How to Clean Your RO Water Purifier?

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Considering the grim drinking water supply situation in India, having a good water purifier to obtain clean and pure drinking water is the only resort to good health. Buying and installing a quality RO water purifier is easy considering the vast options available in the market and the quick services provided by each of them, however, keeping the purifier clean is a bigger challenge that requires prudence and timely monitoring.

how to clean water purifier

In this quick guide, we tell you why you should clean your water purifiers regularly, when to clean them, and most importantly how to clean them. We shall also discuss the various precautions to keep in mind when executing the entire cleaning process. 

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Water Purifier?

An RO water purifier is essentially designed to offer you clean, pure, and filtered drinking water. The fact that it filters many litres of impure water means that it is subject to lots of dirt and sediment accumulation. Therefore, frequent cleaning of the RO filters is quintessential to ensure a regular supply of clean water.

However, the frequency of cleaning majorly depends upon the source of water supply and its quality. A high TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) content in the water supply means greater work to be done by the water purifier and more strain on the filters. Accumulation of TDS and metal residues on the RO membranes can degrade its performance requiring cleanings more frequently.

How Frequently Should You Clean the RO Water Purifiers?

Cleaning the water purifier regularly ensures that there is no build-up inside and your appliance is free from foul smell. It is recommended to carry out a cleaning process of the purifier every 6 to 12 months. You can either seek the help of a professional or do it yourself, as the process is quite simple and does not require any additional skills. Any change in the taste of drinking water supplied from your water purifier is the biggest indication of the fact that it is time to carry out a cleanliness drive.

Close observance of the water pressure before and after the cleaning of the purifier also indicates the need for cleaning it. If the pressure is 10% times less than the normal pressure, then it is time to carry out the cleanup activity.

What Are The Different Types of Filters Used in a Standard RO Water Purifier?

An RO water purifier cleans and filters water using the Reverse Osmosis (RO) method. It uses a system of water purification where water molecules move through a semi-permeable membrane leaving only dissolved salt and other impurities behind. Most RO water purifiers use about 6-7 stages of water purification using different filters at varying stages of filtration. The most commonly used filters are:

Sediment Filter:

This filter is usually placed outside the RO water purification machine. As the first check post, it traps large and visible impurities that are present in the water. If unchecked, these contaminations can affect the lifespan of the RO water membrane.

Activated Carbon Filters:

An RO water purifier generally contains two activated carbon filters. Its main task is to filter and eliminate salts like chlorine that would otherwise be absorbed by the RO membrane. Located behind the RO membrane it also ensures that the resultant water obtained after filtration has a sweet and pleasant taste.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) Membrane:

The major and most expensive part of the RO water purification appliance is the RO membrane. Its key role is to filter the heavy metals and TDS from the water supply and make it pure and clean. It is here that most of the bacteria and viruses are killed.

UF membrane:

Some micro molecules that manage to escape from the RO membrane are finally trapped by the UF membrane. Regular cleaning of this membrane ensures the highest standards of clean and pure water from your RO water purifier.

Cleaning the RO Water Purifier: Step by Step Guide

With all the understanding of the RO water purifier’s role and the different filters installed in it, it is now time to understand the actual cleaning process. Here we give you a step-by-step guide for carrying out this simple activity.

  • Ensure that the main water supply to the RO is switched off before proceeding with the cleaning process. If you forget to do so, you will see all water splashing on your face and nearby area. Similarly, disconnect the water line to the refrigerator and icemaker if your RO has that facility. Usually, only modern RO systems are designed with this feature.
  • Empty the storage tank by pressing the release outlet, else open the system’s water faucet to drain out the water. Once all the water has drained, turn off the faucet.
  • Remove the membrane housing from the RO water purifier system so that it is not adversely affected by the cleaning and bleaching agents. Using a strap wrench open the housing.
  • Once all the water from the housing is drained remove the membrane from it.
  • Using the cleaning agent as recommended by your RO water purifier manufacturer, clean the RO membrane. Follow closely the instructions as laid down for your appliance, in terms of quantity of cleaning agent, its temperature, pH values, and time for which it is to be used.
  • Mostly the membrane is coated with deposits of calcium carbonate, metal oxide scales, organic and inorganic colloidal deposits, and natural deposits like fungi and mould. You can either use a common cleaner or a high-quality expensive cleaner to clean the membrane. The three most common types of cleaners used are Acid Cleaner, Alkaline Cleaner, and Sanitizer. Flush the system with enough water after the use of these strong chemicals.
  • Using a dishwater detergent and a bottle brush clean the membrane housing. Alternatively, you can use a combination of bleach and water.
  • Remember to flush out all the cleaning chemicals thoroughly from the housing chamber before assembling them back to the appliance.
  • Place the housing chamber back into the system and reconnect the main valve and switch on the RO water purifier. Ensure that the water supply is reconnected too and there is no leakage.
  • Flush the entire system thoroughly with enough water so that there is no residue of any chemical remaining. Refill the tank and wait for a while before the quality of water comes back to normal.

Cleaning of Other Filters

Besides the RO membrane, other filters discussed above need timely cleaning too. Let us check the cleaning procedure for each of them.

Sediment Filter

A sediment filter is a removable part and if it is discoloured, then it is an indication that it needs a change. Using a scrubber and detergent you can clean the sediment filter. Then using a lot of water flush out all the impurities. Usually, the sediment filter needs to be cleaned once a year. However, the cleaning frequency also depends upon the water supply in your region.

Activated Carbon Filters

The activated carbon cartridges can be cleaned by running warm water through them several times. They can be cleaned simultaneously when cleaning the RO membrane. After rinsing the cartridges in warm water place them close to your ears. If you hear a soft crackling sound from the filter, then place them into the filter. If there is no noise emitted from the cartridges then you should replace the filter. Usually, it is recommended to replace the activated carbon filters once a year.

UV Lamp

RO filters come accompanied by Ultraviolet lamp chambers. They are usually long-lasting and do not need to be replaced frequently. However, whenever required they can be changed separately.

Precautions to keep in mind while cleaning the RO Water Purifier

Keep the following important points in mind while cleaning your RO water purifier.

  • Always switch off the RO water purifier system before proceeding to clean it.
  • Disconnect the main valve that supplies water to the RO water purifier.
  • Empty the storage tank for a safe and in-depth cleaning process.
  • Always refer to the instruction manual as supplied by your RO manufacturer before choosing the cleaning agents, their dosage, pH values, and other cleaning instructions.
  • After the cleaning process, fill up the tank at least twice and discard the water before you start re-using it.

The Final Word

The cleaning of the RO water purifier is not a complex task but religiously following a routine to do so, indeed needs a lot of discipline. While the RO membrane can easily last for two to three years depending upon the water supply in your region, the other filters need an annual replacement. Regular cleaning and the sanitizing regime will ensure that your RO water purifier shall serve you with pure and fresh water for years promising good health for your family and a germ-free glass of water every time you quench your thirst.S


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