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Where Should We Install An RO System In Our New Home?

by Stephen Timmons January 20, 2007 5 Comments

Q. We are currently building a new home and have decided to install a reverse osmosis drinking water system. Should we install a system under our kitchen sink and hook it up to the icemaker. What if we want to put another one at our wet bar or in the master bath? Does that make sense? - Signed Bill K.

A. Reverse osmosis systems are rapidly becoming more commonplace in new homes. With that in mind, let's consider what your best course of action might be. First of all, reverse osmosis ("RO") systems consist of the following components:

  • 1, 2 or 3 Pre-Filters (before the membrane)
  • The Reverse Osmosis Membrane
  • A Post "Polishing" Filter
  • A Storage Tank
  • A Faucet

The water is generally filtered with a 5-micron sediment pre-filter and is next filtered by a carbon block or granular activated carbon (GAC) filter (or both), before it is processed by the reverse osmosis membrane (the contaminants are literally separated from the water by the membrane and flushed down the drain).

Next, the clean water is sent to a storage tank (typically 2-4 gallons in size) where it is available for use. Whenever water is called for, it passes through a post-filter of GAC to remove any unwanted tastes and is polished to an even higher quality. Most systems are also equipped with an automatic shut-off valve (ASOV), which stops the flow of water to the drain, when the tank is full.

Originally, RO systems were designed to fit under a kitchen sink, but in a new home that is not the only place where a RO system can be installed, nor is it the most practical place. There is limited space under a kitchen sink and the person who spends the most time in the kitchen dislikes having to give up storage space because of an RO system. Additionally, servicing a system under a sink is more difficult and and leaks are more common due to space constraints. Where else can an RO system be installed? It is very practical to install one in the basement, garage or utility room. This makes service easier and results in no loss of space under the sink.

In times past, most RO systems were rated at 12 to 50 gallons per day. That simply means that if it ran continuously for 24 hours it would produce that amount of water. However, in the Midwest where water temperatures are lower than 77 degrees Fahrenheit; the production is about half the rated capacity of the system. Today, many homeowners are opting to connect their kitchen sink, vegetable sink, pot filler, wet bar, multiple ice-makers and the master bath to the RO system. This necessitates the usage of higher capacity RO systems (75 to 300 GPD) along with larger storage tanks and delivery pumps, which boost the pressure. During the construction of a new home, RO lines can easily be installed to any number of fixtures. These lines are constructed of special poly-tubing, designed for high purity water and approved by NSF. The are typically 3/8" in size, 1/2" is sometime used. A manifold can be used to provide multiple connections ans total control for the system, if multiple outlets are utilized.

During the framing of the home, it is a simple matter to install the RO lines; much like computer, cable TV or telephone cable is ran inside the walls. In the scheme of things, the cost to run the RO lines during construction is very insignificant, but once the wall is dry-walled and finished, it may be difficult, if not impossible to install a reverse osmosis purification system. While it is possible to connect the RO lines to the cold-water faucets in the home, the most common method is to install dedicated faucets on the sink and locations desired. This prevents the high purity water from being wasted for hand washing and the like. There are many designer faucets in a variety of colors and configurations to match the sink color and decor.

Home owners should be able to rely on the homebuilder to provide options for quality water throughout the home. Planning ahead, during the construction phase - or before the construction - can provide an inexpensive solution for high-quality RO drinking water throughout the home; making the homeowner happy and helping the builder look good in the process.

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October 29, 2008 Greg Hilliard

I am having US Water Systems install an RO with a 14 gallon holding tank in my basement. The unit will be braced to the studs under my basement steps. The tank will sit in the crawlspace of the basement. I am having them run it to my kitchen sink and to my icemaker. I will comment when completed, probably 1st week of November.

November 06, 2008 Greg Hilliard

We love our RO system. US WaterSystems gave us an upgrade to 75gpd from 50 gpd due to the fact that they didn’t have the 50 in stock. I got the 14 gallon resvoir, and that is more than enough to satisfy my small family. The water and ice cubes are wonderful. They braced it to the studs that support my basement steps. Eventually I will be finishing the basement, and a door will seperate the room to my RO system. US Water did an excellent job on my install, and I will be recommending them to all my friends and neighbors.

February 03, 2009 stan eyler

Hi. I live in Ft. Lauderdale and as strange as this may seem, all of the local water is a slight yellow color. I kid you not. What water filtration system will remove the yellow color? I have read a lot about water filtration systems. What is the system that you use in your home? Would that be the best for Ft. Lauderdale too (considering the yellow water problem)? Thanks. Stan

October 21, 2020 Margie Wallace

I’ve just purchased a RO for better quality water for my fish tank. Our city water is so bad I won’t drink it. I plan on installing it in the basement. My question is, should I connect incoming water to RO before or after it has gone through the water softener?

November 12, 2020 Mark Timmons

If you have a water softener, always install the RO after the softener. Soft water is much easier for the RO to deal with.

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