Buying a water filter that is designed to tackle the contaminants present in your water supply is super important. But it won’t do anything until you’ve actually installed it.
The installation process is similar across the water filter industry, but there are also some pretty significant variations in terms of complexity. Installation can also impact other things, such as maintenance, warranties, and the potential cost of ownership.
Here is what we look at when we analyze the installation process during our water filter test process:
One of the very first things we look at when reviewing and analyzing the installation process is if all the materials needed for installation come with the device. In other words, does the product come to you ready to be installed? Or do you have to make a trip to the hardware store to get additional supplies? And if so, which supplies and how much extra do you have to spend?
If all you need is some plumbers tape, that’s not a huge deal. But if you need to buy piping, connectors, or valves that the manufacturer could have easily supplied, that’s going to lower a product’s ranking on our list.
Whenever possible, if a product does not come with all you need to install it, we make sure to let you know in our reviews so you can be prepared when you do finally make a purchase.
The next step is to determine if users can install this product themselves or if they’ll need a professional.
We simulate the installation process (or sometimes do it on our own when a company sends us its products to test) to see how difficult it would be for someone without a lot of experience in plumbing/water filter installation to complete it.
Everyone has different capabilities, which is why we try to aim for the middle. When we’re in doubt, we will probably recommend a professional because we don’t want anyone hurting themselves or damaging their product as a result of a botched installation.
Overall, requiring a professional isn’t necessarily a deal breaker. In many cases it’s just necessary, or at least highly recommended. However, when this is the case, we try to prepare you and do the best we can to estimate how much it will cost.
If two products are virtually the same but one has a super simple DIY installation process and the other is complex and requires a pro, we’ll probably go with the DIY option. But this is a rare scenario. Often, we’ll recommend multiple options, one that can be installed on your own but that’s maybe missing some features and another that has it all but needs a professional.
Some warranties have installation requirements. Before we recommend a product, we make sure to check if this is the case. For example, more complex systems may require professional installation, without which the warranty is null and void.
It’s also possible that certain configurations are required to keep the warranty in place.
No matter the case, we make sure we fully understand how installation affects the warranty, consider this in our reviews, and also make it abundantly clear to you when we present our findings.
In the event that DIY installation is possible, we strongly favor companies that provide you with resources to help make this a stress-free experience. We first take a look at user manuals and evaluate them for clarity and accuracy. (You’d be surprised how many bad instruction manuals there are).
We also really like it when companies provide additional support, such as YouTube videos that walk you through the installation process or FAQ documents that explain potential issues you may run into while installing your system.
Simply having these materials doesn’t make a product rise to the top of our ranks. They have to be good and actually useful. But when they are, we tend to favor these options because it improves the entire owner experience.
It’s one thing to need a professional to install a water filter, but it’s another to require one to maintain it. To us, good water filters are those you can maintain on your own with minimal effort.
This means easily replaceable cartridges and filter media, online resources to help understand when and how to do maintenance, and minimal tool requirements for routine maintenance.
Reviews You Can Count On
As part of our rigorous product research and testing methodology, we look at every aspect of buying and owning a water filtration system. This includes a thorough evaluation of the installation process to better understand total cost and ongoing maintenance needs. This, plus the rest of our testing process, helps us create reviews you can count on.