How to Tell If Your RO Tank Is Bad – 3 Signs

This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

While reverse osmosis systems can last a long time provided you treat them right, there may come a point when components need to be replaced.

This includes your RO tank, as with wear and tear over time, it can encounter faults that cannot just be repaired.

What are the telltale signs that your RO tank has reached the end of its lifespan? Let’s find out.

Key Takeaways

Three telltale signs that your RO tank is bad and needs to be replaced are:

  • A rapid loss of water pressure when using the RO faucet – try re-adjusting tank pressure when it completely empty. If that doesn’t help, replace.
  • Bad tastes and smells coming from your filtered water – sanitize your tank. If that doesn’t help, replace.
  • Leaking from the tank even when all the connections have been tightened – replace.

How to Tell If Your RO Tank Is Bad

So, how can you tell if your RO tank is bad?

Little or No Water from RO Faucet

First of all, the hydropneumatic tank in your RO system contains a bladder, which will expand and contract as water (and air) enters and leaves the tank. Over the years, the bladder will wear down and will eventually rupture, causing a complete loss of pressure. The same can happen with the seal between the tank and the bladder, which is also subject to wear and tear.

If you open your RO faucet and it either drips or stops running after a few seconds, and you check your RO tank and feel that it is full, this is a sign the tank bladder may have ruptured. As the bladder cannot be repaired, you will have to get a new tank.

Adjusting Pressure Might Help

While it is not likely, the lack of water exiting the RO faucet could be because there is just not enough air pressure in the tank to push the water while the bladder itself is still intact.

To test this, you will need to drain the tank and recalibrate the air pressure by following these steps:

  1. Grab a large bucket, air compressor or pump, and a pressure gauge that measures low psi.
  2. Close the feed water valve to your RO system.
  3. Turn on the RO faucet and allow as much water as possible to run from the tank.
  4. Disconnect and remove the tank from the rest of the RO system, and take the tank outside.
  5. Empty any remaining water from the tank by opening its valve and then using the pump (inserted into the tank’s Schrader valve) to push all the remaining water from the tank.
  6. Use the pressure gauge to check the pressure in the tank now that it is empty. It should be between 6-8 psi.
  7. If your psi is too low, increase it by pumping air into the tank to around 7 psi.
  8. Reconnect the tank, open all valves, and let it fill.
  9. If the system loses pressure again after a day or so, it is almost certainly due to a ruptured bladder, and the tank will need to be replaced.

Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System

Bad Taste or Odor

There is a possibility that bacteria can accumulate in a reverse osmosis storage tank over time, mainly if it is not being used often, the filters aren’t being replaced when they should, and the system isn’t being cleaned and maintained. If your RO water begins to develop a bad taste or odor, this may be why.

You will need to sanitize the tank and system immediately, and if the issue does not resolve, you will need a new tank, as you cannot open the tank to clean the inside of it.


If you can see any leaks or water dripping from around your RO tank and you have tightened any loose connections, then it is a sign that you need a new tank.

How Do RO Tanks Work and How Can They Go Bad?

A reverse osmosis tank is a component of a reverse osmosis water filtration system that is designed to store filtered water so that you always have some ready for use, as the actual process of reverse osmosis is a slow one.

It operates without the aid of electronic pumps, as the tank contains both water and pressurized air, separated by a bladder. When you open your RO faucet, the air in the tank pushes the water up and out of the faucet.

Usually, an RO tank will go bad when the bladder develops a tear or rupture from use over the years or if the filtered water is too acidic, but it can also go bad if it accumulates bacteria or if the seal in the tank fails.

Depending on who you ask, an RO tank could last anywhere between 3 and 10 years! But it honestly depends on how well you maintain it and the quality of the tank you invest in the first place.

Can You Change the Bladder in a Reverse Osmosis Pressure Tank?

No, you cannot change the bladder in an RO tank, so if anything happens, the whole tank needs to be replaced.

How Long Do RO Pressure Tanks Last and What Can I Do to Make Mine Last Longer?

Depending on the quality of the tank and how well you look after it, they can last anywhere from 3 to 10 years. Here are some tips to try and help your tank get as much mileage as possible.

Stand Your RO Tank Upright

Sometimes RO tanks are placed on their sides depending on the space they need to fit in, but they last longer if they are upright. If they are on their sides, they will operate just fine, but the water will press on the bladder and wear it out faster.

Use Your RO Tank Regularly

Regular use of your RO tank prevents the water from stagnating and potentially accumulating biofilm and bacteria, and it also helps keep the tank bladder flexible.

plumber installing reverse osmosis system under sink

Sanitize Your RO Tank

Cleaning the system and tank regularly with a sanitizer will prevent biofilm accumulation.

Don’t Use Too Much Water at One Time

Using too much water at one time can cause excessive expansion and contraction of the bladder, which could cause early tearing.

Replace Pre-Filters on Schedule

Most RO systems come with a carbon pre-filter for chlorine. Chlorine can affect the tank’s bladder by making it brittle, so it is essential to replace the pre-filters on schedule to avoid this, as well as damage to the RO membrane.

Check the Water’s pH

Overly acidic water is corrosive and can damage the tank bladder.

Regularly Check the Tank Pressure

If the pressure in an RO tank is too low, more water will be stored in the tank, causing the bladder to stretch too far. It is best to check the tank pressure when changing the filters.

Where to Get a New Tank + Costs

Tanks are available online, where you can buy them at better prices as it is factory direct or at hardware and water specialist stores. Depending on the size, brand, and quality, a new tank can cost between $40 and $150. Just be sure to buy from a reputable vendor!

If you have any questions about how to tell if an RO tank is bad please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald is one of the founders of BOS and currently head of content creation. She has 8+ years of experience as a water treatment specialist under her belt making her our senior scientist. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
Learn more about .


Information provided on BOS is for educational purposes only. The products and services we review may not be right for your individual circumstances.
We adhere to strict editorial guidelines. Rest assured, the opinions expressed have not been provided, reviewed, or otherwise endorsed by our partners – they are unbiased, independent, and the author’s alone. Our licensed experts fact-check all content for accuracy. It is accurate as of the date posted and to the best of our knowledge.

Leave a Comment: