The quality of water you use for cooking, drinking and for domestic purposes can affect your health and well-being in more ways than one. Contaminated water can cause illnesses and excess of chlorine in drinking water can make your thirst quencher less appealing in taste, color and smell.
If you are dissatisfied with the drinking water supply in your home solely on the basis of aesthetics, then a good filtering system that removes chlorine and impurities will provide you the results you are looking for.
Testing the water that comes out of your tap is the only way you can get to know whether filtration is required or not. Your water supplier will do it free for you and can also help in remediating the problems to an extent, if it is proved that there is a hazard to health.
You must keep in mind that the quality of water varies across regions. More than anything it is just one of the outcomes of living in a highly industrialized world where natural resources are over-stretched, catering to the needs of an ever-expanding global population.
Here are a few things that you need to know about your drinking water and how RO systems improve water quality.
1) In Testing Lies the Answers
Testing is necessary to know whether you need to even worry about the quality of tap water you get in your house.
In most cases you will find that there are no harmful chemicals, antibiotics, hormones, viruses or bacteria in your tap water. Chlorine which is routinely added to water supplies is very effective in removing viruses and other disease-bearing pathogens, but can give a very distinctive odour to water.
Australian Water Guidelines state that water should be aesthetic in that there should not be any noticeable unpleasant color, smell or taste to the drinking water that comes out of the tap.
In most cases your water will test well ensuring that it is free of antibiotics, hormones and harmful chemicals. If filtration is required only for aesthetic purposes, then a carbon filter will be able to remove chlorine and other chemicals that cause unwanted odors and tastes.
An activated carbon filter will be able to remove all traces of chlorine, chloramines and trihalomethanes from drinking water. Carbon adsorption is safe, chemical-free and effective. In fact, it is preferred form of water purification for many water suppliers as well.
High quality carbon block filters can also remove volatile organic compounds, pesticides, herbicides, and to a certain extent heavy metals like copper, mercury and lead.
If your water does not test well or if you depend on alternate source of water like rainwater or a bore well in your yard, then you need to look into more advanced methods of water filtration.
2) Reverse Osmosis Benefits
Reverse Osmosis is amongst the most effective and popular options when carbon block filters do not suffice. RO filters make use of latest technology and remove maximum contaminants from water. In fact, they are the safest and most powerful filtration method available today.
RO filters push water through a semi-permeable membrane that has an exceptionally tightly-packed pore structure. The membrane traps almost all impurities commonly found in drinking water supplies including dissolved solids, bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals. In fact, it traps anything bigger than ½ a millionth of a millimeter. There are many impurities that get attached to water molecules. Even if one atom of carbon combines with a water molecule, it becomes too big to pass through the pore and gets washed down through the waste water line, thus giving you only the purest water possible.
The residue toxic waste is washed away with excess water giving you pure and fresh drinking water. Efficiency of RO systems matter if you live in areas that face scarcity of water. Ensure that you choose a RO system that minimizes water waste to the maximum extent possible.
3) What Impurities Can Be Removed by Filtration?
The impurities and contaminants that filtration removes depend on the type of technology you choose.
As mentioned earlier your decision regarding filtration system should be based on water testing reports. Home testing kits give a you a good preliminary picture about the quality of drinking water you get, but they are not very accurate and do not test for all contaminants.
You can give the water sample to a certified lab to get a more in-depth analysis or you can call an inspector over for an inspection of your water quality and condition of plumbing fixtures.
Carbon block filters cannot effectively remove dissolved inorganic compounds like arsenic, nitrates and hexavalent chromium. An RO filter will remove all these and any particle larger than .001 microns in size, and this is the reason why most homeowners choose RO systems over others.
4) How to Choose an RO Water Filter?
It is not easy to distinguish between various brands of RO water filter systems out there. In fact, most of them look alike. But keep in mind that the filtration system is made up of many complex parts and they all need to be of best quality to give you desired results.
Cost is a very important factor but it cannot be the most critical factor. You need to take into consideration the quality and durability of filter and membrane used in the system.
Quality of the components can be ensured if you stay aware and educated about the pure water system you are about to invest in. Check the country of manufacture of parts to avoid being duped with cheap imitations. Usually components that are manufactured in certified and reputed companies in America, UK and Australia are reliable.
Quality costs so in many cases you will notice that there is a vast price difference between two seemingly same RO systems. But that is because components in the more expensive system are guaranteed to last and never fail.
Check the quality of carbon block filters used in the RO system. They ensure that contaminants and chlorine are removed to a good extent before the water reaches filtering membrane. Many RO systems also have a microbial filter at the last stage to ensure that there is no bacterial regrowth after passing through the filtering membrane.
Filters and membranes do not come cheap so factor in this cost as well when making your buying decision. It is helpful to know that world-leading membrane manufacturers offer guarantees on their products of up to 3 years.
Remember to check the brand and make of auto-shut off valves used in the RO system. A good quality valve will ensure that you do not walk into a flooded home when you come back from office.
If you are going for an under sink reverse osmosis system, ensure that the workmanship is immaculate and that the system fits snugly and out of sight. There should also not be any wires or plumbing hanging out.
5) Maintenance Tips for RO Filtration Systems
Regular, systematic and proper maintenance activities can stretch life of your RO system by a few years, if not more than that! Also understand the various filtration stages and the parts involved to give the best care to your RO system.
Timely replacement of filters is essential to get high quality drinking water. The carbon stage filters trap chlorine and other particles affecting taste, odor and color of water. Ideally carbon filters need to be replaced every 6-9 months. This may vary in different systems but it is important that you check at least once every year.
Sedimentary filter should also be replaced every 9 months for optimum performance.
Contaminants are usually washed away in RO system but after years of use the pores may get clogged or soiled by impurities. It is recommended that you replace the reverse osmosis membrane after a little more than 3 years.
Water softeners can be included in RO systems to remove hardening minerals calcium and magnesium from water. RO membranes find it difficult to remove these minerals and hence a softener will act as a protective barrier for the membrane as well as give you great tasting water.
RO systems are the most effective and powerful in removing contaminants from water. If you invest in the right system for your needs and are regular with your maintenance, then it can very well last for 15-20 years and give you a very profitable bang for your buck. Also you will have peace of mind knowing that the water you and your family drink is 99.9% pure which is the best possible.