Saturday, March 31, 2007

What is a Reverse Osmosis Drinking System?

As a Realtor in the northern suburbs of Minnesota, I get a fair number of city dwelling clients that consider moving to acreage in the country. The idea of a little elbow room from their neighbors or a small hobby farm appeals to many Twin City residents. And the beauty of it is, is that in Anoka and Chisago counties there are numerous, affordable homes on acreage that have a reasonable commute to employment in the cities.

Although there are several considerations when making a move to an acreage home, one important one is that acreage homes most often do not have a city sewer and water supply. These homes have private water and sewer systems or
wells and septic systems. The quality of the water can vary from property to property even on the same block or community.

Living in the city, most people do not give their water supply little thought. As long as a home owner can turn on the tap and receive water, they have few concerns. There is an assumption that the city is monitoring the safety of the water that flows through the system. Occasionally, a news story will run regarding a community with contamination in the water supply. When that happens, city officials are called on to take care of the situation. However home owners with a private water supply or well, have to maintain the quality of their drinking water by themselves.

There are two types of treatment systems available to homeowners:


  1. Water Softener
  2. Reverse Osmosis
A water softener is designed to remove the calcium and magnesium in the water supply of the entire house. They can also reduce some of the iron but are not designed to remove all iron deposits. Hard water contains high levels of these minerals which cause a build up of scale inside pipes and make it difficult to for soap products to lather and clean. A water softener replaces the unwanted minerals with sodium (salt) which significantly reduces these problems.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a treatment system for drinking water. Unlike a water softener, an RO system is used only in one fixture usually located in the kitchen rather than treating the water in the entire house. It is used to remove substances that occur naturally or have contaminated the water supply. Basically it uses pressure to move the water through a membrane that allows the water molecules to past through but not the contaminants. It could be considered as “ultra filtration” because the holes in the membrane are so tiny that only water molecules, not contaminants, can fit through. The slow process effectively removes nitrates, sulfates, sodium and other contaminants that discolor and/or make your water smell and taste bad.

Typically the system is located in the cabinet below the kitchen sink. The system includes a particle filter, a R/O membrane unit, a carbon absorption post filter and a storage tank for the treated water. It does not replace your hot/cold kitchen faucet. The storage tank is connected to an additional auxiliary faucet located at the sink level.

Reverse Osmosis is a slow process that uses a lot of water. Typically five gallons of treated water will dump over 40 gallons of waste water into your sewage system. Since most well owners have private sewers or septic systems, this is something to keep in mind when considering a RO system.



If you are relocating to Minnesota, are looking for Homes for Sale in the north and east Twin Cities metro area and need help from a professional Realtor, give me a call. Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

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