When you're looking for a water-treatment system for your home, reverse osmosis is a common choice and one that works quite well for a lot of people. But how can you tell if it will be right for you? Here are some pros and cons to having a reverse-osmosis system in your life.
Reverse osmosis is a highly effective filtration method. If you need particulates, bacteria, or minerals removed from your water, reverse osmosis can help you. It works by using water pressure to force water through a membrane. This is similar to a filter, but the membrane is thin and not very permeable; it's designed to be semi-permeable, meaning that no molecules larger than water molecules can come through. Consequently, it's a reliable method of purifying your water and has similar results to a distillation system. The difference is that instead of electricity, reverse osmosis uses water pressure. And like distillation, a good reverse-osmosis system will come with a carbon filter to re-process the water after it goes through the membrane, just in case any pesticides or other chemicals need to be removed (these chemicals may have molecule sizes even smaller than water). In addition to being very reliable and thorough, reverse osmosis is also low maintenance. The only maintenance it requires is to have the membrane changed occasionally.
While reverse osmosis can filter out almost everything from your water with a high degree of efficiency, this also means that it catches a lot of undesirable particles And the more undesirable particles your water has, the harder it is on the system's membrane. This means that if your water is excessively full of particles, reverse osmosis can work for you, but it will require added maintenance and expense because you'll have to change the membrane frequently. So if you have very hard water (full of lots of calcium and magnesium ions), you may wish to use a water softener instead of or in addition to your reverse-osmosis system. A water softener uses ion exchange to remove calcium and magnesium ions, so it can remove the "hard water" taste from your drinking water. Some people don't like the flavor of softened water, however, since it includes sodium ions, so you can use reverse osmosis on your drinking water after softening it for optimum purity and membrane longevity.
These pros and cons show that a reverse-osmosis system is a great one to have in your home, although it may not work unaccompanied in every situation. Whether you use it by itself or with a water-softening system, remember to keep track of when the semi-permeable membrane needs changing.
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