Reverse Osmosis Tank Bladder Rupture – How to Fix and Prevent

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Dealing with a ruptured reverse osmosis tank bladder is never fun, especially if it’s already started leaking heavily.

You have to address the problem as soon as possible though – this is not the kind of issue where you can afford any delays.

Here is how to diagnose, fix, and prevent a reverse osmosis tank bladder rupture.

Key Takeaways

  • If your RO tank’s bladder has ruptured, this is not a problem you can fix. The entire tank must be replaced.
  • To diagnose a reverse osmosis tank bladder rupture, repressurize the empty tank to 6-8 psi and allow it to fill with water. If there is still low or no flow from the RO faucet, then you are very likely dealing with a ruptured bladder – unless you have a clogged post-filter or a kink in the tubing connecting to the RO faucet which is easy to check.
  • There are several things you can do in order to make your RO tank last longer, such as placing it upright, using and sanitizing it regularly, making sure it’s properly pressurized at all times, and avoiding storing overly acidic water or water high in chlorine in the tank.

How to Diagnose a Ruptured RO Tank Bladder

There are several steps you should take to verify the current state of your RO bladder including possible rupture.

Low/No Flow from RO Faucet

Try to lift the reverse osmosis tank to check if it has any water inside. You should feel the weight of the stored water – even a small, 4-gallon tank should typically weigh around 20-30 pounds when mostly full.

If it feels like the tank is full but it’s not releasing any water, then you’re most likely dealing with a ruptured bladder. You can try repressurizing the tank, but if the problem appeared suddenly, then it’s very likely to be a bladder issue.

To repressurize your tank;

  1. Shut off the water supply and drain the tank.
  2. Then, disconnect it from the system.
  3. Empty all remaining water (you need to use a pump to increase tank pressure in order for all the water to come out).
  4. Check the current pressure using a pressure gauge.
  5. Add pressure using your pump. An empty tank should have around 6-8 psi.
  6. After that, reconnect the tank and fill it back up.

If there’s still low/no flow from the tank even after repressurizing and waiting a few hours or days, then its bladder is very likely ruptured.

Under Sink Reverse Osmosis System

There’s just a small chance that you could also have a clogged post-filter or a kink in your connecting tubing, but the likelihood of those issues is rather small. Still, you should do a quick check to exclude that possibility, as it’s a simple fix.

Water Leaking from Air Valve

Water leaking from the air valve is another common indicator of a ruptured air bladder. Check the air stem – if it’s damp, that’s not a good sign. Another thing to look out for is the air valve leaking when you’re connecting the pump during repressurization. That also indicates a ruptured bladder.

Why Do RO Tank Bladders Rupture?

The bladder inside of a reverse osmosis tank is in constant motion and deformation. All materials eventually wear out under such conditions, and your tank bladder is no exception. After it has been in operation for long enough, it will rupture at some point, no matter how carefully you’re using your reverse osmosis system.

Your tank bladder might also fail faster if the seal between it and the tank gives away. This is a rare occurrence, but it requires a full tank replacement.

Fixing a Ruptured Tank Bladder

Even if you’re an avid fan of rolling up your sleeves and fixing things by yourself, fixing a ruptured RO tank bladder is not exactly something you can do alone.

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

Due to the way reverse osmosis tanks are made, it’s just not possible to swap out the bladder for a new one. The only option you have if you’re dealing with a ruptured bladder is to replace the entire tank. This might seem costly and wasteful, but it’s the only viable approach.

How to Prevent Reverse Osmosis Tank Bladder Rupture

There’s unfortunately nothing you can do to prevent your reverse osmosis tank from eventually rupturing. You can put some effort into increasing its lifespan, though…

How to Make Your RO Water Storage Tank Last Longer?

There are several things you can do to ensure that your RO tank lasts as long as possible. Here’s a brief list of recommendations:

  • Make sure the tank is always placed upright. It will work fine when it’s on its side, but this will put more strain on the bladder and cause it to wear out faster.
  • Use your reverse osmosis system regularly. If you go through long periods of not using it, this can lead to issues with the tank bladder the next time you activate the system.
  • Sanitize your RO system thoroughly, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Don’t allow chlorine in your RO tank. Get a carbon pre-filter to remove as much chlorine as possible from your water before it reaches the tank.
  • Likewise, try to avoid water that’s too acidic. This can have a negative impact on the tank bladder.
  • Finally, make sure the bladder is always under appropriate pressure. Avoid using it underpressurized.

water pressure gauge

How Much Does a New Tank Cost and Where to Buy One?

Like reverse osmosis systems themselves, RO tanks vary in price and quality. You can get one for as little as $30, though if you want your tank to last longer, we recommend going with a higher-end model.

Check your local hardware store and local water treatment expert if you need a new tank. Take a look at online stores as well, starting with the site of your RO system’s manufacturer.

How RO Tanks Work

A reverse osmosis tank is split into two sections – one for water, and one for air. The sections are separated by a bladder. When you start filling the tank with water, this causes the air section to compress, creating pressure. Once you open the faucet, water is automatically dispensed without the need for pumps or other auxiliary pressure tools.

The bladder also helps prevent excessive use of the RO system. Once tank pressure has reached a certain level, this triggers the automatic shut-off valve, preventing any more water from being filtered until you’ve used some of your currently stored supply.

If you have any questions about RO tank bladder rupture 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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