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If you have ever had the satisfaction of using high water pressure to blast dirt and grime off your dishes or the grout in your tiles or paving, then you might wonder if it is something you can do to clean your reverse osmosis membrane.
High-pressure water flushing is pretty effective at removing all that dirt, right?
Backflushing or forward flushing are the main methods that use high-pressure water to clean a reverse osmosis membrane of stubborn deposits. But can you do it yourself at home? Let’s see.
So, how do you backwash an RO membrane at home? The short answer is you can’t.
Backwashing happens when you reverse the water flow, using your already filtered water to flush any clogged debris in a reverse osmosis membrane by pushing it in the opposite direction.
The pressure is the thing that removes the fouling, and usually, it is only possible to achieve this on large commercial reverse osmosis systems rather than at home. But don’t worry! There are other effective ways to clean your RO membrane.
You can clean your RO membrane using specialized chemicals or some simpler physical methods, which we will delve into. Let’s start with the chemicals.
A low pH cleaning solution is suggested if your main foulants are inorganic, such as suspended solids, polymers, sulfate scale, metals, carbonate, etc.
Organic foulants and biofouling require a high-pH cleaning solution.
By the way, in order to know what your foulants are, you will need to test your feed water.
Some commercial reverse osmosis systems use ultrasonic wave treatments or other forms of vibration to clean RO membranes, but they are potentially damaging if used in excess and not usually available for home use.
Instead, one form of physical cleaning you can try is forward flushing.
Forward flushing is the exact opposite of backflushing. And the good news is you can easily use it at home to try to essentially blast any biofouling off your RO membrane with high-pressure water. It is an effective method usually, but maybe not so for some extreme cases of fouling.
Forward flushing can be done with and without a flush kit. The process isn’t overly complicated which you can learn more about here.
Air water flushing involves using air bubbles on the feed water side to clean the foulants off a reverse osmosis membrane. This is effective for even the more stubborn foulants, and it doesn’t waste a whole lot of water.
Bad news is, air flushing is not something that could easily be done at home.
If you have any questions about RO membrane backwash please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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