How To Clean RO Filter Step By Step Process

Are you sure your RO water purifier is providing you fresh water at all times?

Although you may have installed the best RO water purifier, the filter eventually wears out with time. Especially if you get a very dirty or local water supply from the boring or any local water body, it is bound to contain chemicals and unwanted pathogens.

Our RO filter removes these unwanted substances from the water but not for too long. If the RO filter is not maintained well and replaced or cleaned from time to time, it will allow the inflow of dirty water and change the quality and taste of water we consume.

This, in turn, can cause diseases and also make the water hard. A dirty RO filter increases sediments and solids in water, thereby increasing the water’s TDS and mineral levels.

We don’t want to risk the safety of our family members and ourselves by using an unreliable and dirty RO purifying filter. This is why we recommend it is necessary to clean the RO filter and replace the membrane from time to time.

You can either use the assistance or do it by yourself. Wonder how? We give you a detailed guide to get started with cleaning your RO filter.

 

Mechanism of RO Water Purifier

Most water purifiers these days work on the RO filtration system. Although the filtration technique may sound very sophisticated, it removes most contaminants and particles from water efficiently.

The RO filter consists of reverse osmosis membranes. The water is forced to flow in the reverse direction that allows it to pass through the membrane. All the impurities that are larger than water molecules easily stay behind and are trapped by the membrane while the water molecules pass through the membrane.

There are various molecules like chemicals, microorganisms like bacteria and viruses that are disease-causing, ions, contaminants like pesticides that are larger and get trapped easily in these RO membranes. Other types of filters and mechanisms may not be all that successful in eliminating these minute particles. Therefore, most households these days prefer installing a RO filter purifier that ensures the water is filtered efficiently while eliminating most forms of unwanted and harmful particles.

We can use these RO-based purifying systems for households and industries, where the presence of chemicals and ions is very common.

 

Why do you need to clean the filters?

Filters are the heart of any water purifier, and hence you need to make sure they are well maintained for a clean and healthy water supply. Often, the water from different sources may be foul and have high TDS levels. These particles get filtered by the RO membrane but can choke the filter if the RO membrane and the pre-filter are not maintained. The higher the TDS levels, the greater is the frequency of replacing the RO membrane.

 

How do you know it’s time to clean the RO Filter?

If the water from your RO purifier appears to be turbid, tastes unusual, or leaves residues anywhere, then it’s time you clean your RO purifier. If there are any pre-filters attached along with the RO membrane, you must check the membrane once along with these filters. Especially if the water around your area is turbid, you need to make sure that the RO membrane is being checked frequently.

The cleaning also depends upon the usage and the quality of water. RO membranes are available in several capacities and last for up to 3-12 months. Your RO purifier may also have an indicator that helps you to determine when to clean the RO system and replace the membrane. If you do not replace the filters regularly, your water can taste and smell bad due to the TDS levels.

Another way you can determine that you need to clean the membrane is by checking the water pressure. If the pressure is above 10%, you may have to clean the membrane. Check for any sediments and particulate matter in the water. If you find them, then your RO membrane needs to be checked and replaced.

 

Different filtration mechanisms of your water purifier

These days, all-in-one water purifiers make sure that the water is contamination-free. By contamination, we mean free of microbes, chemicals, sediments, salts, and minerals, etc. Here is a quick run over on how the filtration systems work in your purifier along with the RO filter:

Sediment Filter

Sediment Filter

Raw water first enters through the sediment filter, also known as the pre-filter. The sediment filter is usually present outside the machine and performs the basic level of filtration. It basically traps most of the impurities and solids from water to pass through other filtration systems.

You cannot only rely on a sediment filter for water purification and need other types of filtration systems installed to make sure your water is absolutely pure. The sediment filter or the pre-filter protects the RO membrane from getting choked due to impurities.

 

Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Reverse Osmosis Filter or membrane is the most important of all. It reduces the TDS levels of water as well as removes any chemicals or contaminants that are dangerous. It is also effective in removing viruses and bacteria that are larger than water molecules.

 

Activated Carbon Filter

Activated Carbon Filter

There are two types of carbon filters:

  • Pre-activated carbon filters: Pre-activated carbon filters remove the excess chlorine from water and are placed before the RO filter that may spoil the RO membrane.
  • Post-activated carbon filters: Post-activated carbon filters ensure that the unwanted impurities are eliminated while also removing foul odor and taste from water.

 

Ultra Filtration Membrane

Ultra Filtration Membrane

Known as the UF membrane, this is placed after the post-activated carbon filter. It usually filters out the tiny particles that your RO membrane may have missed out on. Therefore, the UF membrane also needs to be maintained regularly because it is responsible for removing various sediments from water.

 

UV Membrane

UV Membrane

Here, the water passes through or is exposed to UV light. UV light is known to have antimicrobial and sanitizing properties. Therefore, before the water is ready to drink, giving it a pass-through UV light makes sure that the disease-causing pathogens are killed.

 

Things required to clean the RO filter

While cleaning the RO filter may sound quite tedious, it is actually very simple if you have the required tools and materials for cleaning the system. In all cases, please remember to use soft water to clean the entire system and to dilute the chemicals that may have been stuck in the walls due to all the hard water salts.

Here is a basic list of requirements for you to clean the RO filter:

  • A Reverse Osmosis Cleaning Pump
  • A cleaning tank
  • A tank cooler
  • A reverse osmosis cleaning cartridge that helps to clean the dirt collected during cleaning
  • A tank mixer

Regular cleaning and maintenance ensure the best quality water, which is great for your health and good to taste. You can also take assistance from a maintenance expert or plumber or look for cleaning tips online before getting your hands on the RO system.

 

How to clean the RO Water Purifier filter?

We give you a step-by-step guide to help you clean your RO filter by yourself. Read on to follow:

  • Disconnect the water supply to the storage tank of your water purifier containing the RO filter.
  • Empty the storage tank.
  • Allow the system to be shut for some time, and then slowly remove all the filter housings.
  • Remove the RO membrane from the filter and replace the housing of the filter. If the housing is not all that dirty, you can retain and just replace the membrane.
  • You can use a bleach solution to clean the entire system. This helps dilute all the chemical residues that might remain on the insides and the system’s walls.
  • Pour the solution through the entire system and allow it to stay inside for at least an hour.
  • Clean out the solution and clean the entire system once with soft water.
  • Make sure to clean the filter housings as well with soft water and wash them several times.
  • The filter housings may contain O-rings that need to be checked and changed from time to time. If the rings look damaged, you need to replace them. Ensure that the O-rings do not look dried out; else, you can always lubricate them with a water-based lubricant.
  • Every RO-based purifier also contains a pre-filter and sometimes a sediment filter or carbon-activated filter. Make sure they are replaced and cleaned too.
  • Mount the filter and the housings back into the system.
  • Start the connection and allow the water to fill up the tank.
  • Empty the contents of the tank again and then start using it regularly.

 

Chemical cleaning

Certain RO purifier manufacturers recommend going through chemical cleaning for the RO filters to remove the hardest chemicals and minerals inside the system. Ideally, chemical cleaning can be done using two methods:

High pH RO water purifier cleaning

High pH RO water cleaning will involve cleaning with strong basic solutions. The high pH solution basically removes all the organic and biological dirt that remains stuck in the filter membranes.

This biological and organic dirt contains weak acids like carboxylic acid groups that react with the basic solution used for cleaning. The process chelates the calcium that is the bridging element and allows the dirt to form layers and films on the filter membrane. If the calcium is deteriorated and chelated, it loses its film-forming agent and is cleansed with the basic solution.

 

Low pH RO water purifier cleaning

If you wash and maintain your filter frequently, you can also choose a low pH cleaning method. This again depends upon the type of water supply and the TDS or mineral content of your water supply.

Here is a step by step procedure that you can follow to carry out chemical cleaning of your RO filter:

  • Stop the water flow, Disconnect the water purifier and empty the tank completely.
  • Fill the tank to be cleaned with DI water or any RO permeate.
  • Turn on the agitator or recirculation pump after filling the tank with the permeate or water.
  • Now, add the RO cleaning agent that the manufacturer recommends. The amount you add depends upon the CIP cleaning volume of the tank, and the strength of the basic solution would be provided in the package instructions.
  • You need to check the temperature and the basicity of the cleaning solution. If the temperature is too low than the recommended levels, adjust the temperature by keeping in a warm water bath.
  • You can adjust the basicity levels by adding NaOH solution. If the pH is very high, you can reduce it with an HCL solution. The pH has to be anywhere between 10-12.
  • Allow this solution to circulate the tank for a good 30 minutes. The flow rate should depend upon the purifier model. This, too, is usually recommended by the manufacturers.
  • You also need to maintain a minimum pressure of less than 60psig (4.2kg/cm2).
  • You can reuse the solution again based on how turbid it is after cleaning. Else, if it gets too turbid after the first wash, it is recommended to dispose of it in the drain and prepare a new solution.
  • Rinse the entire system with RO permeate after giving several washings with the cleaning solution.
  • Switch the device on and wash it with soft water several times. Fill the tank entirely and empty it once again to expel any remaining chemicals in the tank.
  • The RO filter is now ready to use.

 

Tips to Remember while cleaning your RO filter

Here are a few precautions to keep in mind before you clean your RO filter:

  • Always handle chemicals with care during chemical cleaning. If unsure how to use it, call the service provider or manufacturers for assistance.
  • If the filters need to be replaced, make sure you are using newly packaged filters. Don’t remove them from the packaging until it’s finally time to replace them.
  • Make sure to keep your hands clean while handling the RO filters and replacing them with clean filters.
  • The service area should also remain clean and free of dust while cleaning and replacing the RO filter.

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Take Away

A clean RO filter ensures the disposal of healthy and safe to consume water at all times. But based on the water supply and the type of water in your locality, the RO filter needs to be cleaned and maintained regularly.

Therefore, we decided to help you out by providing a step-by-step guide on cleaning and maintaining your RO filter. We have also listed different cleaning methods like chemical and general cleaning of the RO filter and precautions and guidelines on how often to do it.

Read our guide above and tell us if you could manage cleaning your RO filter on your own through the comments section below.

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