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Flushing a reverse osmosis membrane can help extend its lifespan.
While this is often not a concern with small units like countertop and under sink reverse osmosis systems, flushing can make a lot more sense with a whole house RO system. But even in a point-of-use application RO membrane flushing is still possible to do – most people just don’t do it because simply replacing a membrane every couple of years doesn’t break the bank.
Still want to learn how to flush an RO membrane at home? Okay, let’s go!
If you want to flush your reverse osmosis membrane by yourself at home, there are two general approaches you can take: you can either use a flush kit, or do it manually without one.
If your RO system was purchased more recently, there’s a slight chance that it has an integrated manual flush valve on the drain line. This simplifies the process significantly.
By the way, it’s also possible to hook up a flush kit with a ball valve to the back waste line of your RO system later on.
If you don’t have a flush kit, you have a little more work ahead of you:
There are several methods for flushing reverse osmosis membranes. What you would normally use at home is forward flushing…
With forward flushing, the feed side is used to sanitize the RO membrane. This method simply relies on the flow of water over the membrane to clean it thoroughly. However, if the membrane is heavily clogged, this method might be insufficient and you may have to use back flushing instead.
Back flushing is similar, but it uses the water on the permeate side of the membrane for flushing instead. Water is forced to run back through the system at a higher pressure than normal, which allows it to “scrub off” particles attached to the membrane.
Air water flushing relies on air trapped in the water on the feed side. Once the water starts bubbling due to that air, this creates strong turbulence which can easily take down contaminants from the membrane.
This is the most cost-effective method for flushing an RO membrane as it doesn’t waste that much water. However, air flushing is usually only found in commercial and industrial applications.
How often you should flush your RO membrane depends on your usage habits and the amount of contaminants in your water supply. You should experiment with a few different schedules to see what works best for you. Start with monthly flushing.
Also, as explained above, most people never flush their RO membranes and they’re still fine.
You can also watch for specific telltale signs that your RO membrane would do good with a flush. These include:
You can also deep-clean your RO membrane with the use of specialized chemicals. This should only be done as a last resort if standard flushing methods were unsuccessful. To do that, follow these steps:
If you have any questions about flushing RO membranes please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
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