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5 Reasons for Reverse Osmosis Cloudy Water (And Solution)

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Reverse Osmosis filtration systems filter out many unsavory elements in municipal water, like chemicals and sediments. The process has several parts to it. When installed correctly, it will consistently deliver clean, drinking-quality water.

But, if cloudy water is coming out of your filtration system, then it is worth troubleshooting the system. Several parts of the system could be at fault, but many solutions are simple to perform – no special equipment or extensive technical knowledge is needed.

5 Reasons for Reverse Osmosis Cloudy Water (And Solution)
5 Reasons for Reverse Osmosis Cloudy Water (And Solution)

In this article, we will walk through the most common issues and the ways to troubleshoot these issues.

This article will address the majority of the problems related to cloudy water coming out of your faucet and should have you drinking fresh, clean water again in no time.

If none of these steps makes your water clear, you might be experiencing technical issues. These issues can include low water pressure or higher-than-desired temperatures that also affect the water and cause cloudiness.

The first step in troubleshooting this issue is determining what is causing the cloudiness- or at least starting to narrow down the possibilities. Cloudy water can be caused by air bubbles, sediment, and algae.

Newly Installed System needs to be Flushed Out

Newly Installed System needs to be Flushed Out
Newly Installed System needs to be Flushed Out

People who have just installed their reverse osmosis system and are shocked to find that the water is coming out cloudy need not fear. This is a common and expected occurrence with a new system.

New filters have food-grade carbon in them -which is necessary for the functioning of the membrane – and when the filter is used for the first time, this carbon will often release into the water. This water is safe for consumption since the carbon is food-grade, but it is easily treatable, and restoring clean water to your faucet should be an easy fix.

Solution:

The first thing to check with a newly installed system is that all tubes are connected in the proper places and that they are fastened. It is also an excellent idea to check the state of all equipment; look at the tubes and the tank to ensure that there isn’t any visible damage or leakage.

If all the physical equipment looks good, the best thing to do is to flush the tank out.

This is best done by filling the tank with water, then letting it run until empty. This will allow the water to run through the system and naturally flush out any of these carbon particles.

If one full flush-through does not clear up the water, repeat the process by filling the tank up again and letting the water run until empty a second time. Repeat several times if needed.

Air Bubbles Trapped within System

Air Bubbles Trapped within System
Air Bubbles Trapped within System

Another possible cause of cloudy water – and still a relatively easy problem to fix – is the case where air bubbles are stored in the filtration system.

This can happen in several ways. A damaged pipe or water storage tank may have allowed air to leak out. Since air is small enough to pass through the reverse osmosis membrane filter, this will mean that the air bubbles become trapped in the water and cause it to have a cloudy look to it.

This water is not dangerous to drink, and after a minute or two, the cloudiness of the water should settle. The water should appear normal again if air bubbles are indeed the cause.

Solution:

Check first to ensure there are no leaks in the pipes or the water storage tank. Leaks are an immediate entry point for air and a direct explanation for the cloudy water. If any parts are damaged to the point that air can enter, then you must replace them so that the water filter can function.

If there aren’t any severe external damages or leaking with the physical parts, there could be an issue with the amount of air remaining in the water storage tank.

This can be treated by filling the tank with water, then allowing it to run until empty, and again repeating this process as many times as necessary so that the system can expel the air and reach its proper internal state.

Damage to Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Damage to Reverse Osmosis Membrane
Damage to Reverse Osmosis Membrane

Another cause of cloudy water is a reverse osmosis membrane or filter that has received damage in one form or another. If the membrane is damaged, larger-than-desired holes may have appeared in the membrane, which would allow larger-than-desired sediment and minerals to also come in past the filtration system and into your water.

Solution:

Make sure you treat the reverse osmosis membrane well – ensure that it is properly installed, is cleaned with the right cleaning supplies and methods, and is regularly replaced.

If the membrane is not installed properly, it will be easy for undesired things to get in past the filter. Be sure that it is set in its location and good shape, with no signs of damage.

The membrane should be cleaned with care and should not be cleaned with any harsh cleaning supplies. Please follow the product guidelines for proper maintenance of the membrane, as a properly maintained filter is an essential aspect of the filtration system.

Remember, the membrane needs to be regularly replaced.

The amount of time each filter lasts will depend on how well maintained it is. Treating the filter will make the difference between whether or not your water is being properly filtered.

System Sanitization is Needed

System Sanitization is Needed
System Sanitization is Needed

Over time, things like bacteria and algae may have begun to grow in the water storage tank. One issue in the filtration system can multiply into several, so identifying and addressing the problems earlier can save you from having one problem turn into two.

An example of this is that a damaged membrane may allow bacteria into the water storage tank, which begins to grow there and contaminate the water.

Solution:

Fortunately, regular maintenance and sanitization of the entire system will prevent any organic bacteria or algae buildups. Consult the recommendations for your specific reverse osmosis filtration system to determine how often the system’s parts should be cleaned or replaced.

Also, be sure that the proper type of cleaner is used, that the chemicals in the cleaner are not causing further damage to the system, and that they are safe to use in a water system that produces water intended for human consumption.

Contaminated water from the Municipal Water Source

Troublesome water from the Municipal Water Source

One larger-scale problem with the water that could be causing the cloudiness is that the source of the water itself is not good. The water source can be faulty in several ways.

If there are high concentrations of minerals like calcium or chlorine, this would affect the water.

It could also be the case that the municipal water source is sending out water with high sediment concentrations or other such impurities.

Solution:

If the source is not providing clean and clear water, your best bet may be to install an additional filter that targets the nature of the issue.

One way to test for the source of the cloudy water is by pouring a glass of standard tap water without using any extra filtration. If the water appears to be cloudy or sediment-filled, or if it has any other smell or color-related oddities, that would give insight into the source of the problem.

Specific research should be done into the problems occurring with your municipal water to determine if another filter would fix the problem.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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