Reverse Osmosis Systems (RO) are a great way to take impurities out of your drinking water.  There are many different manufacturers and kinds of RO systems available on the market today.  Your location will tell you what type of system you need.  As an example someone using municipality water will need a different system than someone on a well.  The reason being is that a well has different minerals than a municipality water system.  Even different wells can require different RO systems.  Your location will tell you how many filters and what type of filters you need.  For our RO guide we are going to use my situation as an example.  I live on a municipality water system.  My town gets its water from an underground well, but they do remove the iron and other particles.  Before I installed my RO system my Total Dissolved Solids was 568.  You can buy a meter from your local store for about $10.  After I installed my RO system my TDS was 3.  Now I am not going to get into everything regarding RO systems because that is a full website by itself as there really is a lot to them.  However we are going to cover some of the basics you need to know about an RO System.

What is a Reverse Osmosis System (RO)?

An RO system is a method that removes many types of molecules and ions from solutions using pressure.  So basically it is one bad a** filter system.  Click the picture below and you can see a layout of a typical RO system.  Water comes in from a source and then it goes through a series of filters.  After the filters it goes through the Membrane (This is the heart of the system).  Once the water passes out of the membrane it goes into either a storage tank for use later or if demand is now, it goes through an odor Post filter and out to the faucet.

The membrane is the heart of this system.  This is what does the real work.  Since it does the work, you want to protect it.  You protect the membrane with pre-filters shown below.  Now some systems might have one, two, three or more.  But you will always or should always see pre-filters before the membrane.  Once the water flows through the pre filters, it then hits the Membrane.  Anything after the membrane is called a post filter.

RO Filters

As you can see I have two pre-filters: A sediment filter and a carbon filter.  When looking at filters you will see something called Microns.  A Micron is how tightly woven the filter is.  A small micron like 1 will stop more than a 10 micron filter.  While the 1 will stop more and do a better job, it will also restrict water more because it is harder for water to pass through.  Below is a picture of my RO system set up.  The first filter is the sediment filter which traps bigger items like sand, dirt, rust, silt and more.  The next filter is an Activate Carbon Block filter.  This filter does a lot such as reduces bad taste and odors, but the main thing is the filter reduces Chlorine.  Chlorine can ruin a membrane so you need to protect it and that is what the Carbon filter does.
RO Filters


After the carbon filter comes the membrane.  As you can see by the picture below there are two lines that come out of the filter.  Well that is actually the canister that holds the filter.  The middle out is the product or drinkable water while the other out is the waste water.  The ratio is about 4:1.  So for every 4 gallons that enters the system, one gallon will be usable.  We have a video below about changing your membrane which is longer than we wanted, but hey what the heck at least we did it.

After the water is treated, the water can go to two different places.  If there is no demand for water, it will just flow to a storage tank for later use.  If there is demand for water, then the water will go straight to the faucet.  But anytime there is a demand for water either right away or later use from the storage tank, it will travel through the post filter which is another activate carbon filter and helps with the taste of the water.  Now we only touched a little on how RO systems work and the logic behind them.  There still is a lot more to them, but if you can grasp this concept, you know about 95% more than anyone else regarding RO systems.


RO Sediment Filter – Replace Every 6 Months



RO Carbon Filter – Replace Every 6 Months


RO Membrane – Replace Every 2-4 years


RO Post Filter – Replace Every 12 Months