How To Install A Reverse Osmosis Unit


That long-awaited kitchen remodeling project is staring you in the face, giving you the same helpless look that it did last year.  Money is tight, bills are due, but you can’t keep your eyes off of that reverse osmosis machine for your central air issues in your home. All’s well even in the age of high prices and a full to-do list; this piece will teach you the correct way to fix the unfixable — within a budget that will leave a few dollars left over for some new silverware.  Or perhaps a new coffee pot.

Today, our kitchen remodeling work will entail the installation of an incredibly useful reverse osmosis unit with only $450.00 to work with.  That may not seem like a lot, but considering that you’ll be doing a lot of the work by yourself we can estimate costs only for materials needed.  With that $450.00, we’ll help you buy and install your reverse osmosis machine easily, and well before your spouse gets home to kick you out of the toolbox.

Buying the unit

The first obvious step is to perform some due diligence on the different units available.  The 4-stage reverse osmosis units are easy to install and equally cost-effective.  We shopped online and found an excellent model at for $169.99, which also factored in standard shipping.  Many other units may exist locally; however, the smaller water stores like Culligan, etc. will more than likely gouge your eyes out in price and since this is a DIY operation, you may as well get the equipment in the least expensive manner possible.

If you go this route, place your order and wait 3-5 days for the UPS guy to bring the goods to you – if you are trying to receive this package in ‘stealth mode,’ perhaps leave UPS instructions to drop the package off at the neighbor’s house so as to not draw unneeded attention to your own.

It’s noteworthy that RO units run off sheer water pressure – not electricity. This means you’ll get awesome-tasting water without running up an electric bill — another added bonus to RO systems.

Pre-installation checklist

Your unit is going to come with 3 tanks: one that is round and bulky, and two that are thinner and stand upright.  The larger tank is the meat and potatoes of the operation, as this is what is going to turn the yucky water into the good-tasting stuff.  One of the thinner tanks is the carbon filter and the other is your sediment filter, both of which are removing from the water exactly what their names imply.  And then, there is a whole lot of water line involved, usually thin copper.  Not to fear! Between the diagram that is available in your box, along with other available diagrams around the internet, you’ll have all the help necessary to install your RO unit without pulling your hair out.

As you can see, it is really a game of connecting the lines –  normally the units supply the line and the only thing you may want to get is your pipe glue, which you can get for around $5.00 at Ace Hardware (use in a ventilated area or you’ll be off in the cupboard eating Doritos as this glue has a bit of a ‘head-spinning effect,’ to put it tactfully) and be all ready to go.

Use a small crescent wrench and a smaller handle pipe wrench, and prepare your elbow grease as part two of this article will give you the details, in an easy-to-digest form, on how to get this unit installed in a few hours with no leaks and good-tasting water as your reward.

RO maintenance

Maintaining your RO units doesn’t cost much more than your time and some micro-investments. To start with, your pre-filters (sediment/carbon filters) are changed every 6-12 months, depending on which unit you have and what the manufacturer suggested. Your post-filter (the carbon filter) only requires changing every year, and you can find carbon filters on Amazon. The RO membrane itself gets changed every couple of years, unless you wish to speed up intervals.

Most reverse osmosis manufacturers suggest sanitation and filter changes yearly to keep your unit running optimally. If taken care of properly, expect 8-15 years of life out of RO units, although some could run longer. Professional water companies can help guide you or even maintain your units for you, should you feel lost.

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