L. Heiden has been in the water treatment business for more than 25 years. Currently, she is a National Account Executive for UL and is an active member of the Water Quality Association
Some terms in the water treatment industry can be confusing, point-of-entry (POE) and point-of-use (POU) are no exception. It is not a matter of one being better than the other, but which do you require for your needs.
POE is for the treatment of all of the water you use in your home. There are many different types of treatment that fall under the umbrella of POE. The one you need depends on the type of problem you are having with your water. The two most common issues are hard water, which causes scale build up on plumbing fixtures and in hot water tanks, and chlorine, which is associated with taste and odor.
If you have white scale on your plumbing fixtures or a film on your glass shower door that is difficult to remove, you may have hard water. Hard water is mostly made up of calcium and magnesium and these deposits are doing more harm than just making things hard to clean. They eventually build up in your hot water tank, which makes it very inefficient. According to American Water Heater Company (2006), use of a softener ahead of a hot water tank can give you up to 29% more efficiency. Other benefits to softening the water in your home are ease of cleaning, reduced use of soaps, shampoos and detergents and softer skin and hair. Refer to the Kinetico website for more details on benefits of softened water.
When you are on a municipal water supply, chlorine is a common issue. Chlorine, or more recently chloramines, is added to your water as a disinfectant to ensure it is safe to drink. These chemicals affect the taste and odor of the water coming into your home. Most supplies aim for one part per million (ppm)as it distributes water to your home, the difficulty in this is that as chlorine does its job it gets used up and will also dissipate over time. This means that the levels a municipality may have to use may be higher than the one ppm to ensure that the very last house on the distribution line gets safe water. In turn the house closest to the supply may be seeing levels at times in excess of three ppm, which is about the level in a highly chlorinated pool . High levels of these chemicals may have health affects as well. A whole house carbon filter or chloramine filter will reduce these levels significantly protecting your family from high levels of chlorine or chloramine.
There are many other contaminants that may require POE water treatment solutions such as: iron, hydrogen sulfide and sediment. If you are unsure of the type of treatment you require, contact your local water treatment professional for advice. You can use the online local dealer search to find your local Kinetico water professional.
POU is another form of water treatment which is generally used after a POE system to further protect and treat the water at a particular output such as a drinking water tap. It may be a simple under the counter filter for taste and odor of the water or a more stringent treatment such as a reverse osmosis drinking water system.
While a POE system treats all the water in the house a POU system will be treating only a portion of the water in your house. These systems produce less water a day relatively. You would not typically use this type of water for bathing and cleaning. Most often a POE system will be used for your drinking water and cooking use.
A common POE treatment would be a carbon filter which simply makes the water smell and taste better. Many people prefer using Reverse Osmosis (RO) which can provide additional levels of safety in the water they drink. RO uses a barrier method which, in simplified terms, separates the good things in water from the bad things in water. Typically an RO will have minimally five parts to it:
- A pre-filter - carbon pre-filter for city water applications and sediment pre-filter for well water
- A membrane which rejects the impurities in the water
- A tank to store the processed water
- A post-filter which removes any taste and odor from the stored water
- A faucet to get the water out of the tank and into your glass or pot
In the end, the answer to which is the right water treatment, POU or POE is basically like asking what is better a fancy sports car or a minivan. The answer is part personal preference and part necessity. The sports car would be nice to have. Although it isn’t essential for everyone, it sure is fun and would greatly enhance your life. However for most people, the minivan is a requirement. It isn’t very exciting but provides you peace of mind. It’s a safe, reliable means to get where you need to go.
Contact L Heiden