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Types of Water Filters to Remove Bacteria and Viruses from Your Water

by Peter Lombardi

Quality Specialist, Consultant

> 4 min read


Types of Water Filters to Remove Bacteria and Viruses from Your Water

If you've ever looked into getting a water filter or water filtration system installed in your home, you may have noticed there are several filtration systems and filters options to choose from.

Each water filter utilizes slightly different purification and filtration techniques to produce cleaner and safer water for you and your family. The type of water filter that's right for your home comes down to answering two simple questions:

  1. Are you looking to filter your drinking water or all the water entering your home?
  2. What kind of contaminants do you want to remove from your water?

Answering these two questions can help narrow down your search so you can find the right water filter for your home.

HERE ARE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT WATER:

What is a Water Filter?

A water filter is a device for removing unwanted contaminants and substances such as harmful chemicals and bacteria from drinking water. 

There are quite a few types of water filters to remove bacteria and viruses, with different commercial, domestic, and industrial water treatment models.

Common Types of Water Filters to Remove Bacteria and Viruses

1. Sediment Water Filters

The most basic and most common filtration system used in domestic, commercial, and industrial water treatment is sediment filtration. Sediment filters remove coarse sediments such as sand, dust, and silt from your water. 

An easy way to think of a sediment filter is to think of it as a net that catches unwanted dirt particles as water flows through a water system.

Sediment filters are made from polypropylene and pleated polyester, with a micron rating ranging from 1 to 100 microns. This rating indicates the pore sizes found in the filter; the lower the micron rating, the stronger the filtration. 

Sediment filters are found in many homes, and they do a good job of reducing the level of unwanted particles and bacteria in your water supply so that it's safe enough to drink.

2. Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

Reverse osmosis filtration works by moving water through a semipermeable membrane. In these filter systems, water pushes through the membrane and additional filters to remove impurities and stop larger, more harmful molecules from entering the purified water supply.

Reverse osmosis filters remove common chemicals such as sodium, chromium, and lead. Most reverse osmosis filters are relatively easy to install, with installation usually taking around two hours. If you've recently purchased a reverse osmosis filter and you're unsure how to install it, contact a plumber for professional help.

3. Ultrafiltration Water Filters

Like reverse osmosis, ultrafiltration uses water pressure to push water through a semipermeable membrane to remove contaminants. 

An ultrafiltration water filter pushes water through a 0.2-micron membrane, with suspended particles that are too large to push through sticking to the surface of the outer membrane.

Unlike reverse osmosis water filters, ultrafiltration filters retain the minerals in the filtered water while removing parasites, bacteria, and viruses. While you can purchase whole house ultrafiltration systems, you can find the same technology in many lower-end water filters and filtration systems such as under-sink water filters.

4. Ultraviolet (UV) Water Filters

Ultraviolet water filtration systems work by penetrating harmful pathogens in your home's water and eliminating illness-causing microorganisms. Ultraviolet water filters are one of the most effective types of water filters to remove bacteria and viruses.

During the ultraviolet disinfection process, organisms are exposed to ultraviolet light that attacks the microorganism's genetic code, eliminating its ability to reproduce. 

Ultraviolet water filters eliminate viruses, bacteria, and a host of other nasty substances from your water. The bacteria, organisms, and viruses that ultraviolet filters remove from water include giardia, cholera, hepatitis B, E. coli, and numerous algae and fungi.

5. Whole House Water Filters

Whole house water filters are installed into your main water line, so every drop of water that enters your home is filtered. 

These filters are installed before the water reaches your home's water heating system, so both your cold and warm water are filtered. Unlike other types of water filters, whole house water filters ensure that the water is clean every time you open a faucet. 

Whole house water filters may not be suitable for everyone. These filtration systems produce filtered water for your whole home, making them more expensive than other options.

6. Activated Carbon Water Filters 

Activated carbon filters are some of the most popular water filters used in the home. These tend to be relatively inexpensive, and they work well to remove certain contaminants from your water, such as chlorine, lithium, phosphate, and chloride. 

Carbon removes contaminants from water through a process known as adsorption. As water passes through the activated carbon, it absorbs contaminants found in the water. 

Carbon filters tend to be extremely porous, making them effective at removing bad tastes, bacteria, and other organic compounds that can often give drinking water a peculiar taste.


"During the ultraviolet disinfection process, organisms are exposed to ultraviolet light that attacks the microorganism's genetic code, eliminating its ability to reproduce." 


Which Type of Water Filter Is Right For You?

There are a few factors to consider when you're looking for a water filter. 

Consider whether you want a filtration system that purifies all of the water entering your home (e.g., a whole house water filter) or a filter that only refines the water running from a single faucet or fixture.

This decision can help you decide how much to spend. Water filters and water filtration systems can range in price quite significantly.

  • Simple water filters such as countertop filters are usually priced between $60-$500.
  • Under sink water filters are usually priced between $200-$1,300.
  • Ultraviolet water filters and systems are typically priced between $100-$500.
  • Reverse osmosis filters and sediment filters can be priced anywhere from $200-$4,200.
  • Whole house water filters and systems are priced between $1,000-$4,200 and up. 


The Bottom Line

With prices ranging so dramatically, it's advisable to make yourself as familiar with the water filter landscape as possible. This can include answering questions such as:

  • Is there a specific water problem you're facing?
  • What are your needs as a homeowner?
  • Do you want a filter to serve your entire home or just a single faucet or fixture?
  • Are there specific chemicals and bacteria in your water supply that need removing?

Once you have these answers, you'll be able to make an informed decision on what type of water filter is best equipped to remove bacteria and viruses from your water.

Peter Lombardi

About the Author

Peter is a Los Angeles based water quality specialist, and works as a surveyor for businesses and communities looking to be informed and active about the quality of their water. He shares his expertise with 64 oz. to ensure everything is accurate, and to prevent the spread of misinformation about water contaminants.