a photo of a man's hand holding on to a glass of cloudy water

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is a widely-used technology for water purification, valued for its effectiveness in removing contaminants. However, we sometimes encounter an unexpected issue: the water appears milky or cloudy.  Let's explore the causes of milky and cloudy appearance in RO water and find practical solutions and maintenance tips to address and prevent this issue.

a photo of the NU Aqua Platinum Series 7 Stage Alkaline and UV Ultraviolet 100GPD RO System parts

Understanding RO Water

RO systems are a popular choice for purifying water, both in homes and businesses. The principle behind RO is simple yet effective: water is forced through a semipermeable membrane, which filters out a vast majority of contaminants, including particles, bacteria, and chemicals. This process not only improves the taste and odor of the water but also significantly increases its purity.

The benefits of RO water are numerous. It is often preferred for its ability to provide cleaner, safer drinking water. In addition, RO systems are effective in reducing harmful contaminants that can be present in municipal or well water, making it a reliable choice for a wide range of water purification needs.

What are the Causes of Milky and Cloudy RO Water?

When RO water appears milky or cloudy, it's typically due to air bubbles trapped in the water. This phenomenon often occurs when the RO system is newly installed or after a filter change. This is a normal occurrence and should resolve itself within 1 to 2 weeks. As water passes through the system, air gets trapped and is carried along with the water. When this aerated water exits the faucet, the air begins to escape, causing a milky or cloudy appearance. This is usually temporary and clears up as the air bubbles rise to the surface and dissipate.

Another possible cause is high levels of Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) in the water. While RO systems are designed to remove a significant amount of TDS, fluctuations in water supply or malfunctioning RO components can lead to higher TDS levels, contributing to cloudiness.

Temperature can also play a role. Cold water holds more air than warm water, which means that in colder climates or seasons, RO water may appear cloudier due to increased air solubility.

What To Do?

If you encounter milky or cloudy RO water, there are several steps you can take:

  1. Let It Settle: Often, the cloudiness is due to air bubbles or loose carbon particles, which will naturally clear within a few minutes after the water settles. 

  2. Check for Filter Issues: It is essential to confirm the correct installation and operation of all filters . In some cases, the introduction of air into the system may occur temporarily after a filter replacement. Possible issues include the omission of filter installation, misalignment, placement in the wrong compartment, or incorrect orientation. Please take a moment to thoroughly inspect and address any potential filter-related issues to ensure optimal system performance. Make sure to follow the installation guide to avoid any issues.

  3. System Flush: Turn on the cold water supply valve and the under-the-sink water valve.

    • Turn on the RO faucet by lifting the lever.
    • Inspect for any leaks. If there's a leak, shut off the cold water supply and tighten the leaking part.
    • Wait about 20 minutes or until water drips from the RO faucet, then close it. The tank will take 3 to 6 hours to fill.
    • Once the tank is filled, flush the system by opening the RO faucet until the tank is empty. Close the faucet to refill the tank, and repeat this flushing process three times.
    • Regularly check for leaks in the initial days, especially as pressure in the tank increases.
  4. Inspect the Water Pressure: Low water pressure can cause insufficient filtration, leading to cloudiness. Make sure your system's pressure is within the recommended range.

  5. Test for TDS Levels: If the issue persists, consider testing the water for Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to check if the system is filtering effectively.

  6. Professional Assessment: If these steps do not resolve the issue, it's advisable to consult a professional. An expert can diagnose and fix any underlying problems with the RO system.

Maintenance Tips for RO Systems

Proper maintenance is crucial for the optimal performance of RO systems and to prevent issues like cloudy or milky water. Here are some maintenance tips:

  1. Regular Filter Replacement: Follow the guidelines for replacing filters. Overused filters can lead to reduced water quality and efficiency.

  2. System Sanitization: Regularly sanitize the RO system to prevent microbial growth, which can also affect water clarity.

  3. Check for Leaks: Regularly inspect the system for leaks, which can introduce air and contaminants into the system.

  4. Monitor Water Pressure: Ensure the water pressure is within the recommended range, as low pressure can affect the system's ability to filter properly.

  5. Annual Professional Check-up: Consider having a professional service your RO system annually to ensure all components are functioning correctly and efficiently.

While such occurrences can be disconcerting, they are often easily resolved with simple steps and regular maintenance. By following the guidance provided in this blog and utilizing the advanced solutions offered by Nu Aqua Systems, you can ensure that your RO water remains clear, pure, and safe. Remember, regular system maintenance and prompt attention to any changes in water quality are key to the longevity and effectiveness of your RO system.