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how do RO systems work?


If you’ve ever taken a sip from a glass of water that came from the home of someone with a reverse osmosis system, you know how pure and refreshing it tastes.

Or, perhaps you have concerns about water quality and want to make sure your family is drinking healthy water that reduces contaminants as much as possible.

Reverse osmosis (R.O.) drinking water truly is the purest choice for any home. It’s water the way nature intended us to drink it.

But how exactly do these systems work, and what do they do to your home’s water?

What is Reverse Osmosis?

osmosis vs reverse osmosisOsmosis is defined as the process of molecules passing through a semi-permeable membrane from a less-concentrated solution into a more-concentrated solution.

An example or osmosis from nature is the roots of plants drawing water from the soil.

Reverse osmosis is simply the opposite of that process.

The Reverse Osmosis Process

reverse osmosis membrane diagram

Molecules are forced through a semi-permeable membrane to form a less concentrated solution. Essentially, the membrane acts like a type of filter as it has extremely tiny pores that help remove microscopic contaminants from the water you drink by straining them out.

In the case of reverse osmosis drinking water systems, the semi-permeable membrane only lets water molecules through while other contaminants are collected and flushed away.

How Reverse Osmosis Filtration Works

There’s a bit more to the process when using a reverse osmosis  system to purify drinking water.

If you’ve ever seen an R.O. system, you’ve likely noticed the three cylindrical canisters on a manifold. One of these is the membrane and the other two are carbon filters. Let’s take a closer look at what each of these cartridges do.

reverse osmosis drinking water system

Step 1: Pre-filtration

The first step in purifying water with reverse osmosis is meant to protect the membrane. It removes larger sediment, including some dissolved solids, and helps reduce chlorine.

This first cartridge is referred to as the sediment filter or carbon block filter. It helps conserve the membrane, which can get clogged by excess sediment or damaged by exposure to too much chlorine, which you’ll find in municipal water.

Reverse osmosis works best when you start with good water and then make it great. That’s why you should never use a reverse osmosis system with hard water unless it is under 10 grains per gallon. If your water is too hard, start with one of our other water treatment solutions.

We often recommend having a water softener installed before installing an R.O. system. Scale buildup from hard water can damage these systems in the same way they damage other appliances. Learn more about how hard water ruins appliances here on our blog.

Step 2: The Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Following the initial filtration comes the real magic of an R.O. system.

Your water is forced through the semi-permeable membrane under pressure. The membrane is a synthetic plastic material that allows the passage of water molecules. However, sodium, chlorine, and calcium as well as larger molecules like glucose, urea, bacteria and viruses cannot pass.

We have reverse osmosis drinking water systems that are tested and certified for reduction of:

  • lead
  • arsenic
  • copper
  • nitrates and nitrites
  • chromium (hexavalent & trivalent)
  • selenium
  • fluoride
  • radium
  • barium
  • cadmium
  • cyst (cryptosporidium)
  • total dissolved solids (TDS)

Steps 3 & 4:  Post Filtration and Final Polish

Before your home’s water is ready to drink, it goes through a second carbon filter (or post filter), which removes any remaining contaminants in the unlikely case they slipped past the membrane.

Then the water fills up a storage tank where it waits until you’re ready to use it.

Finally, there’s the in-line activated carbon filter, which gives your water one last polish as it comes out your faucet. This is used to remove any remaining odors or flavors that may come from the system hoses or the holding tank.

The polish is a “just in case” step to make sure the water you drink tastes incredibly fresh!

Is Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water Right for Your Home?

Soft water is excellent for cleaning, showering, and laundry. However, some people would rather not drink it. Depending on how hard your water is to start with, it could still have high total dissolved solids (TDS), which can negatively affect the taste. That’s because the hard minerals are replaced by sodium, and there may be other contaminants in your water that a softener will not remove.

A reverse osmosis system can remove that sodium along with other contaminants and dissolved solids, which makes a water softener and an R.O. system an ideal combination for most homes.

When you install a reverse osmosis system, you’ll enjoy better-tasting coffee and tea, clearer ice cubes, and pure, healthy water right from your kitchen sink. If you’re still using bottled water for drinking, you’ll be making a smart investment that saves you money in the long run and is better for the environment.

Reverse osmosis systems are commonly installed under kitchen sinks or in basements. If desired, Water-Right also offers whole home R.O. systems. So you can even wash your car with reverse osmosis water for a spot-free finish!

Get further details on reverse osmosis drinking water systems and how they work on our site or call us at 410-840-BLUE (2583)









Originally posted and written by Water Care on July 27th, 2016


UV-light-featured-imageUltraviolet (UV) light has a wide variety of uses, but how can it help give your home cleaner water?

You’ve likely heard of UV rays from the sun. Those rays can be beneficial, helping your body create vitamin D, or they can be harmful, causing skin damage like sunburn.

Ultraviolet light is also present in lamps used in tanning beds, to sterilize medical equipment, and it’s inside black lights at nightclubs, roller rinks, and cosmic bowling.

However, one of the most beneficial uses of UV light is water purification.

Here’s how that works …

UV componentsHow UV Systems Disinfect Water

A UV water treatment system includes four main parts: the ultraviolet lamp, a high-quality quartz sleeve surrounding the lamp, a stainless steel chamber, and a system controller.

There’s a lot of complex science behind the process of UV water purification, but the idea is quite simple.

Water runs through the steel chamber where it is exposed to the UV light, which deactivates bacteria and waterborne pathogens. Then the water is safe to consume.

UVDisinfection_v2-250x126A specific dose UV light disables bacteria and viruses by attacking and disrupting their DNA.

Once a microorganism’s DNA is damaged, it can no longer function or reproduce, which means it can no longer cause an infection or harm.

Pathogens in water require different intensities of UV light in order to inactivate the DNA. Plus, the flow rate of water also has an effect as it determines the length of time microorganisms are exposed to the light.

There is an accepted standard for UV light application, and most manufacturers have various systems providing different doses depending on what is required.

The Benefits of a UV System for Water Purification

UV light treatment offers some impressive advantages for homeowners who choose to invest in this type of water treatment.

For one thing, UV purification is a physical process, not chemical, which means it doesn’t involve the use of chemical disinfectants such as chlorine. There are also some microorganisms that are chlorine-resistant, yet UV treatment is able to take them out.

Because these systems are chemical-free, they’re better for the environment. UV systems, such as those from our partner Viqua, are also energy efficient. A typical Viqua UV system uses the same amount of power as a 40 watt lightbulb.

Maintenance of your UV system is fairly easy, but some homeowners do choose to have a water treatment professional help them out when it’s time to replace the lamp or clean the quartz sleeve.

To ensure you’ll always have microbe-free water, UV system control units will alert you when the lamp needs to be changed.

uv pre-treatmentHow Water Softeners and UV Systems Work Together

You see, sometimes pre-filtration is needed in order to get the most out of a UV system.

UV light does not remove hardness or other dissolved solids. In fact, suspended particles in water may actually protect some microorganisms from the ultraviolet light.

The turbidity or cloudiness of your water can also hamper UV effectiveness because light cannot travel through hazy water as easily. Instead, suspended particles absorb and diffuse the light.

The Viqua Home Plus series does offer some pre-filtration with a sediment and carbon filter. These filters will improve the water’s odor and taste, but can’t reduce hardness.

That’s why Viqua recommends pre-treatment with a water softener, and possibly other types of in-home filtration, before your water is purified with UV light. We often say: you need good water to make great water!

For those who have serious concerns about water quality or potential contamination, you can have your water tested to get the answers you need.

Call us at 410-840-BLUE (2583) to schedule a Free in home water analysis!

Find Out More About UV Water Purification from Viqua






Originally posted and written by Water Care on July 14th, 2016


hard water effects on appiances

They just don’t make things like they used to.

You’ve probably muttered a statement like that when replacing a washing machine that kicked the bucket, calling a service tech to repair your dishwasher, or had a water heater leak all over the floor.

There is something you can do to ensure your water-using appliances have a nice long life.

It starts with identifying the problem, and in many cases, the problem is hard water.

Here’s why so many appliances end up in the junkyard before their time.

How Hard Water Ruins Your Appliances

Calcium and magnesium are good for healthy bones, but they are the bad guys when it comes to certain appliances in your home.

Those minerals are what make water hard. They’re also responsible for what’s known as scale buildup or mineral deposits.

Scale from hard water can clog plumbing, and it damages your water-consuming appliances, wearing them down over time. They become less and less effective until eventually they break down.

However, since water softeners remove those hard minerals, treated water doesn’t leave behind the scaly build up that harms appliances.

The Water Quality Association (WQA) commissioned a study in 2009 examining the impact of hard water on typical household appliances and fixtures. See some of the results below. (Read the complete Battelle study online)

appliances lifespan on hard water

Based on 2009 WQA Research

It’s plain to see how hard water can ruin appliances. The WQA research indicates hard water damage takes years off the life of dishwashers and washing machines. Having a water softener in your home helps protect these costly appliances.

But, that’s not all …

WQA researchers also found that with soft water, appliances need to use less soap and detergent and can be run at lower temperatures, yet be just as effective.

Detergent use dropped by 50% in washing machines with soft water, and you could save as much as 70% on dishwasher detergent.

With softened water, tests showed washing machines could run with a water temperature of 60 degrees instead of 100 degrees and still remove tough stains. Depending on the stain, eliminating the hardness in water could improve removal by 100%.

Hard Water and High Efficiency Appliances

Today, many homeowners are choosing to purchase high efficiency appliances, which can save money in the long run and cut back on energy. However, high efficiency appliances also require a significant initial investment.

If hard water is being run through those appliances, their efficiency is going to decrease dramatically as months and years go by. That means you aren’t actually getting the energy savings you think you are.

With soft water, appliances like dishwashers and washing machines are much more likely to retain the original factory efficiency rating for an extended time.

Most of us don’t actually pay much attention to appliance manuals, but if you did, you’d see many of them recommend using treated water for the best performance. In fact, the warranties for some high efficiency models are void if you’re using them with hard water.

A water softener can also reduce your home’s carbon footprint. That’s because they not only help appliances run on less energy, the treated water allows you to use less soap and detergent as well. Detergent has a number of negative environmental effects and pollutes the water.

The Most Expensive Hard Water Problem for Homeowners

According to the Department of Energy, heating water accounts for 14% to 18% of the energy costs in your home, and it could be as high as 25%.

That’s a pretty big chunk of your utility bill!

Water heating is second only to heating your actual home when it comes to energy use. So it stands to reason that you’ll want your water heater to be running efficiently.

home energy costs dept of energy

Courtesy: U.S. Department of Energy

The best way to do that is to make sure your water heater is on soft water. An efficient water heater can save you as much as 29% per year on water heating costs.

The 2009 WQA study indicates soft water has a very positive impact on the lifespan of water heaters.

“As for water heaters, the researchers found that when they used softened water, the units maintained their original factory efficiency rating for as long as 15 years.”

On the other hand, if your home has hard water, it doesn’t matter if you’ve got a gas water heater, electric water heater, or a tankless water heater … the results of testing show they won’t last nearly as long or run as efficiently.

“Running hard water through the units cut efficiency by up to 48 percent. Scale buildup shortened the lifespan of the heating elements inside electric water heaters, and some tankless water heaters using hard water failed after just 1.6 years.”

In fact, not a single water heater operating with hard water even made it to the end of the testing before it broke down!

Check out the lifespan of water heaters using hard water below. That scaly buildup means you’ll be shivering in the shower and getting a new one in half the time.

water heaters and hard water

Based on 2009 WQA Research

More About How a Water Softener Can Help

Hard water can cause a lot of other issues in your home. You can read about 8 hard water problems here on our blog.

Soft water will make your life a lot easier and has the potential to help you save money as well as energy.

If you’re ready to learn more about having a water softener in your home, Atlantic Blue is here to help!

Give us a call at 410-840-BLUE (2583) or contact us on our website at www.atlanticbluewaterservices.com






Originally posted and written by Water Care on July 1st, 2016