Last night’s episode of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia ended with Danny DeVito’s character Frank Reynolds launching a water filter scam. After spending the entire episode working residents into a lather over gun ownership rights, and profiting by investing in co-ownership of a gun shop beforehand, he goes on a local news program to warn residents that 90% of the water they drink is contaminated. It was hilarious.
The reason why the episode and the scene were hilarious, however, is a bit more troubling – and it’s not because our drinking water is poison. It’s because these types of scams are still very common. Because most of us feel as though we can relate to this, most of us will laugh. But some, unfortunately, will walk away thinking everyone selling water filters is running a scam. So I’d like to set the record straight just a bit.
First off – your drinking water, whether you pull from a well or municipal source, is not chock full of dangerous poisons. Unless you receive a formal notice of a boil water alert or advisory, your drinking water will very likely not make you sick.
What your drinking water is full of are dissolved solids. Dissolved solids can include everything from the iron commonly found in well water, to organic material left over from decomposing leaves, to de-icing salts used in snowy climates. Municipal water will also commonly contain chemicals designed to help purify the water, such as chlorine, while well water may sometimes emit a rotten egg smell caused by hydrogen sulfide. Depending on the type of dissolved solids in your water, your drinking water may pose some avoidable health risks long-term.
The EPA has set water quality standard guidelines dictating that our drinking water must register below 500 mg/L of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS.) For reference, I’ve included a screencap below of the TDS score in my personal zip code that I generated with a tool available on the Zero Water website. As shown – my TDS score is 111. My drinking water won’t kill me, but there are some undefined contaminants I would prefer that I not put in my body, or my dog’s body, or my pregnant wife’s body.
On a personal note, WaterFilters.NET sells both Zero Water and competing products, so I try to keep these posts agnostic when it comes to a brand. But I can share that I recently purchased a Zero Water pitcher and tested my water before and after. Without sharing my score after, as this could be seen as a shameless plug, I can say that I was quite pleased.
My purchase of a Zero Water pitcher set me back enough where I had to budget for it, but not even close to the point where I would need to finance it. And this is probably the key point to keep in mind when you put on your scam guards.
In late 2012, residents in the Twin Cities suburbs of Richfield, St. Louis Park and Edina were pressured into a common water filters scam whereby a man talked his way into the homes of residents, performed scare tactic water testing and tried to sell them on a $6,000 water filtration system.
For reference, I live in Minneapolis, in a 100-year old home with 100-year old pipes – and my drinking water tested at only about 1/5 EPA guidelines. A good, reasonably priced water filter pitcher was all I needed. Those in the Minneapolis suburbs listed above, living in much newer homes, will likely have cleaner water than me. There is little to no reason they would need to spend $6,000 on a filtration system.
There are some homeowners in other parts of the country – especially those that pull from a well – that may want to consider an investment in a more lavish system. They may hear reverse osmosis – a very science-y term that must be attached to a very lucrative system.
Reverse osmosis is science-y and it is incredible. But it doesn’t have to set you back $6,000. Browse through our selection and the most expensive current offering (as of September 2013) is that tankless reverse osmosis bad boy to the left – and it tops out at just under $700. Most are in the $200-300 range.
On a final personal note, if you are concerned about your water and considering an upgrade in your water filters or system, you may be tempted to invest a significant amount to ensure the health of your family. In starting my job here, I was the exactly the same way.
My first week – I asked about setting up my own home with a top of the line whole house water filter system. And I was told – flat out – it just was not necessary for my needs based on where I live. I spent a much smaller amount on a good water filter pitcher – and my water has never tasted cleaner. I even have some money left over to replace our ice maker filter before our next fancy party.
When you call into our customer service team (1-888-801-7873) – I can assure you that you will be treated the same way. No scams, no tricks, no one out to get that quick big sale. We are here because we care about your drinking water quality and we want to send you the right solution while becoming your go-to source for clean water information. Laugh off the water filter scams – and better yet – tell us about any you’ve experienced in a comment below.
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