What could happen with an unmaintained filter?
I just found out that the RO system I've been drinking water from for 3 months has not had filters or membranes replaced for years! The system has been in this house for 6 years, it may be that long! The reason I was questioning my father about it is because I've had diarrhea for 3 months. The lab confirmed an Ambiesis (amoeba) infection and prescribed an antibiotic which did nothing.
I'm racking my brain to figure out some other cause. Prior to 3 months ago, I was drinking Brita Pitcher water at home. Does anyone see a connection here? I think the system should be purged but I don't know how to do it and my father is 90 years old and slowing down. He's been the one I expected to maintain it.
Thanks for your input.
Filter Change and cleaning - RO Sanitization
RO systems use a series of sediment and carbon filters as well as a membrane to filter water much finer than standard carbon filters.
If the filters are neglected, the carbon filters will not be able to effectively reduce chlorine and can damage most standard TFC membranes. (CTA (cellulose) membranes are absent from this as they can be used with chlorine)
The chlorine damages the membrane which can cause the membrane to fowl and reduce filtration to allow contaminants through. Membranes can last 2-5 years depending on the brand and if you maintain your prefilters.
Overtime, if there was ever bacteria introduced within the system it may cause bacteria growth. It is advised to disinfect the system atleast every other filter change. Also be sure to wash your hands prior to handling your filters to reduce bacteria cross contamination.
You will want to take out all of the old filters including the membrane. With all of the canisters empty, add 1-2 Tablespoons of household bleach to the first canister that the water enters (Usually where your sediment filter is). Put the canister with bleach back together and open your RO faucet and turn the water back on.
When you notice a bleach smell coming from the faucet, shut the faucet and allow the bleach/water solution to sit for 30 minutes to an hour. After having time for disinfection, open the RO Faucet again to let the water run until the bleach smell is gone. This can take 5-10 minutes.
When all the bleach is flushed and the bleach smell is gone from the water, add you new filters in the system accordingly.
Anytime you change the membrane, always dump the first tank full. You may want to do 2 tank fulls to be on the safe side. This is to flush the preservative from the membrane as you don't want to drink it.
Let me know if you have any questions!
Change the filters and sanitize the unit regardless of your illness. If it's been years then the chances of something "growing" in the tank grows as well. You also want to maintain the membrane with regular changes of the filters and sanitizing. What type (brand) of RO is it?
The brand of RO filter is WATTS premier, model RIL-1
Thanks for your help. The doctor says I have an amoeba that most people have with no symptoms. 15% have symptoms and he doesn't know how to treat it. I am still concerned about the filter system if the filters haven't been changed for years. How often are they supposed to be changed? I guess I better contact the manufacturer.
Once a year is a good rule of thumb. Change filters and sanitize. Generally, if bacteria were present due to something getting through or developing you would have intestinal/stomach issues. I doubt the amoeba thing is related to the RO....but I've been wrong before.
Replacing filters and membranes
Well, the doctor says what I have everyone has asymptomatically except for 15% and he doesn't know how to treat it. What is the point of going to a doctor? Anyway, I hope I can get my dad to change the filters. He's kind of stubborn and thinks that if he can't taste any chlorine that all is well. Thanks for your help. You've been great.
Here is what you should do with the unit:
1. Turn the inlet water supply valve off.
2. Drain the unit. This means open the faucet and let it run until it stops.
3. Remove the filters. Remove the o-rings from each housing and gently wipe them off to clean them of any buildup that may have accumulated on them with a paper towel. Also wipe the channel they lay in and as much of the inside of the housing as you can with a paper towel.
4. Insert the new filters. Usually, you'll have one 5 micron sediment pre-filter and 2 carbon filters. Sometimes there will be a TCR filter on top of the unit behind the membrane but without knowing if there is we'll skip that for now. Carefully drip a few drops of chlorine down into the center of each filter. The water hits the filter from the outside and moves through it top the inside so if you put it in the outside of the filter the carbon will remove it and it will be gone before it has a chance to do anything.
5. When you have the filters back on with their dose of chlorine in them turn the water back on. Close the faucet and let it sit for about 3 hours.
6. Open the faucet and let the water run until it stops. This will dump off the first full tank of water the unit makes and get rid of the chlorinated water. You may have to do this a second time depending on how much you notice chlorine in the water after that.
Last edited by pawaterguy; 04-01-2011 at 06:01 PM.