good information. But the problem is a lot of the products they sell are sourced from China or Korea. They're not meant to last very long, only a few years. It's impossible to get manuals, and it's even more impossible to get replacement parts. So if something goes wrong or you need a part or that kind of thing, you're out of luck. 

Then, we go to the other end of the market, where we get brands like Culligan, Kinetico, or bigger national brands. These products are very expensive. They're typically fairly good products, but typically, you'll pay about double what you should be paying for water filtration products when you go with those national brands. But that's not the worst part. The worst part about going with those national brands is that their products are all proprietary. What that means is if you need a replacement part, you need service, you need a manual, you need anything, you have to go back to them. Because of that, they can charge whatever they want, and they do. They charge a premium for that. And if their local service provider gives very poor service, you're stuck because you can't go anywhere else. They have their own protected areas. That's not something I recommend, either. 

There's a huge sweet spot in between - independent water filtration companies and companies that are e-commerce stores that ship the product to you. What happens in the industry is the valves - the key part of water filtration, water softeners, back washable filters, etc. There are only about three or four companies that actually make these valves. Because of that, you'll see companies that use this valve. It is made by a company called Clack Corporation, which is a company in the US that manufactures and ships them worldwide. These valves are totally non-proprietary. We sell them on our HUM water filtration products and water softeners; that's our private label brand name, but so do hundreds of other companies. They buy these Clack valves, and they have a company assemble them onto their water filtration equipment. Now, it's a great product at a very reasonable price that's totally non-proprietary and easily lasts 20 years. 

What the consumer should be looking for is that they ideally source water filtration products and water softeners that use the Clack valve or another competitor's Fleck, which makes a pretty good valve. I would check with an independent company and ask them who makes their valves. It might seem like a peculiar question to ask the homeowner, but the company will know exactly what you mean, and they'll also know that you're pretty savvy about what you're doing. They know they have to be careful when speaking with you as a consumer. 

When it comes to reverse osmosis drinking water systems, always look for something made in the USA.

It'll be difficult to find because 95% of them aren't made in the USA. They're made in China or Korea. And I've tried the Chinese ones. We've had problems with them in the past, and we've had problems with the leaking. we're dealing with the water in people's homes. I definitely suggest you do a little bit of extra homework to find the products made in the USA. We handle two different brands of reverse osmosis drinking water systems made in the USA. We've had great success with them. They lasted a long time. But the second thing you need to look for is what I spoke about a little bit earlier, which was non-proprietary. There are a lot of proprietary companies out there. So, a system like this uses non-proprietary filters. 

The cost of the four filters that need to be replaced once a year is about $50 to $60.

If you go with a proprietary system, you can easily be paying two or three times that. The other big problem with proprietary systems is that these things are meant to last 20 years. So if they change their design five or ten years from now and stop making those proprietary filters, you're out of luck. You have to throw away the system because you can't service it anymore. Non-proprietary is definitely the way to go.

water purifiers

What Is the Cost of Water Filters?

Pauline: From what you just said, keeping water filters at home is not that expensive. You may charge once per installation; whenever you need to change or clean them, there is another additional fee. And basically, that's it. They don't really break down.

Gary: Water filtration products are relatively inexpensive. A high-efficienсу reverse osmosis drinking water system made in North America, which I believe every homeowner should have, is usually in the range of about $500 to $600. It's not all that expensive and easily serviced. You can service it once a year. A filter change is $60. We have YouTube videos that show you how to do it, and so do other brands out there. But if you want somebody to come in and do the work for you, they may be charging you something like a hundred dollars or something like that. 

Water softeners made in the USA or North America are from $1300 to $1500. 

They might use about a hundred dollars worth of water softener salt a year to maintain them. And that's pretty much it. It's going to last you 20 years, and you'll get good service for those 20 years. 

Water filtration isn't all that expensive, especially when you consider how important it is to your family. As I mentioned earlier, a water softener for a family of four will pay for itself in about two to three years with the amount of money it saves on soap and water-using appliances. It's definitely a good investment for every homeowner.

Pauline: What should consumers keep in mind about cost and water waste with water filters?

Gary: We should always look at a highly efficient system; that's very important. Over the years, water softeners and other water filtration equipment have become much more efficient. 

However, if you still see some of the older designs, like some of the reverse osmosis drinking water systems that I see advertised on Amazon, we purchased one of those. We compared how much water they waste to the high-efficiency ones made in the USA; they waste five or six times as much water to give you the same drinking water as our high-efficiency ones. So definitely, that's important. The same is true with water softeners and other water filtration equipment. Make sure you look at something that's a modern design like the Clack Bell one I'm referring to over here because they waste far less water than the older design. The ones that have been, there are water softeners still sold out there that were designed 50 years ago. They are super inefficient. They're cheap, but they're super inefficient, and that's something that everyone should definitely avoid.

Are There Risks of Removing Beneficial Properties From Water?

Pauline: Talking about getting rid of bad chemicals, Is there a risk that when filtering, the water loses its essential health properties, killing both bad and good in the water?

Gary: A common question we get about reverse osmosis drinking water systems is, 'Don't they remove everything from the water?' 'Do they remove all the good and bad stuff from the water?'First of all, they don't remove everything from the water. They remove about 90% of the minerals, but they're definitely removing a lot of the bad stuff - salt, PCPs, PFAS, chemicals, and things like that. That's the case. But keep in mind that we get 95% of the minerals we need in our body from our food, not from our water. I'll make a comparison like the people talking about calcium. Reverse osmosis does remove calcium from the water, but people need calcium in their diet. I agree. The thing is, one eight-ounce glass of orange juice has the same amount of calcium as a bathtub full of water. So, no one drinks a bath full of water every day. If they need calcium, they're better off drinking one glass of orange juice. In terms of what reverse osmosis removes and the benefits it gives you, far away, the small amount of minerals that reverse osmosis removes that are good for you. But keep in mind that the trade-off is definitely tilted toward removing the bad stuff.

What Are Tips to Simplify Home Water Filtration?

Pauline: What is the key message to consumers, and what tips could you give them to make their water filtration easier?

Gary: If you have a concern, where do you start looking at fixing it? The first thing is to discuss it with your family. What concerns you about your water? Sometimes, different members of the family are concerned about the smell of the water and the chlorine. They might have sensitive skin, and it's giving them rashes and things like that. So, discuss with your family what concerns you about your water. Once you know what concerns you about your water, do a little bit of research - go onto YouTube and Google and find out some more information about what remedies are available. Again, what concerns you about your water? Then from there, get a water analysis done. 

If you're on city water, all you need to do is phone your water provider and say, 'Hey, my family's concerned about the scale buildup we're getting from our water. It's hard water. We'd like to know how hard our water is.' Or 'Our families are concerned about the mineral content in our water. We want to know the mineral content of our water.' Once you've got that information, you go and search for someone who does water treatment. If it's something you want to have done locally, you search for someone who does water treatment locally, and again, Google's your friend. Just go online and start searching for water treatment professionals. I'm a certified water specialist. I'm certified by the Water Quality Association. So that's a really good place to start. The WQA, or Water Quality Association, has a website that lists all of its members both in Canada and the US. From there, that might be a good source of finding someone to help you with your solution.

Once you're talking about a solution, you need to know that whoever is addressing your concern will look at your water analysis. So, they can either come and test your water on-site or look at what the city has provided you. If you're on well water or lake water, you'll definitely need to have that water tested. Either someone will test it locally for you, or you'll send a water sample to a lab and have it tested there. 

For people that don't have anybody nearby, we have our e-commerce store, so we get people sending us water analysis all the time, and with that water analysis and a few more questions, we can put together a water filtration package for you. We ship it to you; we offer free shipping. Then, you have a local plumber do the installation. But when you're considering investing in water filtration equipment, definitely look for made-in-North America. Look for non-proprietary products so you can get parts and services. The beauty of non-proprietary is that there'll be all kinds of YouTube videos that offer troubleshooting help, maintenance help, installation help if you want to install it yourself, and a lot of great information along those lines.

Pauline: So it's time to check out the filters. Thank you, Gary!

By filtering your own water, you not only enjoy drinking cleaner water but can also recycle home water and contribute to a more sustainable lifestyle. This small change can deliver significant benefits to your family and the environment. 

What do you think about home water filters? Would you like to use them? Or are you already using one? You are welcome to share your experience and opinion in the comments. You’ll find more expert insights on our YouTube channel. Subscribe today to keep tabs on the latest consumer trends and insights. 

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