Ultimate Guide To Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance (Updated 2019)
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Written by: Donavan Jones on August 23, 2018

The Definitive Guide To Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance – Learn How to Drain, Clean & Service Your System

Reverse osmosis system maintenanceReverse osmosis is one of the most popular ways to treat your water. That’s why it is very important for you to perform regular reverse osmosis system maintenance on your system to ensure that it’s running at its peak performance.

Why is that?

That’s because reverse osmosis systems are capable of removing up to 99% of the contaminants floating in your water.

Table Of Contents:

Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance 101

Its time to learn how to maintain your reverse osmosis system the right way. Below, you will find some basic maintenance information that applies to almost all RO units. The guide will help you to protect your system from contamination when maintaining the system.

How Often Do I Need To Change My RO Filters

For the best results from your reverse osmosis system, routine maintenance is a must. Reverse osmosis systems vary in how many filters they have. RO systems can have three, four, or five-filter stages.

  • Sediment Filter – This pre-filter needs to be changed every 12 months. If not properly maintained or changed on schedule, the pre-filter can become clogged or fouled. A damaged pre-filter can no longer protect the RO membrane from damage.
  • Carbon Filter – The next phase is generally the carbon filter which is designed to remove chlorine and other taste or odor contaminants. If this filter is damaged it can ruin the RO membrane as chlorine is no longer being removed. The carbon filter should be replaced every 12 months.
  • Reverse Osmosis Membrane – This is the reverse osmosis stage. Reverse osmosis (RO) is a separation process that uses pressure to force water through a membrane. The membrane retains the contaminate on one side and allows water to pass through to the other side. Water passes through the RO membrane at about 35 pounds per square inch (psi). That’s about two drops per second. The contaminants that were rejected by the RO membrane are piped down the drain. RO membranes should be replaced every 2 years.
  • Polishing Filter – A carbon filter stage is typically added to “polish” off the water at the end of the cycle. This stage removes any remaining taste or odor to create pure drinking water. The carbon filter should be changed every 12 months.

The filters and RO membranes lifespan will vary based on the feed water supply and household usage.


What Happens If I Forget To Change The Filters

If you forget to change your filters, over time your systems will begin to produce less and less water, ultimately not producing water at all. Decreased in water production is a strong indicator that you have reached the end of the filter and membrane useful lifespan.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to set a reminder for yourself so you can change the filters and membrane on time.

Do I Need To Clean My RO System

A reverse osmosis system should be sanitized at least once a year. A good time to complete the sanitization process is during filter change since most filters need to be replaced once a year.

Before you begin, you’ll want to read the instruction manual for specific details on how to sanitize your system. The following is the general process of how you can sanitize/clean your system.

  • 1. Shut off the main valve completely
  • 2. Dispense all of the water from your RO faucet
  • 3. Remove the sediment and carbon filters from their housing
  • 4. Remove the RO membrane from its housing
  • 5. Keep the filters out of their housing, but screw the housing back in place
  • 6. Pour about 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide into stage one housing
  • 7. Reattach all of the connections
  • 8. Turn the main valve back on
  • 9. Allow the system to run (without the filters, the storage tank will refill rapidly)
  • 10. Let the system run for at least through 2 cycles
  • 11. Shut off the main valve again
  • 12. Install the new filters
  • 13. Let the tank fill back up and drain one more time

At this point, your reverse osmosis system should be ready for use! Repeat this process at least once a year.

Plumber Preforming Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance

How Long Should My RO System Last (Lifespan)

If your reverse osmosis system is serviced and maintained as the parts wear out, the system can last for many years, 10 to 15 years is very possible. You need to make sure to follow the membrane filter schedule and sterilize/clean the system at least once a year.

Will A Water Softener Damage My RO System

No, a water softener and an RO system are actually a great combination. The water softener will soften the water throughout the house and the RO system will remove 98% of all sodium in the water. This water treatment duo makes great tasting drinking water.

Since calcium and magnesium, the minerals that make your water hard, are difficult for an RO membrane to remove, the water softener acts as a protective barrier for the RO system. This protection keeps the RO system from fouling and can extend the lifespan of the RO membrane.


Reverse osmosis system maintenance will extend the lifespan of your RO system. In fact, we have seen many of your our reverse osmosis systems that we installed 10 years ago still working today. The filters include the sediment filter, carbon filter, reverse osmosis membrane, and polish filter. Failure to change out these filters per their replacement schedule can not only damage the system but will also decrease the water production. If you notice a decrease in water flow from your RO faucet, that may be an indicator that your filters have reached the end of their lifespan. If you have questions about this guide or you need help with the reverse osmosis system maintenance process, please contact us today so you can continue enjoying pure water for many years to come.

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Donavan Jones

About Donavan Jones

Donavan Jones is the marketing manager at Florida Water Analysis. He's an expert in inbound marketing and lead generation. In his spare time, Donavan is developing a video game with his friends and family.

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