Reverse Osmosis has become one of the most popular and effective forms of domestic water treatment. While this type of system is designed to offer the highest quality drinking water, it does need some care and maintenance to ensure that it continues to offer optimum efficiency. So, here we will explore some of the maintenance issues you’ll need to address with your new RO system. 

Filter Changes 

Generally, RO systems will have up to 5 filter stages. These stages can vary based on the model, but your system may have between 3 and 5 filters. While each model can differ, there is some basic maintenance that will apply to most units.  

The first filtration stage is usually in place to protect the RO membrane. Water is passed through a prefilter that is designed to eliminate any sand, silt, dirt or other types of sediment. Prefilters typically need to be changed between every 6 to 9 months. If you don’t change the prefilter on schedule, it can become clogged or foul, so it is no longer able to protect your delicate RO membranes.  

The second filtration stage is typically a carbon filter. This is designed to eliminate any traces of chlorine or other contaminants that can affect the odor or taste of your water. This is a vital stage as chlorine can cause significant damage to an RO membrane. Again, this filter needs to be changed every 6 to 9 months. 

The third stage is the actual reverse osmosis. RO is essentially a separation process that utilizes pressure to push water through the membrane. Any contaminants are retained on one side of the membrane and flushed away, allowing the pure water to pass through. Water typically passes through the membrane at approximately 35 psi (pounds per square inch). This is a rate of approximately two drops a second, which obviously exerts pressure on the membrane. Typically RO membranes have a lifespan of 2 or 3 years, but the specific lifespan will depend on your household usage and the local water conditions.  

Your system may also have a final carbon filter to “polish” your water. As the final stage of the treatment cycle, a carbon filter can remove any odors or tastes that remain in the water. Carbon filters typically need to be replaced every 6 to 9 months. 

The Importance of Your Filter Replacement Schedule 

If you neglect to change the filters or forget about the details of your schedule, there is a risk that your water quality will be compromised. Over time the system will start to produce less water and ultimately will be unable to produce any water at all. A decrease in water production is a reliable indicator that your filter or membrane has reached the end of its useful life.  

Additionally, some of the filters are designed to protect the membrane and ensure that your water quality is not compromised. This means that it is vital to set a reminder and stick to your replacement schedule. Since many of the filters require changing twice a year, you won’t be able to rely on the replacement being synchronized with your annual system service.  

With proper care and maintenance, an RO system can last up to 10 to 15 years, so it is important to ensure that your system properly looked after.  

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.