Is a Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Always Necessary?

Water purification is a growing trend for both homes and industries. Today, various types of water filtration systems are used across the world. Reverse osmosis systems being one of the most popular ones among them. They are regularly used as under-sink filtration systems and used as whole house filtration systems in many cases for treating groundwater.  Although they may seem like regular water filtration systems, installation of whole house reverse osmosis systems require several considerations and a diligent planning. This post discusses all important things that you need to know about these water filtration systems.

An Overview of Whole House Reverse Osmosis Water System

First, a comprehensive water analysis is required to ensure that that mineral in the water would not adversely affect the reverse osmosis system.  The water stream entering the reverse osmosis system is referred to as the source water.  A whole home reverse osmosis system is equipped with one or more semi-porous reverse osmosis membrane(s) and are usually equipped with a washable cartridge prefilter.  This prefilter is designed to remove particulate undissolved matter such as sand and sediment.

Whole House Reverse Osmosis Systems
Is a Whole House Reverse Osmosis System Always Necessary?


If well or groundwater is used, minerals such as iron, manganese, and gases such as hydrogen sulfide must be addressed first; usually through filtration using catalytic adsorptive medias.  If these contaminants are not addressed, it could foul the membranes and reduce the life and efficiency of the reverse osmosis membranes.  Hard minerals such as calcium and magnesium must also be addressed.  This is usually corrected by softening, conditioning, or utilizing a chemical injection system.  These three systems could also address some of the fouling minerals and a water treatment specialist can assist you in that determination.  If municipal after is being used as the source water, the chlorine should be removed as oxidants can attack the membranes and reduce its life.

After filtration (if required), the water is pushed through the semi-permeable RO membrane, where it removes 98% or sometimes 99% of the total dissolved solids (TDS) and contaminants. The membrane utilizes pressure to force out clean and purified water and this pressure is produced using booster pumps.  This clean and purified stream of is referred to as product water.  All reverse osmosis systems will also produce a reject water stream with the contaminants that could not pas through the membrane.  This water is sent to waste.  More advanced systems can utilize a portion of this water and send it through another pass through the membranes.  This is controlled through the recycle valve.  The recovery rate is the amount of product water produced versus what amount is ultimately rejected.  A standard single pass system may have a recovery of 50% whereas the more efficient systems can have a 75% recovery while rejecting only 25%.

Product water is usually aggressive as the pH may below 7.0 and has very little contaminants remaining.  In fact, if left untreated, this water can dissolve copper pipe and brass fittings overtime.  It is suggested that the product water then is passed thought a post-filtration/remineralization system for the final polish before being available through a faucet.  Carbon filters and calcite filters are the popular types of post-filtration systems used.

Whole house reverse osmosis systems are usually installed at the entrance of the water system. The membranes can filter every element that passes through it. These systems are proven to remove harsh compounds such as mercury, uranium, chromium, arsenic, boron, lead, as well as nitrates. This is why according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), reverse osmosis systems are one of the most efficient water treatment technologies around.

A Brief Discussion on Filtration Capabilities of a Whole Home RO System

A whole home RO system can remove the following contaminants:

  • Fluorides
  • Sediments
  • Salt
  • Arsenic
  • VOCs
  • Pesticides and other chemicals

Do I Need a Whole House RO System?

The answer is yes if you are dealing with hard water or extremely contaminated water. The following pointers will help you understand it better.

  • A whole house RO system is an ideal choice if the water consists of high levels of naturally occurring compounds like nitrates, arsenic, and so on.
  • You can also install these systems if you live near manufacturing plants or chemical processing plants. In these areas, water is contaminated with several volatile organic compounds, micro plastics, PFAs, and so on.
  • Using a whole house reverse osmosis system is also a feasible choice if you want to remove water hardness. Although most municipal water supplies utilize chemicals to address water impurities; however, the most hardness and contaminants like lead are not treated at this stage. As said before, a whole house RO can remove all contaminants that are otherwise difficult to remove using any other filtration system.
  • A whole home reverse osmosis system is also a good choice if the water comprises high levels of total dissolved solids (TDS).

How to Decide If a Whole House Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System Is Needed?

You may need a whole home RO system if the water:

  • Looks cloudy and/or contains a chemical smell
  • Looks discolored and tastes metallic
  • Gives strong and pungent chlorine odor
  • Produces a smelly fishy odor

Some compounds may not alter the quality of water, so you may never know of its presence. However, some can have a negative impact on health. Hence, it is always recommended to test the water to make a final decision on a water filtration system. You can either do it using high quality water test kits or get the water tested from a laboratory nearby. Some good water test kits will give you an idea of organic compounds, pesticides and other harmful substances. If you feel that the compounds exceed the EPA recommended limits then you may opt for a whole house RO system. Having said that, the test results are not enough, you can contact a water treatment specialist to understand whether a whole house reverse osmosis filtration system is needed or if you can do it with the regular under-sink reverse osmosis systems.

There are many options and technologies available and some options may be a better choice ans less expensive than reverse osmosis. A reputable water treatment specialist can assist you with those decisions.

As the functioning and important role played by whole house reverse osmosis systems is well-introduced here, it is important that you source the best whole house reverse osmosis system from a trusted brand. Intec-America is one of the leading providers of whole house reverse osmosis systems from trusted brands like Nelsen and Watts. The company also provides several water treatment kits and filtration systems. Intec-America has been at the forefront of water treatment revolution since the 1970s by commercializing the copper ionization technology for swimming pools and spa.

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