How to Clean an RO Flow Restrictor

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While most people are aware that they need to regularly maintain their reverse osmosis system and swap out the RO membrane, not everyone pays so much attention to other components, such as the flow restrictor.

If you’re using a reverse osmosis system or planning on buying one, it’s important to understand how your flow restrictor works and how you can clean it when it’s necessary.

Let’s discuss!

Key Takeaways

Here is how to clean an inline-style RO flow restrictor:

  1. Shut off the water supply valve and RO tank valve.
  2. Open the RO faucet to drain any remaining water.
  3. Disconnect the flow restrictor from the drain line.
  4. Wash with soapy water.
  5. Rinse.
  6. Put everything back together.

Here is how to clean an insert-style reverse osmosis flow restrictor:

  1. Shut off the water supply valve and RO tank valve.
  2. Open the RO faucet to drain any remaining water.
  3. Remove the wastewater line from the RO membrane housing.
  4. Take out the flow restrictor from inside the line.
  5. Clean with soapy water and rinse.
  6. Put everything back together.

You should clean your reverse osmosis flow restrictor every once in a while to keep it in a good condition. You should only replace the restrictor if it fails completely.

How to Clean an RO Flow Restrictor

So, how to clean an RO flow restrictor?

There are two types of flow restrictors that are most common in household reverse osmosis systems. Each of them requires a different approach to cleaning.

  • Inline-style flow restrictors connect between two sections of your reverse osmosis system’s tubing, particularly the line between the membrane and the drain. These are installed by simply cutting the tubing and reconnecting it with the flow restrictor by pushing the tubing into the restrictor.
  • Insert-style flow restrictors are inserted directly into the wastewater tubing, usually at the reject water outlet port of the RO membrane housing. They are smaller and cheaper than inline-style flow restrictors.

Inline-Style Flow Restrictors

To clean an inline-style flow restrictor, simply disconnect it from the tubing by pulling it out from both ends. Then run it through warm, soapy water, and rinse thoroughly. You might be able to open the housing of the restrictor and clean it more thoroughly on the inside, but that’s not always the case with every model.

Remember to close the water supply and RO tank valve first. Then open the RO faucet to drain any remaining water.

reverse osmosis system with flow restrictor

Insert-Style Flow Restrictors

Cleaning an insert-style flow restrictor is even more straightforward. You simply take it out of the tubing and give it a good scrubbing until it’s as clean as you can get it. Don’t be too harsh with the scrubbing, though.

What Is a Reverse Osmosis Flow Restrictor?

A flow restrictor is a small device which sits somewhere between the reverse osmosis membrane and the drain saddle. The main purpose of the flow restrictor is to limit the rate of water going down the drain line. Without a flow restrictor, most of the water would simply go directly to the drain and would not pass through the reverse osmosis membrane. As a result, the performance of the system as a whole will be greatly degraded.

When to Finally Change the Flow Restrictor

Many people never replace their flow restrictors until they break. And that’s completely fine. Some manufacturers might recommend that you replace the restrictor as often as you are replacing the reverse osmosis membrane itself. However, that is not usually necessary.

As for how long it usually takes for the restrictor to fail – quite a lot of time. Flow restrictor failure is actually quite rare in most household RO systems.

If you have any questions about RO flow restrictor cleaning please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Alexandra Uta

Alex is a content writer with an affinity for research and a methodical attention to detail. Since 2020, she has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Alex has been using water filters and similar products for years which has gained her lots of hands-on experience.
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