7 Best Whole House Water Filter Cartridges: Reviews 2023 + Guide

Author: Jason Hollow - Published: 2022/01/21 - Updated: 2023/01/05

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Want purified water throughout your entire house? A whole house water filter cartridge is what you need.

Filtering at the point of entry, you’ll have clean water at every outlet like bathroom taps, the kitchen faucet, and your showers. Your home appliances will be protected from water contaminants, too. And so will be your plumbing system.

Besides, contaminant-free water for drinking and cooking will benefit the health of your family, and it tastes much better. What are you waiting for?

There are many different types of whole house filter cartridges available – every home owner can find one perfectly suited for his or her water conditions.

So, here is our collection of the 7 best whole house water filter cartridges. Enjoy!


Best Whole House Water Filter Cartridges – Top Picks

ProductsSpecs & FeaturesWhere to Buy
Best Overall
Crystal Quest SMART Filter Cartridge Crystal Quest SMART Filter Cartridge

Crystal Quest SMART Plus

  • Price: $$
  • Filter Type: Combination of Filter Media
  • Filtration Capacity: 80,000-160,000
  • Flow Rate: 3-6 Gallons Per Minute (1-2 Bathrooms)
  • Best For: All-in-One Solution, Removes All Types of Contaminants

Or read our review

#1 for Better-Tasting Water
Crystal Quest GAC Filter Cartridge Crystal Quest GAC Filter Cartridge

Crystal Quest GAC

  • Price: $
  • Filter Type: Granular Activated Carbon
  • Filtration Capacity: 12-18 Months
  • Flow Rate: 3-6 Gallons Per Minute (1-2 Bathrooms)
  • Best For: Removing Chemicals, Improving Water Taste & Odor

Or read our review

#1 for Sediments
Home Master Multi Gradient Density Sediment Filter Home Master Multi Gradient Density Sediment Filter

Home Master Multi Gradient Density


  • Price: $
  • Filter Type: Sediment Filter
  • Filtration Capacity: Varies
  • Flow Rate: Varies
  • Best For: Removing Small and Large Sediment

Or read our review

Best Whole House Water Filter Cartridge Reviews

The order of the following whole house water filter cartridge reviews is deliberate. Our favorite products are at the top.

1. Best for Comprehensive Filtration: Crystal Quest SMART Plus Filter Cartridge

In our opinion, the Crystal Quest SMART Plus is the best whole house water filter cartridge in 2023. It has multiple layers of filter media that offer efficient removal of different water contaminant types.

Simply put, it thoroughly eliminates all kinds of impurities and pollutants from your water, including lead and other heavy metals, sediment, organic and inorganic substances, and chemicals like chlorine and pesticides.

Besides, the tourmaline and ceramic balls improve your water’s pH keeping it more alkaline.

To sum up, it’s an all-inclusive package in a single filter cartridge. Five stars!
Crystal Quest SMART Whole House Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $$
  • Filter media: GAC, catalytic carbon, KDF, ion exchange resin, ceramic balls, tourmaline balls, micron filter pads
  • Filtration capacity and flow rate depend on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 80,000 gallons, 3 gallons per minute flow rate (1 bathroom)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 160,000 gallons, 6 gpm flow (1-2 bathrooms)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $100-250
  • Best for: The Crystal Quest SMART Plus Filter Cartridge is best for broad contaminant removal.


  • The Crystal Quest SMART Plus and other company products are designed and manufactured in the USA.
  • It has 7 different filter media for thorough elimination of contaminants.
  • The catalytic carbon and granular activated carbon remove chemicals and eliminate aesthetic water issues. Disinfection byproducts, chlorine, chloramine, herbicides and pesticides are a few substances that the filter removes at this stage.
  • KDF or Eagle Redox Alloy 6500 and 9500 remove hydrogen sulfide[1], chlorine and heavy metals such as chromium 6, lead, iron and others. The filtration stage also keeps microorganisms from growing in the filter cartridge.
  • Ion exchange resin targets all the harmful ions in your water like cadmium.
  • As stated earlier, the ceramic balls create alkaline water, but they also enhance water aesthetics and trap some heavy metals.
  • The tourmaline balls detoxify and promote water absorption in your body.
  • Multiple layers of micron filter pads block sediments and other large particles.
  • The whole filtration process ensures you get fresh and clean drinking water.
  • Extensive households (with a lot of family members) should use Ultimate or Ultra cartridges to benefit from the higher filter capacities.
  • The whole house water filter cartridges come in standard sizes. In other words, you can fit them into almost all filtration systems.
  • Want to save 5% on replacement filters? Subscribe to new filter cartridges and get them delivered on schedule!
  • Customer feedback is incredible. Users are pretty satisfied with the support the company offers.


  • Expensive, particularly the Ultimate and Ultra versions.
  • A user reported an aftertaste.

2. Best for Better Tasting Water: Crystal Quest Coconut Shell Granular Activated Carbon Whole House Filter Cartridge

Are you dealing with aesthetic water issues, or are chemicals ruining your water quality? This granular activated carbon whole house filter cartridge is all you need.

What sets it apart from its competitors is that it mixes standard activated carbon with catalytic carbon and a little KDF filter media, too. This effectively removes chloramine, pesticides, chlorine, herbicides, MTBEs, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and tons of other chemical compounds from you water. Additionally, a few water-soluble heavy metals and hydrogen sulfide stand no chance either.

Crystal Quest GAC Whole House Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $
  • Filter media: GAC, catalytic carbon, KDF
  • Filtration capacity: 12-18 months
  • Flow rate depends on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 3 gallons per minute flow rate (1 bath)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 6 gpm flow (1-2 baths)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $25-100
  • Best for: The Crystal Quest GAC filter is best for improving water aesthetics.


  • If you want to get rid of bad tasting and awful smelling water, this whole house water filter cartridge will suit your needs. It consists of a blend of catalytic carbon, coconut shell-based granular activated carbon and copper-zinc alloy (ERA 6500).
  • The carbon, in particular, eliminates terrible taste and smell, different types of chemicals and sulfur (rotten egg smell).
  • Catalytic carbon also traps a few radionuclides and heavy metals.
  • The Eagle Redox Alloy is made up of zinc and copper to remove water-soluble metals and chlorine. It also reduces algae, bacteria and other sorts of microbes.
  • Standard sizing makes this whole house filter cartridge compatible with all kinds of water filtration systems.
  • Replacements aren’t too technical.
    • Want 5% off? Subscribe to the filter replacement program!


  • There’s nothing reported as yet (will update the section accordingly).

3. Best for Chemical Removal: Coconut Based 5-Micron Carbon Block Filter Cartridge

This filter is an outstanding substitute for granular carbon filter cartridges. It absorbs chemicals and solids lurking in your water down to 5 microns in size. The compressed filter media successfully eliminates some microplastics, heavy metals and even waterborne pathogens.

Crystal Quest Coconut Based 5-Micron Carbon Block POE Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $
  • Filter media: Block carbon
  • Filtration capacity: 12-18 months
  • Flow rate depends on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 3 gpm water flow rate (1 bathroom)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 6 gpm (1-2 bathrooms)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $25-50
  • Best for: The Coconut Carbon Block Filter Cartridge is best for chemical removal.


  • The 5-micron carbon block filter cartridges sold by Crystal Quest are made from premium quality acid-washed coconut-based shell carbon.
  • They remove heavy metals, microorganisms, microplastics, sediments, arsenic, asbestos and other impurities from water. Plus, they reduce water disinfectants and their byproducts, pesticides, PFOS and pharmaceuticals[2] giving you much healthier and better-tasting water.
  • These are universally compatible with standard-size water filter systems.
  • The manufacturer guarantees 1-1.5 years filter life depending on your usage and water quality.
    • You can avail 5% discount by subscribing to get filters delivered on schedule.


  • Users report no serious issues except for one broken filter delivered, which was replaced pretty quickly free of cost.

4. Best for Sediments: Home Master Multi Gradient Density 25/10/5/1 Micron Sediment Filter

This filter has triple dirt-holding capacity than other similar filters, which gives us a reason to call it our next favorite.

What’s more, the filter by Home Master has a longer life and low price due to fewer replacements and little to no maintenance.

Home Master Multi Gradient Density Whole House Sediment Filter


See More Product Images at theperfectwater.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $
  • Filter media: Multi gradient density PP
  • Filtration capacity: Varies depending on your water quality and usage
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: Unknown
  • Best for: The Home Master cartridge is ideal for those looking for sediment removal.


  • The water filter traps silt, turbidity, sand, rust and dirt present in your water supply.
  • Four distinctive filter layers complement the dirt-holding capacity and keep the filter from clogging.
    • The first layer (from outside) has a 25-micron rating to catch large particles. The middle 10 and 5-micron layers eliminate silt and dust. The 1-micron inner-most layer removes bacteria and microorganisms like cysts.
  • Multiple micron ratings provide good flow rates with only little drops in water pressure.
  • The whole house filter cartridge comes in standard 20 x 4.5-inch size and is compatible with Big Blue filter housings.
  • Materials are bacterial and chemical resistant.


  • Home Master doesn’t specify the filtration capacity of this filter.

5. Best for Lead: CQE-RC-04151 Lead Filter Cartridge

This whole house water filter cartridge is all you need if you’re dealing with lead in your water. A combination of different filter media – KDF, catalytic granular activated carbon, cation exchange resin – minimize lead levels in your home water.

CQE-RC-04151 Whole House Lead Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $$
  • Filter media: Catalytic granular activated carbon, KDF, cation exchange resin
  • Filtration capacity and flow rate depend on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 80,000 gallons of filtered water, 3 gallons per minute (1 bathroom)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 160,000 gallons, 6 gpm (1-2 bathrooms)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $150-250
  • Best for: The CQE-RC-04151 is ideal for those who want to remove lead from water.


  • The combination of 3 filter media effectively reduces solubles, particularly lead, from your water supply. The filter media also removes a few other heavy metals.
  • The filter further reduces several chemicals and eliminates your water’s foul smell and bad taste.
  • It’s compatible with standard-sized filter housings.
  • Expect around 80,000-160,000 gallons or 12 months of filter life. Nonetheless, it may differ depending on the cartridge type you use, your water quality and usage. The filter cartridge will cost you around $150-250 a year.
  • Avail small discounts by subscribing to a scheduled replacement delivery.


  • The price tag adds to the cost in the long run.

6. Best for Iron: CQE-RC-04077 Iron Filter Cartridge

Iron-laden water can be a pain in the neck! It not only discolors your sink and toilet but levels more than 0.3 ppm give an unpleasant smell and taste to drinking water.

But the CQE-RC-04077 whole house iron filter cartridge offers a solution to these water issues. As the name suggests, it’s particularly designed to target iron in residential water supplies.

CQE-RC-04077 Whole House Iron Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $$$
  • Filter media: Greensand, GAC
  • Filtration capacity and flow rate depend on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 5,000 gallons at 3 ppm iron, 3 gallons per minute (1 bathroom)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 10,000 gallons at 3 ppm iron, 6 gpm (1-2 bathrooms)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: $200-500
  • Best for: The CQE-RC-04077 is best for removing iron from water.


  • No filter cartridge works better to solve your home’s iron water issue. Customers are pretty satisfied with its performance and the fresh drinking water taste it provides.
  • Say goodbye to all those annoying brown and orange stains in toilets, tubs, sinks, and other surfaces around your bathroom or kitchen.
  • The filter cartridge consists of granular activated carbon and greensand. The latter effectively eliminates manganese, hydrogen sulfide and iron from your water.
    • Sulfur reduces to insoluble sulfur precipitate.
    • Manganese and ferrous iron are oxidized in order to precipitate. As a result, they end up getting trapped in the filter bed.
  • The backwashing cycle removes any accumulated iron and other contaminants.
  • Installation is straightforward.
  • Filtration capacity is 5,000 to 10,000 gallons of filtered water at 3 ppm iron concentrations. If iron levels are lower in your water, you’ll get more filter capacity, of course.
    • Note: Generally, iron levels above 0.3 ppm are noticeable in water.


  • Without backwashing, the filter’s oxidation capacity will exhaust quickly.
  • If your water has high iron concentrations, this might not work well. If you still choose to install it, you’d need frequent replacements that’ll add to the costs.

7. Best for Fluoride: CQE-RC-04068 Fluoride Removal Filter Cartridge

The CQE-RC-04068 whole house filter cartridge is ideal for removing fluoride from your water supply.

CQE-RC-04068 Whole House Fluoride Removal Filter Cartridge


See More Product Images at crystalquest.com

Main Specs

  • Price: $$$
  • Filter media: Activated Alumina (AA)
  • Filtration capacity and flow rate depend on which filter cartridge size you choose
    • 4.5 x 10 inches: 2,000 gallons at 1 ppm fluoride, 3 gallons per minute (1 bathroom)
    • 4.5 x 20 inches: 4,000 gallons at 1 ppm fluoride, 6 gpm (1-2 bathrooms)
  • Estimated annual filter replacement cost: Very High
  • Best for: The CQE-RC-04068 filter cartridge is ideal for removing fluoride from water.


  • This filter cartridge features porous aluminum oxide media also known as activated alumina, short AA, and targets fluoride and arsenic in water.
  • A chemical reaction and adsorption are two procedures that eliminate fluoride.
  • The filter cartridge works optimally at a wide pH range.


  • According to Crystal Quest, you can expect to get 2,000 to 4,000 gallons of clean water at a fluoride level of 1 ppm. Meaning, the filter life is greatly affected by fluoride concentrations in your water.
    • Filter cartridges don’t come cheap and don’t last very long in point-of-entry applications.
  • AA targets inorganic fluoride for the most part – the kind added to city water supplies – and won’t work well for organic fluoride that sometimes naturally exists in well water.

Whole House Replacement Filter Cartridge Comparison Chart

How do the best water filter cartridges perform when directly compared to each other?

Product$$$SizeFilter MediaCapacityFlow RateBest ForDetails
Crystal Quest SMART Plus$$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″GAC, Catalytic Carbon, KDF, Ion Exchange Resin, Ceramic Balls, Tourmaline Balls, Micron Filter Pads80,000-160,0003-6 gpmBest Water Filter Cartridge for Broad Contaminant Removal
GAC Filter Cartridge$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″GAC, Catalytic Carbon, KDF12-18 Months3-6 gpmBest For Improving Water Aesthetics
Carbon Block Filter Cartridge$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″Block Carbon12-18 Months3-6 gpmBest For Chemical Removal
Home Master Multi Gradient Density Filter Cartridge$20″x4.5″Multi Gradient Density PPVaries?Best For Sediment Removal
CQE-RC-04151$$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″Catalytic GAC, KDF, Cation Exchange Resin80,000-160,0003-6 gpmBest For Lead
CQE-RC-04077$$$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″Greensand, GAC5,000-10,0003-6 gpmBest For Iron
CQE-RC-04068$$$4.5″x10″, 4.5″x20″Activated Alumina (AA)2,000-4,0003-6 gpmBest For Fluoride

Buyer’s Guide – How to Buy a Whole House Water Filter Cartridge (+ How We Tested)

Cartridge-based whole house water filters have many benefits, IF you choose one that’s up to standards. But what does that even mean? Well, here’s our buyer guide with everything you need to know about how to buy the best whole house water filter cartridge.

Water Conditions

This isn’t specific to whole house filter cartridges in particular; checking your water quality is crucial before shopping for any filtration system.

This gives you a chance to choose the one that removes all or maximum impurities from your home water.

If you’re on city water, you can check this page to access the report about your water quality.

On the flip side, those on private well water can run a test to know about their water quality. You can purchase DIY testing kits or send your water sample to an independent lab.

Though DIY testing kits are easy to use and give immediate results, we recommend you go for the latter method to get precise results.

Type of Water Filter Cartridge

Almost everyone has contaminants in their water, but not everyone has the same.

Thus, you can only choose the right filter cartridge after determining the type of contaminants you’re dealing with.

Not all cartridges available on the market will suit your needs; you need to find “the one” based on the types of contaminants/impurities in your water. We’ll discuss the common types of filter cartridges below.

Chemical Filters

GAC Filters

Granular activated carbon (GAC) is pretty adsorbent being made of a highly porous material.

Besides, the filter media neutralizes several water contaminants through chemical reactions.

This way, GAC filter cartridges not only remove chemicals like pesticides and disinfection byproducts, but they also get rid of bad-tasting and foul-smelling water.

Catalytic Carbon

Typically, activated carbon filters are ideal for removing most chemicals from water. However, they do not eliminate chloramine, a chemical used increasingly to disinfect tap water.

Chloramine is notorious for being more stubborn and is therefore difficult to remove. On top of that, it forms unwanted byproducts in the water, making it problematic for consumption.

However, a catalytic carbon filter cartridge can help remove chloramine with ease.

Iron Filter Cartridges

Some water filters target just a few specific contaminants, and iron filters belong to that category. They target dissolved iron in water using an oxidation process.

Soluble ferrous is converted into rust (solid ferric). Once converted, the filter media catches the ferric, making the water fit for use.

Carbon Blocks

Whole house carbon block filter cartridges are made by squeezing powdered activated carbon into desired size and shape.

Most carbon block filters available on the market have a 0.5 to 10-micron rating. As such, they trap smaller floating contaminants, too. This includes lead particles and also cryptosporidium and giardia. Chemicals are being eliminated as well.

Activated Alumina (AA)

As the name suggests, these filter cartridges are made of activated alumina granules. Typically, they target arsenic and fluoride present in water, but they can also eliminate uranium and thallium.

Ion Exchange Filter Cartridges

Ion exchange filters trap a specific type of water contaminants that other filters might not even touch. For example, they eliminate or decrease inorganic compounds like arsenic, sulfate and other negatively charged ions.

KDF Filters

KDF filters use redox reactions to purify water. The combination of copper and zinc removes lead, chromium, hydrogen sulfide, chlorine and more.

Additionally, KDF filters also control microbes like bacteria, making your water ready for drinking.

Two main types of KDF include:

  • KDF-55
  • KDF-85

Smart homeowners often install whole house KDF filter cartridges along with carbon filters. This helps them target several water contaminants, all in one go.

Sediment Filters

String Wound Sediment Water Filter Cartridge in Housing

Sediment filters do not work to eliminate chemicals, metals or salts from water. However, they’re great to make your water visually clean. Some even remove particles like silt and sand down to 1-micron in size.

Sediment water filters have three sub-categories.

Surface Filters

Surface filters feature a thin sheet that blocks all the dirt. Their pleated arrangement gives them the name “pleated filters” and it offers more surface area and an increased capacity to catch dirt particles.

Additionally, pleated filters are washable and reusable. Simply put, they will save you money thanks to less frequent replacements.

Absorptive Filters

Absorptive filters are manufactured in both depth and pleated arrangements. The tiny particles that typically pass through standard sediment filters get absorbed here.

An absorptive filter utilizes electrokinetic absorption to catch microorganisms.

Depth Filters

Also known as melt-blown or string wound, these filters remove rust, sediment and other particulate contaminant matter lurking in your water.

Depth filter cartridges come in several materials, including glass fiber, ceramic, cellulose, polyester and polypropylene.

Another cool thing about them is that they get tighter as the water passes through. Simply put, they have a graded-density structure. This structure enables them to trap more larger particles and catch smaller ones at the same time.

Besides, a graded-density design reduces clogging and adds to the life and capacity of the filter.

RO Membranes (Reverse Osmosis)

Reverse osmosis membranes remove almost anything from your water. They trap heavy metals, tannins, salts, pesticides and much, much more.

They reject microorganisms and viruses as small as 1,000th of a micron in size.[3]

Ultrafiltration Cartridges

Ultrafiltration cartridges eliminate viruses, parasites, protein, bacteria and other organic matter above 0.01 microns.

A few ultrafiltration cartridges even trap herbicides and pesticides and reduce water hardness and salt levels.

Micron Rating

How good some water filters, sediment filters in particular, work is determined by their micron rating. One micron equals 1,000th of a millimeter.

Generally, a small micron rating means capability to eliminate smaller pollutants from water.

Many whole house filter cartridges only remove coarse sand, rust and other dirt. These filters may have a micron rating of around 50.

Other micron ratings are 25, 10, 5 and 1.

Though smaller micron ratings sound like an ideal option, there is a downside; they lower water pressure and flow rate.

Reverse osmosis systems are rated 0.0001 microns, which explains why they are rare when it comes to whole house water treatment. You would need a booster pump to ensure optimal water pressure.

NSF Certificates

NSF certifications guarantee the functionality and quality of a water filter. But, whole house filter cartridges do not include these except for standard 42[4] in some cases.

NSF standard 42 tests a water filter cartridge for reduction of free chlorine and particulate matter. Besides, the certificate aims to check a filter’s material quality and structure.

Water Pressure and Flow

A whole house water filter cartridge sends filtered water to your kitchen, washing machine, dishwasher, bathroom and other appliances and areas that utilize water.

If you do not want to experience a water pressure drop, the filter’s flow rate must be sufficient.

10 gpm is the standard flow rate here. Anything less than that might not suite a large household.

Maintenance (a.k.a. Filtration Capacity)

Large whole house filter cartridges have a long life span, whereas small cartridges exhaust faster. They need more frequent replacements adding to the costs.

However, cartridge life is also determined by the type of filter media used. For example, a pleated sediment filter might last for more than a year, while a carbon filter might get clogged within several months of installation.

Generally, standard house whole filter cartridges have a capacity of 100,000 gallons or around 12 months. Nonetheless, there are exceptions.

Installation and Sizes

Standard-sized whole house water filter cartridges are compatible with any standard filter housing. These standard sizes are:

  • 4.5 x 10 inches
  • 4.5 x 20 inches

4.5 x 10 and 4.5 x 20 inches are typically used for household applications.

You can also go for proprietary sizes. However, we do not recommend those at all for obvious reasons: First, they are pricey. Second, it’s more difficult to find replacements. Imagine the company closes or the product discontinues; what a nightmare!

Filter Warranty

Not all water filter cartridges come with a warranty, but we highly recommend you go with the one that does.

Product warranty signifies that the manufacturer is confident about the product they’re selling. Besides, it gives an estimate of the filter’s life expectancy.


You might be on a tight budget, which is understandable. However, it doesn’t mean you should opt for a cheap, substandard filter cartridge that’ll break a few days after installation.

Even worse, a cheap quality filter may leak additional impurities into your water.

It’s best to go with a budget-friendly model that neither breaks your bank nor compromises on quality.

The price of a whole house water filtration cartridge typically depends on its size, type and capacity. The key is to shop for one that best suits your conditions.

What is a Whole House Water Filter Cartridge?

best whole house water filter cartridges thumbnail

A whole house filter cartridge filters your water removing one or more type of contaminant. The result? You get cleaner water!

However, note that not everyone deals with the same water problems. Simply put, your neighbors’ water issues could differ a great deal from yours.

Therefore, the whole house filter cartridge you need might not be ideal for others – and the other way around. This speaks volumes about why whole house filter cartridges come in multiple sizes and types.

Many catch solid particles lurking in water while others eliminate chemicals etc.

So, before you spend money to buy one for your home, make sure you do your homework and figure out the problems you’re dealing with when it comes to your water supply.

What is the Purpose of Whole House Water Filter Cartridges and Who Needs Them?

People concerned about contaminants in their water often ask questions about filter cartridges, their effectiveness and benefits – and for obvious reasons.

Fresh, clean water is important for your plumbing system and vital to your health.

Sadly, most US water supplies have tons of contaminants.

Water filter cartridges eliminate these contaminants and ensure maximum protection for your family and your property.

For instance: High concentrations of iron and sediment can damage your home’s plumbing system and any water-using appliances. A quality filter cartridge protects your fixtures, pipes, and appliances from harm.

Besides, a whole house water filter cartridge is a must-have if you want to improve water aesthetics.

The Various Types of Whole House Filter Cartridges and How They Work

Standard-Sized 20-Inch POE Water Filter Cartridges

These are the only for household applications. The two standard sizes include the Big Blue, or 4.5 by 20 inches, and 4.5 by 10 inches.

Activated Carbon Filter Cartridges

Activated carbon filters feature a highly porous material that effectively eliminates chemical contaminants from a water supply. These filters use adsorption and some also chemical reactions to ensure maximum water purity.

What’s being removed? First and foremost chlorine, disinfection byproducts and pesticides. This is mainly for water used for direct consumption – think drinking, cooking and showering.

Besides, carbon filters have high flow rates which is another plus.

Sediment Filters

Sediment filters trap solid particles swimming in water, giving it a clean look.

The filters generally come in three forms:

  1. Absorptive filters
  2. Surface filters
  3. Depth filters

Remember, sediment filters only target suspended particles like silt, rust and sand and do not eliminate dissolved salts, chemicals or heavy metals etc.

Mixed Media Bed Filter Cartridges

As the name suggests, these types of filters combine various kinds of filter media all in one cartridge. The filter media are either structured in layers or mixed.

The Crystal Quest SMART Plus is an excellent example of a mixed media whole house filter cartridge. It consists of seven filter media that remove different types of contaminants found in water.

  • KDF removes sulfur, chlorine, and water-soluble heavy metals like lead.
  • Catalytic carbon and GAC eliminate foul smell and taste by removing different chemicals.
  • Tourmaline and ceramic balls maintain water pH levels and provide fresh drinking water.
  • Ion exchange filter media removes salts, metals and other ionic stuff.

Simply put, whole house filter cartridges combining multiple layers of filter media are pretty effective in removing all sorts of water contaminants. Therefore, if you’re dealing with several types of contaminants, such a filter will cater to your needs.

More Specialized Filters

Specialized filter cartridges will suit you best if you’re dealing with a specific type of pollutant in your water. These filter cartridges offer treatment-specific solutions.

For instance, a few filters utilize ion exchange resin to remove a particular group of contaminants that other filters might not remove, such as chromium.

Similarly, iron filters eliminate iron from water. They use an oxidation process to convert ferrous into rust. The filter media then traps the rust.

Generally, you’ll find a specialized filter cartridge for almost any water issue or contaminant you’re dealing with.

Pros and Cons of Whole House Water Filter Cartridges

Next, we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of whole house water filter cartridges.


Better Smell and Taste

Several water pollutants create an unpleasant taste and/or smell in water. Typically, chlorine and hydrogen sulfide are notorious in this regard.

Many whole house filter cartridges improve water aesthetics.


While smaller portable filtration systems need manual operation, whole house filter cartridges are automated.

What’s more, they are easy to handle and install.

Improved Water Quality

Because you’re on city water doesn’t indicate you have access to 100% pure drinking water. In all honesty, contaminants exist in almost all water supplies.

Your tap water may have several chemicals, bacteria and metals among other things. If you’re on well water, you might have it worse!

These impurities can cause health problems and have a deleterious effect on your life. However, a good filter cartridge removes the contaminants and provides fresh, clean drinking water.


Need Frequent Replacements

Filter cartridges have a shorter life span than tank-based systems. The latter typically lasts 5-10 years or more while the former operates optimally for 3-12 months.

So, you might need to replace your filter cartridges frequently. However, this isn’t much of an issue as the replacement is pretty straightforward. But, on the downside, it causes inconvenience.

Little Expensive

Frequent replacements mean higher costs. So, while the system might not cost a lot on its own, the replacements add up to the price.

Tank-based systems are more affordable compared to filter cartridges because they need less maintenance and replacements only occasionally.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ thumbnail

How many gpm do I need for a whole house filter cartridge?

This depends on the size of your household, meaning the number of bathrooms and occupants in your home. More people using more water at the same time require a higher flow rate. 10 gallons per minute is a good starting point for families.

Which is better 5 micron or 20 micron?

No one is better than the other. A 5-micron filter cartridge is capable of removing smaller-sized contaminants; however, it’s also prone to faster clogging when used on a very dirty water supply. So this depends on the size and amount of sediments you’re dealing with.

How often should you change a water filter cartridge?

This depends on 3 factors: The type of filter, your water conditions and your water usage. Some filter media last longer than others. And an overly dirty water supply exhausts any filter cartridge much faster.

How long does a whole house water filter cartridge last?

Generally, you can expect around 3-12 months of use out of a whole house water filter cartridge. Some sediment filters can last up to 1.5 years.


A whole house water filter cartridge can make a great addition to your home. You just need to install one that’s suited for your water quality. Our first choice is the Crystal Quest SMART Plus. It uses a combination of multiple filter media to target many different types of water contaminants.

If you have any questions about this or other whole house water filtration cartridges please leave a comment below!

Further Reading


Meet Jason Hollow

Jason Hollow Jason is the founder of Water Masterz and head of content creation. After six years in the industry, he has tremendous knowledge and first-hand experience on all things related to water treatment.

His credo: Not a single American should have to drink unhealthy water at home.

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