SpringWell Well Water Filter for Iron, Sulfur, and Manganese

SpringWell ULTRA Combo well water filter and softener

Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter System 600,000 Gallon

Best overall
★★★★★

Best total protection
★★★★★

Best under $1500
★★★★☆

The high-flow SpringWell Well Filter removes iron stains, sulfur odors, & metallic tastes using a cartridge-less air-injection system.

The SpringWell Ultra was the only system in our review to remove all common contaminants without sacrificing flow rate.

Popular for a decade, the Aquasana 600k Rhino combines baseline filtration for odors and bad tastes with hard mineral descaling for a good price.

SpringWell Well Water Filter for Iron, Sulfur, and Manganese

SpringWell ULTRA Combo Filter and Softener

Aquasana Rhino Whole House Water Filter System For Home Pro 10 Year 1,000,000 Gallon

Best overall
★★★★★

Best protection
★★★★★

Best under $1500
★★★★☆

The high-flow SpringWell Well Filter removes iron stains, sulfur odors, & metallic tastes using a cartridge-less air-injection system.

The SpringWell Ultra was the only system in our review to remove all common contaminants without sacrificing water flow rate.

Popular for a decade, the Aquasana 600k Rhino combines baseline filtration with hard mineral descaling for a great price.

Top 3 well water filtration systems (at a glance)

Best for most wells: SpringWell Well Water Filter System. We found this air injection filter was the best performing filtration system for removing iron stains and sulfur smells – the two most common well water issues. (Get 5% off SpringWell systems with the code CLEAN5).

Best protection: SpringWell Ultra Combo. With an iron filter, water softener, and optional UV purifier, the Ultra Combo was the only filtration system to completely protect against all well water contaminants, including bacteria & hard water.

Best under $1500: Aquasana 600k Rhino. For under $1500, this Carbon/KDF conditioning system offers the best mix of performance and value, including hard mineral descaling.

SpringWell Ultra customer install photo 2 of 2

How we chose the best well water filtration systems

In our 2022 review, tank-style filtration systems were the winners in each of our top 3 well water categories. While they cost more than cartridge filters, tank filtration systems provide better filtration, need less maintenance, and offer better value over their lifespan.

Iron and sulfur are often concerns for domestic well owners, causing annoying orange and brown stains, unpleasant rotten egg odors, and cloudy discoloration to tap water. The SpringWell Well Water Filter System is hands-down the best option for these contaminants.

For a filter capable of  all well water contaminants—including health risks like Giardia and Cryptosporidium. With multi-stage filtering and a salt-based softener, the SpringWell Ultra Combo blows every other filtration system out of the (well) water.

Hard water is another common issue, leading to mineral deposits and scale on pipes and appliances. Due to its lower price, baseline filtering power, and ability to condition hard water, the Aquasana 600K Rhino is great for simpler water softening.

Other important features to consider

  • Capacity (filtration system lifespan). The capacity of a water filtration system tells you when replacement parts are required. Tank systems have capacities up to 1,000,000 gallons and can last for 10 years. Cartridge whole-house filter systems have smaller capacities and need replacing every 6-12 months.
  • Flow rate (filtration system speed). Measured in gallons per minute (GPM), the flow rate of a water filtration system tells you how fast the system processes water. Look for whole house water filters with flow rates at least as high as the flow from your well. Most domestic wells have a rate between 3 and 10 GPM.
  • Maintenance Costs (long-term investment). If you’re planning to use your whole house water filter for more than 5 years, don’t be fooled by low upfront costs on cartridge style water filters. Compared to tank systems, these products quickly lose value for money due to the cost of annual replacement cartridges.

Scroll down to read our full guide on how to choose a well water filtration system.


Top 7 Well Water Filtration Systems of 2022

SpringWell_Well_Water_Filter_System
  • Flow: 12-20 GPM
  • Capacity: 10 years

  • Targets: Iron, Sulfur

  • Price: $2096

  • Rating: ★★★★★

Best well water filtration system
for iron and most wells:

SpringWell Well Water Filter

The SpringWell Well Water Filter uses an air injection filtration system, which is the most efficient way to reduce common US well water issues: iron and manganese stains, sulfur smells, metallic tastes, and water discoloration.

It was also the most powerful and best value filtration system in our 2022 analysis. It has an industry-leading flow rate of 12-20 GPM (compared to the 7 GPM Aquasana & Pentair models) and is the lowest-maintenance and longest-lasting filter among our top picks.

SpringWell’s Well Water Filter is a cartridgeless filtration system, meaning you won’t have to replace the filter media. This can save you hundreds of dollars per year.

It has a 10 year or 1,000,000 gallon lifespan and comes with a Bluetooth monitoring system to track water consumption data, ensuring your drinking water is always protected. Take an extra 5% off SpringWell systems with the code CLEAN5.

We don’t recommend the SpringWell Well Water Filter for:
  • Well water that contains high levels of chemicals or hard minerals
  • Well water that contains bacteria or viruses

Look to the SpringWell Ultra for a system that protects against these.

Contaminants removed by SpringWell Well Water Filter
  • 7 PPM of rust (clouding)
  • 7 PPM ferrous iron (orange or brown stains)
  • 8 PPM sulfur (rotten egg smells)
  • 1 PPM manganese (black stains)

Air injection tanks are a quiet and efficient way to remove rust, iron, sulfur, and manganese from well water. Compared to carbon or KDF filters like the Aquasana Rhino and Pentair PSE, they offer much higher filter performance.

Filter technology
  1. Air Injection (oxidization)
  2. Greensand filter bed
  3. Auto-backwashing

1. Air Injection (oxidizing air pocket): Water flows through a pocket of air at the top of the AIO tank, which oxidizes all the iron, sulfur, and manganese in the water supply. This ensures all forms of iron (soluble or undissolved) in the water can be effectively removed by the filter.

2. Greensand filter bed: the oxidized material or sulfur gas is then trapped in a filter bed made from a greensand fusion (the most common media for targeting iron) while the treated water continues to your faucets.

3. Auto-backwashing: Afterward, the system backwashes the contaminants from the filter bed and resets the pocket of air. The system uses an Empress Vortech Tank for fast auto-cleansing.

SpringWell Well Water filter Customer Photo SpringWell Well Water filter Customer Photo 2 of 2

Included with the SpringWell Well Water Filter System
  • Air-injection/Greensand AIO filter tank
  • Electronic, Bluetooth-compatible tank head
  • 50′ Drain Line
  • Bypass Valve
  • Hose Clamp
  • Installation instructions
  • Step-by-step installation video
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Free shipping
Best place to buy the SpringWell Well Water Filter

We recommend shopping directly from springwellwater.com for a lifetime warranty, 6-month return policy, free shipping, and a factory discount:

SpringWell Ultra Combo
  • Flow: 9 GPM
  • Capacity: 10 years

  • Targets: Everything

  • Price: $4797

  • Rating: ★★★★★

Best well water filtration system for
full
protection:

SpringWell Ultra Combo

If you’re looking for a do-it-all whole house water filter that will protect your family from health risks as well as bad tastes and hard water, the SpringWell Ultra Combo is pretty unbeatable.

With 5 different filtration stages, it passes water through an air injection filter, a carbon filter, an (optional) UV purifier, and a salt-based softening system. In our 2022 review, the Ultra Combo was the only water filtration system that fully covered against all common contaminants and health risks like iron, sulfur, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and viruses.

We don’t recommend the SpringWell Ultra Combo for
  • Wells with minimal filtering needs – this is a premium (and pricier) filtration system
Contaminants removed by the the SpringWell Ultra Combo
  • Sediment larger than 5 microns (silt, sand, rust, dirt, debris)
  • 7 PPM of iron, 8 PPM sulfur, 1 PPM manganese
  • VOCs
  • Pesticides, Herbicides
  • PFAS chemicals, PFOS chemicals
  • Chlorine, Chloramines
  • Hard minerals, Hard mineral scale
  • Bacteria, Viruses, Cysts (when the UV purifier is included)

We recommend the SpringWell Ultra Combo for well water that may contain:

Harmful contaminants like bacteria & viruses (UV model only), lead, pesticides, VOCs, or herbicides; bad tasting contaminants like Iron (orange & black staining), sulfur (rotten egg smell), sediment, sand, silt, clay, or rust; damaging, scale-causing contaminants like calcium, magnesium, and other hard minerals; hard well water with high levels of hard water minerals such as magnesium and calcium.

SpringWell Ultra Combo’s filter technology

Despite combining five filtration stages, the SpringWell Ultra Combo produces an impressive flow rate of 9 GPM—higher than both the Aquasana and Pentair systems.

Its 1,000,000 gallon capacity helps offset its higher retail price, as it should run for around 10 years with only low-cost salt refills required.

The SpringWell Ultra Combo is the only well water filtration system that removes all common well water contaminants. It includes five filtration stages, each designed to target a specific set of pollutants:

  1. Sediment filter (clouding and debris)
  2. Carbon filter (bad tastes and smells)
  3. Air injection (iron and sulfur)
  4. Optional UV filter (harmful bacteria and viruses)
  5. Salt-Based water softener (hard minerals)

1. The Ultra’s 3-tank system begins with a dedicated iron filter to remove discoloration and poor taste/smells.

2. It then sends water through a comprehensive whole-house filter designed to handle hundreds of common chemical pollutants.

3. A 5-micron sediment filter removes any larger particulate (dust, sand, silt, rust, etc),

4. And a UV purifier destroys pathogens, viruses, and bacteria (optional add-on).

5. Finally, water is softened to remove scale-causing minerals with either a salt-based ion-exchange softener or a catalytic conditioner depending on owner preference (the traditional salt-based softener is shown here).

SpringWell tank heads are even Bluetooth-ready, allowing you to control backwashing and filter cleaning remotely from a smartphone app.

SpringWell Ultra Combo customer photo 1 of 2 SpringWell Ultra customer install photo 2 of 2

Best place to buy the SpringWell Ultra Combo

As a comprehensive filtration solution, the SpringWell Ultra provides the ultimate peace of mind for well water users. Shop directly on springwellwater.com for factory pricing, a 6-month trial period, and a lifetime guarantee on the tanks and valves:

Visit site

Aquasana Rhino EQ-1000 with conditioner
  • Flow: 7 GPM
  • Capacity: 6 years

  • Targets: Chemicals, Scale

  • Price: $1469
  • Rating: ★★★★☆

Best well water filtration system
for hard water:

Aquasana Rhino 600K

Not all domestic wells suffer from serious contamination, and not all homeowners want to spend big on their water filtration system. If you need a whole house water filter that can reliably handle low-to-mid levels of common contaminants like organic chemicals, hard minerals, and lead, the Aquasana 600K Rhino offers great value for money.

Its carbon/KDF filtration media makes this system an all-around performer, while the salt-free conditioning tank effectively descales pipes and appliances.

We don’t recommend the Aquasana Rhino for
  • Well water that contains high levels of iron
  • Well water that contains bacteria or viruses

The SpringWell Ultra with UV is the best option for dealing with these contaminants.

Contaminants removed by the Aquasana Rhino 600k
  • Sediment larger than 5 microns (silt, sand, rust, dirt, debris)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • VOCs
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • PFAS chemicals
  • PFOS chemicals
  • Chlorine
  • Chloramines
  • Hard mineral scale
Filter technology
  1. Sediment filter
  2. Rhino water filter (carbon and KDF filter)
  3. Salt-free water conditioner (water softener)

1. The Aquasana Rhino includes a pre-filter to capture sediment larger than 5 microns that can cause clouding and damage pipes and appliances.

2. The main Rhino filtration tank contains a carbon filter for organic contaminants and bad tastes, plus a copper-zinc KDF filter to capture heavy metals. As a result, this system captures an impressive range of contaminants, removing lead, mercury, trace metals, rust, sediment, chemical solvents, pesticides, VOCs, and other common pollutants.

3. To condition well water once it’s been filtered, the Aquasana EQ includes a conditioning tank with a Scale Control Media (SCM). This salt-free technology suspends calcium, magnesium, and other scale-causing minerals as water passes through it, without scrubbing desirable minerals from the water supply.

Like the SpringWell Ultra and Pentair water filtration system, the Aquasana Rhino can also be purchased with a UV purifier to remove viruses, bacteria, and chlorine-resistant cysts. However, this does raise the price considerably.

Aquasana Rhino customer install 1 of 2 Aquasana Rhino customer install 2 of 2

(The main picture above shows the RHINO with the Pro-Grade Install Kit, which includes a bypass valve to keep water running while you perform maintenance. The Pro Install kit can be purchased alongside the RHINO system for under $1500 during one of Aquasana’s frequent sale events.)

Best place to buy the Aquasana Rhino

We recommend shopping directly from Aquasana.com for factory pricing and expert customer care:

Visit site

Pelican-whole-house-water-filter-pse1800-puv-300x300
  • Flow: 7 GPM
  • Capacity: 10 years

  • Targets: Taste, safety, scale

  • Price: $3424

  • Rating: ★★★★☆

Best UV well water filtration system:

Pentair PSE 1800-PUV

The Pentair PSE whole-house well water system includes multiple filter stages to capture sediment, bad tastes, odors, bacteria, and viruses—including a UV purifier as standard. This makes it appropriate for wells with serious contamination issues. The brand also invests in their own proprietary filter tech, such as their NaturSoft® no-salt softening device, which prevents 99.6% of scale with just 3 seconds of contact between the water and conditioning media.

It’s a pricey system, and at full retail cost, we think the SpringWell and Aquasana models above offer a better balance of filtration performance and value for money. But if you can pick up the Pentair PSE during one of the brand’s frequent sale events, you’ll be getting a great deal.

We don’t recommend the Pentair PSE for
  • Price: Try to buy on sale
  • Well water with high iron levels

Otherwise, we recommend the SpringWell Well Water Filtration System, or the Pentair WF4 if your well suffers from extreme iron contamination.

Contaminants removed
  • Sediments
  • Metals
  • Chemicals
  • Bacteria & viruses
  • Hard minerals
Filter technology

The PSE also loses out to SpringWell on flow rate. It achieves 7 GPM compared to a minimum of 9 GPM from the Ultra.

  1. Carbon & sediment filter
  2. UV filter
  3. Water conditioner

1. The Pentair’s There’s no air-injection tank in the Pentair PSE, which means it still doesn’t beat the SpringWell systems for well water with high iron or sulfur content.

2. The UV purifier deactivates bacteria, viruses, and common disease-causing pathogens like Giardia. While you can buy a UV add-on stage for the Aquasana Rhino and SpringWell filtration systems, that will considerably ramp up their retail price.

3. Pentair’s NaturSoft® no-salt water softener boasts better performance than Aquasana’s version, preventing 99.6% of scale with just 3 seconds of contact between the water and conditioning media. (We like how water conditioners let you retain the taste and health benefits of mineral water.)

Pelican PSE customer install photo 2 of 2 Pelican PSE customer install 1 of 2

Best place to buy the Pentair PSE

Shop directly with Pentair to get the best price on the PSE1800 and to take advantage of the brand’s frequent sale events:

Visit site

APEC-3-Stage-Whole-House-Water-Filter-System
  • Flow: 15 GPM
  • Capacity: 1 year

  • Targets: Iron, tastes

  • Price: $512

  • Rating: ☆☆

Best cartridge well water filter system:

APEC 3-Stage Filter System

For less than half the price of the Aquasana Rhino, APEC’s 3-stage Whole-House Filter System provides decent protection against common groundwater pollutants like iron, sulfides, and dirt.

You won’t get the same level of filtration or value for money with this cartridge-based water filtration system, but if you need a short-term whole house water filter for under $500, we think this is one of the best.

We don’t recommend the APEC 3-stage Filter for
  • Well owners with very hard water or concerns about microorganisms
Contaminants removed
  • Sediment
  • Iron
  • Chemicals
  • Bad tastes and smells
Filter technology
  1. Sediment filter
  2. Iron filter
  3. Granular activated carbon (GAC) filter

1. Like the other water filtration systems in this list, The APEC filter for well water first sends water through a sediment filter to remove sand, silt, scale, and rust. APEC’s sediment screen can catch particles down to a size of 30 microns, which is respectable, but certainly not the best in class. On the upside, the pleated cartridge is washable and reusable, saving on the cost of replacements.

2. To collect dissolved iron from a water supply, the APEC Whole-House Filter employs a manganese dioxide media, which converts dissolved, soluble iron into insoluble ferric iron. This enables the third filtration stage—a carbon filter—to effectively capture iron pollution.

3. Like almost every other multi-stage filter, the APEC finishes its treatment cycle with an activated carbon stage, helping to remove any remaining organic impurities and bad tastes. Here, however, the GAC media is particularly essential, as it’s designed to remove the insoluble iron produced by the previous stage of the system.

While each stage of the APEC filter is relatively basic in terms of technology, it does the job well, without diminishing the mineral content of water. One reviewer, who uses the APEC Whole House Filter for well water as part of a micro-brewery, was able to confirm that water filtered using the system retains a desirable makeup of salts and minerals, and doesn’t discernably affect water pressure, as compared to a bypass.

Best place to buy the APEC 3-stage Filter

You can find the best prices for the APEC 3-Stage Filter System on Amazon.

Full review

iSpring RO well water filter 300x300
  • Flow: 0.34 GPM
  • Capacity: 500 gallons/day

  • Targets: Everything

  • Price: $570

  • Rating: ★★★☆☆

Best reverse osmosis well water filtration system:

iSpring RCS5T 500

The iSpring RCS5T 500 offers a different solution to contaminated well water. Using dual flow reverse osmosis (RO) technology, this water filtration system can produce highly pure water on-demand without tanks. This means that those with limited space can still enjoy comprehensive drinking water protection.

The downside? Reverse osmosis filters have very low flow rates, meaning you’ll likely also need to invest in a water pressure tank to create true whole house water filtration.

We don’t recommend the iSpring Reverse Osmosis Filter for
  • Mid-to-large size houses without a water pressure boosting tank
Filter technology
  1. Sediment filter
  2. Carbon filter
  3. Reverse osmosis filter

While there are no tanks in the iSpring RCS5T 500, the system still contains multiple filtration stages. Alongside the main RO stage, this model combines three densities of activated carbon with a pre-filter to capture sediment and protect those delicate osmosis membranes.

1. Stage 1 passes source water through a 5-micron sediment filter to remove rust and particles that can cloud water and damage appliances, as well as other elements in the filter system. 5 microns is a good threshold, and matches the best sediment stages in other filters on this page.

2. Stages 2 and 3 hold activated carbon media that adsorb organic contaminants which can cause bad tastes and smells. The use of both Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) and a carbon block stage increases the number of organic contaminants that the iSpring is capable of handling.

3. Stage 4 is the filter’s main RO stage. Here, water is pumped through a membrane with micropores that are just 0.0001-micron wide. These are rated to capture 99.9% of common contaminants, including heavy metals and pesticide residues. Finally, stage 5 acts as a failsafe, using another carbon media to capture any remaining dissolved pollutants. Here’s how each stage connects:

Best place to buy the iSpring Reverse Osmosis Filter

You can find the best prices for the iSpring Filter on Amazon.

Full review

Culligan WH-HD200-C water sediment filter
  • Flow: 4 GPM
  • Capacity: 3-6 months

  • Targets: Sediment

  • Price: $155

  • Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Best well water filter for sediment only:

Culligan WH-HD200-C

The Culligan WH-HD200 is a sediment-only water filter that’s proven highly popular as a basic whole-house filtration system option. For the same amount as a kitchen filter, it offers whole-home protection from appliance-damaging sediment and other threats to water taste and appearance.

We don’t recommend the Culligan Sediment Filter for
  • Contaminant coverage (this is a sediment-only filter)
  • Low-maintenance. Users can expect to replace or clean the media every 2 months for fine sediments, and up to 6 months for rust and dirt
Contaminants removed
  • Sediment
Filter technology
  • Sediment filter

Culligan’s WH-HD200-C is made to fit several types of filter cartridges, which means it can be used to tackle a variety of water issues. Cartridges range from a coarse 50-micron media that will remove cloudiness caused by rust or scale, to 1-micron media designed to capture fine sands, silts, and bad tastes.

There are many different filter cartridges available for the Culligan filter. For example, the RFC-BBSA (medium sediment) filter can be purchased for around $29.72, while the R50-BBSA (coarse sediment) filter is approximately $12.71. Some filters can be cleaned and used multiple times.

Best place to buy the Culligan Sediment Filter

You can find the best prices for the Culligan Filter on Amazon.

Full review

How to choose a well water filtration system

How to Choose a Well Water Filtration System

Well water filtration systems are complex products.

They contain multiple filtration stages with different filter technologies. There’s also a bunch of brands, from the well water specialists, SpringWell, to industry giants Aquasana and Pentair. So choosing the right product can be confusing.

To make things easier, we’ve written this well water filter buyer’s guide. It’s designed to help you identify your filtering needs, and provide useful product comparison data so you can see which filtration system is the best fit for your domestic well.

5 steps to finding the best well water filtration system

1. Knowing your well water contaminants
The first step is to work out what’s hiding in your well water.

2. Selecting filtration system stages
Step two is about making sure your chosen system covers your needs.

3. Choosing a flow rate and capacity
Third, find a filtration system that won’t restrict the flow of water inside your home.

4. Bear in mind installation and maintenance
The fourth step is about weighing up filter tanks, cartridges, and your DIY skills.

5. Compare warranties and customer satisfaction
Finally, we’ll compare promo codes, warranties, certifications, and customer issues.

#1 Know your well water contaminants

Water filters are contaminant-specific devices. A filter designed for iron and sulfur won’t remove bacteria, while a sediment filter can’t handle chemicals.

As a result, you’ll need to work out what substances are contaminating your well, then choose a system with one or more relevant filtration stages.

ContaminantFiltration stageTaste/smell/appearanceEnvironmental indicatorsShows on home test kit?Contaminant typeHow common?Health risk?
IronAir injectionOrange color, stainingDiscolored waterYesMetal / mineralVery commonNone
SulfurAir injectionRotten egg smellVolcanic bedrockYesMetal / mineralModerately commonNone
Hard mineralsSoftener / conditionerClouding, scalePorous bedrock (limestone)YesMetal / mineralVery commonNone
SedimentPre-filter / micron filterCloudingLoose bedrock (clay, shale, sandstone)YesMetal / mineralVery commonNone
ChemicalsActivated carbonBad tastesLandfill, flooding, industry, agricultureYesChemicalLess commonLow
Plant matterActivated carbon / UVBad tastesFlooding, shallow well, cracked wellYesChemicalLess commonLow
Bacteria / virusesUVnoneFlooding, shallow well, cracked wellYesMicroorganismsLess commonHigh

There are three main ways to discover well water contaminants. We recommend using a combination of all three approaches:

  • Check your well water’s taste, smell, and appearance,
  • Look for contamination risks in your local environment,
  • Perform a well water test.
1. Well water taste, smell, and appearance

Some well water contaminants are easy to spot thanks to the way they affect water quality:

Sulfur another frequent well pollutant that creates a distinct, off-putting odor similar to rotten eggs. Manganese may occur alongside sulfur and iron, causing black staining.

Undissolved iron Non-dissolved iron is one of the most common contaminants in well water and often gives water an orange, rust color. It may also stain appliances and dishes.

Sediment Sediment such as silt, sand, rust, or debris can also contribute to water clouding and produce metallic or earthy tastes.

Hard minerals Hard water minerals are found across large areas of the US, and cause scale buildup in pipes and appliances, as well as clouding on stainless steel and glassware.

2. Use a home well water test kit

Home well water tests are cheap and widely available online and in hardware stores.

They indicate the presence of common contaminants that have no taste, smell, or appearance, such as bacteria, viruses, and heavy metals.

Here’s our full post on how to test your well water.

3. Look for local environmental indicators

Another way to identify well contamination is to take note of the features in your local environment.

For example, areas with lots of industry, agriculture, or urbanization may produce chemical runoff that washes into shallow wells.

If your region experiences frequent drought, then changes to the water table can increase the amount of mud and sediment in your well shaft.

Here are some common environmental features, and what the EPA says you should test your well water for if they occur:

If you noticeThen test for
Gastrointestinal illnessColiform bacteria
Pipe corrosionpH, lead
Nearby intensive agricultureNitrate, nitrite, pesticides, coliform bacteria
Coal or other mining operationsMetals, pH, corrosion
Dump, junkyard, landfill, factory, gas station or dry-cleaningVolatile organic compounds, total dissolved solids, pH, sulfate, chloride, metals
Odor of gas/gasolineVolatile organic compounds
Objectionable taste or smellHydrogen sulfide, corrosion, metals
Stained plumbing fixtures, laundryIron, copper, manganese
Scaly residuesHardness (Manganese, iron)

Source: epa.gov

#2 Select the right filtration stages for your well water

Once you know what kind of materials you want to remove from your well water, it’s easy to select the right type of well water filtration system with the relevant filter stages.

Different whole-house systems use different methods to filter well water. The most common filtration methods are air injection (oxidization), activated carbon, sediment screening, reverse osmosis, and ultraviolet purification.

ProductsCarbon / KDFUVConditioner / SoftenerAir Injection / Oxidizer
SpringWell Well System✔️
Aquasana Rhino✔️✔️
Pentair PSE✔️✔️✔️
SpringWell Ultra✔️✔️✔️
APEC 3-Stage Filter System✔️✔️
iSpring RCS5T 500✔️
Culligan WH-HD200-C
Air injection filter – for iron, sulfur, and manganese
SpringWell Air Injection Filter

SpringWell’s Air Injection system targets iron and sulfur

Iron, sulfur, and manganese are some of the most common well water contaminants.

If your well is contaminated with dissolved iron, an air injection filter will oxidize the iron into a non-dissolved form, which is then captured in a filter bed.

In our 2022 review, the only filtration systems with air-injection tanks for powerful iron filtering are the SpringWell Well Filter and the SpringWell Ultra Combo.

Carbon filter – for chemicals, bad tastes, and bad smells
Aquasana Rhino Carbon Filter

The Aquasana Rhino UpFlow carbon filter stage

Some well water contains weird smells and bad tastes. This may be due to contamination from organic and industrial chemicals like VOCs, benzene, or trihalomethanes.

In these cases, use a filter with an activated carbon stage.

Carbon cartridges are the most common type of media found in home filters. They’re highly effective at capturing organic compounds that affect the taste, smell, and appearance of water.

The Aquasana Rhino system has one of the most popular and effective activated carbon filter media on the market.

Sediment filter – for silt, sand, dirt, and rust
Culligan sediment filter

The Culligan supports multiple cartridges to target different types of sediment.

To remove undissolved particles and debris from your well water, choose a filtration system with a pre-filter or sediment micron filter.

Pre-filters or sediment screens are designed to remove larger contaminants from a water supply, and will usually filter down to the 5, 10, or 30-micron level.

The SpringWell Ultra, Aquasana Rhino, and Pentair systems all come with a 5-micron sediment filter as standard.

Removing sediment from a water supply helps reduce cloudiness and increases the lifespan of other filter stages and pipes. Many sediment screens are washable and reusable.

Water softener – for hard water minerals

If your well contains hard minerals that cause scale build-up in your dishwasher or clouding on your glassware, choose a filtration system with an integrated water softener or water conditioner.

Traditional water softeners use a pure salt solution to draw scale-causing minerals like magnesium and calcium from the water supply. This changes the feel of water, giving it the characteristically ‘soft’ sensation.

The SpringWell Salt-Based Softener in action

The SpringWell Salt-Based Softener in action

On this page, the SpringWell Ultra is the only system that comes with a salt-based water softener.

Water conditioners are salt-free devices that don’t remove hard minerals from the water supply. Instead, they reformat the minerals so they don’t stick to surfaces.

For wells where hard minerals are the only troublesome contaminant, read our page on the best water softener for well water.

UV purifier – for bacteria, viruses, and cysts
Pelican's UV Purifier

Pentair’s UV Purifier

If your well water is unsafe to drink due to the presence of microorganisms, use a UV purifier or a reverse osmosis filter to remove pathogens.

UV purifiers use high-intensity bulbs to shine ultraviolet through water, inactivating any microorganisms living inside. The UV rays disrupt the DNA of viruses and disease-causing cells, making them safe to drink.

In the Pentair system, a UV stage comes as standard. If you’re interested in the Aquasana Rhino or either SpringWell system, you can get an optional UV add-on (for a price increase).

#3 Choosing a flow rate and capacity

Measured in Gallons Per Minute (GPM), flow rate is a measure of how much water a filtration system can process at a single time.

You’ll need a system with a flow rate that exceeds the flow of your well or the average flow rate demands of your home (whichever is higher).

Choosing the right capacity filter for your home’s size will have a big effect on flow rate. Filter systems designed for 1-3 bathrooms will run out quickly and may not provide an adequate number of gallons per minute if pushed to perform beyond capacity.

ProductsFlow Rate (GPM)
SpringWell Well System12-20
Aquasana Rhino7
Pentair PSE7
SpringWell Ultra9
APEC 3-Stage Filter System15
iSpring RCS5T 5000.34
Culligan WH-HD200-C4
Average well water flow rates

The original water pressure from your well plays a role in how your system will perform. If your well flow rate is far below your home’s needs, a water filter system won’t do anything to resolve this issue.

Proper well drilling and functioning well pumps are essential to ensure adequate pressure enters the system in the first place.

Most wells have flow rates between 3 and 6 GPM, which is around the lower estimated average needs for a household. That’s why it’s important to find a filter setup that won’t seriously restrict water flow.

Average home appliance flow rates

As a very general rule, the average American adult uses around 100 gallons of water per day. When they draw water, they tend to do so at an average flow rate of 5 GPM.

In other words, if you add up the total time a person spends interacting with water appliances and fixtures, it usually equals around 20 minutes per day.

Here are some average flow rates for standard home appliances:

Appliance Average flow rate
Faucet 1 – 3 GPM
Shower 2 – 4 GPM
Dishwasher 2 – 4 GPM
Laundry machine 3 – 5 GPM

Regardless of the filtration system, most homes on city water and well water can’t support the simultaneous flow demand of all of their appliances.

Instead, work out how many appliances you regularly use at the same time, and use that number as your maximum GPM requirement.

You’ll likely find that your max flow rate is between 5-10 GPM, depending on home size and the number of adults living there.

Homes running on flow rates under 2.5 GPM are usually designated as “low flow.”

If you’re in a household with more than 3 bathrooms, 2 adults, or a larger family, you may find that the Aquasana Rhino and Pentair systems can’t meet your flow rate demands.

Here, SpringWell leads the industry for high flow tanks that can keep up with high water consumption habits.

How to maximize the flow rate from your well
  • In general, the more filter stages that a system contains, the more that flow rate will be affected. So try to only install the filter stages relevant to your well supply.
  • Small changes to your household routine, such as only taking one shower at a time, or not running the laundry machine and dishwasher simultaneously, can help to lower your flow rate demands.
  • Clean filter cartridges have a lesser effect on flow rates than those clogged with dirt and debris.
  • Doubling up two smaller systems in a dual-flow setup may result in a faster flow rate than using a single larger system.
  • Electrical pumps that add pressure to your system can provide a small boost in GPM.
ProductsCapacity (gallons)
SpringWell Well System1,000,000
Aquasana Rhino600,000
Pentair PSE1,000,000
SpringWell Ultra1,000,000
APEC 3-Stage Filter System80,000
iSpring RCS5T 500500 max per day
Culligan WH-HD200-C24,000
Average filtration system capacity needs

Most filtration systems that use tanks to house filter media and process water come in two or three different sizes. This helps accommodate different water consumption levels without overspending on excess capacity.

The capacity of cartridge-based filter systems varies widely depending upon the type of filter media and the size of the cartridge.

In general, capacity is roughly estimated at 100,000 gallons per year. So:

  • The 1,000,000 gallon tank in the SpringWell Well Water Filter should provide 10+ years of maintenance-free filtering.
  • The 600,000 gallon tank in the Aquasana Rhino should provide 5+ years of maintenance-free filtering.
  • The 80,000 gallon capacity cartridges in the APEC 3 Stage System should provide 6+ months of filtering.

The more polluted your water, the shorter the tank or cartridge lifespan will be.

Things to bear in mind with well water filter capacity

The higher the capacity of your filtration system, the longer it should run without the need for any maintenance or replacement parts.

Filter tanks with capacities in the hundreds-of-thousands of gallons can run for many years without being touched. Cartridge-based systems, on the other hand, need replacement parts and cleaning every 6-12 months.

For homes on a well, we recommend filter tanks. Check out the next section on how to weigh up the costs of cheaper cartridge systems vs long-lasting tanks.

#4 Weighing up installation and maintenance costs

There are some practical considerations in this section. Do you have the room to install large filtration tanks? Or will you need to fit a cartridge system into a tight space?

If you’re comparing the price of tank and cartridge systems, it’s important to add-up the costs of replacement cartridges over the expected filter lifespan.

ProductsFilter life (years)Size
SpringWell Well System10Single tank
Aquasana Rhino6Double tank
Pentair PSE10Double tank
SpringWell Ultra10Triple tank
APEC 3-Stage Filter System0.5 - 1Cartridge/under-sink
iSpring RCS5T 5000.5 - 1Cartridge/under-sink
Culligan WH-HD200-CvariableCartridge/under-sink
How to think about filter system tank and cartridge replacement costs

If you have the space and DIY skills/extra budget to install a tank filter system, don’t be scared off by the base retail price.

While it’s true that cartridge-based systems are much cheaper to purchase, comparing the cost of both types of filters over an extended period reveals some interesting results.

Cartridge filtration system Lower retail price Limited filtering ability Frequent replacement parts needed
Tank filtration system Higher retail price Stronger filter performance Often maintenance-free

The cartridges in lower-priced filter systems usually last between 6-12 months, depending upon consumption habits and the quality of well water.

Over the lifespan of the largest tank systems (10 years), that means a significant payout for replacement parts.

As a result, those looking to use their filtration system for more than five years may lose money by opting for a cartridge-based product.

Cartridge costs example

Here’s an example based on one of the most recommended “budget” well water filters: the iSpring WGB32BM 3-Stage System.

iSpring 3 Stage filter system

iSpring 3 Stage filter system – Not as cost-effective as you might think.

This iSpring filter retails for $535.90, which may seem like a good deal for those looking to make savings. However, it contains three cartridges that all need to be replaced once or twice per year:

Product Cost Purchase frequency
iSpring 3-Stage System $535.90 Once
Iron & manganese cartridge $99.99 6 months
Carbon cartridge $61.99 12 months
Sediment filter $32.99 12 months
10-year cost $3,485.50

So, while you may save over $2500 on the initial base price of the iSpring, you’ll actually pay more over the course of 10 years in replacement cartidges than if you’d chosen the most expensive filtration system on our list.

In addition, you’ll be paying extra for inferior filtration performance. Unlike the Pentair PSE, the cheaper iSpring has no UV purifier, Softener, or Air Injection system.

AND you’ll have so much more maintenance to complete, replacing cartridges and cleaning out the system twice a year.

Well water filtration system installation tips

With the right tools and experience, it’s possible to install most whole-house filters by yourself. Bear in mind, however, that you’ll be making changes to your home’s main water line—so always consult a plumber if unsure.

Brands like SpringWell design their products with DIY installation in mind. Reviews of the SpringWell Ultra Combo, a reasonably complex system, suggest that if you have rudimentary plumbing skills, you can save hundreds of dollars on labor costs.

Other brands, like Aquasana, put less focus on home installation. Reviews of the Aquasana EQ suggest that most customers hire a professional plumber for assistance.

The basic phases of installing a whole-house filter include:

  • Choosing the right location. Try to install the filter directly where water enters the home.
  • Cutting pipes. When the water supply is turned off, the water pipe can be cut to make room for the system. Teflon tape, grease, and O-rings can all help provide a tight, leak-proof seal.
  • Checking flow rate and flushing. Once the system is fitted, most filters require flushing for minutes or hours before they can function optimally.

#5 Comparing warranties and customer satisfaction

If something unexpected goes wrong with your filtration system, or you realize that you chose the wrong product for your well water, it pays to find a product with a generous warranty and return policy.

ProductsWarrantyMoney-back deals
SpringWell Well SystemLifetime tanks and valves6 months
Aquasana Rhino6 years90 days
Pentair PSE12 years60 days
SpringWell UltraLifetime tanks and valves6 months
APEC 3-Stage Filter System1 yearAmazon return policy
iSpring RCS5T 5001 yearAmazon return policy
Culligan WH-HD200-C2 yearsAmazon return policy
How to understand satisfaction / money-back guarantees on water filter systems

Increasingly, consumers expect to be able to test whether large purchases work for them. Trial periods or satisfaction guarantees offer this luxury, letting you install a filtration system and see whether it fixes your water issues before you commit.

But it’s important to read the full terms of any no-questions-asked return policy. Check for restocking fees, specific conditions, and whether you’re responsible for any large return postage costs on heavy tanks.

For example, SpringWell offers the most generous money-back guarantee period, with a 6-month trial period. However, they don’t cover shipping and charge a sizeable 25% restocking fee.

How to read a well water filter warranty

Generally speaking, tank filtration systems come with a lifetime limited warranty, while cartridge systems are covered for 1-3 years of regular use. However, always read the full terms and conditions if you’re interested in coverage.

3 key warranty terms to look out for:

  1. Which components are covered (tanks, valves, fittings, etc.)
  2. Whether “product lifetime” has a defined limit.
  3. Water quality limits that may void the warranty.

Full Comparison Table – Well Water Filtration Systems

Compare all the most important details and features of each well water filtration system.
SpringWell Well Water SystemAquasana EQ RhinoPentair PSESpringWell Ultra ComboAPEC 3-Stage Filter SystemiSpring RCS5T 500Culligan WH-HD200-C
SpringWell Well Water Filter for Iron, Sulfur, and ManganeseAquasana RHINOPelican whole house water filter pse1800-puvSpringWell ULTRA Combo Filter and SoftenerAPEC-3-Stage-Whole-House-Water-Filter-SystemiSpring RCS5T 500 well waterCulligan Sediment Filter for Rust, Sand, and Debris
CategoryBest overallBest under $1500Best UV systemBest for full protectionBest cartridge under $500Best reverse osmosisBest sediment-only
PriceMidLowHighHighLowLowLow
Air Injection / Oxidizer
Carbon / KDF
Sediment / Micron
Softener / Conditioner
UV PurifierOptional add-onOptional add-onOptional add-on
Flow rate (GPM)12-20779150.344
Capacity (Gallons)up to 1 millionup to 600,000up to 1 millionup to 1 million80,000500 per day24,000
Replacement costsNew tank 10+ yearsNew tank 6-10 yearsNew tank 6-10 yearsNew tank 6-10 yearsNew cartridge 6-12 monthsNew cartridge 6-12 monthsNew cartridge 6-12 months
SizeSingle tankDouble tankDouble tankTriple tankCartridge / under-sinkCartridge / under-sinkCartridge / under-sink
Money-back deals6-months90-days60-days6-monthsAmazon return policyAmazon return policyAmazon return policy
WarrantyLifetime tanks and valves6-10 years (capacity-dependent)12 yearsLifetime tanks and valves1 year1 year2 years

Well Water Filtration Systems: Frequently Asked Questions

well-water-filter-graphic

Straightforward answers to some of the most common well water filtration system questions.

What’s the difference between a whole-house and a regular water filter?

Whole-house filter systems (sometimes called point-of-entry filters) are built to be installed at the earliest possible point in a home’s plumbing, where mains water enters the building. They often have large tanks, require electrical input, include a bypass valve, and can span the length of an entire wall!

Using a whole-house filter means that every faucet inside a home benefits from filtration treatment. That’s why whole-house filters often include water conditioners, which benefit showers and laundry machines.

How much should whole-house water filters for well water cost?

The cost of whole-house water filters can vary widely, from around $50 for a sediment filter to upwards of $3,500 for a comprehensive system capable of handling toxic contaminants.

To make sure that you’re paying the right amount of money for your needs, test your well water to identify which filtration stages are relevant.

Consider your water usage—whether you need a more expensive system with storage tanks that increase its capacity, or a lower-cost filter that processes water on-demand.

It’s also important that you don’t underspend on a whole house filter, both for personal safety and to preserve the lifespan of your appliances. For example, it may cost more to purchase a dedicated iron filter alongside other components, but if iron is a significant contaminant in your well, then it’s likely to keep the rest of your system performing at a high standard for longer.

The approximate costs of a whole-house filter for well water breakdown as follows. Price ranges take into account device capacity and filter technology:

A standard whole-house filter, containing a sediment screen, carbon blocks, and a KDF filter $350-$1,000
A water conditioner or softener $500-$1,000
A reverse osmosis filter or other specialized stages $500-$2,500
A tanked iron filter $1,500-$2,000
An ultraviolet purifier $750-$1,000

On top of the base price of a filter system, you should budget for the annual costs of replacement cartridges, maintenance, and upkeep of the well itself. Some filter types, such as UV purifiers, also need 24/7 mains electricity.

The good news is that the annual costs of running a well water filter are often less than the price of city water bills.

Finally, professional installation of your filter may need to be paid for, depending on the filter system and your own DIY skills. Labor costs can range between $250-750.

How do I install a whole house water filter for well water?

1. Choose an install location. The first step in installing a water filter is to select an easily accessible location. Look for a horizontal run following the main valve in the home (before water is sent to different rooms). If you can’t find a suitable spot, you can tee off a vertical section and mount the filter system there.

2. Make a cut in the water pipe. Hook up a hose to the drain valve to remove all the water in your (opening a faucet on an upper floor helps). Mark a section of pipe to be removed, following manufacturer instructions to make sure there’s enough space to accommodate the filter and any connecting fittings.

3. Solder copper conntections. It’s time to finish your installation after you’ve successfully fitted your system and installed bypass or shut-off valves. Solder can be used to join copper piping, or Teflon tape can be used to create a tight fit between plastic connections.

4. Check for leaks and flush the system. It’s likely that your new water filtration system will need a few hours to flush before it’s ready to filter your well water. During this time, carefully inspect all of the new connection points in your water line for leaks.

Why does my well water smell bad?

A common issue for well owners is water that produces nasty and distasteful smells. Causes of bad smells in well water are often due to contamination from bedrock, bacteria, or decaying plant matter that finds its way into the well.

In many of these cases, the substance responsible for causing the bad smell is sulfur. Sulfur can exist as sulfate in rock or sulfide gases that are produced when bacteria feed.

To reduce the level of sulfur in well water, there are several home solutions available. Filtering your water with a carbon filter or an air injection filter (such as is available in the SpringWell Ultra) should reduce both unwanted smells and sulfur levels.

For wells with significant sulfur bacteria contamination, chlorine, peroxide, or other chemical disinfection is often the way to go.

Normally, sulfur is not considered a dangerous well water contaminant. While it smells bad, it tends to only have negative health effects when present in very high concentrations.

Many people who regularly drink well water that contains sulfur build up a tolerance to the substance. Because of this, homeowners may be able to drink their water without issue, while guests may experience gastrointestinal upset.

Is iron in my well water dangerous?

Iron is one of the most common contaminants in well water. It’s present in large amounts in the soil around groundwater and can leach into water from corroded pipes.

Iron contamination gives water an orange, rust color, may cause an unpleasant metallic taste, and can even stain appliances and dishes.

Iron bacteria in well water

Despite the taste and discoloration, however, iron contamination is not considered a health risk by the EPA. In small amounts, iron may actually impart health benefits.

To remove iron from well water, it helps to know what type of iron contamination you’re dealing with:

  • If your well is contaminated with ferric iron, then a sediment filter can help to catch iron particulate as it passes through.
  • If your well is contaminated with dissolved ferrous iron, then a KDF filter or air injection filter will convert iron into a non-dissolved form, with is then captured.
  • If your well contains high levels of bacterial iron, then the best approach is usually to shock chlorinate your well with chemical disinfectants.

If you’re looking to reduce the amount of iron in your water supply, check out our review of iron filters below, or read our post on how to remove iron and get rid of brown well water.

Is groundwater more contaminated than other water sources?

As the USGS points out, the quality and safety of well water are highly dependent on the geography surrounding a well. There’s nothing to say that groundwater is inherently less safe than other water sources, but wells can be severely compromised by features in the local landscape.

It’s important to know your well depth, as the type of groundwater it can access determines how vulnerable your supply is to surface contamination.

Both natural events and human activity can affect the composition of groundwater:

  • Sitting rain and snow-melt can accumulate microorganisms before seeping into wells
  • Leaks from septic tanks and nearby roadways can introduce pathogens and chemicals.
  • Heavy metals and solvents from industrial centers leach into the soil, which are swept into waterways.

While many of these contaminants can be worrying, the good news is that there are filter systems capable of removing every threat to your domestic well.

Affiliate Disclaimer: Cleancoolwater.com is proud to be a reader-supported website. To keep our content free, we may earn small commissions when you click on a link or buy products through our pages. Commissions do not affect our review process.