Home Water Treatment Fact Sheet
Find information about treating specific contaminants and different treatment devices: Home Water Treatment (PDF) (starting on page 3).
Most Minnesotans do not need to install water treatment at home to protect their health. If you know your drinking water is contaminated or you are concerned about the color, taste, or odor of your water, first try to remove the source(s) of contamination or replace the contaminated water supply with a safer supply. If this is not possible, then home water treatment may be appropriate. Use this resource to help decide if home water treatment makes sense for you and what treatment options may be best for you.
- If you get your drinking water from a public water system, your water system and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) regularly test the water for over 100 different contaminants and make sure it meets all Safe Drinking Water Act standards. You can learn more about your water quality by reading your water system’s annual report (called a Consumer Confidence Report [CCR]). You can request a report from your utility or Search for your CCR.
- If you get your drinking water from a private well, you are responsible for regularly testing your well water to make sure it is safe for drinking and cooking. Learn more about testing recommendations and how to test your water at Water Quality/Well Testing.
Knowing what you want from water treatment will help you choose the best treatment option. Some common reasons people think about water treatment for their home:
- They do not like the way their water tastes, smells, looks, or feels.
- They are concerned about a specific contaminant (such as lead, arsenic, or nitrate) in their water. You should Beware of Water Treatment Scams.
There are many water treatment options. Deciding what option is best for you depends on what you want from your water treatment. This webpage gives an overview of water treatment considerations and options. View Home Water Treatment (PDF) for information about treating specific contaminants and different treatment devices. You may need to do additional research or contact a water treatment professional to find the best option for you. Below are some key questions to consider.
What contaminant would you like to remove or reduce?
Select a treatment unit certified by NSF, Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL), or Water Quality Association (WQA) to remove the contaminant(s) you are concerned about, if a certification is available. These organizations do not certify treatment units for all contaminants. In this case, you may need to contact a water treatment professional.
- Search for NSF Certified Drinking Water Treatment Units, Water Filters
- Residential Drinking Water Standards
No single treatment unit can remove all contaminants in water. Depending on your water quality, or if you want to remove more than one contaminant, you may need to combine several treatment units into a treatment system.
Do you want to treat all the water in your home or just drinking water?
There are two main types of home water treatment:
- Point-of-use (POU) units treat water at one faucet or one location. Examples include pour-through pitchers or units that sit on the counter, attach to a faucet, are part of a refrigerator water/ice dispenser, or are under the sink. POU is a good option for treating only the water you use for drinking and cooking.
- Point-of-entry (POE) units are installed on the water line as it enters the home. POE units treat all of the water in your home.
What is your budget?
Prices vary widely for treatment options—anywhere from less than twenty dollars to thousands of dollars. Things to consider for your water treatment budget include whether you want to treat just your drinking water at one tap or all of the water in your home, maintenance costs, and whether you will install the treatment yourself or hire a professional. Your household may qualify for one of the following loans (which you have to pay back) or grants (which you do not have to pay back) to help pay for water treatment.
- AgBMP Loan Program provides low interest loans to farmers, rural landowners, and agriculture supply businesses. Contact your local Soil and Water Conservation District or see Agriculture Best Management Practices (BMP) Loan Program.
- Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants provide low interest loans for homeowners with income below 50 percent of the area’s median income and grants for people over the age of 62 years. See Single Family Housing Repair Loans and Grants.
- Fix Up Program provides fixed interest rate loans to homeowners. Go to Minnesota Housing and click on “Homebuyers & Homeowners—Improve Your Home”.
You can purchase and install a treatment unit on your own, or you can work with a water treatment professional. If you work with a treatment professional, make sure they are a licensed plumber or licensed water conditioning contractor by using the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry’s License Lookup.
After installing treatment, test the treated water to make sure the treatment is working. Then, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for cleaning and maintenance. All water treatment units require regular maintenance to work properly. Maintenance can include changing filters, disinfecting the unit, backwashing, or cleaning out mineral build-up (scale). Water treatment units that are not properly maintained will lose their effectiveness over time. In some cases, unmaintained units can make water quality worse and can make you sick.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A Guide to Drinking Water Treatment Technologies for Household Use
- MDH. A-Z List of Contaminants in Water
- MDH. Beware of Water Treatment Scams
- MDH. Home Water Softening: Frequently Asked Questions
- MDH. Water Quality/Well Testing
- NSF. Drinking Water Filters, Testing and Treatment
- The Private Well Class. Water Treatment Solutions