Reverse osmosis, or RO, is a water purification process. It involves forcing water through a semipermeable membrane to separate large particles, ions, and unwanted molecules from it. The freshwater produced because of the process is called the permeate, and the waste is called the reject.

 A semipermeable membrane has tiny pores that allow water molecules to flow through. Because contaminants are more significant than these pores, they are left behind and unable to enter the less concentrated side of the membrane. As a result, only clean water flows through.

How Does an RO System Work?

RO systems filter water in stages. When water first enters an RO system, it undergoes prefiltration. Carbon and sediment filters work together to remove chlorine, VOCs, dirt, dust, and sediment from the water. In the next stage, the water is forced through a partially permeable membrane that removes tiny particles.

After filtration, the water moves to the system’s storage tank, where it is stored until needed. Finally, the water enters a dedicated faucet. Whenever someone turns the tap on, the filtered water comes out of the storage tank through a postfilter that polishes it to remove any remaining fine dust particles, taste, and odor.

Why Do RO Systems Have a Storage Tank?

RO systems filter water slowly. A typical RO system needs one minute to filter 3-5 ounces of water. Your RO system’s storage tank ensures you have enough filtered water and do not have to wait for your glass or bottle to fill after turning the faucet on.

What Contaminants Does an RO System Remove?

RO systems remove sediments, copper, chromium, lead, sodium, chloride, arsenic, volatile organic compounds (commonly known as VOCs), herbicides, pesticides, sulfates, fluoride, and nitrate.

RO systems do not remove most organic compounds or dissolved gases such as carbon dioxide, radon, methane, or chlorine by-products. Top-of-the-line RO systems may remove some types of bacteria. Even if your RO system removes some types of bacteria, bacterial contamination could occur. You may ask, how? Bacteria can grow on your RO system’s membrane and enter your water supply over time. To prevent contamination, have a professional thoroughly sanitize your RO system annually.

Some Benefits of RO Systems

An RO system is highly effective at removing contaminants. It can remove 98 percent of the total dissolved solids in your water. RO systems provide filtered water on demand. They are more energy-efficient than many other types of water purification systems.

An RO system uses significantly less electricity and can help you reduce your electricity bill. RO systems are easy to install and maintain and do not take up much space. They remove bad taste and odors from water, making it fit for human consumption. RO water is more environmentally friendly and healthier than bottled water.

Where Can an RO System Be Installed?

You can install your RO system under a sink. A point-of-use RO system can also be mounted in the back of a cabinet, garage, or basement. You can connect an under-sink RO system to your refrigerator.

Reverse Osmosis Systems Are More Environmentally Friendly Than Many Other Water Purification Systems and Bottled Water

An RO system does not use chemicals to purify your water. Because the water drained from your home is already devoid of chemicals, there is no need to remove chemical contaminants from wastewater when it reaches a water treatment plant. This speeds up the water recycling process.

Bottled water is not suitable for the environment. Substantial resources are required to produce plastic bottles and transport bottled water from water treatment plants to retail outlets.

The bottling process wastes several gallons of water. Plastic bottles are discarded at the end of their service life. Non-recyclable plastic does not decompose quickly and can harm the environment. A reverse osmosis system provides filtered water on demand and can help you reduce your consumption of bottled water. 

Also, RO systems do not use electricity and can help reduce dependence on energy produced by burning fossil fuels. Want to reduce your carbon footprint? Use wastewater to wash your car, for household chores such as washing dishes and clothes, and to water plants, after diluting them with tap water to reduce TDS in them. You can use RO wastewater in your toilets and washrooms.

How Long Do RO Systems Last?

An RO system can last 10-15 years with proper care and maintenance. To keep your system working at its peak efficiency, change its prefilters and post filters every six months or a year. The RO membrane must be replaced every 2-4 years, depending on water quality.

Tips to Maintain an RO System

Like all other water purification systems, RO systems need ongoing care and maintenance. Periodic maintenance keeps your system functioning smoothly. It addresses current problems and prevents potential problems.

Carry out these critical maintenance tasks regularly to keep your system working at its peak efficiency:

  • Replace your RO membranes and filters every year.
  • Inspect the pressure nozzle regularly to make sure it is working properly.
  • Thoroughly clean and sanitize the pipes at regular intervals – every year or every two years.
  •  Have a professional inspect and maintain your RO system twice a year.
  •  Check the system for leakages.
  • Keep the outside section of your system clean.

Things to Consider When Selecting an RO System

  • RO style: Quick-change cartridges vs. drop-in and standard cartridges
  • Your budget
  • Ease of installation and maintenance
  • System capacity and efficiency
  • Cost of RO system parts

Weeks Drilling & Pump Co. is a reputable groundwater firm in Sebastopol. We also help homeowners and business owners choose suitable water treatment systems for their homes and offices and install them. To schedule pump service in Santa Rosa, call (707) 823-3184.