How Long Do Reverse Osmosis Filters Last?

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Reverse osmosis filters need replacement frequently to keep the RO system running effectively. Fail to do so, and you will most likely be drinking unpurified water.

So, how long does a reverse osmosis filter last? Well, most RO filters last for 6 months to one year. This is usually dependent on the quality of water in your area.

How Will You Know that Your RO Filters Require Replacement?

You will know that your reverse osmosis system requires a new filter if you notice any of the following problems:

  • Sediment in your water

One of the easiest ways of telling that your RO filter replacement is long overdue is the presence of sediment in your water.

If you notice sand or dirt in the water, you need to replace the sediment filter in your RO unit.

In fact, sediment filters require replacement every 6 to 12 months.

  • Odd taste

Reverse osmosis water is great-tasting. It does not have the smell of rotten eggs or the taste of chlorine. If you notice an odd smell or taste, you need to replace the carbon filters in your unit.

Carbon pre-filters wear out fast as they take the most abuse. You thus need to change them every 6 to 12 months to maintain the taste of your water.

  • Low water pressure

If your glass of water takes more time than normal, it could be a sign that your RO filter requires replacing. Always keep a close eye on the filters, as changing them soon is better than leaving them too long.

  • System always running

If your reverse osmosis system feels like it is always cycling water, check the filters. It could be a sign that you need to replace them.

Why Should You Replace Reverse Osmosis Filters?

You should replace your RO system filters to ensure the optimal effectiveness of the unit.

Failure to do so would result in contaminated water from your faucet. And the worst part is that you might end up drinking the water, not knowing it is contaminated.

Additionally, filters accumulate debris, which results in clogging. Some filters also lose their adsorptive properties after a period of use.

Can You Clean Reverse Osmosis Filters?

Over time, your reverse osmosis filters can get fouled by sediment, biofilm growth, scale build-up, and mineral deposits.

Occasional cleaning and sanitizing of the sediment filters, carbon block pre-filters, and post-carbon filters can enhance their performance, prolong filter life and help you prevent fouling problems.

Whole house RO systems have filters that are easy to clean by backwashing. However, you still have to replace them with new ones at the expiry of their filter life.

Under sink RO units filters cannot be cleaned. You need to replace them with new ones.

Additionally, after cleaning the filters, you must also clean the RO system. Do this at least once every year. This helps to destroy harmful bacteria that could be growing in the storage tank.

And if you replace the filters, you need to clean the system to prevent bacterial growth.

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Dr. Peter Gleick

Dr. Peter Gleick is an experienced water filtration engineer and technical writer for He is an expert in water purification and filtration, focusing on helping people get clean, safe, and healthy water for domestic use. He has more than 10 years of writing experience and has numerously contributed to leading publications in this field.

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