Are you looking for home water filters? Do you have a real reason or is it a knee-jerk reaction to some piece of local news? Have you thought about your budget? Buying the water filter is just the first step. You still need to maintain it. You need to continue spending money to replace the water filter cartridges which do the real work of purifying your drinking water. Owning a water filter is like owning a car - ongoing maintenance is essential for it to work well.

Officially, many Americans get clean water from their taps. However, this does not prevent them from wanting to improve the quality of the water they drink. The following are seven of the most common reasons why many people want to buy home water filters.

1. Their tap water looks dirty.

Very often this is due to sediment - earth entering the public water pipes through leaks or because some construction or public works broke a water pipe. If you only have coarse sediment, wrapping a few layers of muslin cloth around the mouth of your water tap is a very cheap and effective way of cleaning your water. You do not need to buy a real home water filter. For finer sediment, a water filter using a tube of cotton or polyester fiber is cheap ($5 to $10) and works well. You will not find them on Amazon, but searching google for "sediment water filters" will give you many pages of companies who sell these filters.

2. They do not like the smell or taste of chlorine in their water

For various reasons, some people just do not like the smell or taste of chlorinated water. Coffee connoisseurs can be particularly picky about the water they use in their coffee. The cheapest way to get rid of the chlorine is to let the water stand in air for a while. If this is not viable, you may need to buy cheap home water filters which use granulated activated carbon. For most people this is good enough to get rid of the chlorine smell quickly. It is also cheaper than the powdered carbon block filter.

3. They are afraid of getting sick from microorganisms in their drinking water

Most civilized countries add chlorine to their water supplies to disinfect them. It is a proven and effective method which gets rid of most bacteria and protozoa that can be transmitted through water. If you also boil your water, you can get rid of 100% of any kind of microorganisms in your drinking water. Most houses already have kettles. A good quality electric kettle (less than $50) can boil 2 liters of water in less than 5 minutes. On the other hand, home water filters need to have pores smaller than 0.1 micron to be good enough to filter out these same microorganisms. Such filters cost at least a few hundred dollars. Cheaper filters costing $50 to $100 only remove the cysts of 2 different protozoa. This may be good enough for healthy adults, but is probably inadequate for children and the elderly.

4. They fear the presence of pesticides and herbicides in their water supply

This can be a valid concern for people living in agricultural regions. Most modern herbicides and pesticides are made from hydrocarbons, which home water filters using GAC and carbon block filters can easily deal with. Unfortunately, there is no cheaper alternative.

5. They fear the presence of chemical fertilizers in their water supply (maybe there is fertilizer factory near their water supply)

Modern fertilizers are largely made of nitrites or nitrates. Sediment water filters do not get rid of them. Neither do carbon filters. However, ion exchange systems work, and so do reverse osmosis home water filters. However, ion exchangers are a cheaper choice and often come with water filters using carbon. So if you fear contamination of your water supply by organic chemicals, it can do double-duty. Just double-check to make sure the ion exchange system is rated to remove nitrites and nitrates.

6. There is danger of heavy metal contaminants in their water supply (they may stay in an old house with lead or copper water pipes)

Lead and copper are common heavy metals found in older homes because of their pipes, fittings and solder. Unfortunately, home water filters using GAC or carbon blocks do not remove heavy metals. You will need to get a filter with an ion exchange system which targets both lead and copper to ensure the safety of your drinking water. The other alternative is to install reverse osmosis home water filters, which is much more expensive.

7. There is a strange, nasty smell or taste in their tap water

You probably need to install a home water filter. The easiest way to deal with this problem is to collect your tap water in a large container and take that container to your local shop selling home water filtration devices. Pour your water through various brands and models of water filters until you find a few which get rid of the smell and taste effectively. Buy the cheapest one. The only alternatives are to perform chemical lab tests to find out why your tap water stinks or tastes bad, or install reverse osmosis home water filters which remove all impurities. Since both of these alternatives are very expensive ...

Ultimately it is your decision what to do. I prefer cheap, effective solutions that work. Some people buy an expensive PUR water filter and then happily go about their lives. When they get sick from copper poisoning, they complain that PUR cheated them. But it is their own fault - the popular PUR filters remove lead but not copper. If you need to remove both lead and copper, then make sure you buy the water filter cartridge which is rated for both these heavy metals. I want real peace of mind. If that means installing home water filters, then so be it. However, in that case, I want to make sure it really gets rid of the correct contaminants in my drinking water.