The 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water filter is a great choice if you are looking for a low-cost water filtration system for your whole house.
It’s cheaper because it is a single-stage system. Unlike most other whole-house filters, there is no sediment pre-filter. There is only one carbon filter that removes chlorine, dirt, sediment, and rust from your water.
So I recommend this filter only for homes that receive chlorinated city water. If the chlorine taste and odor are bothering you and affecting your skin, this filter will help.
Since it is a single-stage filter, the installation is rather easy and quick, though you need to buy a few parts separately.
The cartridge has a capacity of 100,000 gallons or roughly 1 year of use for an average size family.
Read on for my full review of the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 whole-house water filter.
If you are looking for a bigger filter (2 or 3 stages) or you want a filter for well water, read our 2019 whole house filter buying guide for the best recommendations.
The AP903 is best for homes where the main concern is the level of chlorine in the water. That’s because this is what the filter is primarily designed to remove.
It’s a single-stage filter consisting of just one cartridge with active carbon media inside.
As such, it doesn’t remove a wide range of contaminants and impurities compared to the more common 2 and 3-stage filters.
Its filtration performance is also not at the level of a multiple stage whole-house filter. If your water contains a high level of impurities, you’ll find yourself replacing it every few months.
There are customers who had to buy a new $200 filter every 2-4 months.
Including a pre-filter for sediment would have been great but it would have made the AP903 pricier and more tedious to install.
That’s why we recommend it only for municipal/city water that is already relatively clean – low level of sediment, few chemicals, and minimal rust and turbidity – and the main issue is the chlorine.
If your water has a lot of particles and scale, you are better off with a bigger 2 or 3-stage filter.
When it comes to removing chlorine, the AP903 does an excellent job.
Customers say they noticed a difference immediately after installation. Their water tasted and smelled fresher and when they showered, they no longer smelled as if they had just come out of a swimming pool.
Something to keep in mind about this filter is that it does not remove harmful microbes.
If you are concerned about different viruses and certain bacteria being present in your water, it will not help. Either install a UV filter after the 3M Aqua-Pure filter or get an under-sink reverse osmosis system just for your drinking and cooking needs.
It also doesn’t remove chloramines, powerful disinfectants made by combining ammonia and chlorine. If your city uses chloramines to disinfect water, this filter will not help.But for chlorine and low levels of sediment, it’s the best value whole-house filter you can buy.
The filter comes with spare parts and accessories. Here’s what you’ll get:
Plus the manual of course.
Here are the extra parts that you’ll need:
Plus all the essential tools that you’ll need for installation.
Because it is a single filter cartridge, installation is fairly easy. It shouldn't take you more take you more than an hour.
But if you decide to install the bypass system, it will take a while longer.
The filter should be installed on the main water line just after the water meter. Switch the water supply off and empty the system by letting the taps run empty.
Lay out all the parts and tools and get to work by cutting the water line and connecting it to the filter head. Use the mounting bracket (included) to secure the filter head to the wall.
Only use PTFE tape for the threaded connectors to prevent leaks.
Once the filter head is secure and connected to the waterline, screw on the cartridge until it clicks into place. You don’t need a filter wrench to screw on the cartridge.
Turn on the water and check for leaks.Leave one tap to run for around 10 minutes to flush all the carbon fines out of the system.
These are optional, but I recommend you go ahead and install them as they’ll save you a lot of trouble when doing maintenance.
Install one before the filter and another after.When replacing the filter or doing any maintenance, you can easily shut off water flow on both sides to prevent a mess when you unscrew the cartridge.
This one is also optional but convenient when you are doing maintenance on the filter.
A bypass system allows you to redirect the water around the filter. This maintains water flow to the house when you need to replace the cartridge or repair any leaks.If you decide to install a bypass, you’ll need more fittings and three valves.
You don’t have to install pressure gauges. They only help you monitor water flow in and out of the filter.
If the water flows out of the filter drops, that means the filter is clogged, and you need to replace it.If you decide to install pressure gauges, install two of them; one before the filter and the other immediately after.
One of the best features of the 3M Aqua-Pure AP903 is the high water flow.
Most whole-house water filters have a water flow of 15 gallons per minute. The AP903 can filter up to 20 gallons per minute.
The high flow rate is great for large families that use a lot of water. You’ll not notice a drop in pressure in your faucets and shower.
We also love the easy installation.
Admittedly, it comes at a sacrifice (only one stage of filtration), but it’s nice to be able to install a whole-house filter in under an hour.
The low price point is something else a lot of homeowners are going to appreciate. The AP903 is half the cost of standard whole-house filters.
You do miss out on the performance benefits of a multiple stage filter, but it’s not a big deal if your biggest concern is chlorine.
Another of our favorite features is the easy mess-free cartridge replacement. It takes a quick 5 minutes to install a new cartridge.
Unlike other filters, the media in the AP903 filter is not removable. Therefore, it is not required to touch a dirty and wet carbon filter or wash the housing before putting a new filter in.
With the AP903, you simply unscrew the current cartridge and screw in the new one. It’s as simple as that.Remember to shut off the water valves before you remove the old cartridge. If you have a bypass installed, simply redirect the water until you are done.
We don’t like that it is a single-stage filter. This is not an issue if you only want to remove chlorine and your water is relatively clean.
But if your water has a high level of sediment or rust, the single-stage design won’t do. The filter will clog too quickly, requiring a replacement every few months.
It’s also not the filter for you if you are worried about VOCs, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals in your water.
It does not remove chemicals as well as a 3-stage filter.
Another major gripe is that the carbon filter does not remove chloramines – only chlorine.It’s also useless against hardness minerals and harmful microbes.
The 3M Aqua-Pure Whole House Water filter is not for everyone. It has a lot of limitations, which I have described in the review.But if you are searching for a budget-friendly whole-house water filter that can effectively remove the taste and odor of chlorine from their water, then you should know that this one provides the best value for your money.
Ed is a water specialist in Tampa, FL. He built CleanerSofterWater.com to help his friends and family learn about DIY solutions to common water quality issues in the home.
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