How to Tell if an RO Membrane is Bad? (How Long)

As you may know, the reverse osmosis filtration system is one of the best when treating your water from all kinds of contaminants, hence giving you the supply of 99% pure water. However, do you know how the system operates and how essential a membrane is in the RO filtration process?

A semipermeable membrane of the RO system separates all unwanted molecules, metals, bacteria, viruses, and many more contaminants from your water. The pressure that’s put by the reverse osmosis process onto the membrane then  allows clean water to pass through and flushes contaminated water to the drain.

In short, the RO membrane separates clean water from contaminated one. The membrane is not eternal and since it plays such an important role in this filtration system it is of core importance that the membrane of your RO filtration system is always in a good condition and works to its maximum capacity as only in this case it will provide you with pollutants-free water.

So how can you tell that the membrane of your RO system needs to be treated or replaced? In short, start by noticing any changes in the strength of your water flow since lowered water pressure might signify that the membrane needs to be replaced.

Also, check for any unusual and unpleasant tastes and smells – this is also a sign that something in your filtration system is not working properly including the membrane.

As we have already covered, the membrane is a medium that flushes all the contaminants by letting the clean water to flow through it. The latter means that if the membrane is not seated properly, appears to be not in a good condition, or has negative modifications (e.g. clogging) it will take more time to clean the same amount of water meaning that your water pressure will be lower. Automatically it will also affect the strength of the water flow.

Some of the contaminants such as heavy metals make your water taste and smell unpleasant. If your membrane is not able to filter those out then there is a big possibility that instead of flushing them down the drain those contaminants will go straight into your glass.

Also, when oxidized, certain metals have the ability to change colors, so if you notice any of these changes happened to your water, check the state of the RO membrane immediately. 

Another reason why you should take a look at your RO membrane is if you notice that your system runs without stopping. If a membrane is installed incorrectly this might result in an error and make your system work non-stop, thus not only the condition of your membrane itself is important but also its’ correct placement in the system.

Check the prices of new Reverse Osmosis membranes:

50 GPD RO membrane

75 GPD RO membrane

100 GPD RO membrane

150 GPD RO membrane

How Long Do RO Membranes Last?

To get the best out of your RO membrane performance replace it every 2 to 5 years. The exact time of when it is best to change your membrane depends on several factors. Firstly, you will probably need to replace your membrane more often than every 5 years if your water is full of sediment. This is simply because large amounts of sediment over time might damage sensitive RO membrane.

The same goes for those whose water is full of heavy metals. Besides the condition of your water it is also important to know what specifications your membrane has. That is, if the manufacturer says that you have to change your RO membrane every 2 years then it is best to follow these instructions.

When you know that it is time to change your RO membrane simply purchase one as inclined by the manufacturer. Once bought, store your membrane in a dark and cool place inside of its package if not installed immediately. Use exact instructions on how to install your membrane since foul installation might negatively affect its performance.

How to Prolong Life of Reverse Osmosis Membrane?

But what is there that you can do in order to prolong the life of your RO membrane? As we have already covered the main reason as to why the RO membrane might serve you for a shorter time, let’s look at some precautions that you could take in order to prolong the life of your RO membrane.

  • Clean your membrane regularly. Because of the contaminants that get in contact with the membrane over time, there might be a build-up of organics and bacteria, and mineral scaling. Clean your membrane once you see any minor changes in water quality or at least twice a year. To clean the membrane use only eligible low pH (removes mineral scaling) and high pH (removes bacteria and organics) cleaners and follow the process as specified by the manufacturer.
  • Treat your water prior to using an RO filtration system. As one of the reasons that your RO membrane longevity is shorter is the quality of your water that it filtrates naturally to diminish this problem you can treat your water before letting your RO system deal with it. You will know how to treat your water properly once you will complete a simple at-home water test which will show the levels of certain contaminants. Contaminants such as ion and sediment might be seen when leaving water to settle overnight. 
  • Use an additional cartridge. Most of the RO systems offer a customizable cartridge feature where you can add a filter cartridge according to your needs. That is if you know that your water is in poor condition and might negatively influence the activeness and longevity of the membrane then choose an additional pre-filter cartridge which will make sure that by the time that the water reaches the membrane it is safe for it to treat.

Also, check the best under sink Reverse Osmosis systems.


This is my blog about the ways and solutions that can help you improve your health by taking more value from drinking water. As improving health means a lot to me, I decided to create the Water On Top project with the purpose to reveal the benefits of water, the finest products to take our daily water to another level, and much more great stuff about water that I believe is on top of our nutrition.

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