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How To Maintain Your Reverse Osmosis System For Crystal-Clean Water

RO maintenance

Maintaining an RO system is not hard. For the most part, you just need to replace the filters and membrane every once in a while.

With proper maintenance, a reverse osmosis system can easily last 10-15 years.

Proper RO maintenance also ensures the system continually produces contaminant-free water that’s safe and healthy for your family.

Here’s everything you need to know about maintaining your reverse osmosis system

Filter Replacement

Reverse Osmosis filters

An RO system consists of three main filtration sections: pre-filtration, reverse osmosis, and post-filtration.

Pre-filtration typically consists of three filters: a sediment filter and two carbon filters.

Because these filters are the first ones in line, they tend to collect a lot of impurities, and unlike the RO membrane, they are not flushed.

So over time, they can become clogged, which greatly reduces filtration performance.

This affects water quality and can also damage the sensitive RO membrane.

Most RO systems have pre-filters that last 12 months. Cheaper systems use lower quality filters that last six months.

However, if you receive well water in your home, the filter life will be half the stated period.

If the normal replacement period is 12 months, replace the filters after every six months instead.

That’s because well water contains a higher number of sediment and dissolved solids. So the filters work harder and capture more impurities; hence, they don’t last as long before clogging.

Membrane Replacement

ro filters replacement

Replacing the RO membrane on time is essential for keeping the water clean and safe.

An old membrane has lower filtration performance. It will allow more and more impurities through, including potentially dangerous microbes. 

The average lifespan of most RO membranes is 2-3 years. Cheaper systems might have a 1-year membrane.

If you use well water, replace the membrane sooner. You can use a TDS meter to track TDS (total dissolved solids) levels in the purified water.

If levels start to go up, you know it’s time to replace the membrane.

Cleaning and Sanitizing the RO System

Sanitize RO system

Clean the filter housings every time you replace the pre-filters. The only exception is if you have a Home Master RO system.

Home Master filters have a modular design. You replace the filter housing and cartridge at once.

For other systems, cleaning the filter housings removes any dirt, mold and other impurities that may have settled in the moist environment.

To clean the filter housings, just rinse them with warm water and dish soap. Rinse twice more with water only then put in the new filter cartridges.

Every year, you should also sanitize the system. This is a more thorough cleaning process that targets microbes and contaminants inside the tubes, the membrane housing, and other components.

To sanitize the RO system, you’ll need to run a bleach solution through the system and leave it to soak for a while before rinsing and flushing the system.

Read our quick step-by-step guide on how to sanitize a reverse osmosis system.

If you replace your filters once a year, you can do the cleaning and sanitizing at the same time.

If you replace them 2-3 times a year, clean the housing during every replacement but sanitize only during one of the replacements.

RO System Maintenance Tips

RO maintenance
  • In addition to the filters and membrane, check which other components the manual recommends replacing and make sure you get new ones on time.
  • If you receive hard water at home, consider installing a water softener before the RO system. Hard water can strain the filters and membrane, reducing their lifespan. A water softener removes hardness minerals that can clog the RO filters. The RO system, in turn, removes salt added to the water by the water softener.
  • Watch out for leaks and deal with them before they get worse. The problem could be a loose connection or a broken O-ring. Open the connection where water is leaking and see if you can find out what the problem is. A new O-ring and some plumbers tape or lubricant stop most leaks.
  • Occasionally check the pressure of the reserve tank using a pressure gauge. Make sure the tank is empty before you check. It should be between 6-8 psi. If it’s too low, you might hear water constantly going down the drain and experience low water flow from the faucet.
  • Use a moist cloth to occasionally wipe dust and dirt from the exterior of the filters and reserve tank.
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