If I said the phrase “reverse osmosis maintenance,” would you understand what it meant? Don’t worry if you don’t.
In its simplest form, reverse osmosis (RO for short) is a method of maintenance that helps to ensure a longer life for your RO water filter (there’s an interesting article about how they work here). There are other types of filter systems that you may have in your home, which is why I’m going to show you some tips on how to keep them in good condition.
If you observe these twelve water filter maintenance tricks, you’ll only be doing you and your system favors in the long run.
1. Change Your Filters Regularly
Whether you use sediment filters, carbon filters or pool filters, there’s no escaping the fact that eventually, they will need replacing. Nothing lasts forever, unfortunately.
One thing you want to be doing is changing them at the right time. Replacing them too soon will be a waste of money. Likewise, leaving them too long can cause problems with your water (imagine the taste!)
So how long is acceptable? There’s no definitive answer to that.
Some commenters from one source say that they manage well enough changing them every few weeks. Maybe every month or so.
Some signs that your filters may need changing include:
- The water tastes off
- There is notable dirt
- Visible cracks
- Water flow is restricted or won’t come out at all
Did you also know that water filter cartridges can be measured in both months and gallons? Some will even come with an expiry date, so that will really help you out.
The best thing you can do is do some minor research to see what’s best for your set up. It’s also a good idea to note down when you last changed your filters for reference.
2. Have a Regular Cleaning Routine
You need to make sure you avoid a build-up of impurities in your filter system. The easiest way to achieve this is by keeping it clean on a regular basis.
Fortunately, many systems will have instructions on when and how to keep them clean. You might be lucky enough to have one that already comes with its own cleaning kit.
In any case, you need to be cleaning regularly to help keep them in shape so they can provide the output you need for longer.
3. Let the Water Settle
Before you pump your water, check to see if there is any sediment. If there is, one tip is to let it settle first.
Aside from not drinking dirty water, one of the advantages of doing this is it stops your filters from getting blocked up by dirt.
The key to keeping your water and your system clean, is to just have a little patience. Wait for the water to settle until its more clear before you use it.
4. Pre-Filter with a Piece of Cheesecloth
Okay this one might sound a little odd. But a good tactic is to pre-filter your water using cheesecloth.
Typically it’s used for cheese (hence the name), but it can also be used in water maintenance.
If you don’t have any cheesecloth lying around, in a pinch you can just use a regular (clean) cloth. Some places even recommend a scrap of cotton t-shirt as well.
The more you know!
5. Observe Correct Storage and Safeguarding
It’s not just about cleaning and maintaining your water systems correctly. It’s also a good idea to make sure it’s stored properly.
If you are using it on a regular basis (daily, perhaps), then you may want to collapse after cleaning. Allow it to dry in a broken down state.
Do also be careful with your filters. We know that keeping them clean on a regular basis is vital. But bumps and drops can have an impact in the longevity of them.
Essentially, as well as storing them properly, make sure you keep them protected from being damaged.
This also includes protecting them from the elements, such as when it freezes over.
6. Store out of Sunlight
Leading on from correct storage, it’s important that you keep your filters out of contact with direct sunlight for too long.
This sounds like it might contradict the previous point about leaving it out to dry after being cleaned.
It’s okay to keep it in sunlight for short periods. But exposing it to the sun for too long is going to damage the filter’s life.
Anyone who’s ever left anything plastic out in the sun for too long knows this. It’s the same for your filters.
7. Replace the Charcoal
Charcoal (or carbon) filters are great for removing impurities from water. There are basically two types to choose from:
- Powdered Activated Carbon (PAC) – which has a smaller particle size and may be less effective; and
- Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) – which is the better of the two, however, PAC is more effective at removing a larger number of water impurities.
If you have a filter system that uses charcoal, make sure you get it replaced over time.
8. Keep an Eye on Your System
This kind of ties in with overall maintenance that I’ve mentioned. However, keeping an eye on your water system as a whole will give you a better chance of understanding how to keep it in tip-top form.
Your system should come with an instruction manual. So long as you haven’t tossed it into the trash, make sure you get acquainted with it.
Get to know your reverse osmosis system, your fridge water filter, your pool filter, or whatever you have. Otherwise, any maintenance you do is just going to be guesswork.
There’s an old Internet acronym that goes: RTFM. I can’t say what it means, but it’s basically a call to action for getting people to read their manuals (I won’t say what the F stands for!)
9. Don’t Pump Water After Heavy Rainfall
If you live in an area that’s prone to stormy weather, you may already know this. But just in case you don’t, it’s recommended that you don’t pump your water immediately after a downpour.
A good tip is to try and get an idea of when heavy rainfall is approaching. Grey clouds are usually the best sign. You might also want to keep an eye on the weather.
Then you can pump any water that you already have before the storm comes. Otherwise, you’ll be drinking murky water after the fact. Try to keep enough for a day or two.
10. Research the Cleanest Sources Available
In a survival situation, you might not be able to gather water by simply turning on the faucet. You may need to source it elsewhere.
This might not be a huge issue for many people, but on the off chance you’re cut off from a regular water supply, your filters are going to be put through their paces.
If you need to gather from afar, try to go further than just your local area. You may have to filter whatever you have, so it’s worth going the extra mile (perhaps literally) to find a cleaner source of usable water.
11. Gather Rainwater
I’m going to go all Bear Grylls on you here. Sticking with the survival tactics, a good source of water comes from the sky itself.
Rainwater can actually be cleaner than just regular surface water. If you’re a handy type, it’s possible to catch a lot of this run off into a barrel for later use.
Filtering it into your system before it even hits the ground can greatly reduce the amount of sediment that’s in your water. This, in turn, will help maintain your filtering system and keep it in good condition for longer.
This image gives you a brief idea of how you can catch the rain when it falls onto your roof.
12. Only Filter What You Need
Just like how you save money on your bills by only using electricity when you need it, you should do the same for your water as well.
You don’t want to be wasting clean water that your system has purified for you.
This might not sound like an obvious tip. But the more clean water you waste over time, the more you’ll have to filter back through.
This is only going to put your system into unnecessary overtime. Eventually, all that work will add up and you’ll notice a reduction in performance.
At some point, you will probably have to replace your entire system sooner than you thought.
Reverse Osmosis Maintenance: Tried and True
The point here is to try and increase the lifespan of your water system.
Things like reverse osmosis maintenance, changing filters, reading your instruction manual and correct storage will help in the long run.
It doesn’t matter what type of system you have, wear and tear are going to happen. But with proper care, I want to make sure that you get the absolute most out of what you have.
You can check out more our posts on water filtration, such as this one about ways filtered water can help improve your life.