Best Whole-House Well Water Filter of 2024

Reviewed by: James Layton
Updated on:
February 14, 2024

To determine the best whole-house well filter, I put 27 water filters through our seven-step testing review process and received critical feedback from our in-house filter expert and EPA consultant, James Layton.

The good news is that the best well water filter for 94% of all wells in the US is our #1 recommended system — the Springwell WS1. The bad news is that if you’re dealing with hard water, microbes, salt, or nitrates, then you’re going to need additional filters (listed below). Total newbies should read our guide first. Here are our recommendations.

The Best Well Water Filter for 94% of Houses: Springwell WS1 (9.45/10)

The Springwell WS1 Whole House Well Water Filter System is the best well water filter because it uses chemical-free dual filtration to remove high levels of sulfur (rotten-egg smell), iron (rust stains), and manganese (discoloration), and it’s backed by a lifetime warranty.

  • Dual filtration removes more sulfur, iron, and manganese than other filters
  • 100% chemical-free
  • Filter media lasts 25+ years with no maintenance
  • Works in homes of all sizes with three models available
  • Industry-leading lifetime warranty
  • Designed and made in the USA
  • Sediment filter not optimal for extremely cloudy water
  • Doesn’t filter hard water, microbes, salt, nitrates, herbicides, or pesticides

PROS

The SpringWell WS1 is the best whole-house filter for well water for five main reasons.

Pro 1 of 5: Effective dual filtration

The first and biggest positive of the WS1 is that it actually does what it says it will: remove the most common contaminants from your water. It can filter up to 8 parts per million (ppm) of sulfur, 7 ppm of iron, and 2 ppm of manganese. It will also remove ferric iron, also known as rust, or solid and visible iron particles that turn your water and fixtures reddish brown. 

The WS1 can filter such high levels of contaminants because of its dual-filtration system. Most well water filters use just one filter process, either air induction oxidation (AIO) or greensand. In AIO, water is sprayed into an air pocket at the top of the filter, turning the dissolved metals into solid particles that are trapped in a filter such as a standard 5-micron filter. Greensand is a unique type of coated mined stone that turns sulfur, iron, and manganese from water-soluble contaminants into solids and traps them within the stone. Each method is quite effective on its own, but the WS1 combines both into a single filter, which allows it to remove even higher levels of sulfur, iron, and manganese than either of these filtration methods on its own.

This means that if your well water currently smells like rotten eggs, leaves red, brown, or black stains on your sinks or toilet, is a weird color, or tastes like metal, it won’t be once you install the WS1.

Pro 2 of 5: 100% chemical-free filtration

The second big pro of the WS1 is that it’s a 100% chemical-free filter system.

Traditional well water filters require nasty chemicals, such as chlorine or potassium permanganate (pot perm) to help the water filtration process. Chlorine is injected into your water to turn the dissolved iron, sulfur, and manganese particles into solids that can be trapped in a 5-micron filter. It works, but the side effect is that your naturally chlorine-free well water will start tasting and smelling like your pool. Potassium permanganate is traditionally used to flush out clogged greensand so it can continue to trap contaminants. Pot perm is not typically deadly, but low levels of exposure can cause skin and lung irritation, and high exposure levels can send you to the hospital.

The WS1 filters your water without making it taste like a swimming pool or sending you to the hospital. The AIO filter eliminates the need to add chlorine (because AIO and chlorine do the same thing) and the WS1 uses an advanced form of greensand called greensand fusion media that can be flushed with regular water instead of pot perm.

Pro 3 of 5: Low maintenance costs and requirements

The third major pro of the WS1 is that it’s easy and inexpensive to maintain

The first thing the WS1 does to make maintenance easy is uses the advanced greensand fusion media. As I mentioned above, it can be flushed with regular water, meaning you don’t need to top up the cleaning chemicals every month like you do with other filters. That saves you, time, money, and work.

The greensand fusion media has the additional benefit of lasting much longer than regular greensand. It’s not uncommon for it to still be effective 25 years after installation, even with heavily contaminated water. I don’t know how long you plan to drink water from your current well, but a 25-year lifespan means that it will most likely still be functioning when you decide to move on. 

Additionally, the WS1 also monitors your filter use and alerts you when you need to adjust or change the filter. It has a built-in smart digital monitoring system that measures water consumption and monitors pressure, which will inform you when there is a leak or problem with your system that needs your attention.

All of this means the WS1 is very much a “set-it-and-forget-it” unit that will provide clean, odor- and chemical-free drinking water to your entire home without the need for constant maintenance. 

Pro 4 of 5: Works in homes of all sizes

The next big positive of the WS1 is that it comes in two different sizes, the WS1 and WS4, to accommodate different water demands. 

The standard, more common WS1 is for homes with up to three bathrooms and its big brother, the WS4, works for homes with as many as seven bathrooms. Both have an operating pressure range of 25–80 psi, which covers every well in the US.

This means that no matter the size of your home or the pressure of your well, you can install either the WS1 or WS4 filter and get effective filtration without compromising water pressure or flow.

Pro 5 of 5: Lifetime warranty

The biggest reason why the Springwell WS1 is the #1 whole-house well water filter on my list is that it comes with an industry-leading lifetime warranty.

Finding the right whole-house filter for your well takes time and actually getting one installed in your home takes money. The unit itself is at least $1,000 sometimes more, and installation can be anywhere from $500–$1,000 depending on the setup of your home. The last thing you want is to go through all of that only to run into maintenance issues a year or two later.

You don’t have to worry about that with the WS1 because it comes with a lifetime warranty. SpringWell guarantees tanks, valves, fittings, housings, bypass valves, and in/out heads for the entire lifespan of the product. Most whole-house water filters, such as the Pro+Aqua and RKIN well filters have just one-year limited warranties, meaning that if you buy one of these filters, at some point or another you’re going to be forced to buy expensive bottled water and shower at the gym while you wait for someone to come and fix your filter. 

SpringWell’s warranty means the company has confidence its products are going to last. But it also means that if some fluke does happen and your system stops working, SpringWell will ship you the replacement part you need at no cost or, if necessary, an entirely new unit.

Today, most products we buy end up in a landfill three years after you buy them, just so that you shell out more of your hard-earned money to buy something that should have been built right in the first place. SpringWell’s industry-best warranty provides the peace of mind these filters are supposed to give you and was the biggest selling point for me in my review of the WS1.

CONS

There are three limitations of the WS1 to consider.

Con 1 of 3: Not suitable for hard water, microbes, nitrates, or salt

The WS1 is designed to remove high levels of sulfur, iron, and manganese, but just like other well water filters, it does not remove hard water minerals, microbes, salt, or nitrates. Each of these requires a specialized additional filter. The good news is that we have recommendations for dealing with each of those, which you can read here:

If you’re not sure which contaminants are in your well water, DEFINITELY get a water test first. The only thing worse than spending thousands on the wrong filter and waiting for it to be delivered and installed, only to get sick from drinking contaminated water, is knowing that you could have avoided the problems by waiting 7 days to get your water test results. 

Here’s a link to my recommendations for the best water testing kits: The 7 Best Water Testing Kits

Con 2 of 3: Limited sediment filter

The second limitation of the WS1 is that the sediment filter included with the unit is not going to catch some sediment particles if your well water is extremely cloudy. 

It has a 152-micron rating, which is on the bigger side. The greensand filter media will catch a lot of sediment, but high levels of finer particles could interfere with the filter’s capacity to remove sulfur, iron, and manganese. If your well water looks like a hazy IPA, you may want to consider adding a more robust sediment pre-filter. It’s a relatively inexpensive addition that will improve the overall performance of your system.

My top choice for a sediment filter is the SpringWell PF-10, which you can read about in my detailed review of the best sediment filters for well water.

Con 3 of 3: Not for extreme sulfur and iron levels

The WS1 can remove a ton of sulfur and iron, but some wells do have more of these contaminants than the WS1 can handle. 

If the results of your water test show more than 8 ppm of iron or 7 ppm of sulfur, you need to get an even more robust system that can handle these levels. I’ve done extensive reviews of the best well filters for iron and the best well filters for sulfur where you can find solutions to high iron content in your water.

OVERALL: 9.45/10

The Springwell WS1 is my #1 recommendation for 94% of homeowners because it ticks all the boxes. It uses a chemical-free dual filtration to remove high levels of sulfur (rotten egg smell), iron (red and brown stains), and manganese (black stains). It’s American-designed, packaged, and made, and it’s controlled with a simple phone app that allows you to monitor the health of your entire water system. 

While it’s not suitable for hard water, nitrates, microbes, salt, or extreme levels of contaminants, it does come with a lifetime warranty, meaning you’ll never have to worry about it falling apart.

If you rely on well water and want to make sure your whole-house is drinking clean, fresh, pure water, get the Springwell WS1 now.

OR…

If you want to dive deeper, read our full review of the SpringWell WS1. We cover even more of its features and limitations and even discuss the installation process, warranty specifics, and some personal experiences we’ve had with this filter.’

The Best Whole-House Water Filters for the Other 6%

If your well has contaminants such as hard water, nitrates, microbes, or salt, here are some quick links to our recommendations for the best well filters for you:

As I’ve said previously, and I really can’t overstate this, if you’re unsure of which contaminants are in your well water, you need to get a water quality test. Your best bet is to go through a laboratory, but if you’re DIY-minded, read our recommendations for the best water quality testing kits.

Best for Hard Water: SpringWell SS1 (9.5/10)

  • Softens even very hard water (up to 15 grains per gallon).
  • High-tech controller head reduces wasted water.
  • Can be combined with the WS1 to build a complete filter/softener system.
  • Available in three sizes for any size home and any level of water hardness.
  • Comes with a lifetime warranty.
  • Releases trace amounts of sodium (salt) into your water.
  • Does not come with a sediment filter.

The SpringWell SS1 is my #1 choice for a hard water well filter because it softens even very hard water (15 grains per gallon) in homes with up to four people and has the same industry-leading lifetime warranty as the WS1.

PROS

The SpringWell SS1 is the best filter for wells with hard water for these five reasons:

Pro 1 of 5: Softens water of all hardness levels 

The biggest upside of the SpringWell SS1 is that it performs as advertised and can soften even very hard water, removing up to 15 grains per gallon of hardness minerals for a family of four.

It uses ion exchange to replace calcium and magnesium (hardness minerals) with sodium, which completely removes them from your water. This is a much more effective solution than a salt-based conditioner because salt-free systems do not remove hardness minerals at all. 

Instead, salt-free systems, which many manufacturers, such as Aquasana, still call softeners, crystallize calcium and magnesium to make them less adhesive, which does reduce scale buildup but does not make soap lather better, eliminate streaks or stains, or impact the dry, itchy sensation hard water can cause on your skin. Salt-free systems aren’t holistic solutions to hard water.

The SS1 is. If you have hard water and are struggling with scale buildup, poorly lathering soap, streaks and stains on glassware and appliances, and skin and hair irritation, installing the SS1 will completely eliminate these issues and deliver truly soft water to your entire home. 

Pro 2 of 5: Low waste

The next biggest pro of the SS1 is that it reduces waste and cost through smart backwashing.

Salt-based water softeners such as the SS1 use a resin (sticky beads) to hold sodium ions that get swapped for the calcium and magnesium ions in your water. This is where we get the term “ion exchange.” Eventually, the sodium runs out and the softener can’t work anymore. The solution is to force a brine solution (heavily salted water) through the filter in the reverse direction of normal flow, a process known as regeneration. This depletes the brine solution, which is why you eventually need to refill it with salt. 

Other water softeners, such as the Soft Pro and Crystal Quest, regenerate on a set schedule, usually once or twice a week. But the SS1 uses a smart monitoring system to measure water consumption and regenerates the resin bed based on actual water consumption. This prevents unnecessary regeneration, which saves water and preserves the brine solution, making it last longer. 

This means the SS1 wastes less water than other softeners and also uses less of your brine solution, both of which could save you hundreds of dollars per year as well as hassle on maintenance and upkeep.

Pro 3 of 5: Combines with the WS1

The SS1 is the market leader because it easily combines with the best overall well filter on the market, the WS1, to make a complete system if you have hard well water AND high levels of sulfur, iron, or manganese. When combined, these two units are sold as the WSSS1. Buying them together helps you save at least $500 if you need both. 

The WSSS1 uses dual filtration to remove up to 8 ppm of iron, 7 ppm of sulfur, and 2 ppm of manganese in addition to softening even very hard water of 15 grains per gallon or more. The WS1 was my top choice for the best overall well filter due to its effectiveness, chemical-free design, and lifetime warranty. Unlike other filters, such as the RKIN or PRO+Aqua, the SpringWell WS1 uses dual filtration that combines two distinct filter technologies to remove higher levels of sulfur, iron, and manganese than other filters.

This means that if you are among the 94% of people who have sulfur, iron, and/or manganese in your well water and also have hard water, you can buy two units together, collectively known as the WSSS1, that will solve both problems for slightly less money than buying both on their own. 

Pro 4 of 5: Meets water demands for homes with more than 7 bathrooms

The SpringWell SS1 is a base model salt-based softener that is available in two larger models (SS4 and SS+) to meet the water demands of homes with seven or more bathrooms and extremely hard water.

The SS1 has a 32,000-grain capacity and 11 gallons per minute (gpm) flow rate, which is enough for 1–3 bathrooms. The SS4 has a 48,000-grain capacity and a 13 gpm flow rate, which is good for 4–6 bathrooms. The SS+ has an 80,000-grain capacity and 20 gpm flow rate, which is enough for 7+ bathrooms. All these models use the same technology and are equally as effective. They are just sized differently to meet different demand levels.

This means that no matter your home’s size or your water’s hardness, there is a SpringWell salt-based softener that can meet your needs.

Pro 5 of 5: Lifetime warranty

While it’s effectiveness and efficiency are huge upsides, the #1 selling point for me on the SpringWell SS1 is its lifetime warranty. If your well water is hard now, it will be forever. And after spending all this time choosing and installing a water softener, the last thing you want is to waste all your effort on a unit that’s just going to end up in a landfill before the next presidential election.

SpringWell’s lifetime warranty covers tanks, valves, fittings, housings, bypass valves, and in/out heads. The standard for other water softeners is just 1–5 years. If you buy one of these softeners, such as a GE water softener, which has just a one-year warranty, you run a very real risk of having to repair your system in the next few years, if not completely replace it, which is a huge financial hit and a major waste of time. 

The lifetime warranty offered by SpringWell gives me confidence that this is the one and only water softener you will have to buy. And if for some reason something does go wrong, then SpringWell has got your back and will do everything possible to get your system up and running. 

It’s hard to find quality products that are built to last in today’s throwaway culture, so a big plus of the SS1 is that it’s backed by such a powerful warranty.

CONS

There are a few downsides to the SS1 to consider before buying.

Con 1 of 2: Adds sodium to your water

One downside of any salt-based water softener, like the SS1, is that it is going to add trace amounts of sodium to your water. 

Ion exchange, the process behind true softeners, works by exchanging charged sodium ions with charged calcium and magnesium ions as they pass over the resin inside the filter. This is how it completely removes these minerals from your water and softens it. Exactly how much sodium gets added depends directly on how hard your water is. But even if you have very hard water (15 grains per gallon), it comes out to about 30 mg of sodium per 8 oz glass of water, which is less than half of the sodium in an unseasoned egg.

This means that for most people, this won’t be an issue you even notice. But if you are on a doctor-prescribed zero-sodium diet, or just don’t like the idea of salt going into your water, the SS1 might not be for you. If that’s the case, there are several salt-free systems you should consider. Check out this review of water softener alternatives to find the right system for you.

Con 2 of 2: Doesn’t include a sediment filter

Another con of the SS1 is that it does not include a sediment pre-filter. Since most wells have sediment, this will be inconvenient for you if you don’t already have an additional filtration system.

The reason the SS1 comes without a sediment filter is that this unit can work on both city and well water, and city water almost never has sediment. If you buy the WSSS1 combo, that does come with a 152-micron spin down filter that will catch the big stuff floating in your water. 

In either case, I recommend going with a 5-micron sediment filter because it will trap more stuff, including even the finer particles. Read my review of the best sediment filters for well water to find the one for you.

OVERALL: 9.5/10

The SpringWell SS1 is the best solution for anyone with hard well water. It uses ion exchange to soften even very hard water (15 grains per gallon) and has enough capacity to work in a home with three bathrooms and four people and can be upgraded to work for houses with more than seven bathrooms. It also has a smart controller head that reduces waste and efficiently manages backwashing.

Yes, it will add very, very small amounts of sodium into your water, and you’ll need to add a sediment filter. But it does come with an industry-best lifetime warranty to provide you with peace of mind. 

To get rid of scale buildup, reduce damage to appliances and fixtures, improve soap lathering, eliminate stains and streaks, and prevent dry, flaky skin, get the SpringWell SS1 and these problems will all go away.

OR…

If you’re looking for a filter AND a softener, here’s my full review of the SpringWell WSSS1, which combines the WS1 and the SS1 into one package that tackles the most common well contaminants and softens your water.

Best for Well Water With Microbes: Aquasana Rhino Well Water With UV (9.2/10)

  • The 36-watt UV lamp included with the unit zaps 99.99% of microbes.
  • Bacteriostatic KDF media minimizes microbial growth inside the filter.
  • Removes up to 99% of heavy metals (lead, copper, zinc, arsenic, etc.).
  • Proprietary filters are easy to replace.
  • Not as effective against iron, sulfur, and manganese as the SpringWell WS1.
  • Requires yearly lamp replacements.
  • Optional salt-free conditioners could be useless to well users.

The Aquasana Rhino Well Water with UV is the best well filter for microbial contamination because it targets bacteria, viruses, parasites, and cysts in multiple ways to remove 99.99% of these harmful contaminants.

PROS

There are plenty of things to like about the Aquasana Rhino Well Water with UV.

Pro 1 of 3: Removes 99.99% of microbes

The Aquasana Rhino Well Water with UV is the best well filter for microbial contamination (bacteria, viruses, parasites, protozoans, etc.) because it does exactly what it’s designed to do: It tackles microbial contamination from a number of angles to remove 99.99% of harmful viruses, bacteria, and parasites from your water.

It does this with multistage filtration. The first stage is a 5-micron pre-filter that catches sediment and other larger contaminants. Then comes the activated carbon filter, which can remove pesticides, herbicides, VOCs, and more. The included KDF 55 media inhibits bacterial growth inside the filter to prevent new microbes from entering. Lastly, the water passes through a 36-watt UV lamp to kill the DNA of any microbes to kill them instantly and ensure your water is free from microscopic bugs that can make you sick or worse. However, if your water has tested positive for microbes, you should have both your well and your septic tank evaluated for cracks and leaks so that you can begin working on a long-term solution.

In the meantime, if you’re worried about microbial contamination in your well or it is a persistent problem, installing the Aquasana Rhino Well Water with UV will give you peace of mind that your drinking water is clean. 

Pro 2 of 3: Effective against herbicides, pesticides, and heavy metals

The second big upside of the Aquasana Rhino for well water is that in addition to tackling microbial contamination, it can also remove herbicides and pesticides, as well as up to 99% of heavy metals, such as lead, copper, nickel, and chromium from your water.

The activated carbon used as a first line of defense against bacteria and viruses also removes herbicides and pesticides, and the KDF 55 media used to inhibit bacterial growth inside the filter also reacts with these heavy metals to remove them from your water supply. 

So, while the Rhino for well water was designed for microbial contamination, the media it uses has secondary effects that will also remove other harmful contaminants that could be in your well.

Pro 3 of 3: Easy and cheap maintenance

The last big benefit of the Aquasana Rhino with UV is that it is easy and cheap to maintain. Since it takes time and energy buying and installing a whole-house filter, when you finally get one, the last thing you want to do is worry about monthly filter replacements. This system will make your life easier and your water cleaner, not give you yet another chore. 

The Aquasana Rhino well filter’s unique single-tank system makes it super easy to swap out the main filter, which only needs to happen once every 10 years. The sediment pre-filter is easy to access. All you need to do is unscrew the housing and put the new filter in, which you should do once every six months. The main filter media is shipped to you intact, so you just need to unhook the current one at the supply lines and hook up the new one. The whole thing will take you 30 minutes max. Not sure about you, but I think a half hour every decade is very manageable.

All of this means this filter is very much a set-it-and-forget-it unit. Yes, you’ll have to swap that sediment filter, but beyond that you can just sit back and enjoy clean, microbe-free water throughout your entire home.

CONS

Despite its upsides, there are some things that could be better about the Aquasana Rhino Well Water With UV.

Con 1 of 3: Not effective against sulfur, iron, or manganese

The Aquasana Rhino well filter is excellent at tackling microbes, heavy metals, and herbicides and pesticides, but it will not remove sulfur, iron, or manganese, which are found in 94% of wells around the country. The filter includes KDF 55, which has bacteriostatic properties. But if it had the more expensive KDF 85, it could tackle these contaminants. Sadly, it does not.

That doesn’t make this filter useless. Instead, it means if you have sulfur, iron, or manganese in your well water and are also worried about microbes, you will need to get another filter designed to remove these contaminants and then route that filtered water through the Rhino. This will make your water treatment system considerably more expensive.

If this is the case in your home, I recommend getting the SpringWell WS1 to remove the sulfur, iron, and manganese and then adding a UV post filter. This does not include the multistage filtration specifically designed for microbes, but UV lamps on their own remove 99% of microbes and are easy to install and maintain. Read about the best UV water purifiers if this is the route you need to go.

Con 2 of 3: Yearly lamp replacements

Another con of the Aquasana Rhino well filter is that you will need to change the UV lamps once a year.

This is fairly standard for UV lamps. Just like regular light bulbs, they burn out. But their high intensity also means they burn out more quickly. This means that while this unit is overall very easy to maintain, you will need to pay attention and remember to switch out the UV lamp once every 12 months.

Con 3 of 3: Optional salt-free conditioner could be useless on your well water

Something I don’t love about the Aquasana Rhino is that the company offers you the option of adding on a salt-free conditioner but doesn’t explain that it could be useless. 

The reason is that salt-free conditioners do not work on water where iron or manganese, which are fairly common in wells, are present. And this filter does not address these contaminants. The company does not make this very clear, so I wanted to do it for them.

If you have iron or manganese and hard water and want to tackle microbes, this unit probably isn’t going to work. You’re better off going with something like the SpringWell WSSS1, which filters and softens, and then adding a UV purifier to tackle microbes. 

OVERALL: 9.2/10

The Aquasana Rhino Well Water With UV is the top solution if you’re worried about microbial contamination in your well. It uses multistage filtration, including a UV purifier, to remove harmful organisms from your water and ensure it’s clean and safe to drink.

It’s true that it’s not effective against sulfur, iron, or manganese, but the presence of these contaminants won’t affect its UV-reducing capacity. You can easily add a pre-filter to address them.

If you’re tired of worrying about what’s living in your water, get the Aquasana Rhino Well Water With UV now.

The Best Whole-House Water Filter for Salt: SpringWell RO (9.3/10)

  • Removes 95%–98% of salt from your well water.
  • Four-stage filtration also removes sediment, herbicides, pesticides, and nitrates.
  • Produces enough water for a family of 6.
  • One-handed filter changing can be done in seconds.
  • Point-of-use system does not filter water to the whole home.
  • Different filter lives can make maintenance schedules more confusing.
  • Pretreatment may be necessary.
  • Not suitable for hard water unless you install a softener.

The SpringWell Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System is the best well filter for salt because it removes more than 95% of salt and comes with a solid warranty.

PROS

Here are a few of the biggest upsides to the SpringWell Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System:

Pro 1 of 4: Removes 95%–99% of salt

The SpringWell Reverse Osmosis filter is the best well water filter for salt because it’s the only filter I reviewed capable of removing high quantities of salt. Its super-small reverse osmosis membrane will remove 95%–99% of salt molecules from your drinking water.

The membrane used in this reverse osmosis unit has super-small pores measuring just 0.0001 microns. Reverse osmosis works by using pressure to push water through this membrane in the opposite direction it wants to flow naturally (hence the name reverse osmosis). When this happens, the membrane catches salt molecules and removes them from your drinking water.

So, if you have high levels of salt in your drinking water due to living in a coastal area, you won’t have this problem anymore if you buy the SpringWell RO system.

Pro 2 of 4: Multistage filtration removes other well contaminants

Another upside of the SpringWell RO system is that it’s more than just a reverse osmosis unit. Instead, reverse osmosis is only one of four filtration stages that combine to remove a wide range of other contaminants. 

Because it uses four-stage filtration, the SpringWell RO water filter is also effective against heavy metals, such as lead, copper, nickel, chromium, etc., and harmful chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides, nitrates, and fluoride

If you have any of these issues with your well water in addition to high levels of salt, the SpringWell reverse osmosis filter can solve all of them at once. 

Pro 3 of 4: Capacity for a family of six

One plus of the SpringWell RO system is that it’s small enough to fit under your sink but large enough to meet the water needs of at least a family of six or more

It comes with a 3.2-gallon storage tank that continuously refills itself as you draw water. The manufacturer advertises a daily capacity of up to 75 gallons per day. But it’s very likely you will get less than this because this number comes from a test that assumes ideal water temperature and back pressure, which is going to increase with a smaller storage tank. Still, daily capacity is right around 40–60 gallons.

This means there’s plenty of water for at least six people to get the water they need in a day, with some left over for cooking or cleaning if needed. 

Pro 4 of 4: Simple maintenance

The last upside of the SpringWell RO unit is that it’s specifically designed to be really easy to maintain. 

There are four filters you need to remember to swap out. Three of them get changed once every six months. A proprietary ¼ turn filter design means all you have to do is twist the filter with one hand to remove it and twist the new one on to install it. There is no need for wrenches or any other tools, and you do not need to interrupt your water flow to make the change. 

If you want an effective salt filter that requires little to no upkeep and that is super easy to maintain, the SpringWell RO water filter is an ideal solution.

CONS

There are some downsides to the SpringWell Reverse Osmosis water filter that you should know about. 

Con 1 of 2: Not a whole-house system

The biggest downside is that the SpringWell RO system is not a whole-house unit. It’s an under-sink unit, also known as point of use. 

This will deliver clean drinking water to a dedicated faucet in your home that connects directly to the filter’s storage tank. When you need drinking water, it needs to come from there. Whole-house reverse osmosis systems do exist, but they take up tons of space and are quite expensive, both up front and in the long run. We’re talking $3,000–$5,000 for a base model. They also waste a ton of water; even the most efficient systems send 50–100 gallons of water down the drain every day. Due to these limitations, they are not practical in most cases. A point-of-use system such as this one will do what you need and will cost considerably less and waste much less water.

However, if you want to explore these options, read my review on the best whole-house reverse osmosis systems.

Con 2 of 2: Necessary pretreatment for contaminants and hard water

Another con of this RO system from SpringWell is that you will likely need to pretreat your water.

The reason for this is that RO membranes with their small pores are so good at filtering stuff they sometimes get in their own way. The biggest culprits are sulfur and hard water. Both can interfere with the membrane and reduce its effectiveness. 

So, keep in mind that if you have high levels of salt in your well water AND sulfur or hard water, you will need to invest in a whole-house filter that addresses sulfur and/or hard water and install your RO unit after these filters. I have offered recommendations for both of these filter types at the beginning of this review. Of course, this increases the up-front cost of your water system, but it will save you in the long run because your RO filter will last longer. 

OVERALL: 9.3/10

The SpringWell Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System is my top choice for a well filter for salt. It removes 95%–99% of salt from your water, and it will also remove herbicides, pesticides, nitrates, and heavy metals.

It’s true that it won’t work with hard water and that it’s not a whole-house solution, but its four-stage filtration and easy-to-maintain design make it stand out from the crowd.

If you live in a coastal area and have saltwater intrusion in your well, get the SpringWell reverse osmosis filter.

The Best Whole-House Water Filter for Nitrates: Crystal Quest Nitrate Filter (9.0/10)

  • Proprietary Eaglesorb resin is designed to capture high levels of nitrates.
  • Backwashing cycles are automatic.
  • Sediment pre-filter and carbon block post-filter remove agricultural contaminants.
  • Available with stainless steel or fiberglass construction.
  • Easily combines with a salt-based water softener due to the existing brine tank.
  • Not effective against iron, sulfur, or manganese.
  • Includes no high-tech controls.
  • Limited one-year warranty isn’t as good as other brands.

The Crystal Quest Nitrate Whole House Water Filter is the best filter for nitrates because it uses a special resin to specifically target nitrates in a system that easily combines with a softener to treat hard water.

PROS

As one of the few filters out there specifically designed to remove nitrates, there’s a lot to like about the Crystal Quest nitrate whole-house filter

Pro 1/4: Removes 99% of nitrates

The Crystal Quest Nitrate Whole House Water Filter is the best whole-house filter for nitrates because it does what it promises and removes 99% of nitrates from your water.

Much like a water softener traps mineral ions, the Crystal Quest nitrate filter uses a resin (sticky beads) to trap nitrates. The difference is that this is an anion resin, which works with negatively charged ions, such as nitrates. In water softeners, a cation resin is used since the targeted minerals are positively charged. Other products, such as the SpringWell reverse osmosis filter, remove nitrates but only as a secondary function. This is one of the few that does it specifically, and thanks to its anion resin it is highly effective.

If you have high, unsafe levels of nitrates in your water, installing the Crystal Quest nitrate filter will solve this problem and deliver clean drinking water to every tap in your home.

Pro 2/4: Effective against other contaminants

A big upside of the Crystal Quest nitrate filter is that it will also catch other contaminants likely to be in your water if you have high levels of nitrates, such as herbicides and pesticides, all of which are present to some degree in agricultural areas. 

First, the sediment pre-filter will remove sand, dirt, dust, sand, clay, etc. Next comes the nitrate filter. Third is the carbon block post-filter, which will remove herbicides and pesticides, as well as many other chemical contaminants, such as VOCs and PFAs. 

What’s great about this is that if you live in an agricultural area where these contaminants are commonly found in private wells, the Crystal Quest nitrate filter is the only solution you need to ensure clean, safe drinking water in your home.

Pro 3/4: Stainless steel or fiberglass design

Another thing I like about Crystal Quest’s nitrate filter is you can buy it with a stainless steel or fiberglass housing, which offers aesthetic benefits while also extending the filter’s lifespan.

Stainless steel looks super sleek, but it will rust when it’s exposed to humidity and salt. Since salt is used in the regeneration process, if you plan to use this in a humid environment, stainless steel won’t work. Instead, get the fiberglass version to protect the unit in the long run. Or, since it costs less, get the fiberglass model if you would like to save a little money. 

There is a version of this nitrate filter for all homes and all environments. It’s just a question of choosing the right one for you. 

Pro 4/4: Easily integrates with a water softener

The last thing I really like about the Crystal Quest Nitrate filter is that it can be easily added to a water softener to also help those of you who have nitrates AND hard water. 

Since the nitrate filter requires a brine tank and uses salt water for regeneration, a softener can be added and connected to the same tank. This reduces the overall space your water system takes up in your basement while also addressing two concerns at once. If you regenerate off both tanks, you may use your salt up sooner, but not so much that it will drive the total cost of ownership up beyond manageable levels. 

With this Crystal Quest filter, if you have nitrates in your well AND hard water, you can solve both problems with a more compact unit that is going to be less expensive up front than buying two completely different systems.

CONS

There are a few downsides to the Crystal Quest nitrate filter you need to be aware of before you buy it. 

Con 1/2: Does not remove sulfur, iron, or manganese

One important thing to remember about the Crystal Quest Nitrate Whole House Water Filter is that it is specifically designed for nitrates and other agricultural by-products.

If you have sulfur, iron, or manganese in your water, this won’t be your solution.

If you do have these contaminants as well as high levels of nitrates, there are other filters on this list you should get in addition to this Crystal Quest unit. But since those units don’t specifically deal with nitrates, you may need to invest in more than one filter for your system.

Con 2/2: No high-tech controls

Also, the Crystal Quest nitrate filter lacks some of the high-tech bells and whistles found on many of the other models I’ve reviewed, such as a programmable backwash cycle and Bluetooth control head. Automatic backwashing occurs at regular intervals, which you manually set based on water consumption. 

This means the Crystal Quest nitrate filter, and also the salt-based softener you can add, are slightly less efficient filters than other similar products, such as the SpringWell units I reviewed above.

OVERALL: 9.2/10

The Crystal Quest nitrate filter is the best well filter for nitrates due to its specific ability to remove 99% of nitrates. It outperforms other filters that can remove nitrates because this is its primary focus and design. 

The controller head could use some updating, but since regeneration in nitrate filters happens less frequently than in water softeners, this shouldn’t be a major issue.

If your well water is plagued by high levels of nitrates that are making it unsafe to drink, then get the Crystal Quest Nitrate filtration system now and make sure you have clean water throughout your home.

Best for the Rest: Herbicides/Pesticides Only or Sediment Only

So far, I’ve covered all the major well water filtration solutions based on the different contaminants that might be in your water. Many of these systems target one specific contaminant but also remove others thanks to an overlap in technology. Depending on the specific conditions of your well water, this may be overkill and a waste of money.

For example, herbicides and pesticides can be removed with a standard carbon block filter, which is why some of the filters on this list are also able to filter them out of your water. If you just need to remove herbicides and pesticides, my top choice is the SpringWell whole-house cartridge system. But you can also read my in-depth review on the best cartridge systems for well water.

Some of you are lucky enough to have nothing but sediment in your well. Many of the filters I’ve recommended include sediment filters, but if this is all you need, these will be too much. My personal top choice is the SpringWell PF-10. To learn more, read my review on the best sediment filters for well water

The Bottom Line

The SpringWell WS1 is the best well filter for 94% of people. It removes 8 ppm of iron, 7 ppm of sulfur, and 2 ppm of manganese in a chemical-free system that’s backed by a lifetime warranty. The SpringWell SS1 is the best for hard water, with the SpringWell WSSS1 as the top option for sulfur, iron, manganese, AND hard water. 

The Aquasana Rhino for Well Water is best for microbes, the SpringWell Reverse Osmosis is the top choice for salt, and the Crystal Quest Nitrate filter is the best for nitrates, and the

However, I must reiterate that the best well filter for your home is going to be the one that addresses the specific contaminants of your well. Each privately owned well in the world is entirely unique, so don’t talk to your neighbors or even town officials, as what they tell you might not reflect reality. 

Instead, use science and get a water test. Before you do that, bookmark this page so that when you have the data, you can use it to find the filter that is going to work for you. 

Chances are it will be the SpringWell WS1, but if it’s not, we’ve got all the information to make sure you find the right filter.

Research Methodology: How We Test and Review Products

With so many options to choose from, finding the best water filtration system for well water is not super easy. To do it right, you need a system. At Drinking Water, we use a seven-point research methodology to thoroughly analyze each and every product out there. We combine qualitative and quantitative data and source information from a wide variety of places. 

All of this allows us to systematically narrow a massive group of choices down to a manageable list you can use. 

Feel free to read all about how we review water filters. But in the meantime, here’s a summary of what goes into our reviews.

Use analysis

The first step in our process is to categorize the different options on the market based on their best use. This is particularly relevant for well water filter reviews such as this one since well water varies so widely and we need to be sure the products on the market can do the job you need it to do.

Learn more about how we conduct our use analysis.

Tech check

Beyond categorizing products based on their specific uses, we do a deep dive into the technology of each filter to make sure it can handle the job the manufacturer claims it can. 

This industry is full of a lot of jargon, buzzwords, and, at times, pseudo-science, so we speak to industry professionals, scour existing literature, and even run tests ourselves to make sure the technology being used is suitable for the application at hand. 

Learn more about the tech check portion of our review process.

Water test data

There’s nothing more important to a scientific investigation than data. Nothing beats empirical evidence when trying to prove or disprove claims. Therefore, when we’re reviewing data, we go out of our way to collect as much data as we can. Sometimes we get it from the manufacturer and then verify it on our own, but we can also get it from some of our other trusted partners. 

When needed, we’ll run our own tests. 

Learn more about how we collect and use water test data.

Installation test

While we don’t necessarily consider the need for professional installation to be a deal-breaker, we do look at what’s involved when we’re doing our reviews. We examine the materials provided by the manufacturer and compare it with what we know about installing water filters. 

We give priority to companies that go out of their way to help you do it yourself or make it clear when a professional is needed.

Learn more about how we run our installation tests.

Cost-of-ownership analysis

As you probably know, whole-house water filters aren’t always cheap. In fact, they pretty much never are. Considering what’s at stake — clean drinking water for you and your family — it’s worth the investment. But we don’t want you wasting your money. 

When we review products, we spend time calculating the overall cost of ownership of each product. This includes energy use, replacement filter media, maintenance costs, etc. 

Learn more about how we conduct our cost-of-ownership analysis.

Warranty check

Because these products can be expensive, we give higher priority to companies that stand by what they sell and offer meaningful warranties. Of course, with warranties there are always fine print and limitations. We know you don’t have the time to search through all that, so we do it for you so you know exactly what you’re getting before you make a purchase. 

Learn more about how we do our warranty checks.

Customer service test

Lastly, when we recommend a company, we want to be sure we’re sending you to someone who is going to be there for you when you need them to. This is especially important considering the long-term commitment of buying a whole-house water filter. 

Learn more about our customer service test.

Before You Buy a Whole-House Water Filtration System

If you’re new to the world of residential water filtration, let me introduce you to Johnny Pujol, a water quality engineer at Tap Score, one of our trusted partners. 

According to Pujol, “With well water there is no regulatory oversight, so it’s up to each well user to ensure the water they are drinking is safe for their health. This means testing at least once a year because well water changes over time. Using laboratory testing is crucial since it’s the only way to get accurate results for low levels of toxic contaminants.”

As a private well owner, you are entirely responsible for the water that comes into your home. And if you’ve gotten to this point, you realize you need to filter it. But water filtration is a complex field that requires a focused approach to be successful. 

In essence, filters are designed to filter different things out of the water. Some filters, such as carbon block filters, are really good at catching a lot of different contaminants. But no one filter is able to completely filter everything out of your water. 

With a private well, there’s no way to know exactly what’s in your water without testing, and this means there’s really no way to know which filter is best for your home without testing. 

To give you an idea, here are some of the common contaminants in well water: 

  • Hydrogen sulfide: Produced by sulfur bacteria, which aids in decomposition, hydrogen sulfide can get in your water and make it smell like rotten eggs. It’s not a health concern unless found in extreme levels, but the smell alone is an intolerable nuisance for most people. 
  • Iron: Found in both insoluble (ferric) and soluble (ferrous) forms, iron can give your water a metallic taste and turn it brown. It can also leave behind stains on your tubs, sinks, sidewalks, etc., as well as on your clothes.
  • Manganese: Not harmful in low doses, manganese will also leave black streaks and stains on your fixtures, appliances, and clothes. 
  • Magnesium and calcium: Known as hardness minerals, these are not harmful to consume, but they can be very annoying. Hard water prevents soap from lathering, which makes cleaning difficult. It also leads to scale buildup on your fixtures and appliances, lowering their overall lifespan. Many people also find it irritating on their skin. 
  • Nitrates, herbicides, and pesticides: If you live in an agricultural area, chemicals used to promote crop growth can seep into groundwater and taint your well water. In very low levels, nitrates do not pose a risk. But above 10 mg/L it’s not safe for babies. Above 40 mg/L and the water is no longer drinkable. 
  • Volatile organic compounds: This is a catch-all term for compounds that vaporize at room temperature and dissolve in water. Solvents, fuel oil, and industrial cleaners are some of the more common VOCs, though the list is endless. VOCs, including the notorious “forever chemicals” (PFAS, PFOS, PFOA), can leak into wells from nearby industrial or agricultural applications, spills, leaky tanks, and more.
  • Bacteria, viruses, and protozoans: Often grouped together as “microbes,” these can make you sick. Wells are sealed to prevent these organisms entering the water supply, but the seals sometimes break, letting microbes into your water. It’s imperative you remove these before you drink water from your well. 

Other well water contaminants include tannins, naturally occurring fluoride, arsenic, and other heavy metals, and much, much more. Well water can sometimes also have a very low pH, which means it’s acidic and must be neutralized in order to drink. 

The list just goes on and on. 

The point of saying this is not to scare you. There are solutions available. Lots of them, many of which are on this very page. But to make sure you’re spending your money wisely, you need to test your water. 

If you haven’t tested your water yet, start by bookmarking this page. Then, order yourself a test kit. When you get the results, come back to this page and you’ll be able to find exactly what it is you need to ensure your well water is clean and safe for you and your family. 

For those who have already tested their water and are ready to find a solution, let’s get into it. 

Back to product recommendations

Dive Deeper: In-Depth Water Filtration Guides

If you want to read even more about whole-house water filtration and treatment for private wells, here are some additional resources on this site: 

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of water filter is best for well water?

The best water filtration system for well water is one specifically designed to filter out the contaminants present in your well water supply. Our top choice is the SpringWell WS1, but it’s designed to filter out sulfur, manganese, and iron. If you don’t have these in your water but have something else, the best filter for you will tackle these specific contaminants. 

What is the best way to filter well water for drinking?

The best way to filter well water for drinking is to install a whole-house water filtration system. This filters water before it enters your home and ensures the water you get from each and every tap inside your house is properly filtered and safe to drink.

Do you need a whole-house filter for well water?

Most well water requires some sort of filtration, but you don’t necessarily need a whole-house filter for well water. While it’s preferred, you could also install a point-of-use water filter that delivers clean drinking water to one tap in your home. They are generally less expensive but also require you to remember to only drink from that one location. 

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Stan

Would you please compare the pro+aqua pro-well-1E and the SpringWell WS 1 for a new water well system? My states lab results indicate slight iron is the only issue.

James Layton

Thanks for the suggestion Stan!I took a quick look at the 1E product description but could find no specs or information on the media the system uses. Maybe I missed it. For a quick response I’d say you won’t go wrong with the SpringWell. It will handle the iron you mention, even if the level of iron fluctuates a little due to seasonal changes in the water supply.

Joe Pouliot

I have been comparing springwell and uswatersystems. Uswatersystems says their Flex-OXI-GEN filter is better because the controller is on the side of the tank. They also recommend H2O2 for iron bacteria instead of Chlorine. What do you think?

James Layton

The US Water Systems has a unique design. Most others have the filter configured with the controller on top. I suppose having the controller adapted to the side prevents the potential of iron build-up. This is most-likely a benefit in high-iron situations. Concerning hydrogen peroxide, the idea is that H202 is a better oxidizer but not a better disinfectant. H2)2 is used to oxidize iron to ferric form, which can be filtered out as a solid. For this purpose H202 is probably the better choice. In addition, you won’t have to worry about disinfection byproducts forming as with chlorine.

Ignacio Santa Cruz

I have a well with clean water, some hardness, and coliform. The other issue is that when it rains very hard for a long period of time, water becomes brown. After the rain, it clears in a day or two.
Test with clean water shows coliform, acceptable levels of minerals and no tannins. Test with brown water showed E. coli, 1.56 mg/L of Iron, 2.82 mg/L of Aluminum, and tannins.
Our goal is to remove the bacteria and the brown water when it rains – what’s your recommendation for a whole house well filtration system?

James Layton

It sounds like the well is shallow or damaged(?). Coliform bacteria are “everywhere” and not all are pathogens. But the fact that they are showing up in the well indicates the well is being contaminated somehow. Without knowing more, I would suggest a UV to kill the coliform (and other potential microbes). For tannins, activated carbon is the most common filtration method. If your well contains a lot of tannin, a simple cartridge filter may not have enough capacity to keep the water clear. It will get “used up” quickly and you’ll have brown water agin. You may need a large whole home activated carbon filter.Something like the Springwell CF-1 will provide a long-lasting solution for tannin removal. Place the UV first inline to kill the bacteria, then the carbon filter system for tannin.