Water from a public utility must meet strict health requirements. If you think that your water is unsafe, have it tested by a local health department, the utility company, or an extension service office of a state university.
Even safe water may have a bad taste or odor, and it may produce stains. A filter could be the solution.
If chlorine causes water to taste bad, a temporary solution is to run water into a pitcher and let it sit in the refrigerator overnight. By morning much of the chlorine odor and flavor will be gone, making the water more palatable.
Hard water -- water laden with minerals -- can hinder the lathering action of detergent, making it difficult to clean clothes. Hard water may also stain fixtures and ceramic tiles and clog pipes. A water softener uses ionization to solve these problems. It also can remove rust from water.
An hour or two
Tools for working with copper or galvanized pipe, groove-joint pliers, canister wrench
Working with copper or galvanized supply pipe
Find a convenient location to install the filter so that you can change cartridges easily.
Water filter, pipe adapters, shutoff valve, perhaps a jumper wire with clamps
Install a ball or gate shutoff valve on the house side of the water filter. Remove the insides of the valve before sweating the valve body in place. (Some plumbers like to install a bypass loop with additional stop valves so water can be rerouted should the entire filter unit need replacing.)
Purchase the adapters you need to connect the filter to your size and type of pipe. (These parts may come in a kit, but be sure they fit your pipes.) Install the adapters on either side of the filter. Hold the filter in place and measure for cutting the pipe that emerges from the new shutoff valve.