Well.. I spoke too soon.
Just now I went to fill a gallon jug with the water and I checked the TDS. It's 26 now. That didn't bug me all that much because I figured as the tank got less full, the TDS would get lower. But actually.. the opposite happened. It slowly went from 26 to 30 and it just kept going up steadily from there until it got to 41 just as the tank emptied.
then you need to take the measurements... if tds is low coming out of the membrane but high coming from the tank then the membrane isnt the prob... (just an example...)
i cant tell you if your membrane is good or bad without knowing the numbers, no one can
if... your brine rate is between 3:1 to 5:1
if your water temp is "normal"
if your pressures are correct
if your rejection rate is less then 90%
then the membrane is junk, it's cut and dry
if the rejection rate is more then 90%
then the membrane is damaged but servicable, more then 95-97% and its in great shape
its that easy... but you got to do it systematically or you will continue to go in circles mate
The reason the TDS went back up is because the waste line slipped off of the hole in the drain pipe so the pressure was put back on the membrane again. I fixed this by extending the hose so that it actually goes into the drain pipe.. which is actually probably what I was supposed to do in the first place, but the waste line came pre-attached and I once again assumed that nothing more needed to be done with it. Now the system doesn't reach the nails that it had been hanging on (I don't know WHY they had to make some of the hoses so short and others incredible long.) but it's not that big of a deal...
Now the TDS should be going back down now. I still can't wait to get that new restrictor.. apparently it was just now shipped today so it probably won't get here until Monday or so.. but I had to move it from the setting that I had it on before so now I'm not sure if it's the right ratio. 4 1/2 turns I did.. it better be right.