Your Buying Guide to Reverse Osmosis Systems

Reverse osmosis system for residential use

If you are unhappy with the way your tap water tastes or you have started to notice a strange colored stain in your sink or toilet, your water may not be using the proper treatment. Reverse osmosis (RO) systems have been around for decades, and are a popular and efficient way to purify and filter your water for any household and commercial purposes.

This blog article will talk about the RO process used to filter your water supply, the benefits of installing an RO water system, and how much it may cost to add one to your home.

What is a Reverse Osmosis Water System?

A reverse osmosis water system is a water treatment unit that utilizes several filtration stages to remove impurities like lead, fluoride, pesticides, detergents, and more. The main difference between an RO water system and other water treatment systems is the thin membrane that is used as the primary filtration step in an RO system.

Each reverse osmosis water system has several stages of filtration before and after the RO membrane, and those vary based on the manufacturer and the system you purchase. RO water systems vary in size, and you can install them for a single faucet as a point of use (POU) system or an entire household as a point of entry (POE) system.

How Does a Reverse Osmosis System Work?

A reverse osmosis system uses water pressure to force incoming water through several filtration stages, including the primary semipermeable RO membrane, to remove impurities from your water. The particles that reverse osmosis systems can remove, such as salt, heavy metals, and dissolved minerals, are not as easily removed by other water treatment systems.

Stages of Filtration

The main filtration stages include a sediment filter to remove particles, a carbon filter to remove chemicals, a reverse osmosis filter (RO membrane), and a polishing (carbon) post filter to do a final removal of odor and taste remaining in the water.

There are optional stages of filtration that you can add to your reverse osmosis system and these include additional sediment filters for smaller particles, and UV lights to kill bacteria and remove nitrates.

Removing the Contaminated Water

After purification, the filtered water goes into a holding tank, and the contaminated water, or wastewater, goes down your waste drain. A downside to RO systems is that for every gallon of water purified, four gallons of water will go down the drain as contaminated wastewater.

Components of an RO System

Reverse osmosis systems contain the filtration stage components such as the filters, membrane, and storage tank, as well as several other components. These other components include:

  • A cold water line valve that connects to your water supply
  • An automatic shut off valve (SOV) that turns off the RO system when the storage tank becomes full
  • A check valve to prevent water from flowing backward out of the storage tank
  • A flow restrictor to regulate water flow heading through the RO membrane
  • A specialized faucet that is installed directly to your sink
  • A drain line that connects to your homes drain system to remove wastewater

Why Install a Reverse Osmosis System?

Installing a reverse osmosis system will improve water taste and smell by removing impurities, save you money, and give you peace of mind with simple maintenance options. You will no longer need to buy cases of water bottles to avoid bad smelling and tasting water, and depending on the RO system you install, you may be able to maintain some of it yourself.

Always reach out to a professional if you are unsure or have questions about the best way to maintain your water treatment system.

Types of Reverse Osmosis Membranes

The two most prevalent RO membrane filters used in residential reverse osmosis systems include the Thin Film Composite (TFC) and Cellulose Triacetate (CTA) membranes. There are also region-specific reverse osmosis membranes that specialize in treating brackish or saline water.

The TFC membrane cannot treat chlorinated water and must have a pre-treatment carbon filter present to filter water from chlorinated municipal water supplies. The CTA membrane can treat chlorinated water, but removes less standard contaminants and is susceptible to bacterial fouling.

You may want to consider one of the optional filtration stages depending on the type of RO membrane you choose.

What is Not Removed by Reverse Osmosis?

Reverse osmosis cannot remove pesticides and herbicides because they are smaller than the membrane pores and can easily pass through each stage of filtration. Reverse osmosis cannot remove all chlorine from your water, either. While reverse osmosis can remove some chlorine, it often cannot remove all of it.

Reach out to your local plumbing professionals if you have concerns about what is in your water, and find out how to treat it. Garden Spot Mechanical offers water testing for your home, so reach out today and find out what’s in your water!

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Reverse Osmosis System?

The cost for a reverse osmosis system and its installation depend on the type of system you purchase and the professional you hire to install it. As we talked about above, you can put an RO system under your sink for a specific faucet, or add it to your entire home.

A single faucet system can cost anywhere from $150 to more than $1000 for professional installation, plus the cost of the RO system. Adding an RO system to your entire home involves a lot more moving parts, and you should reach out to a local plumber to talk about system recommendations and labor costs.

Considering a Reverse Osmosis System for Your Home?

At Garden Spot Mechanical, our plumbing staff is ready to talk with you about adding in a reverse osmosis system to your home. We can also work with you to schedule an appointment to get your water tested. Reach out today to schedule an appointment and get on your way to a cleaner, better-tasting tap water!