​How to Maintain Your RO System for Best Performance

Posted by
Freeman Linton

How to maintain a reverse osmosis system

A high-quality reverse osmosis drinking water system will last for many years if it is properly maintained. In fact, we’ve been in business for almost 30 years and have seen many RO systems last 10 to 15 years. To make your system last longer, here’s what it takes:

Regular Filter Changes

First, pay attention to the filter change schedule in your RO system’s owner’s manual. Your RO system may have three, four or five stages, so know exactly what filters are in each stage of your system (per your owner’s manual) and pay careful attention to when each filter is due for replacement.

Sediment Filter: 

Your sediment filter should be changed out every 12 months. This pre-filter stage is designed to strain out sediment, silt and dirt and is especially important as the sediment filter protects dirt from getting to the delicate  RO membranes. If you fail to change this filter on schedule, dirt and silt can reach the RO membranes which can then easily become clogged and foul.

Carbon Filter:

The carbon filter is designed to remove chlorine and other contaminants that affect the performance and life of the RO membrane as well as the taste and odor of your water. This filter should generally be replaced every 12 months, also.

Reverse Osmosis Membrane:

The semi-permeable RO membrane in your RO system is designed to allow water through, but filter out almost all additional contaminants. If you take care to replace the previous sediment and carbon filters on schedule, the RO membrane should only need to be replaced every two to three years. Of course the schedule will vary based on the quality of your water and household water usage.

Polishing Filter:

In a four-stage RO System, a final post filter will “polish” off the water to remove any remaining taste and odor in the water. This final filter ensures you’ll have outstanding drinking water.

Failure to change out filters per their replacement schedule can not only cause damage to the system, but will also cause a decrease in water production. Thus, if you notice a decrease in water flow from your RO faucet, that may be an indication that your filters have reached the end of their life span.

NOTE: If you purchase your replacement filters and membranes from us, we'll send you reminder emails when it's time for a filter change.

RO Filter Change Schedule

How to Clean and Sanitize Your System Annually

Second, we recommend that you sanitize and recharge your system annually--at a time when you’re changing out filters. You can hire a local water treatment professional to do the job or you can do it yourself.

If cleaning yourself, you’ll want to consult your owner’s manual for specific details on how to sanitize your system, but here’s the process in general terms:

  • Shut off the main valve completely
  • Next dispense all of the water from your RO faucet
  • Remove the sediment and carbon filters from their housing
  • Remove the RO membrane from housing
  • Keep the filters out of their housings, but screw the housings back in place
  • Pour about 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into stage one housing
  • Reattach all connections
  • Turn the main valve back on
  • Allow the system to run (without the filters, the storage tank will refill rapidly)
  • Let the system run at least through 2 cycles
  • Shut off the main valve again
  • Install the new filters
  • Let the tank fill back up and then drain one more time

At this point, your RO system should be ready for use! Repeat this process once each year.

Can an RO System Address Hard Water?

No. If you have a high level of water hardness, you may consider installing a whole-house water softener. Calcium and magnesium (the minerals that make water hard), are difficult for an RO system to remove and can clog and foul the RO system. Thus, a water softener will address the water hardness issue (calcium and magnesium) prior to the water reaching your RO unit and protect it.

An RO system, in turn, will remove salt left behind from the softening process so that you have clean, delicious drinking water.

We carry a variety of Reverse Osmosis systems for the home and business. Visit us at ESPWaterProducts.com