Common Problems and Resolutions with Reverse Osmosis System
February 14, 2018
In plain English, reverse osmosis systems remove water impurities by driving the fluid through a thin, semi-permeable material. This membrane is usually a synthetic, a filmy plastic that's formed from a thin sheet of cellulose acetate. Alternatively, polysulfone polymers also facilitate the osmosis effect. Still, despite the unquestionably advanced nature of this filtration system, problems find their way into the machinery. Without further delay, let's solve those problems.
Cracking Fouling Problems
Like any other filtration mechanism, RO membranes tend to foul. The suspended contaminant coats the filmy stuff until it clogs, then the extremely fine pores become plugged. Advanced pumping systems sometimes incorporate a fix for the problem, one that extends the life of the RO membrane. Look for a system flush control. If the reverse osmosis equipment isn't fitted with a flush feature, remove the filter. Clean the element. If that's not an option, fit a replacement unit.
Secondary Fouling: Water Hardness
Again, the water flow is down to a trickle. The reverse osmosis module is fouled, but this isn't a regular clog. No, the water is loaded with minerals and metal oxides. A "scale" has formed on the RO membrane. Chemical softeners neutralize water hardness. Check the chemical softener to ensure the scaly minerals are being dealt with properly. Colloidal (ultrafine suspended solids) pollutants create a similar effect. The only option here is to call the water board and make inquiries. If fine solids are in-stream, then fit a pre-treatment filter to take care of the contamination.
Dubious Water Quality
If the system hasn't been in use for a while, then a biofilm may have formed in the filtration chamber. Flush the system. If the flush doesn't yield the desired results, replace the RO membrane. Incidentally, the reverse osmosis element should really be replaced periodically, perhaps as often as 3 times a year. Bad tastes and unpleasant odours signify stagnant water and a possible biofilm formation. Important: The selected cleaning agent should be chosen according to the operator's manual. The wrong cleaner will damage the filtration element and compromise the porous film.
Other issues will occur over time. If the water is milky, there are tiny oxygen bubbles in the fluid. Don't worry, those bubbles will disappear over time. This phenomenon can also make the equipment hum or vibrate. Check for a purge function. A system purge clears air bubbles and eliminates system noise. If the water is still milky and/or the pump is still creating noise, consult the owner's manual. If all else fails, call the customer support number for more help.
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