Does a water purifier work with well water? The Surprising Answer

Water Purification

Flickr Commons image via World Bank Photo Collection

My family recently moved from the city limits to a more rural piece of property out in the country in central Virginia. This got me thinking a lot about water sources and the different issues that arise in the country versus the city. For example, we have a reverse osmosis water purifier:

Will our water purifier work with well water?

The up front answer is, yes. Water purifiers can handle well water - and are perhaps even more necessary in that situation - just as they would handle city water. However, you can be more thorough about the transition, rather than just take my word that ours still works. 

It does, but here are a few things you can do to stay informed and make sure you're getting the best water purifier possible for your own well and situation.

Testing the Well Water

The first step to take if you have a well in working order is to have your water tested. I mentioned this in another article and it really is a crucial step to take. Depending on the location of your property and the site of the well, different tests may be recommended. A little digging into your state’s laws and your local area can help determine the most important things to test for first. I recommend starting with a certified drinking water laboratory that provides testing where you live. 

Forms of Purification

After gathering information on what to target in your well water, deciding on the best form of purification becomes much easier. No matter the impurities you would like removed, the next choice relates to how your system will be installed. If treating the entire house makes the most sense then you likely want a point-of-entry (POE) purification system to be installed at the pump. Another option, a point-of-use purification system can be installed at each faucet to treat water little by little instead of treating all the water coming from the pump at once. 

  • Whole Home Purification (Point-Of-Entry)
  • Reverse Osmosis Purifier (per faucet or point-of-use)

In order to get your well water as pure as possible you will likely need a multi step approach. The CDC has a very helpful list of the different levels of filtration and what they each effectively treat.

Reverse Osmosis Water System

A reverse osmosis (point of use) water purification system.

Common Bacteria and Diseases Prevented

As a side note, in case your high school biology is rusty, a Protozoa is a single celled organism such as an Amoeba which likes moisture. Toxoplasmosis and Malaria are some diseases caused by these little pests. Bacteria commonly found in water can be anything from e. Coli and Campylobacter to Vibrio Cholerea (the bacteria responsible for Cholera), and Hepatitis A, fecal Coliform, Rotovirus and Norovirus are all examples of viruses found in water. Now before I give you nightmares about the stomach bug let’s get back to the filtration process for well water to remove these little guys! 

Well Water Filtration

Microfiltration is the first level and works pretty well to rid water of Protozoa but doesn’t do much for viruses, bacteria or chemicals in the water. Ultrafiltration takes the water a step closer to being pure by treating for bacteria and even viruses. Nanofiltration will filter out the tiniest particles more effectively treating bacteria and even viruses in addition to Protozoa. This form targets the smallest particles including viruses and can also get some of the chemicals out of your water which are even harder to remove due to the fact that they dissolve in the water. In addition to these filtration processes distillation effectively removes chemicals from water by heating the water and turning it into vapor before condensing it into liquid again, leaving contaminates behind. Ultraviolet purifiers use UV rays to kill germs like e.Coli and Coliform in the water. 


In summary, treating well water may not be simple or quick but it is possible and in most cases worth the effort. My hope is that after reading this article you have an idea of where to start and can begin investigating your well water’s unique properties in order to best decide how to make it the most healthy for you and your family. 

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