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The Importance of Industrial Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance

by Leanne Hersey

In order to gain the greatest benefits from your industrial reverse osmosis system, make regular maintenance a priority. Along with helping to identify early indicators of wear and tear or fouling potential, regular maintenance protects against down time and loss of production by catching problems before they cause disruptions in operation. For those companies that forgo routine maintenance of their industrial reverse osmosis systems, there are serious consequences.

These days, most machines and equipment including tech equipment require maintenance either through hardware, or software via updates. Your industrial reverse osmosis system is the same. Pretreatments for the membranes and regular calibration of sensors within your system are vital to successful operations.

With a regular routine maintenance schedule, you are able to protect against untimely breaks and malfunctions. Those unexpected repairs are often the most costly and time-consuming, particularly when it comes to downtime. Along with maintaining the basic functions of your equipment, you also extend its lifespan. Routine maintenance may even be required by your reverse osmosis provider in order to ensure validity of warranty. Double check with your provider to be sure.

Below we’ve compiled a short summary of the maintenance recommended for most industrial reverse osmosis systems and the problems that can arise if you do not perform maintenance.

Calibrating Instruments

Keeping instruments such as ORP and pH sensors in good standing is an essential part of reverse osmosis maintenance. These require regular calibration to ensure the readings are accurate. Your ability to optimize your water treatment process is only as good as the data collected. If instruments are not calibrated on a regular schedule, there’s a good chance the data coming from them is not accurate, which may lead to upset process conditions.

Replacing Consumables

Just like your trusty at home water filter pitcher, consumables such as cartridge filters and membranes used in your industrial reverse osmosis system require replacement. While membranes should have a longer lifespan if treated properly (roughly 6 years), cartridge filters will require a more regular replacement schedule.


Every reverse osmosis system requires a Clean-In-Place (CIP) every so often. The frequency, however, will depend on many factors including water chemistry and desired recovery rate. Though time consuming, a CIP will ensure that your system can operate to it’s fullest potential. Single stage reverse osmosis systems such as CCRO systems will have the shortest CIP duration where a multi stage reverse osmosis system may take up to a full day to clean. Duration also depends on time of scale. Mineral scale can generally be removed from membranes within a 6-8 hour CIP event (on a CCRO system). Organic fouling such as silica is much more arduous to remove from membranes can take upwards of 1-2 days to remove organic foulants from membranes. This leads into having proper pretreatment to help prevent scale as much as possible…


Pretreatment may not be considered “maintenance” however it is an integral part of the operation of your reverse osmosis system. Type of pretreatment required greatly depends on your feedwater chemistry as well as the final use of the permeate. The desired water quality determines much. Pretreatment for a reverse osmosis system can include filtration, chlorination, antiscalant dosing, acidification, granulated activated carbon (GAC) and more.  Pretreatment paves the way for your desired permeate quality and also helps maintain reverse osmosis performance.

It All Helps to Increase Productivity and Performance

Along with protecting your investment against undue damage, maintenance works to improve how well your industrial reverse osmosis system functions now. With newer systems that offer smart monitoring, you may even benefit from a higher uptime and more reliable stream of feedwater. In addition, the use of clean feedwater protects against wear and tear or even failure to equipment down stream of your reverse osmosis system.

Choosing a Reverse Osmosis System Maintenance Plan

The amount of maintenance and assistance on that maintenance depends greatly on your facility and existing team. For some organizations, adding a reverse osmosis system to their facility may be new and uncharted territory, while for others it’s old hat. If you and your team are new to reverse osmosis, it’s recommended to choose a reverse osmosis system that can be remotely monitored and offers autonomous operation, such as Desalitech’s Closed Circuit RO systems. This way, the system can automatically adjust to required (and varying) operating parameters and a Desalitech service team member can even diagnose potential issues with your system remotely. You can supplement that by scheduling quarterly in person maintenance and training sessions.

If you have a large organization with team members well versed in reverse osmosis, you may not need on site maintenance as often if your team is capable of performing it regularly. However, some larger organizations, though capable, prefer to outsource maintenance and purchase “smart” systems operating on the CCRO platform in order to focus efforts elsewhere in their facilities.

If you are looking to get more information on maintenance options for your existing reverse osmosis system or for one you will be installing in the future, fill our out Free Water Assessment form.



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