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What is reverse osmosis and how can it be so effective at purifying my water?: Reverse osmosis is a very effective process for removing chemical and bacterial contaminants that are potential health hazards. It requires special filters that have semi-permeable membranes. Water is forced into the filters and pushed through the membrane. This process allows water to pass through the membrane, but not ions (calcium, iron, manganese, etc.) or larger molecules (glucose, urea, bacteria). Since this goes against the concentration gradient (lower concentration to higher concentration) it is the opposite process of osmosis, thus giving it the name reverse osmosis.
As an additional benefit, the design of the filter is also uniquely laid out in a continuous circling manner, much like the rings of a tree appear. This design allows for maximum filtration and usage of the membrane's surface.
The reverse osmosis method is an efficient and comprehensive means of eliminating more than 90% of potentially harmful contaminants.
How do I know if reverse osmosis may be right for me?: If you are concerned about the water quality in your home, reverse osmosis may be an option for you. If you notice any taste or odour problems, or are aware of high levels of dissolved minerals in your water supply, you may want to consider a reverse osmosis system. If you are or have an immune-compromised individual in your home who is especially susceptible to infection from various water-borne contaminants, an RO system is often recommended. A dangerous micro-organism cyst called Cryptosporidium may be present in your water, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend using reverse osmosis for removal.
Which contaminants will a reverse osmosis system remove?: Reverse osmosis will treat a variety of contaminants, both chemical/elemental and bacterial. Included are:
Chemical/Elemental: Aluminum, Arsenic, Asbestos, Atrazine, Benzene, Chlorides, Chlorine, Copper, Cyanide, Fluoride, Lead, Mercury, Nitrates, Radium, Radon, Silver, Sodium, Sulfide, Trichloroethylene, and Total Trihalomethanes.
Bacterial:* Cryptosporidium, Giardia.
*While RO systems may be effective at removing bacterial contaminants, design considerations such as tiny seal leaks or manufacturing imperfections may prevent foolproof protection. Therefore, absolute disinfection should be ensured with a post-RO system such as UV light. This will reduce the reduction of bacterial contaminants to greater than 99.9%.
Besides reducing contaminants, what other benefits does reverse osmosis provide?: With reverse osmosis, the most noticable difference will be cleaner, sparkling water that tastes great! Because the natural state of your water is altered in this manner, the flavour of food and drinks can come through without any "chemical" taste. As well as having low mineral content in your water can.
What is ultraviolet (UV) light?: Ultraviolet light exists at the invisible, violet end of the light spectrum. Although we can't see UV light, we are exposed to a small amount every time we walk out into the sun. The water treatment industry uses special lamps that emit UV light of a particular wavelength in order to disinfect water.
How does UV work?: UV rays work by penetrating into bacteria and viruses, destroying their ability to function and reproduce. Simple but effective, these systems can destroy 99.99 per cent of harmful micro-organisms. It is done without adding chemicals or changing your water's taste or odour.
Why not use chlorine?: UV light does not produce harmful chemicals in drinking water. It's safe, effective and environmentally friendly. Chlorine however, reacts with certain compounds that may be present in the water supply, resulting in by-products that have been linked to cancer (such as trihalomethanes, or THMs). As well, many people object to the taste and smell of chlorinated water, making it that much less desirable to drink.
Is pre-treatment of my water required for a UV system to work?: A 5-micron sediment filter is usually installed upstream of any UV system to eliminate any particles large enough to block the UV light. The UV system should always be installed downstream of any other water treatment equipment. However, ultimately the quality of your water will determine if additional pre-treatment is required.
What may be blocking the UV light?: Chemicals such as iron and calcium carbonate can form deposits on the UV lamp's protective sleeve, reducing the light that can penetrate the water. Water softeners and iron removal systems are sometimes required. Chemicals such as iron, tannins and humic acid are able to absorb UV light and thus reduce the amount available for disinfection. After performing a simple test to measure your water's UV transmittance, your water treatment specialist can recommend treatment devices to suit your water supply. To determine what kind of upstream installation your system needs will require a water test. For information on water testing options, click here.
How do I know what size of UV unit to buy?: It depends on what kind of treatment plan you require. You can treat the water for your whole home or just the drinking water from one tap. It is recommended that you treat the water for your entire home if you draw from a private water supply.
Does a UV system consume a lot of energy?: No. A UV system that's able to treat the water for a typical house will consume about the same amount of energy as a 60-watt light bulb. UV is a cost-effective, natural way to increase water quality.
How often would I have to change the UV lamp?: It is essential that you change the UV lamp once a year. UV lamps, like light bulbs, will dim with age and eventually burn out. Most UV brands design their UV units to generate the necessary UV light intensity for one year's continuous use. The lamp will continue to burn long after, but it will not generate an adequate amount of UV light necessary to treat your water effectively.