Part Two: Tips for choosing a water filtration system installation company

Welcome to Part Two of our article about choosing a company to install a water filtration system in your home! If you missed Part One, you can read it here.

Our bodies are made up of 80% water, so it makes sense that you want to drink only the good stuff! Today we’ll finish up our interview with Peter Van Cleave of Water for Life. We’re going to address:

  • The hidden costs of buying a filtration system online
  • Why you want a backwash system on your whole home filtration system
  • How to find the best filter for your money
  • Why testing your water before installing your system isn’t enough

Be wary of buying filtration systems off the internet

“Many of our customers were tempted to buy their filtration system off the Internet,” Peter said. “After all, it usually seems like the cheaper option at the time. [But] there are many hidden costs that the homeowner might not be aware of. We always encourage our clients to think things through before looking at a product online and buying it that way.”

Peter said that a good water treatment professional will want to discover your objectives for having your water filtered:

  • Why is having clean water important to you?
  • What are your major concerns?
  • What is the quality of your water to begin with so you get the proper filtration product?
  • Who will install the unit?
  • Who will maintain the unit?
  • How long will you be living in the home in which you’re having the filter installed?
  • Why is the difference between upfront and total costs important?

Once a water professional has the answers to these questions, he or she will be able to make suggestions and give the homeowner options. Buying a unit online because it was a good deal will most likely mean not getting everything that you need in a filtration system. Peter shares the following tips to help you think things through:

Be wary of miracle claims on the Internet.

Wild claims have been made about what some water filtration systems can do. Unfortunately, many of these claims are not based on real science, nor have they been verified by third-party labs.


On the other hand, all certified water treatment professionals are under a code of ethics from the Water Quality Association that requires them to be honest in their marketing promises. This is another reason to only buy equipment that has the NSF seal of approval.

Remember that ALL filtration units have to be maintained.

Take the time to figure out the cost of maintenance to get the real total expense for the system. Some filters are cheaper upfront, but the replacement cartridges and membranes are more expensive to purchase. Or, the replacement cartridges and membranes may need to be changed more frequently.

Clearly, this will add up over the next five years. So, before you buy that water filter online, calculate the cost for the next three to five years to get an accurate comparison between systems.

Does the system have a backwash system?

What’s a backwash system and why should you want one? Both are excellent questions. A backwash system is an electronic valve cycle that shoots water through your carbon filter, shakes it up, and cleans it. The jet of water removes dirt from the nooks and crannies of your filter, kind of like when you wash your hands with soap and water. This means that your carbon filter will last longer and you won’t have to replace it so often.

Two or three of the top whole-house water filtration systems sold on the Internet don’t have a backwash system. A whole house system that doesn’t have a backwash system might cost less upfront, but you’ll have to replace the filter three times faster than you would with a unit that does. A backwash system can save you up to $300 for every time that you would have to prematurely change the carbon filter.

Who will install the water filtration system?

Will you really save money buying the system yourself and then hiring a plumber to install it for you? The plumber may not know the brand of filter you bought. This means that they might take longer to install it as they try to figure it out. Plus, if they’re inexperienced they might install it backward, as we mentioned earlier. Or they might install it incorrectly and void the warranty. Also, they will generally charge more per hour.

Here’s a scenario. You have a plumber hook up your filtration system. He tells you it doesn’t work, so you call the manufacturer. The manufacturer says the plumber did not install it correctly, so they aren’t going to honor the warranty. Now, where does that leave you? Stuck, frustrated, and with dirty water, most likely. How does Peter know this? He’s gotten calls to straighten similar situations out. And yes, he has repaired units that were installed backward.

Remember, you need to invest in a unit based on your total cost, which includes:

A smart consumer wants the best buy, not the cheapest price.

The BEST water filter?

We asked Peter which filter he thinks is the best. His answer supported everything he taught us in this article. He said, “For my money, the best filtration system out there is the Kinetico K5 Reverse Osmosis system.”

We asked him why, and he said, “Yes this is the most expensive water filtration system upfront, running about $1,545. However, you save money [because there’s] little to no maintenance required. For example, the filter is equipped with a patented membrane technology called Everclean Rinse, which makes it last much longer than usual. The Reverse Osmosis membrane on this machine comes with a 10-year parts and labor warranty. That means you won’t have to replace it for 10 years! On the other hand, [the filters of some competitors] must be replaced every year or two at $200 a pop. Do the math and you can easily see that after 10 years you could have paid between $1,000 or $2,000 for membranes depending how often you are required to change them.”

But that’s not all.

“The Kinetico sediment cartridges last for 1500 gallons while the competition may only last for 500 gallons,” Peter said. “The same goes with the carbon filters. They last for one year while the competition’s [filters] have to be replaced after only six months. That means they last twice as long. This can really get expensive, buying two times as many filters over 10 years!”

We asked Peter if someone should spend money on their filtration system if they’re moving in less than ten years. “That’s the best part,” he said. “You can have your water treatment professional move this to your new home. All you have to do is state it in the real estate contract when selling your home.”

The lesson? The real price you pay for a filtration system includes installation, filter replacement, and maintenance. Take the time to find out your true costs.

A few words of wisdom on water testing

“Sure, someone may test your water in order to sell you a system. But if you think about it that isn’t really enough, is it? Make sure that your installer tests your water AFTER the filtration system is installed. After all, you do want to make sure that it is doing what they promised,” Peter said. “We also recommend having it tested annually too. Our self-serve customers can drop a water sample off to us for testing at any time. We also check it ourselves when we make our pro annual visits to install filter replacements. This means you can feel confident that your water is safe to drink year-round and for years to come.”

We hope you’ve found this article helpful! We want to thank Peter with Water For Life again for sharing his insight with us. If you have any questions for Peter, you can reach out to him on his website here. Don’t forget that it’s important to make sure the company you select is insured because even a small water leak from a hose or pipe connection can cause you thousands of dollars in water damage repairs. The suggestions here will save you a lot of heartache later on. We wish you much success in choosing the right water filtration company in Atlanta to work with.

Let us know if you want to talk insurance! As you can imagine, it’s one of our favorite topics! We can get you a free quote and get you the coverage you need.

Part One: Tips for choosing a water filtration system installation company

If you’re tired of bad-tasting water and are ready to install an under-the-counter filter or a whole house water filtration system, this article should catch your interest. We asked Peter Van Cleave of Water for Life to share some valuable tips to help you be a savvy consumer when you’re choosing a company to install your filtration system.

Pete started as a water treatment professional back in 1989. Today his company is a 28-year-old independent, family-owned drinking water business. We asked Pete what he meant by independent. “A water filtration franchise can only offer you one brand of filtration system,” Pete explained. “On the other hand, because we’re independent, we represent over 40 different manufacturer’s lines to choose from. Greater choice and no franchise fees mean the customer wins.”

What are some things a homeowner should know before choosing an Atlanta water filtration contractor?

Are they a plumber or a certified water treatment professional?

Many people are surprised to learn that there’s a certification required to become a water treatment professional. “This training is conducted by the Water Quality Association,” Peter said. “This course of study requires passing a 300-question test. There are six levels of certification that are available to achieve. It includes learning about water chemistry as well as the technology behind the many kinds of water filtration options. They are also trained on the plumbing codes as well as how to properly make the connections. Finally, they get trained on various types of water treatment equipment. They receive a certification to install the various products as well.”

This means that your water treatment professional will provide you with the best options based on what’s important to you.

“On the other hand, many plumbers will install a water filter unit for you,” Peter continued, “but if you ask them to recommend one, they’ll go to their plumbing supply house and see what’s in stock right now… And that’s what you get to choose from. If you ask them to install the filter that you supply, they may not know how to operate it properly and might even install it backward. I know this because we have had to re-install many water filtration units that were installed incorrectly.” Peter tells us that installing a whole house filter system backward is easy to do. Why should this matter to you? It will not operate properly and may plug up your water lines.

So, make sure that the installer is a certified water treatment professional.

Has the product they sell been certified by the NSF or the Water Quality Association?

Let’s explain what this means. Both NSF International and the Water Quality Association are third party testing labs that check water filtration units for performance. Peter said, “The water filter systems that receive the NSF stamp and the Water Quality Association Gold Seal have been rigorously tested to work in your home for a minimum of 10 years.”

Not all water filters have received these third-party seals of approval. That’s why Peter suggested only using water treatment systems that are from time-tested companies in the industry.

Beware of this advertising pitfall

“Sometimes only one component of the entire system may have an NSF seal. Yet the manufacturer will advertise the entire unit as NSF approved—some Reverse Osmosis Membranes may carry the NSF Seal, [but] the storage tanks may not,” Peter warned. We asked Peter what you can do to protect yourself. He answered, “You must physically look for and read the NSF seal on the product itself and not just in the literature for one of the interior components.”

Why some water filtration systems do not have the NSF seal

There are three reasons for this:

  • It’s costly.
  • It takes a long time to go through testing.
  • Some new companies can’t wait that long.

This is another reason why Peter suggests using time-tested systems that have gone through the submittal process. It means your system will take care of your family for a long time to come.

We asked if Peter ever suggests water filter units that do not have the seal “In rare cases we do,” Peter said. “There is some water technology that is too new to be tested for 10 years. For example, there’s only one ultraviolet light water filter that has the NSF seal. It’s really expensive, and very few people can afford it. So, what we did is go to reputable companies that have excellent reviews by our peers and the consumer users. We may suggest these as an option if their heart is set on ultraviolet light filters.”

Does the company have third-party endorsements?

Peter said, “Just as we suggest third-party endorsed filtration equipment, we also suggest looking for installation companies with third party endorsements too. An example of this would be places like Angie’s List or Home Advisor.” Peter’s company, for example, is a Home Advisor Pro Elite company and has been rated best in the category to work with.

Does the installation company have valid insurance policies?

Peter said installers that come in your home should be covered with a minimum of $1,000,000 of general liability insurance.

Are they a full-time professional?

Do you want a professional water technician or a weekend multi-level marketing salesperson giving you advice on how to clean your water? There are many multi-level marketing associations that sell water filters. Peter said that you should be concerned if someone is a commissioned salesperson, especially if they only sell one brand. These water filters may be good enough for getting chlorine out of your water, but not much more than that. Plus, a commission is stacked onto these filters, making them more expensive than a similar, non-MLM brand filter.

The lesson? Make sure you’re working with a certified water treatment professional that will test your water so that they can customize a solution based on your home’s water issues.

In Part 2 of this series on residential water filtration systems in Atlanta, we will address the question of whether or not you should buy your filtration system on the internet to save money. There are a lot of good deals out there, and honestly, it might be tempting at first. In Part 2, Peter of Water for Life will share about:

  • The hidden costs of buying an online water filtration unit
  • Why you want a backwash system on your whole house filter
  • How to find the best water filter for your money
  • Why testing your water before installing your system isn’t enough

To read Part 2 of this article, click here!

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