Reverse Osmosis Maintenance


How to maintain a reverse osmosis system

If properly maintained, a high-quality reverse osmosis drinking water system can last for many years. In fact, we’ve been in business for 20+ years and have seen many Reverse Osmosis systems last 10 to 15 years. To help your RO system last longer, here’s what we recommend for RO maintenance.

Replace Reverse Osmosis Filters on Schedule

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.

Keeping it Simple: To simplify the replacement process, we offer filter replacement "bundles" for many different reverse osmosis systems. Start by selecting the brand of your RO system > followed by the specific model you own. Note that the RO membrane only needs to be replaced every two years. That is why you'll see one filter replacement set without the membrane, and another replacement kit WITH the to maintain a reverse osmosis drinking water sytsem

Below is some general information about how long specific filters in your reverse osmosis water filter system should last.

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. This 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. The RO membrane is the most expensive filter in the RO system, so it's important to protect it.

Learn more about sediment filters >>

Carbon Filter:

The carbon filter is designed to filter lead, pesticideschlorine and many other contaminants that affect the performance and life of the RO membrane as well as the taste and odor of your water. Your RO system might include both a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter as well as a carbon block filter. Both types of carbon have excellent adsorption capabilities. Both the carbon block filter and the polishing filter (GAC filter) should be replaced every 6-12 months. The lifespan of a carbon filter will vary depending on how dirty or contaminated the water is. Carbon quality, humidity and usage can also factor into how long a carbon filter can last. A complete list of what contaminants carbon filters can remove is available at

Learn more about carbon filters >>

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 (GAC) 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 is a GAC (granular activated carbon) filter mentioned above. The GAC 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.

reverse osmosis filter replacement schedule

Reverse Osmosis Maintenance Checklist

We recommend that you sanitize and recharge your Reverse Osmosis system annually--at the same that that you change out your 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 RO system owner’s manual for specific details on how to sanitize your system, but below are the RO sanitizing process in general terms. More thorough RO sanitizing information is available HERE, but an abbreviated version is available below.

How to Clean and Sanitize Your System Annually

Tips Before You Start:

Reverse osmosis annual maintenance

  1. If sanitizing system when new filters will be installed, all new filters should remain in the original packaging until it is time for replacement.
  2. Ensure the service area should be free of any excess dirt or dust.
  3. Wash hands with soap and water, and/or wear sanitary gloves.
    • 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 Reverse Osmosis system should be ready for use. Repeat this process once each year.

Can a Reverse Osmosis System Remove Hard Water?

Reverse Osmosis systems can remove some of the minerals that make water "hard". But they're not designed for that. If you have a high level of water hardness, you may need to install 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 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.