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The Water Store
Frequently Asked Questions

1. There are too many choices in water filters on the market. Where do I start?
Start by knowing your source of water supply
and the chemistry of your water some water testing may be required we can help with that and we can help familiarize you with the different technologies available to filter and treat your water. Next, We will make some recommendations to you based on your water supply and personal preferences. Of course,  you can view our store and view your options

1. How do your products compare to Brita-style pitcher filters and faucet-mounted water filters?
Pitcher and faucet-mounted filters generally rely solely on activated carbon filtration. While activated carbon is very effective at removing a wide range of contaminants, the problem with this type of filters is that they contain a very small amount of activated carbon. Further, the time the water spends in contact with the carbon, particularly with faucet mounted units is too little to provide full absorption. While counter top and under sink activated carbon filters generally have removal rates for relevant contaminants in excess of 90-99%, the removal rates for faucet mounted and pitcher style units is generally 30-60%.

3. I am specifically concerned about removing parasitic cysts like cryptosporidium and giardia from my water. Can you suggest a filtration or purification method?
You have a few choices. You can select any counter top or under counter water filter that features a micron carbon block filter. These cysts generally range from about 4-10 microns in size and can be eliminated by these fine filters. Reverse osmosis will also remove these contaminants as an RO membrane's pores measure only about 0.005 microns. While ultraviolet purification is ideal for other microbiological contaminants such as bacteria and viruses, it is not always effective against cysts as they require a longer exposure time than is sometimes possible in a home UV system. Don't forget, e.coli is too small to be removed by any existing activated carbon (GAC or carbon block) filter available anywhere. Reverse osmosis is generally effective at removing bacteria, however a secondary ultraviolet system is recommended for optimum security against e.coli and other bacteria.

4. My community frequently issues boil advisories to deal with short-term water problems. If I boil my drinking water, am I safe?
Yes and no. A rolling boil for a least two minutes is effective in killing harmful organisms such as e.coli, giardia and cryptosporidium. However, boiling does not remove many other contaminants such as heavy metals, in fact, it concentrates them. While these contaminants do not often cause immediate acute sickness, long-term exposure to them is certainly unhealthy, especially at concentrated levels.

5. Are National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) certified water filters better than non-NSF certified water filters?
Not necessarily. To become certified by NSF, water filter manufacturers have to pay NSF various fees on an ongoing basis. A large number of manufacturers choose not to pay these fees and therefore not to have their products endorsed by NSF. Many of these manufacturers produce filters that are more effective than those produced by companies that have opted for NSF certification. You should evaluate a water filter based on the materials it is composed of and the reputation of the company that stands behind it.

6. Can your countertop filters be mounted on any faucet?
Our counter top water filters can be attached to more than 95% of all faucets as originally equipped or with the use of the internal thread adapter that is included with your unit. Adapters for most of the remaining faucets can be obtained from a quality plumbing supply store.

7. Do your systems come with all necessary parts for installation and are they difficult to install?
For each product, we include all components that are needed with your system. Unless you have an unusual installation, you will not require any additional parts to complete your installation. some of our systems are very easily installed by the homeowner. Whole house systems require some mechanical aptitude, so we generally recommend that you request the assistance of a good handyman or plumber.

Think the system looks complicated? This is nothing. This is what we do best- customized systems from your home or work place and you can relax while our professionals install it.

8. I have seen water filters at my local home center retail store that are cheaper than yours. Are they the same thing? What is the difference?
The quality of water filters on the market vary dramatically. In most cases, but not all, it is a "you get what you pay for" situation. When comparing different filters, you should look at the following:

  • Quality Materials - look at the materials that were used to make the filters.
  • Micron Rating - most filters have a specified micron rating which indicates the nominal size of particles they are able to remove. The smaller the micron rating the better - this means that your fiter will remove smaller particles. A 5 micron filter is not necessarily "worse" than a 1 micron filter, it depends on what the filter is for. If it is a whole-house sediment filter which serves as the first filter before your activated carbon filters than a 5 micron filter would be preferred to 1 microns because the 1 micron filter would clog too quickly. However, when looking at a reverse osmosis system for example, micron ratings of the various component filters (and the number of pre-filters in the system itself) can be compared to give you a relative indication of quality and effectiveness. Be very wary of manufacturers and retailers who do not indicate micron ratings for their filters - there is a good chance their products are of inferior quality.
  • Company Reputation - how long has the company been in business and do they have a good reputation in the community?
  • Replacement Filters Availability? -common stocked filter or will they even have the filter when you need it  

9. I have another brand of water filter in my home. Will your replacement filters fit in my unit?
Most likely yes, as long as the housing is not tapered. Our replacement filters are designed to be universal and to fit most other point-of-use and whole-house filter housings on the market. If any doubt, just bring in your old filter.

Activated Carbon Filtration (GAC / Carbon Block) FAQ

1. What is Activated Carbon?
Carbon is an extremely porous material that attracts and holds a wide range of harmful contaminants. Activated carbon is carbon which has a slight electro-positive charge added to it, making it even more attractive to chemicals and impurities. As the water passes over the positively charged carbon surface, the negative ions of the contaminants are drawn to the surface of the carbon granules.

2. What forms does it come in?
Activated carbon filters used for home water treatment typically contain either granular activated carbon (GAC) or carbon block.

3. Which is generally better, GAC or carbon block?
Although both are effective, carbon block filters generally have a higher contaminant removal ratio and are more resistant to channeling.

4. Are all carbon filters equally effective?
No. Activated carbon filters are usually rated by the size of particles they are able to remove, measured in microns, and generally range from 20 microns (least effective) down to 0.5 microns (most effective). The two most important factors affecting the efficiency of activated carbon filtration are the amount of activated carbon in the unit and the amount of time the contaminant spends in contact with it. The more carbon the better. Particle size also affects contaminant removal rates. The most common carbon types used in water filtration are bituminous, and coconut shell carbons. 

5. Can I use taste and flow rate to determine when to change the filter?
No. These are very poor methods of monitoring your water filter for maintenance. Once the bad tastes have returned, it is already far too late - contaminants have passed through the filter and into your drinking water. A carbon cartridge may be able to control taste and odors long after the carbon has lost its ability to effectively reduce other toxic contaminants. You should always replace at least yearly or sooner as schedule to ensure optimal filtration and for sanitary reasons .

6. What is Backwashing and do you recommend it?
Backwashing is the process of forcing water through a filter in the wrong direction to unclog the dirt and sediment which has blocked the filter. Backwashing is a common practice for certain whole house and commercial units which are treating large volumes of water for utility purposes but it is not a recognized practice for small point-of-use drinking water systems.

7.Do you sell silver-impregnated carbon filters?
No. Most research suggests that silver impregnated carbon filters have a very short-lived effectiveness in preventing bacteria growth in a water filter system. There is greater risk that unhealthy levels of silver ions will be passed into your drinking water than from potential bacteria build-up in your carbon filter if proper maintenance of your system is followed.

Ultraviolet FAQ

1. What is UV?
Ultraviolet (UV) light is at the invisible, violet end of the light spectrum. Even though we can't see UV light, we are exposed to UV rays from all light sources, including the sun.

2. How does ultraviolet light purify water?
UV-C rays penetrate the cells of harmful bacteria and viruses in our drinking water, destroying their ability to reproduce. Without this ability, these organisms die and no longer pose a health threat. It is a simple but very effective process, with the system generally destroying 99.99% of harmful microorganisms.

3. Why not use chlorine instead?
Chlorine changes the tastes and odor of water. Chlorination can also produce harmful by-products called Trihalomethanes (THMs) which are linked to incidence of cancer.

4. Does a UV system use a lot of energy?
No, the UV unit will use about the same amount of energy as a 60 watt light bulb. It is a cost effective, natural way to increase water quality where microbiological contamination is present and to provide peace of mind where microbiological contamination is a greater risk.

5. Why do UV purifiers require sediment pre-filtration?
UV systems require pre-filtration to maintain effectiveness as sediment and other contaminants in the water can create a "shadow" which prevents the UV rays from reaching and disinfecting the harmful microorganisms.

6. How often does the UV light bulb (lamp) need to be replaced?
It is essential that you change your UV lamp annually. The ability of the lamp to emit UV light decreases over time. Remember - UV light is invisible! Even though the lamp is still glowing after one year, there might not be enough UV light reaching your water to be effective.

7. How often do your need to replace the sleeve?
The sleeve doesn't need to be replaced unless it is broken, but it will need to be kept clean in order to keep the bulb effective in delivering a high UV dose.


Reverse Osmosis FAQ

1. What is Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse osmosis, also known as hyperfiltration, is the finest means of filtration available today. It is the most common treatment technology used by premium bottled water companies. Reverse osmosis refers to the process of forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane under pressure.

2. How does Reverse Osmosis work?
Reverse osmosis uses a membrane that is semi-permeable, allowing pure water to pass through it, while rejecting the contaminants that are too large to pass through the tiny pores in the membrane.

3. Can Reverse Osmosis be used on well water or water from other untreated sources (lake or river)?
Yes, RO is generally an excellent choice for homeowners with well water. However, it is important to note that reverse osmosis does not provide foolproof protection against all microorganisms. You should have your water tested for bacteria and virus contamination before relying solely on reverse osmosis. If microbiological contamination is present or suspected, you should combine reverse osmosis with an ultraviolet system for maximum effectiveness and protection against bacteria and viruses. A water softener or whole-house iron filter may also be advisable (depending one the level of relevant contaminants in your well water) to prevent membrane fouling thereby ensuring maximum membrane life and effectiveness.

4. How often does the reverse osmosis membrane need to be replaced?
With proper maintenance of your sediment and activated carbon pre-filters, your reverse osmosis membrane should be replaced yearly due to sanitary reasons .

5. Why are reverse osmosis systems always combined with carbon and sediment pre-filters?
The only major category of contaminants that reverse osmosis is not highly effective in removing (organic compounds) is specifically targeted by activated carbon filters. Pre-filters also prevent the reverse osmosis membrane from being fouled or clogged by sediment, chlorine, and other contaminants, thereby enhancing its effectiveness and lifespan.

6. Are all reverse osmosis systems equally effective?
Absolutely not. Like all water filters, the effectiveness of a reverse osmosis system depends greatly on the quality of its components - especially its pre-filter cartridges (quantity and quality) and the membrane itself. Lower quality pre-filters will suffer from premature membrane fouling, as well as reduced performance, purified water output, and membrane life.

7. I notice that a reverse osmosis system will remove just about everything from my water, including some nutrients that are good for the body. Should I take a supplement to counteract the nutrients that I will no longer get through my water.
No, this is not necessary. You should already be getting all of the nutrients such as essential salts, vitamins, and other trace minerals from the food you eat and the other beverages you drink.

8. What is "crossflow"?
Our high quality reverse osmosis systems use a process known as crossflow to allow the membrane to continually clean itself. As some of the fluid passes through the membrane the rest continues downstream, sweeping the rejected contaminants away from the membrane and down the drain. This prevents contaminants from backing up against the membrane and clogging it.

9. How much purified water can a home RO system produce?
Our RO systems come standard with a 35/50 gallons of purified water per day rated membrane . The actual amount of water produced in your home will depend on your household water pressure and water temperature.A more accurate figure commonly used by us is about 1 gallon of purified water per hour.  Because reverse osmosis water purification occurs slowly (it is a very fine filter!), a storage tank is used to hold about a gallons of purified water at all times so pure water is always at your fingertips. Extra storage tanks can be added to increase water volume


Water & Air Works
3110 NE Minnehaha St., Unit B
Vancouver, WA 98663
Phone: 360.696.9287  Fax: 360.695.1226
ask for Aron