Does whole house reverse osmosis make sense?

The short answer is “YES” but that doesn’t mean that it is for everyone.  We will consider the pros and cons of a whole-house RO system and you can decide if it is for you or not.

First of all, water quality varies greatly from well water to surface water to municipal water.  Well water may have things like iron, sulfur, manganese and tannin which almost always have to be removed, especially in the case of a whole-house RO system.  Those contaminants must always be removed before the reverse osmosis process.  Let’s not forget that reverse osmosis removes the largest spectrum of contaminants at the most economical cost of any water treatment process.  Essentially, a whole house reverse osmosis system will remove 98 to 99% of most contaminants including Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), sodium, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, arsenic and a plethora of other chemical and organic contaminants.

One of the key ingredients to a whole house reverse osmosis system is proper per-treatment, which includes removing the iron, sulfur, manganese, tannin and other nuisance elements.  So, ahead of an RO system, it is essential that filtration or oxidation of these contaminants are accomplished.  If the water is hard, then it needs to be softened or (what I prefer) use an anti-scalant to prevent hard water build-up on the membranes.  Anti-scalant systems are gaining popularity because no water is wasted and no salt is needed.

A whole house RO system consists of the aforementioned pre-treatment, the reverse osmosis system itself, an atmospheric storage tank, a re-pressurization pump, ultraviolet light or Quantum Disinfection and sometimes a calcite filter to raise the pH or add some TDS back to the water.  Here is what a city water whole-house RO system might look like:



Who might need a whole house reverse osmosis system?  Lots of people.  It could be health related in that they may want to remove as many chemicals as possible from their water.  Many people have a sensitivity to such chemicals and therefore need a whole house RO system.  In other cases, it may be that there are contaminants in the water that create ascetic issues such as high chlorides, sodium, sulfates and others.

Sometimes we see water that has TDS levels in excess of 2,000 PPM (the USEPA recommends drinking water that is below 500 PPM).  I’ll grant you that the water you use to flush your toilet doesn’t have to be super clean, but the amount of water used for flushing toilets in very insignificant compared to most other uses for water in your home.  Washing dishes or clothes, bathing, shampooing, shaving and cleaning in clean reverse osmosis water is a pure joy.

Back in the day, people used to bathe in rainwater, which is generally absolutely soft.  When I was in Haiti a few years ago, we would wait for a heavy rainstorm and stand underneath a downspout plume just to enjoy a good shower.  With shorts on and a bar of soap, we enjoyed every second of that shower.

If taking a shower in the cleanest water on the planet, without chemicals, pesticides and hardness appeals to you, then maybe you are a candidate for a whole house reverse osmosis system.  If you want to be able to drink from any faucet in the home, then maybe a whole house RO system is for you.  Maybe you just want the best water possible.  If so, a home whole house reverse osmosis  system may just be what the doctor ordered!


This article has 116 Comments

  1. Dear Sir/Madam
    We are interested with water purification system can you send me price list of that systems.
    For our market more interested from 5 to 30 liter per hour systems.
    Approximate feed water conductivity is 500μS/cm – required conductivity is 10μS/cm
    Best regards
    General sales manager Davit Davtyan

  2. Who makes the most efficient whole house RO system? Here in AZ water is at a premium but the water is bad also. Can you recommend a company?

  3. If we install a whole house RO system, are the existing chemicals still in the existing pipes? My home is 110 Years old and we have Chromium-6 in our public water. All together we want to get a whole house RO System. We also are looking for a general price for a family of 5, 1.5 bathroom house. Does the pump also control the water pressure to the house? We also have an existing water softner.

    Please advise….. I would like to do this ASAP

    1. Will existing pipes be clear from long chemical exposure?
    2. Appx cost for RO Sys
    3. Does pump help with water pressure?

    Thank you

  4. Which system would remove PFBS (similar to PFAS). It is a man-made chemical. We currently have 14/Trillion from our well water. There has been several dump sites near our home by a company who used PFAS and PFBS for treating shoes.

    *Whole home filter:
    I was thinking of doing:
    1). “pre-filter” polyspun filter
    2). Active Carbon Filter
    3). Reverse Osmosis . (IF necessary for man-made chemicals). Our fluoride, iron, etc levels are good. It just just the PFBS that we have an issue.

    ANY help is appreciated.

    PFAS and PFBS are cancer causing man-made chemicals.

  5. I live in AZ, we have hard water, what is better to get, a water softener system or a whole house reverse osmosis system. I’ve called around, have been told I’ll need to buy both, do I need both?

  6. Well, a whole house reverse osmosis system removes the largest spectrum of contaminants of any water treatment process, but depending upon what you want to remove from your water, a whole house RO system may not be needed. At any rate, you don’t need both. You are getting some bad advice.

  7. I have tried three dierent well water whole house systems. Non, have been satisfactor. Have a lot of tannins, fe, mg, a of course Ca co4 or some like that. My wife and I bothe un happy with present one. I read about the Ron type, but the you have to pre this and pre that before even to can occur. Can you suggest what I would have to purchase and install to make such a system to put in my house

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