Why Reverse Osmosis Water Filters Probably Don't Make Sense For You
Editor's Note: With lead, chromium 6, and GenX contamination gaining attention in national press, a lot of people have been rushing to buy reverse osmosis (RO) systems to filter their water because they've been incorrectly told that it's the "best way to filter everything." We hear a lot from people who bought & installed a reverse osmosis system, weren't prepared for the downsides, and ended up replacing it with a Hydroviv under sink water filtration system soon thereafter. This article lists the 5 things that we commonly hear from people who regret buying a reverse osmosis water filters.
Most Of The Filtration Is Done By Consumable Prefilters
When you look at the components of a reverse osmosis system, you quickly see that reverse osmosis is only one part of the overall system. There are typically 2 or 3 consumable prefilters found upstream of the reverse osmosis membrane that filter chlorine-based disinfectants, pesticides, pharmaceutical products, VOCs, bacteria, sediment, and heavy metals... and need to be replaced in regular intervals. The reverse osmosis step is typically the final “polishing” step.
If You Don't Change The Prefilters Religiously, You Could Ruin The Reverse Osmosis Membrane
In addition to providing a great deal of filtration performance, the prefilters actually protect the critical membrane in the reverse osmosis stage. If a reverse osmosis user doesn't change these prefilters in time, chlorine "breaks through" and flows into the RO membrane. Unfortunately, most RO membranes are irreversibly damaged by even low levels of free chlorine, and the entire reverse osmosis system will need to be replaced. Also, much to the surprise of users, there isn't really an easy way to know if this degradation has taken place. We've heard from several reverse osmosis users in DC, Pittsburgh, and NYC who were shocked to find high levels of lead coming out of their reverse osmosis water filter when they tested their homes' water. It turned out that they changed out their prefilters a bit too late, which ruined their reverse osmosis membrane, but they kept drinking the water.
"Installation Requires Drilling Holes Where?"
Most people who buy a reverse osmosis system assume that they’ll be able to handle the installation. Many quickly change their mind after learning that they’ll need to drill a hole in their home’s drain pipe (for the filtration system’s waste line) and another hole in their countertop or sink (for a dedicated faucet). Unless you are confident in your abilities, be sure to budget a couple hundred dollars for professional installation. You certainly don’t want to ruin a granite counter top or crack a drain pipe.
Your Under Sink Storage Will Disappear
If you have a garbage disposal, you’ll want to take measurements to make sure that the filtration system will fit under the sink. In addition to the manifold that holds the prefilters and reverse osmosis components, you’ll need to allow space for the storage tank, which is larger than a basketball. There's a reason why most pictures of installed reverse osmosis systems do not show a garbage disposal. For some people, this isn’t a big deal, but for others (particularly in cities where space is limited), it’s a major problem.
Your Water Usage Will Go Up
Reverse osmosis systems work by using pressure to force water through a membrane, which leaves behind impurities in a solution that many referred to as brine or backwash. This solution leaves flows through a waste line that connects to your home’s drain pipe, so the removed contaminants go right down the drain. People who draw their water from private wells are particularly troubled by this. Most consumer-grade systems generate 3-15 gallons of waste water per gallon of produced purified water.
Flow Rates Are Slower Than Expected
One of the most common problems that we hear from people who purchase reverse osmosis systems is that the water pressure is very bad and they end up not using the filtered water, which defeats the entire purpose of having a filtration system.
If you have any questions about the advantages and disadvantages of a reverse osmosis system and whether or not a reverse osmosis system is the best way to filter your water, we encourage you to take advantage of Hydroviv’s “Help No Matter What” approach to technical support. We promise to help you select an effective water filter system, even if it’s not one that we sell. Reach out through live chat or by emailing us (email@example.com)
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- Water Experts