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Thread: R/O Unit Problems

  1. #17
    OMG h8 pings MrFlyTrap2's Avatar
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    Av8tor1, I love the clicking noise it makes and bouncing tubes from the pressure. It always scares my roommates when they are downstairs doing laundry.

    Chrono, find out what kind of TDS meter you have. If it's one with two probes, switch the probes. You should get the same readings, if they are different you have a bad meter.


    ::Edit::, oops didn't see the link you posted. Should have read closer. Not really familiar with that type of meter. 8(

    The final filter is for taste and oder....
    "Granular activated charcoal is made from raw materials (such as coconut shells or coal) that are high in carbon. Heat is used to increase (activate) the surface area of the carbon; this is why these filters are sometimes referred to as “charcoal” filters. The activated carbon removes certain chemicals that are dissolved in water passing through a filter containing GAC by trapping the chemical in the GAC. However, other chemicals, like sodium or nitrate, are not attracted to the carbon and are not removed"

    I talked about this filter with a Reef Expert and he always recommends removing these. Your other filters do all the work, it's like putting a duct tape racing stripe on a brand new car. 8) Plus these filters can add ppm elements back into the water. This filter is for us, and for the ebay guys to say "hey! you have an extra filter than this other guy."
    My Grow List

    "It is only by studying nature that can we ever hope to defeat it."

  2. #18
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    I assume you will be buying a couple gallons of distilled water tonight, when you do check it with the same TDS meter to verify it is reading correctly, store bought distilled water should be test out very low if anything... good "shade tree" verification of your meter

    and you can flush too much, think about it... that flush water is still going through your sediment and charcoal prefiltration stages, so you are using up your ability to remove chlorine with every flush, and it definitely will damage the membrane if it isn't removed

    just flush once a week or so, and then only for a few mins... 10-15 at the most IMHO, if you need more flushing then that you are treating the symptom of a problem and not it's root cause

    Nate, ive always heard that as well... the part about the taste, but from articles that i have read it is really there to remove any VOC's that are gassed off by the bladder, you know that funky taste water gets from a plastic canteen after a while... ewwww, but it could be just for looks too LOL

    of course im not an expert by any means and ymmv

  3. #19
    ChronoKiento's Avatar
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    Starting TDS: 125-170
    TDS after Prefilters: 200
    TDS after Membrane: 56
    TDS after RO/DI filter: 120 (It was 66 when I checked a few hours later)
    TDS after carbon filter: (about the same as for the RO/DI filter)

    Brine: It took 35 seconds to fill an 8oz cup (245ppm)
    RO: It took 5 minutes to fill an 8oz cup

    I didn't get the tee yet for the PSI gauge yet since I haven't been able to get down there yet.. also.. I'm not really sure which one I need. Just a three way compression tee? The pressure as far as I know, isn't much. I run off a well and kind of expected that it'd be low. Water trickles out of the tubes after the membrane.. maybe about 2 drops a second. Not sure if that would affect the TDS levels though.

  4. #20
    Av8tor1's Avatar
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    ill be honest, your numbers are pretty strange... TDS shouldnt be going up after prefiltering, should be lower if anything... i would look at the last prefilter element to see if anything appears wrong... maybe it is leeching carbon?

    based upon your membrane output you would have about a 75% rejection ratio, which could indicate a possible low pressure problem

    but that isnt your main prob at the moment,

    open the final prefilter and have a look... do you see a bunch of carbon laying around in it, if so rinse and reinstall and recheck tds after prefiltering stage

    and the fittings are called hmmm something like "john cleese" LOL , i get mine at lowes, but they are not compression fittings

    and your brine ratio seems terrible, how did you adjust the variable flow restrictor?.... however it was done it needs to be around 3:1 (3 cups brine to one cup of permeate (RO/DI output)... if you dont have enough restriction this can cause a low pressure condition at the membrane.., and too much restriction can damage the membrane

    but we got more then one issue it seems, one step at a time... check that final prefilter element, lets find the increasing TDS prob first, get your tee and then we can check pressures

    (additional ref material, just found spectrapure's factory troubleshooting tek download here)

    unless they went to a diff style, here is the tee

  5. #21
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    Factory Step by Step Trouble-Shooting Guide

    Note: this troubleshooting tek is for the spectrapure systems, not all mfg will use the same color codes or flow restrictor design. I also prefer to take my initial measurements with the prefilters installed. However, the theory should be about the same.. and remember to isolate the bladder tank when taking your measurements

    spectrapure is the porche of RO units


    This procedure has been written with the idea in mind that a retail customer has just returned a system to
    a distributor's location and is asking for an immediate replacement, or repair. By following this guide you
    should have sufficient information to determine the cause of the customer’s complaint and provide the
    correct solution. We tried to keep this guide as simple as possible and avoided using technical terms. We
    also start the guide with a visual inspection then proceed to more-involved troubleshooting, which
    requires dismantling some parts of the system.
    Eliminator 90 RO (See Page 5 for the 180 GPD system)

    Low Water Production
    The most common complaint from your customers will be a low product water flow rate from the RO
    system. There are two local causes for this condition: low water pressure and/or low water temperature.
    The next common cause for low production will be a clogged sediment and/or carbon pre-filter. The least
    likely cause of low production is a fault with the RO membrane. By following the step-by-step procedures
    listed below you will be able to determine the cause of the customer complaint.

    The Following Tools are Required for Testing:
    1- Operations Manual for the RO System
    1- Measuring Cup or Graduated Cylinder in milliliters
    1- In-line Thermometer
    1- Pressure Gauge Kit ( PGK )
    1- Chlorine Test Kit ( TK-CL-25 )
    1- Conductivity Tester ( TS-T61 or TS-T71 )
    1- 90 GPD Flow Restrictor ( FR- 90 )
    1- 180 GPD Flow Restrictor ( FR-180 )

    Visual Procedure
    1 - Check the Location of the Product and Wastewater Lines
    The easiest means of differentiating between the Product water port and the Wastewater port of the RO
    membrane housing will be to locate the injection-molded stem that protrudes from the base of the Product
    water port. This stem is clearly visible in the Owner's Manual and by visually inspecting the output end of
    the membrane housing. (Also, most of the newer membrane housings have a BLUE retaining ring on the
    Product water port and a YELLOW retaining ring on the Wastewater port).
    Note: Tubing may be disconnected by holding down the retaining ring with your thumbnail and
    pulling the tube straight out with your other hand. When you re-insert the tube, be sure the end
    seats firmly into the bottom of the fitting and cannot be pulled out by hand.
    If the BLUE and YELLOW tubing are in the proper locations, continue to Step # 2.
    If the BLUE and YELLOW tubing are reversed, you have found the problem.
    Solution: Reverse the connections of the blue and yellow lines. Be sure the Flow Restrictor is in the
    YELLOW tubing.
    2 - Inspect the Black Tubing between the Carbon Pre-Filter and the RO Membrane Housing
    If the tubing is in good condition, continue to step # 3. If the tubing is pinched or deformed in any way, you
    have found the problem. Solution: Replace the tubing.
    3 - Check the Flow Restrictor
    Remove the yellow tubing from the RO membrane housing. Look in the end of the yellow tubing.
    If the Flow Restrictor is inside the end of the yellow tubing continue to step # 4.
    If the Restrictor is missing, you have found the problem.
    Solution: Install a new Flow Restrictor.
    4 - Inspect the Flow Restrictor
    Remove the Flow Restrictor from the yellow tubing. One end of the capillary tube is bonded to a plastic
    insert. Inspect the bonding material for voids between the capillary tube and the plastic insert.
    If the bonding material has developed a void or the capillary tubing is missing, you have found the

    Solution: Replace the Flow Restrictor.
    Inspect the internal diameter of the capillary tube. The ends of the tubing should have clean cuts without
    burrs at either end. The internal diameter should be open throughout the length of the tubing and you
    should be able to blow a slight amount of air through the tubing.
    If the tubing is deformed, if either end has burrs, if a particle or a foreign substance is blocking the internal
    diameter of the tubing, or if the tubing was crimped, you have found a problem that may have
    permanently damaged the membrane.
    Note: Inform the customer that the membrane can be easily damaged if any of these conditions existed
    for even a very short period of time.
    Solution # 1: If the tubing has burrs or is crimped near the end:
    Cut off the damaged end of the tubing with a sharp razor blade or Exacto blade at a 45 to 60 degree
    angle, then re-install the Flow Restrictor into the yellow tubing and insert the yellow tubing into the waste
    water port on the RO membrane housing.
    Solution # 2: If the capillary tubing is damaged beyond repair, replace the Flow Restrictor.

    Testing the System
    You are now ready to start testing the system for the proper flow rates from the product and waste lines
    and to determine the condition of the sediment and carbon pre-filters and the RO membrane.
    1 - Prepare System for Testing
    Insert the "tee" of the Pressure Gauge Kit between the "OUT" of the carbon filter and the "IN" of the RO
    membrane housing. (If an Auto Shut-Off Valve has been installed on the unit, insert the pressure gauge
    kit between the "OUT " of the ASO and the "IN" of the RO membrane).
    Attach the input line of the system to a water source that has the In-line Thermometer installed.
    Slowly turn on the water until the water supply valve is on full (< 80PSI).
    Allow the air to bleed from the system for a few moments.
    Record the water temperature. (__________)
    Record the water pressure reading on the pressure gauge. (__________)
    This would also be a good time to test for chlorine leakage through the carbon pre-filter. Use the Chlorine
    Test Kit, which is accurate to < 0.2 PPM. If "any" level of chlorine is present in the wastewater stream the
    RO membrane could have been damaged. The carbon pre-filter will need to be replaced after testing is
    complete and possibly the RO membrane. (This test assumes that you have a chlorinated water source).
    Turn off the water. Allow the pressure to bleed off. Unscrew the sediment and carbon pre-filter housings
    and remove both filters. Re-install the empty housings.
    Note: All of the remaining tests will be performed without the pre-filters installed!!
    2 - Testing the Condition of the Pre-Filters (Calculating the % of Pressure Drop)
    Slowly turn-on the water until the water supply valve is on full (< 80PSI).
    Allow the air to bleed from the system for a few moments. Record the water pressure reading on the
    pressure gauge. (__________)
    Compare the water pressure before and after removal of the prefilters.
    Divide the pressure reading after the filters were removed by the pressure reading before they were
    removed. Subtract 1 from the result then multiply by 100. [ ( ( Pafter / Pbefore ) - 1 ) X 100 ] This is
    the percentage of pressure drop across the pre-filters. If the pressure reduction is greater than 15%, both
    of the pre-filters should be replaced, after all testing is completed.
    (This would be a good opportunity to educate the customer on the benefits of having the Pressure Gauge
    Kit (# PGK) permanently installed on their RO system. If it is suspected that the customer has low
    pressure, a Pressure Gauge Kit plus a Booster Pump (# BPHF-MO-115) will be required for the proper
    operation of the system).

    3 - Test the Membrane Flow Rate
    We are now ready to check the product and wastewater flow rate from the RO membrane. After
    completing the pre-filter tests, the tap water should still be turned "on" and the pre-filters removed
    from the system.
    If you are confident that the existing Flow Restrictor is in good condition and has passed your prior
    inspection and testing, you may continue to the next test. If the condition of the Flow Restrictor is suspect,
    we would recommend removing the customer's Flow Restrictor and installing your test restrictor that was
    supplied for this test.
    With the water on full (< 80 PSI) measure the water volume from both the waste and product lines
    individually for one minute each.
    Measure and record the Milliliters per Minute from the Product line. (__________)
    Measure and record the Milliliters per Minute from the Wastewater line. (__________)
    At this point in our testing we will not concern ourselves with the Wastewater volume. You may use the
    existing restrictor if the Wastewater flow is in a range between 300 milliliters per minute at 40PSI @ 50F
    and 950 milliliters per minute at 60PSI @ 77F.
    For the purposes of this test, we would expect that most systems will be used under average conditions
    at approximately 50 PSI @ 60 F. If your conditions are close to this assumed average condition, we
    would recommend using an FR-90 Flow Restrictor cut to approximately 8 inches total length for this test.
    Note: If the Wastewater volume is less than 4 times the Product water volume (using the customer’s
    original Flow Restrictor), the membrane may have been damaged due to insufficient Wastewater flushing
    effect caused by improper adjustment of the Flow Restrictor. Inform the customer that operating the
    system at less than a 4 to 1 ratio will cause premature fouling of the membrane and a loss of water
    production. This condition will also void any warranty on the RO membrane. (Before recommending a
    membrane replacement, complete the test procedure).

    4 - Proceed to the "Membrane Output Calculation Guide" in the Owner's Manual
    The result of your calculations will show the "Expected" GPD production rate from the system after taking
    into account the water temperature and water pressure variations.
    Unfortunately, most customers will not be aware of the effects that water pressure and temperature have
    on RO membranes. It may be necessary to explain the calculations to the customer at this time. If the
    "expected" GPD production rate is within 15% of the actual flow rate, the membrane is considered to be in
    "good" condition.
    This completes our inspection of the system, pre-filter diagnostics and the "expected" flow rate
    If the customer's questions relate to product water purity, continue to the following section.
    Water Purity
    1- Tools Required for Testing
    Conductivity Tester, TS-T61 or TS-T71

    Before proceeding with the following test procedure please follow all of the previous test procedures and
    verify that the water pressure is adequate. Also confirm that the conductivity tester is calibrated correctly
    and is in good working order. (See the owner's manual for the tester.)
    Allow the system to operate for 10 to 20 minutes without interruption and verify that the pressure is
    greater than 40 PSI. Direct the product and wastewater streams to a drain.
    Most TDS testers include a reservoir cap for retaining the water that is to be tested. Be sure the reservoir
    is clean by rinsing it thoroughly at least three times with the product water as it drips directly from the
    product water line, before attempting to take the conductivity reading. After filling and discarding the water
    three times record the reading. (__________)
    Turn on a tap water faucet and let it run for a minimum of 30 seconds. Follow the step above and record
    the conductivity reading. (__________)

    2 - Calculate the Percentage of Rejection
    Subtract the RO product water conductivity (X) from the tap water conductivity (Y). Divide the result by the
    tap water conductivity (X) then multiply by 100. This is the % of rejection from the RO membrane.
    [ ( (X - Y) / X ) x 100 ]
    Under normal water conditions and at 60 PSI water pressure, the expected rejection rate from a new RO
    membrane should be greater than 97%, although there are several other factors that may affect the TDS
    level of the product water.
    For example, if soda lime softening (Calcium Hydroxide) is used in the municipal water supply to raise the
    PH, a high percentage of OH will pass through the membrane and cause the conductivity to be higher
    than normal in the product water.
    There are many factors that will affect the operation and rejection characteristics of an RO system. A few
    among many are: hydrogen sulfide, iron, bacteria, excess hardness, very low or high PH, ammonia,
    tannins etc. If you are still in doubt after completing all of the test procedures please call the SpectraPure
    Technical Support Line at 1-800-xxx-xxxx, Ext x.

    Eliminator 180 RO
    The Eliminator 180 GPD System incorporates two 90 GPD RO membranes. All of the previous steps
    used for evaluating the 90 GPD systems are valid in this procedure except for the items listed below. You
    will be testing the product water rate for each of the RO membranes independently in order to determine
    their condition. The membranes are in series with the wastewater from the first membrane feeding the
    input of the second membrane. You will need to remove the product lines from each membrane housing
    and test the individual conductivities in accordance with the Water Purity paragraph above.
    1 - Testing Conductivity for 180 GPD System
    After the system has been operating for 10 minutes or more, remove the blue product lines from each
    membrane at the "tee".
    Follow the instructions under the Water Purity paragraph above.
    Record the numbers and calculate the results. If either membrane has a rejection rate of less than 94%,
    we would recommend replacement of the membrane.
    Reconnect the product lines.
    2 - Test the Membrane Flow Rate
    After the system has been operating for 10 minutes or more, remove the blue product lines from each
    membrane housing.
    Follow the instructions under “3 - Test the Membrane Flow Rate” above and measure the product rate
    from each membrane independently.
    Each of the membranes should be within 15% of the "Expected" GPD flow rate. If either membrane were
    below the expected production rate, we would recommend replacing that membrane.
    Technical Support
    SpectraPure Inc. Latest Rev: 2003-01-09

  6. #22
    ChronoKiento's Avatar
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    Just opened the final prefilter...... is there supposed to be plastic shrink wrap over the cartridge? Because there is.. and nowhere in the instructions does it even say that you're supposed to open the prefilters and remove plastic wrap...

    Edit: Pics.. sorry the last one is blurry.

  7. #23
    Admin- I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az. adnedarn's Avatar
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    no, plastic shrink wrap is supposed to be off! hahahhahaaa it's around everything? even the rubber gasket at the top? Hmm,, how was water flowing? and was enough chlorine removed before hitting the membrane or did the chlorine kill the membrane? all questions to be answered. But first, I'd say it sounds like packaging that has to be removed, All my prefilters come with that stuff that needs to come off.
    Owner of TerraForums,, and
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  8. #24
    ChronoKiento's Avatar
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    I don't think my water has any chlorine in it?

    There were small holes in the plastic wrap, I guess that's how the water got through...

    I'm going to be royally pissed if I need a new membrane too.

    NOWHERE in the instructions does it say that there's plastic wrap on the prefilters it says that they are already installed and ready and nothing further is required with them.. URGH!!!

    In fact.. here are the instructions they gave me..

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