Maintaining a Quality Reverse Osmosis System
If your community water supply is contaminated or produces hard water, a reverse osmosis system is one of the best ways to mitigate this problem. These state-of-the-art filtration technologies are affordable and easy to use, but do require expert installation and proper maintenance in order to achieve their desired effect.
We’ve created a nifty guide in order to have the longest-lasting filters and membranes in an RO system that will keep your water fresh, pure, and a delight to use around the house. Read on to make sure you’re the master of your water treatment supply domain.
Do Reverse Osmosis Systems Need Regular Maintenance?
This is a question that often gets asked far too late into ownership of an RO system. The answer is yes- routine maintenance should be performed on almost all RO systems.
Typically, these systems will have three, four, or five-filter stages. This will depend on the make and model of your RO unit, but for the most part, the timing and optimal practices for maintenance are very similar.
Regardless of what model you have, make sure to consult the plumbing professional who installed it about specific tips relative to your water supply and house for best practices. We recommend creating a calendar along with a short set of notes so that you’ll have iron-clad (but not lead-filled) water purity.
How do you Maintain a Reverse Osmosis System?
Now that we have established the necessity of regular cleaning and that most systems will follow the same general timing, let’s dive into the details.
It is important to know the components of RO systems and what they do; for the sake of maintenance, we should be paying attention to the pre-filter, the carbon filter, and the membrane.
- Pre-Filter: The pre-filter is the first line of defense against silt, sand, dirt, and other large particulate sediments. If it is not changed on a regular schedule, it can become clogged or bacteria-laden, which will then cause the RO membranes to get damaged. Make sure toe change your pre-filter every 6-9 months.
- Carbon Filter: After the pre-filter there is typically a carbon filter which is designed to remove chlorine and other smell/taste laden contaminants. This should be changed at the same interval as the pre-filter, as it’s easier to do both at once and the carbon filter is also only good for about 6-9 months.
- Reverse Osmosis Membranes: The RO process is actually referring to the passing of water through the RO membranes via pressure. The Membrane retains particles and contaminants, and pure water is passed out the other side and into your water supply. We recommend changing these membranes every two years, though some systems can go as long as three years without a membrane change.
As with all advanced plumbing solutions, these are guidelines and not strict rules. More importantly, your house, pipeline, and water supply could dictate longer or shorter time spans, and perhaps slightly different components to work with. Make sure that you are familiarized with the system you have; consulting your local plumbing professional is the best way to efficiently do this.
How to Clean and Sanitize Reverse Osmosis Systems
While it is going to be necessary to replace some of the components of your RO unit regularly, you can make sure you get the longest lifespan out of these parts by cleaning and sanitizing your system properly. While the process may seem daunting, we have broken it down into a few different steps that you can follow easily:
- Prep the area in which you are sanitizing so that there is no dirt or dust near it, and your hands are clean (and preferably gloved).
- Turn off all connected water supply lines such as cold water, refrigerators, or icemakers.
- Drain all the water from your RO system and then close it.
- Open the pre-filter compartment and if you aren’t replacing it, pour a solution such as Sani System or bleach into the housing. Reconnect the compartment and run the cold water supply to let the system fill with the sanitizing solution.
- Turn on the RO faucet and let it run for 15-30 minutes, especially if you are using bleach. After this amount of time, test to see if there is any chemical or bleach odor; if so, run water through in 5 minute increments until pure.
- Turn off the cold water supply and drain the RO system 1-3 times.
- Turn all your water supplies back on and allow time for the RO membrane to fill up your tanks and reservoirs.
There will always be slightly varying instructions for different models of RO system, but they are all based around flushing the compartments out with sanitizing solution. When performed properly, this protocol can greatly extend the life of filters, membranes, and your entire system.
How Long Should a Reverse Osmosis System Last?
A high quality RO system that is maintained properly should last between 10-15 years. This is contingent on the model as well as adhering to your specific maintenance and sanitization plan.
Keep in mind that some of the parts may also wear out cyclically, such as the faucet and the storage tank. The storage tanks are generally under warranty for 5 years, and the most common sign of needing to be replaced is difficulty to pump water out. This means that there is not sufficient pressure, and this is not a fixable problem.
Luckily, in the scheme of the savings you’ll get by having an RO system in your house, these infrequent replacements are very cost-effective. There’s a reason why reverse osmosis is lauded as one of the most environmentally and consumer-friendly water purifying techniques.
Get a Professional Consultation, Installation, and Maintenance Plan
At Deer Valley Plumbing, we have decades of experience in reverse osmosis plumbing solutions. We know that bad water quality can ruin daily life, and fixing it is of the utmost importance.
If you are looking to have a reverse osmosis system installed, or have one and would like a consultation about appropriate maintenance, please reach out to us. It would be our pleasure to help increase the quality of your home’s water supply.Back to Top