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6 Best Whole House Water Filter Cartridge for Your Filtration Systems

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

best whole house water filter cartridge

Families and households deserve the best whole house water filter cartridge for their existing filtration systems. These replacement cartridges must be the exact fit and match the original’s water filtration performance, if not exceed it. After all, if we must spend money on something, we might as well choose the best.

Sadly, picking the most appropriate whole-house water filter cartridge can be daunting, especially for first-time buyers. If you are feeling the jitters now, steady that thought as we give you three vital considerations to help narrow down your choices.

  • Filter Type: Whole-house water filter cartridges are available in various types. Most only remove sediments and other large particles, while others include a mechanism for reducing unpleasant odors and tastes. Some high-end products may filter out other impurities, such as lead. In any case, you may want to test what contaminants are present in your water. This will help you determine what compounds you want to filter out and, from there, find a suitable cartridge.
  • Filtration Capacity: How many gallons of water you want to filter before replacing the cartridge is a personal choice. However, most experts agree that a higher-capacity filter is more cost-effective because it can handle more water. This translates to less frequent filter cartridge replacements and better savings.
  • Certification: A certification validating the claims of a water filter cartridge brand is vital. However, the assurance must not come from just any other organization.

To be clear: the top-tier water filter cartridges always test their performance against NSF/ANSI, WQA, and IAPMO standards. Some brands might use other quality control organizations. Regardless of the certifying institution, the contaminant removal claim must be verifiable.

Of course, these are not the only factors you must consider when choosing a whole-house water filter cartridge. We will explain other considerations in our buying guide and identify them briefly in the following whole-house water filter cartridge reviews.

Table of Contents

Top 6 Whole-House Water Filter Cartridges

1. PUREPLUS PP10BB-CC Water Filter Cartridge

The PurePlus PP10BB-CC is a dependable whole-house water filter cartridge for households that need effective chlorine and sediment removal. One reason I like this PurePlus water filter cartridge is that it has a 95% filtration efficiency and can filter any particle larger than 5 microns for odorless drinking water.

However, this cartridge can filter up to 99% of chlorine – this claim has been tested and validated by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAMPO). This filter also has certification from reputable organizations like RoHS, Australia Water Mark, TUV, REACH, and the European Union.

The institutions above also ascertain the water filter cartridge’s safety and that it’s made from food-safe material. Families will feel more confident knowing no BPA and other harmful substances are leaching into their water.

This product accommodates 30,000 gallons of water before requiring a replacement. It is a significant advantage over the Membrane Solutions WPP-F10-5’s 20,000-gallon capacity and the Culligan SCWH-5’s 15,000-gallon rating. So it came as no surprise many families would choose this cartridge for its impressive capacity.

In addition, this water filter cartridge has a universal design and is compatible with leading water filtration systems. The brands this water filter cartridge can work with include Culligan, DuPont, GE, Pentair, and American Plumber.

I must reiterate that this 10 inch whole house water filter cartridge has 5-micron filter pores. This means it might clog at a faster rate, especially when compared with larger ones, such as a 20-micron GE water filter cartridge.
Pros
  • 5-micron carbon and sediment filtration with 95% efficiency
  • Impressive 30,000-gallon capacity
  • Made from food-grade and non-toxic materials
  • Compatible with different water filter models
  • IAPMO and other certifications
Cons
  • May clog easily
Despite this concern, I give this replacement water filter cartridge a thumbs up. Its capacity is impressive, and the certifications attest to its performance and safety.

2. Membrane Solutions WPP—F10-5 5 Water Filter Cartridge

Here is a replacement water filter cartridge that can take the fight to the PurePlus PP10BB-CC. The Membrane Solutions WPP-F10-5 might have a similar 5-micron size as the PP10BB-CC. However, its contaminant removal capability is more impressive. Let me explain.

This water filter cartridge has a 99% sediment removal rating, 4% higher than the PP10BB-CC. With such efficiency, this product will ensure rust particles, undissolved particles, dirt, silt, and sand will never fill a glass. Unsurprisingly, the brand markets the cartridge as the most suitable solution for households that source water from the well.

A unique filter design is responsible for the cartridge’s efficiency. Instead of pleated polypropylene, it has a high-performance string wound around the filter to create a deep honeycomb-like structure. This feature traps four times more sediments than conventional PP filters.

Being able to screen 20,000 gallons of water, the cartridge can last around 3 to 6 months. This is quite a bargain, especially considering that it’s nearly $10 cheaper than the PP10BB-CC.

Installation should not be a problem because this cartridge has a universal design. It works best as a pre-filter for reverse osmosis systems, allowing households to purify their water hassle-free.

However, note that this water filter cartridge only has an NSF/ANSI 42 certification for materials, meaning it can only reduce aesthetic impurities. In other words, this 10” x 2.5 water filter cartridge only removes sediments, not chlorine and CTO.
Pros
  • Unique string-wound sediment filter design
  • 20,000-gallon capacity
  • 99% sediment and water contaminant removal performance
  • More affordable than most other cartridge brands
  • Effortless installation
Cons
  • Not for chlorine and CTO removal
This water filter cartridge might only remove sediments, but its performance is beyond belief. I will ditch the PurePlus PP10BB-CC for this product if I do not need chlorine removal. Still, it is a commendable water filter.

3. PUREPLUS CTO10 Carbon Water Filter

Another top-rated whole house water filter from PurePlus is the CTO10. Although it shares a nearly identical design with the PP10BB-CC, this water filter cartridge edges its more expensive sibling in CTO reduction.

This water filter cartridge features a more advanced and higher-performance sintering carbon block technology. As a result, the system guarantees greater water contaminant-absorption capabilities. I was skeptical about this at first, but the cartridge’s SF/ANSI 42-based IAPMO certification has given me peace of mind.

As such, it came as no surprise to me that this water filter cartridge can eliminate more than 99% of unwanted chemicals. I was also happy to learn that it can reduce parasitic cysts (i.e., Giardia), undissolved particles, sulfur, and other impurities.

Aside from the SF/ANSI 42, this water filter cartridge has other certifications to prove its safety. It has the nod of REACH, RoHS, TUV, and WQA. At least, I will never worry about harmful substances leaching into our drinking water.

The material quality is also impressive. The company subjects each water filter cartridge to various tests to ensure their product’s durability. Despite such impressive performance and vigorous testing, this cartridge is cheaper than the PP10BB-CC.

Although its 1-micron pore size is impressive, I do not recommend this filter cartridge for households with unusually high levels of sediments in their water supply. This is because sediment-rich water can drastically shorten the cartridge’s three- to six-month lifespan.
Pros
  • More than 99% chlorine and CTO reduction
  • Advanced sintering carbon block technology
  • Receives REACH, RoHS, TUV, and WQA certifications
  • 1-micron filter size
  • Food-safe and robust materials
  • Affordable price
Cons
  • Unsuitable for water with high sediment levels
Overall, I recommend this replacement water filter cartridge to families who want better-tasting and sediment-free water. It works as intended without hurting the budget.

4. Aquaboon AB-1SGR5 Water Filter Cartridge

Households that want the top-tier bang for the buck should consider the Aquaboon AB-1SGR5, considering it costs nearly $10 less than similar-sized products.

Despite the lower price, this cartridge still features several technological innovations. For example, it has a uniquely designed polypropylene filter with 5 zones and 4 layers of filtration. This system allows the water filter cartridge to capture more particulates like rust, silt, dirt, and sand from the water.

Like the PP10BB-CC, this sediment water filter can accommodate 30,000 gallons of water. However, the company is modest enough to admit that “dirtier” water can reduce the filter’s effectiveness to 20,000 gallons. This admission impresses me deeply because not many brands would admit to their shortcomings.

I also commend the company for making a safe water filter. Although this product does not have RoHS and REACH certifications, its marketing information suggests the water filter cartridge is one of the safest. It does not contain BPA, lead, binders, antistatic agents, solvents, and other harmful chemicals.

This water filter cartridge’s system compatibility is as impressive as the PurePlus PP10BB-CC. It can fit select whole-house water filter models by 3M, Aqua-Pure, Bunn, American Plumber, DuPont, Hydronix, PureMark, Whirlpool, Pentair, and more. This cartridge can be an excellent pre-filter for 10-inch reverse osmosis systems.

Although these whole house well water filter cartridges offer great value, they are only sediment filters. In other words, this product’s NSF/ANSI certification only relates to its structural integrity and material safety. Hence, families with high chlorine and CTO levels cannot expect this water filter to address the problem.
Pros
  • Four-layered, five-zone sediment filtration
  • 20,000-30,000-gallon capacity
  • Has RoHS and REACH certifications
  • Non-toxic materials
  • Multiple water filter compatibility: 3M, Aqua-Pure, Bunn, etc.
Cons
  • No chlorine-removal capabilities
The lack of chlorine-removal capabilities might be a deal-breaker for some. However, this water filter cartridge is an excellent choice for families who only need to rid their water of sediments. It is an exceptional buy.

5. Culligan SCWH-5 Water Filter Cartridges

I like Culligan because they have been in the business since 1936. With almost nine decades of unparalleled commitment to product excellence, there should be nothing wrong with its SCWH-5 home water filter cartridge.

With a 5-micron rating, this water filter is ideal for screening treated municipal and well water. Although its NSF/ANSI 42 labeling suggests that it can only remove sediments to improve bad odors and taste, real-life experience has shown that it can reduce the strong smell of chlorine as well.

Fifteen thousand gallons might seem inadequate, especially when buyers compare this to PP10BB-CC and AB-1SGR5’s 30,000-gallon capacity. At least, this filter cartridge marginally outclasses the CTO10 and WFPFC9001’s 13,000-gallon rating. Families can still expect this filter to last three or even six months since they will get a two-pack.

First-time water filter owners will have no issues replacing their filter cartridges with this product because installation is a cinch. It also does not hamper water flow, delivering four gallons of sediment-free and near-zero-CTO water every minute.

Although this water filter cartridge is not as expensive as the PurePlus PP-10BB-CC, it still costs higher than the rest on this list. But then again, it is a Culligan. And that is the second issue I have with this product. It is only compatible with Culligan whole-house water filtration systems, not other brands.
Pros
  • 15,000-gallon capacity
  • Four gallons per minute flow rate
  • Easy to install with no issue replacing cartridges
  • Can reduce CTO and other bad odors, including chlorine
  • NSF/ANSI and WQA certifications
Cons
  • A bit pricey
  • Culligan-specific filter cartridge
In short, this is a product from a renowned brand. That is more than a valid reason for getting this water filter cartridge unless you want PurePlus PP10BB-CC’s chlorine-removal capabilities.

6. ICEPURE WFPFC9001 1 Water Filter Cartridge

I think of the ICEPURE WFPFC9001 as PurePlus PP10BB-CC’s more compact sibling. Reviewing the product literature gives me an uncanny feeling about their similarities, except this water filter cartridge has a 2.5-inch diameter while the PP10BB-CC has 4.5.

Like the PP10BB-CC, I like this whole house carbon water filter cartridge. It has the same 99% chlorine and CTO removal capabilities, with an NSF 42 certification to prove its claims.

This product’s high-quality coconut shell carbon will give families pleasant-tasting water without any traces of chlorine. Even more impressive, thanks to its 5-micron pores, it can remove rust, limescale, dirt, silt, and other particles. Homeowners will certainly be happy to see crystal-clear water in their glasses and pitchers.

I appreciate this water filter cartridge’s universal design, making it compatible with various water filtration systems. Owners of select DuPont, Whirlpool, GE, Culligan, Flotec, and Pentek whole-house water filters can swap their existing cartridges for this one.

Like the PP10-BB-CC, this water filter cartridge also has REACH, AWQ, EC1935-2004, TUV, and ROHS certifications to validate its safety.

Sadly, I find its 13,000-gallon capacity unappealing. Although the company says this water filter will last six months, I doubt it lasts that long if a house has “dirty” water. A 20-micron sediment filter is a better choice in such instances.
Pros
  • Removes 99% chlorine and CTO
  • High-quality all-natural coconut shell-activated carbon
  • Compatible with many whole-house water filters
  • Has an attractive price
  • NSF and RoHS certification
Cons
  • Only 13,000-gallon capacity
Still, this water filter cartridge’s attractive price makes it an excellent choice for families on a tight budget. Its chlorine and CTO removal capabilities also complement its sediment screening performance. That is a combination worth having in any whole-house water filtration system.

What to Look for When Buying Whole House Water Filter Cartridge?

home-water-filter-cartridges

Buying the right whole house water filter cartridge to replace your old unit should not be challenging or confusing. You do not have to fret about selecting the best from many choices. All you need is to focus on the following attributes.

  • Filter Type

Whole-house water filters come in various types with varying water treatment functions. Hence, you must choose a replacement cartridge specific to your water filtration system. The most common types of whole house water filters include the following.

  • Sediment Filter – Easy to install and relatively affordable, sediment filters are perfect for removing large particles, dust, sand, and turbidity.
  • Carbon Filter – These filters are ideal for improving the water’s aesthetic qualities and reducing chloramine and chlorine. However, they do not eliminate heavy metals. Catalytic carbon filtration is a newer technology that offers more efficient chlorine and chloramine removal.
  • Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filter – One of the most effective water treatment systems, RO filters can remove almost all water impurities, including microorganisms, total dissolved solids, organics, and hazardous chemicals.
  • Kinetic Degradation Fluxion (KDF) Filter – By leveraging redox reactions, KDF filters are almost similar to carbon filters. However, these filters are best suited for iron and hydrogen sulfide removal.
  • UV Filters – UV water treatment systems are perfect for killing microorganisms and purifying water. That said, as they don’t actually remove contaminants from the water, these systems are technically not filters.

Other whole-house water treatment filter types include nano filters, ultrafilters, ion exchange filters, calcite filters, and activated alumina filters.

It is worth mentioning that some water filter cartridges feature a combination of different filtration technologies. For instance, the Crystal Quest water filter has ion exchange, catalytic carbon, and granular activated carbon filtration technologies in a compact unit.

  • Filtration Capacity

Some whole house water filters can only accommodate 30,000 gallons, while others can handle more. A water filter cartridge’s capacity is crucial because it defines how long it will last in your system before requiring a replacement.

Although filter cartridges are more affordable than comprehensive water treatment systems, frequent replacements can drive up operating costs.

For instance, a $20 filter that lasts only two months translates to $120 annually. Meanwhile, a 60,000-gallon $50 unit that lasts nine months will only cost a family $67 each year.

Given how a water filter cartridge with a higher capacity tends to be more cost-effective, especially in the long run, we suggest finding products that can screen as much water as possible.

  • Certification

Buyers of any water filters should choose only products with a National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) or American National Standards Institute (ANSI) certification. Other reputable organizations are okay as well. These include the Water Quality Association (WQA) and the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO).

Consumer Reports always verify water contaminant-removal claims of various products to determine their truthfulness to consumers. You can also do that by searching for the product on NSF’s official website.

Validating the NSF certification claim is vital to guarantee the water filter cartridge you buy removes the contaminants it claims it can eliminate.

For example, a whole house water filter and softener combo should have an NSF/ANSI 44 (water softeners) and NSF/ANSI 42 (CTO) or NSF/ANSI 53 (carbon filters) certification. You can validate the product’s claims on the NSF website.

  • Contaminants Removed

Water filters vary in what impurities they can remove. Their filtration performance depends on the filter’s micron size and related water treatment technologies.

For example, a 20-micron sediment filter is enough for families who only want to remove large debris, dirt, silt, and other particles from their water. In comparison, a 5-micron water filter should be able to screen out smaller contaminants, such as iron particles.

Meanwhile, households who want to eliminate chlorine taste and odor from their drinking water should consider a whole-house water filter cartridge with carbon block technology.

  • Cartridge Size

The ideal replacement filter should fit in your existing whole-house water filter housing. Most filter cartridges are available in 10- or 20-inch lengths and 2.5- or 4.5-inch diameters.

You might want to check your old cartridge to determine its dimensions and choose a compatible replacement.

  • Water Filter Compatibility

You might think a 10”x4.5” replacement cartridge will fit into any water filter housing with similar dimensions. Sadly, it is not always the case. Although replacement cartridges have a universal design, they might be incompatible with some filter systems.

For example, the PurePlus CTO10 and Aquaboon are 10”x2.5” water filter cartridge units. However, the former can only work on Dupont’s WFPFC8002, WFPFC9001, and SCWH-5 models. Meanwhile, Aquaboon can only fit Dupont’s PFC5002 and WFPFC5002 water filters.

FAQs

whole-house-carbon-water-filter-cartridges

How often should you replace the whole house filter?

The average replacement frequency of whole house water filters is once every two to six months. However, we must understand that whole-house water filtration systems have diverse components, varying micron sizes, and different quality – all of which can ultimately impact their lifespan.

For example, a sediment filter for well water might require a replacement every two months. These filters screen dust, debris, silt, and other particles larger than the filter membrane’s pores. Meanwhile, a carbon filter with smaller micron sizes might need a replacement after three to six months, depending on the brand.

Some products might offer a longer filtration lifespan. For instance, the Membrane Solutions WPP-F10-5 can last six to twelve months, requiring a replacement only after a year. Meanwhile, a Crystal Quest water filter cartridge might last up to 18 months before needing a replacement.

Water quality and consumption also account for the variance in water filter replacement frequencies. The “dirtier” your water (i.e., increased silt, dirt, debris, particulates, and organics), the faster the filter pores will clog. Increased water consumption also hastens filtration clogging, leading to more frequent replacements.

Signs to know when to change whole home filter cartridges?

Even a high quality water filter cartridge has a finite lifespan. Although manufacturers put “replacement” labels on their products to help users know when to change the cartridge, their lifespan can be shorter or longer than advertised.

An unpleasant water taste is one of the earliest indications you must replace the whole house water filter cartridge. You might also notice a “weird” odor from the water. If you dismiss these symptoms, you will soon observe lower water pressure in faucets around the house. Some homeowners might also see mold or dirt in their water.

Some water filtration systems have a “filter change” indicator that lights up when it is time for new water filter replacement cartridges. However, note that not all water filters have this feature.

Which is better: 5 microns or 20 microns?

A 5-micron water filter is better than a 20-micron screen. Any particle with a diameter wider than the filter pore cannot pass through. Hence, a 5-micron water filter will screen all substances larger than 5 microns, including those filtered by a 20-micron unit.

A 20-micron filter is most effective in screening larger particles, including silt, sand, debris, dust, and dirt. Meanwhile, a 5-micron unit can remove some cysts, bacteria, and mold, in addition to other particles with a diameter greater than 5 microns.

However, families who only want to remove sediments might consider a 20-micron unit better than a 5-micron filter. One downside of a finer filter pore is that it’s more prone to clogging, which can reduce water pressure and flow rate.

Are all whole house water filters the same?

No, not all whole house water filters are the same. Whole-house water filters have different types.

For example, a sediment filter only traps large particles, while an activated carbon filter improves water taste and odor. Meanwhile, catalytic activated carbon is perfect for reducing chloramines. Other types include reverse osmosis, kinetic degradation fluxion, ultrafiltration, nano-filtration, ion exchange filtration, acid neutralizers, and UV filters.

Most whole-house filtration systems feature a combination of different types. For instance, a three-stage system comprises a sediment pre-filter, a second-stage carbon filter, and a carbon post-filter. Some products include RO and UV treatment as well.

How long does the average whole house water filter last?

The average whole-house filter lasts three to twelve months, depending on the filter type, water quality, and consumption. Sediment pre-filters have a shorter lifespan, averaging about three to six months. Meanwhile, carbon and post-filter units have a 12-month longevity.

Conclusion

Choosing the best whole house water filter cartridge can be confusing at first. However, our buying guide and comprehensive product review of six leading water filter cartridges should guide you in the right direction.

We also hope you found the confidence to search for the top-rated product for your existing whole-house water filter. You can always pick from our list or make a comparison to identify the best for your home.

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