Let’s talk water and RO systems! Last fall, we installed a water filtration system (reverse osmosis… aka- RO). I wasn’t sure if it was worthy of a blog post, but many of you expressed interest in learning more about it. Others have messaged requesting specific information in regards to the exact model we landed on, so I figured a blog post may be worth it after all. In today’s blog post, I’m sharing details on our everyday water system. We previously used a freestanding system with refillable jugs & bottles, but as we’re now focused on renovating our main floor & dining space this year- it was becoming quite an eye sore in the design plan. It also was a hassle to swap the heavy water jugs each week. Emmett & I are both really pleased with our current reverse osmosis tap, which is the water we’re solely drinking these days. Click through for all the details and to read more about our experience…
First of all, the most frequently asked question I’ve received in regards to this topic… why install a water filtration system in the first place? It’s kind of a long winded answer. Emmett & I both grew up on farms in the country drinking well water- which I honestly loved. After moving into our first home that had city water, we would just drink water from the tap. Since moving to the mountains, I just assumed we’d have fresh decent tap water. Despite the funky taste of our water here at home, the idea of fresh mountain spring water seemed harmless. We tried it for a bit, but just couldn’t get over the odd flavor.
That’s what led us to get a freestanding water unit a few years ago- the one pictured below. We’d take our five gallon jugs to get refilled every weekend and despite the hassle, the water was good and it worked for us… for quite awhile.
Now that my office renovation is finished, Emmett & I are moving onto other areas on our main floor… including updating our dining room this year. Our water dispenser was living in the dining space and I knew it would be an issue for us, in regards to aesthetic… and we both admitted we were getting tired of constantly shuffling and filling our reusable jugs. That’s what initially led us to begin looking at home filtration systems and considering installation of a permanent tap in our kitchen. We seriously considered it, but opted to spend our money on more pressing home projects- like my office and our entryway. So what happened in between that conversation and now?
Our home sits right on the city border and our neighbors received an alarming notice in the mail last year about the quality of their drinking water. While we didn’t receive a notice, the county ran water testing and informed many residents that the water contained increased levels of radium- including our water basin.
The radium in the water was detected at a level of 9.7 picocuries per liter (pCi/L)– which is double the maximum contamination level set by the EPA (environmental protection agency). Why we didn’t receive a notice in the mail, I’m not certain (maybe one of us accidentally tossed it thinking it was junk mail?)– but it obviously caused concern. Increased levels of radium can contribute to all sorts of health issues, from a weakened immune system, anemia, cracked teeth, and if exposure persists- even cancer. The city released statements ensuring everyone it was fine and not to worry, but we didn’t want to chance it. This news really pushed us to finally install an RO system.
According to our city officials, the extreme drought conditions that our area is experiencing was most likely the cause of the increased radium in our drinking water- and it still isn’t resolved. As water levels dwindled throughout Utah last year, the ground soil has become less diluted in the culinary water supply… thus affecting the toxicity of the drinking water. The city shared a bunch of scientific information and levels that I won’t bore you with, but it was very alarming. Emmett immediately began installing our system after that news.
CHOOSING A SYSTEM…
Months ago, I shared on Instagram that we were planning to install a new water filtration system and I was very surprised to learn that people have strong opinions on RO. It was totally a mixed bag… 50% of people absolutely love their RO system, and the other 50% discouraged us from installing it altogether. After LOTS of research, Emmett & I decided to move forward with buying a system and spent many hours finding the best one for our house. We determined the mixed reviews probably had more to do with investing in a quality system that does a multitude of things: filtering, adding good minerals back into the water, etc. Most people who discouraged the use of RO complained about losing the good minerals that our bodies need. We wanted a system that filtered the bad toxins out, while pushing the good stuff back into the water.
We landed on this particular RO system… which actually cost slightly less than our freestanding unit. Why this particular option? First, it removes 99.99% of harmful contaminants- including things like radium, chlorine, lead, arsenic, asbestos, sodium, fluoride, etc. It has a seven stage filtration system (including a UV stage), it’s power and water saving, it maintains good water pressure, and most importantly- it adds back healthy ionized minerals that were removed from the water during the RO process. I’ll copy some specs from the manufacturer for you below, in case you’d like to read about the intricate details of the system. Feel free to skip if this is boring to you!
- The heart of the system is the Reverse Osmosis (RO) filter that removes contaminants down to 0.0001 microns – so small that only water molecules can squeeze through but virtually nothing else.
- 3 Pre-filters: PP sediment filter. Carbon KDF (GAC) filter. Carbon block (CTO) filter. They remove large contaminants and protect the RO membrane from chemicals like chlorine.
- Fine GAC filter provides final polishing before the filtered water is delivered to the faucet.
- An Alkaline Remineralization filter restores healthy minerals and a natural alkaline balance, while also producing a more natural taste.
- The RCC1UP-AK electric booster pump allows the system to achieve up to 50% faster tank fill rates with up to 50% less water waste.
- The UV stage comes with a smart Flow Sensor Switch turns the UV unit on and off with 3 minutes delay automatically with water flow, saving power and lengthening the life of the UV lamp.
- The booster pump addresses the problem of low water pressure at the source, bringing the pressure going into the membrane up to the ideal level.
- In addition to the standard calcium carbonite filter used by most pH RO systems, the RCC1UP-AK uses red mineral stones to add back healthy ionized minerals that were removed from the water during the RO process.
- All filters, tanks, tubing and other water-contacting parts are manufactured to comply strictly with NSF/ANSI standard (58 for reverse osmosis).
Emmett actually installed the system in our basement… specifically in my prop closet, and ran the line through the floor into our base cabinet below the kitchen sink. He had it up and running in a few hours and said installation was really quite easy.
I’m picky about water and it’s pretty much the only thing I drink, so I was worried how it would taste. I’m happy to report, it’s really good and tasteless- which is my preference. Emmett likes to add minerals to his bottle for a more flavorful taste, but I think it’s perfect as is.
My favorite things about having our RO system installed? I love the convenience, the crisp & clean taste is ideal, it’s environmentally friendly as opposed to plastic bottled water, and of course- from an aesthetic perspective, we were able to get rid of our large freestanding unit and replace it with a small filtered tap. It’s much more visually appealing and we got some square footage back in our dining room.
Are you still using your glass water bottles?
Yes! We love those. We still keep 10-12 of the glass bottles filled with water and store them in the fridge for easy or on-the-go access. We’re also more likely to use a standard water glass to drink from, now that we have a tap in the kitchen. It’s closer to our drinkware and easier to fill regular cups.
How is the taste or flavor of the water with your RO system?
I love it because it essentially has no taste. I like a good pure, fresh water… and I usually prefer water that is room temp (kind of weird, I know), but I feel like sometimes that temperature brings out more flavor than ice cold water. I like that it is tasteless and pure.
Did you have to install a new faucet?
I know I’ve shared this before, but I’m not a fan of our kitchen faucet– really just the side spray. I considered switching the entire faucet when we installed our RO system, knowing we’d have to add another hole to our countertop for our filtered water. My plan was to find a bridge faucet with a pull-down spray, and use the hole from our previous side spray to install the RO faucet. Ultimately, I do like the bridge portion of our faucet and decided to keep it. It would’ve added a big expense, so we just decided to buy the closest matching RO faucet we could find and drill another hole in our soapstone on the opposite side of the faucet. This is what it looks like…
What other water equipment do you have in your home?
In addition to the RO system and our hot water heaters (we have two of those because of our square footage), we also have a water softener for our home, as well as a whole house humidifier (which is an essential if you live in a dry state like Utah).
Why not install the system under your sink?
We have a lot happening under our kitchen sink… the sink itself is oversized and takes up the majority of the base cabinet, and we have a large garbage disposal as well. Combine that with cleaning supplies and other everyday items- we just didn’t have adequate space for it in the cabinet. Therefore, we installed it below that cabinet in my prop closet… which is actually located in our basement. It worked out perfect because when it comes time to renovate our basement kitchen, we can easily access the system and have a filtered tap in the downstairs kitchen as well.
What did you do with your freestanding water unit?
That lives at our Tuesday Made office now, which has been incredibly convenient and a much better eco option during work hours. Jordan & I are constantly refilling our water bottles throughout the day- plus it’s nice to have the hot water option for tea or lunch items.
Why does Emmett add minerals to his water?
It’s actually not necessary for RO and our system adds back the healthy ionized minerals that were removed from the water during the RO process. He said he really just likes the taste of added minerals. This is the one he likes. Personally, I think it tastes a bit too metallic for my liking. I tried it and couldn’t adjust to the strong flavor. He always adds a few drops to his bottle of water, so it’s an easy process to achieve the flavor he prefers. He has never been a fan of plain water and usually likes to add drink mixes to his water, so the minerals actually make a lot of sense as opposed to a sugary sports mix packet.
Let me know if you have any additional questions about our specific water system. I’d also love to hear your experience with RO (if you have a system installed), and be sure to leave any other feedback on this topic in the comment section below. I hope this post was helpful if you’re considering something similar. How do you like your water? Do you drink a lot of it? Here’s to a good week ahead, friends!