FAQs: Technical Support

Your tank valve is off: On the top of a reverse osmosis tank there’s a small valve handle. This handle should be in line with the tube coming out of it. If it is not, turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise so that it is in-line with the pipe. You will likely hear a rush of water. This is a good sign. Keep in mind that it will now take an hour or so to fill the tank.

Your feed valve is off: Underneath your sink there are two copper or plastic pipes. Attached to the cold water pipe (usually the one on the right side) is your feed valve. This valve may be an “angle stop valve” (similar to the valve on your tank) or be a “piercing valve” (similar to the valve that feeds a furnace humidifier).

If there is an angle stop valve, ensure that the handle is in line (not perpendicular) with the coming out of it. If it is perpendicular, turn it 90 degrees counterclockwise. You will likely hear a rush of water. This is a good sign. Keep in mind that it will now it will take an hour or so to fill the tank.

If there is a piercing valve, turn this valve many times counter clockwise until it becomes difficult to turn. These valves are designed to be in the “on” or “off” position and may squirt some water out as you turn. Don’t worry about this – it should stop squirting water once it is difficult to turn.

Your filters are clogged: This can happen even if you have recently changed your filters. The most common reason is a broken water main, the city flushing out a fire hydrant, or a homeowner in the neighbourhood replacing the main to their house. These events can suddenly flush a load of dirt down the pipe and this clogs the pre-filters in your system. You wouldn’t notice this in the rest of the house because it would come out pretty much invisibly through the other faucets very quickly.

If you have tried the possibilities above and still have low pressure or no water from your reverse osmosis system, there are other possibilities we can troubleshoot including: low-pressure in the tank, a clogged membrane check valve, a ruptured tank bladder, a clogged flow restrictor, a torn membrane in the automatic shut off or any number of other reasons. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to help you troubleshoot over the phone or send a service technician to help you out.

Have a bicycle pump and a low pressure tire gauge handy. This gauge must start at “0” psi. Ones designed for bicycles start too high – so have a quick look to ensure you have the right tool.

Turn off the feed valve to your system – this is the small valve from your cold water pipe to the system. This is either a small “T” valve that is attached to the middle of your cold water pipe or a small white valve with a blue handle.

If it is a small “T” valve: Turn this valve clockwise many times until you can no longer turn it. A small amount of water may “spurt” from the valve while you do this. Don’t let it worry you. It’s pretty normal.

If it is a white valve with a blue handle, turn the blue handle 90 degrees clockwise so that the handle is perpendicular to the pipe coming out of the valve.

Open your small drinking water faucet and leave it open. Water may or may not start flowing. Just let it flow until the water stops. Even when it stops, make sure you leave this faucet open. Remove the small cap either on the side or at the bottom of the tank—this is not the valve on the top—this cap covers a small air valve like on the tires of your car or bicycle.

With a sharpish implement like a key or a screwdriver, push in the small pin in the middle of this air valve.

If water escapes, this means that your tank bladder has ruptured and the tank needs to be replaced.

If air escapes, then take a pressure reading.

If the pressure reads anywhere between 5 & 10 psi, then the tank is fine.

If it reads more than 10 psi, your problem may be too much air pressure, which means water won’t flow into the tank when the system is producing water.

If it reads less than 10, pump 10 strokes of the pump into the tank.

Re-measure the air pressure. Let some out if it’s more than 10 pounds now.

If less than 5 pounds, repeat the 10 strokes of the pump.

Repeat this process until the tank pressure is adjusted between 5 & 10 psi.

Turn off the drinking water faucet and turn on the water feed valve.

Wait one hour.

If the problem was the tank, this should have fixed the issue. If your flow issue remains, give us a call and we’ll send a technician to your home to fix the problem.

This issue usually comes from a system that contains deionization filters. The reason it smells like dead fish that your deionization filters are exhausted. This may be unpleasant, but it isn’t harmful. The only solution here is to have the filters changed and the system properly cleaned out.

If the system was serviced within the last month or so, this is not an uncommon issue. Water filters are very much like pumice stones. There are literally millions of little air pockets in each filter when it is first installed. Water has to gradually push all of the air out of the filters. And because the little pockets are so small, it comes out looking like a grey mist. This mist can cloud the glass when poured and can swirl and sit on top of the water or cling to the sides of a glass. The solution is to drain more water from the system – but it’s often not a question of a given amount. It is a combination of time and flow while the air pockets generally get “soaked” out of the filters. Sometimes this can last up to a month.

Getting air in the water does happen periodically. This can be due to small changes in municipal water pressure to the home, a technician changing the diameter of the piping, temperature changes in the installation location, or installing a filter with different pore characteristics. (Not a bad filter – just one that is slightly different.)

A quick test to see if this is actually your issue is to pour a glass of water and sit it on the counter for 5 minutes or so. What should happen is that this air will float to the surface or cling to the side of the glass. It is important to recognize that this is just air and harmless. If any particulates sink to the bottom of the glass, contact us and we’ll send a technician to your home.

A reverse osmosis membrane has one line that feeds into it and two lines that feed out. Of these two lines out, one of the lines is the product water that you drink and the other line is the water that is used to flush the contaminants off the surface of the membrane and down the drain. This drain water is necessary because the pore size of a reverse osmosis membrane is estimated at about 0.1 nanometers. This means that if it didn’t drain water, it would become clogged within a week and need to be changed.

When you pour a glass of water from your system, this water is actually pushed out of the holding tank under your sink. When you close the drinking water faucet, the system starts creating water to fill up what was used in the tank. During this process, water is sent to drain.

The ratio is usually about 4 or 5 parts to drain to every 1 part of production. So to fill one glass of water, 4 or 5 glasses get sent to drain. This is why it sounds like it’s constantly running.

It should stop draining though. Your system comes equipped with what’s called an “automatic shut off valve”. This valve is designed to shut the water off once that tank is full to the top. There is an easy way to test if this is working: At the top of your tank is a valve with a handle. Turn the handle 90 degrees clockwise such that that handle is perpendicular to the tube coming out of it. This turns off water to the tank and simulates a full tank of water. It will take about 5 minutes or so for the water to stop running to drain.

If it stops then great – all is working how it should. If it doesn’t, call us and we’ll arrange for someone to come by and have a quick look.

Believe it or not, water draining has always taken place. But you can hear it after service for several reasons.

Because the filters have been changed, the flow through your system and also to your drain has increased. The increased flow of water to drain is likely to cause more noise. Another factor that should be taken into account is that, over time, there has likely been a buildup of grease and dirt inside your drain that has changed the topography over which the drain water flows. This may cause more noise.

We know this sounds like an unlikely solution – and most people roll their eyes when they hear this – but try cleaning your drain. A cleaner drain will have a smoother surface onto which this drain water falls and should result in less noise and then hopefully, like before the service call, you won’t notice it at all.

Typically, one part product water drains for every three to five parts water. That sounds wasteful, but let’s say that you’re 4 people in the house and everyone drinks their requisite 8 ounce cups per day/about 2 litres per person. Multiply this by 4 people and this means that you’re going through 8 litres per day.

Add say 3 litres for cooking and this means your going through 11 litres per day for cooking and drinking (which is on the high-end). Multiply the 11 litres by 5 – the worst case scenario for waste from your system. This adds up to 55 litres to drain, or approximately 6 toilet flushes or a 5 minute shower. Put this in the context of an average North American’s consumption of water per day and that’s about 320 litres.

The average North American uses 2 gallons of water per person per day for drinking and cooking.

This means that the low waste membrane will send 2 gallons to drain per day – instead of a potential of 10 gallons to drain for a standard system. If one person uses their drinking water system every day of the year, this means that the low waste system will send 730 gallons to drain as opposed to 3650 with a standard membrane—a savings of 2920 gallons per year.

The City of Toronto (for example) charges $0.01646815 per gallon. So using a low waste membrane, one person can potentially save $48 per year.

The savings with more people in the home are more significant:

2 people – $98.00 per year
3 people – $144.00 per year
4 people – $192.00 per year

We are not dermatologists. However, if a skin issue is due to water quality it is usually due to chlorine or hardness.

Our first recommendation is to install a shower filter. This only takes a few seconds to install, is inexpensive, very effective and will tell you within a few days whether chlorine is the issue or not. If this works, great! You may decide just to stick with this or potentially explore a system that reduces all of the chlorine in your home.

If a shower filter doesn’t do the trick, then try water softening. Unfortunately, because water softeners depend on a resin that saturates very quickly and requires salt to regenerate, it is not possible to soften water through a shower filter. We can help size an appropriate softener for your family.

The Water Quality Association, which is our trade association, sets out specific guidelines for keeping drinking water systems sanitized. One of these guidelines specifies that a drinking water system should be disassembled, sanitized and the filters changed after any 30 day period of inactivity. This is in order to mitigate any possible bacterial growth in the system.

Just like every other contaminant in water, we only talk about reduction – not elimination. There are 5 common ways to reduce fluoride from drinking water:

  1. Reverse osmosis
  2. Distillation
  3. Electrodialysis
  4. Bone Char
  5. Activated Alumina

Activated Alumina – not to be confused with Aluminum – is a “basic” material. Like activated carbon it works by absorbing contaminants into its pores. It is highly specific to the reduction of fluoride and arsenic.

Despite what many websites out there may say, the answer is “No”.

Being a “basic” material means that activated alumina cannot be broken down any further and will not leach anything into the water. Raw, untreated alumina will always give up some aluminum to the tune of maybe 0.1 ppb (the city actually adds more than this in treatment). But the preconditioning that takes place during manufacturing will prevent this from happening when put into actual use. Sometimes there are trace amounts of iron, sodium, silica that can come off alumina initially. But with a good flush of 15 minutes or so (for an under sink system) and a couple of days of use this would be removed. (Initially the effluent levels of these elements are in the low digit ppb levels).

If the pH is really low, say 6.3 or so, then there may be some aluminum released to the tune of 50 ppb (Ontario Drinking Water Standard is 0.1 mg/L so this is 1/2 the standard). That said, he said that on any municipal supply this release would not take place.

UV systems use UVC light at 254 nanometers. This disrupts their DNA and does one of 4 things to them: Destroys them, renders them harmless, prohibits growth or prohibits reproduction.

Yes. Thes can be killed at 10,000 millijoules. Our systems deliver a minimum of 30,000 millijoules.

A typical UV system has the same power requirements as a 40 watt bulb.

Alkalinity is the capacity of water to neutralize acids – how much acid it can adsorb without changing the pH. It measures all alkaline materials in the water such as carbonate, bicarbonate, hydroxide and occasionally borate, silicate and phosphate. More alkalinity means that as acids are added the pH will drop more slowly.

Water that is naturally alkaline occurs when water passes over rocks – like in springs – and picks up minerals which increases the alkalinity. The amount of Alkalinity in typical drinking water is 20-200 mg/L for typical drinking water.

pH (power of hydrogen) ranges from 1 to 14. Each point on the pH scale is a multiple of 100. A neutral pH is 7. pH indicates whether a liquid is more acidic (lower pH) or alkaline (higher pH). Pure water has a neutral pH of 7, while tap water has some natural variation depending on its mineral content. Most bottled waters are slightly acidic, and sodas and juices are even more so.

Every body fluid has a different pH. Blood is 7.4, stomach acid is 1 to 3, the large bowel is 5.5 and bile is alkaline to counter stomach acid.

Something that is often confusing is that when people talk about “alkaline” water, they are usually referring to water with an elevated pH. They are not talking about water with increased alkalinity that will buffer the pH.

In an effort to reach a state of stability, substances that are lacking electrons seek out electrons wherever they can: these substances are referred to as oxidizing agents. But substances which have a surplus of electrons are capable of donating their extra electrons: these substances are referred to as reducing agents, or anti-oxidizing agents. Oxidation-reduction potential, or ORP, is a measurement that indicates the degree to which a substance is capable of oxidizing or reducing another substance.

ORP is measured in millivolts (mV) using an ORP meter. A positive ORP reading indicates that a substance is an oxidizing agent. The higher the reading, the more oxidizing it is. As such, a substance with an ORP reading of +400 mV is 4 times more oxidizing than a substance with an ORP reading of +100 mV. A negative ORP reading indicates that a substance is a reducing agent. The lower the reading, the more anti-oxidizing it is. As such, a substance with an ORP reading of -400 mV is 4 times more anti-oxidizing than a substance with an ORP reading of -100 mV.

In recent years, many natural health practitioners have taken the pH of treated water into consideration. As water treatment professionals we can talk for days about what different filters remove from water and what they leave in. But because we are not health experts, we can’t tell you whether alkaline water is going to be better for you than more acidic water. If you are concerned about more acidic water, we can add a Biocera filter to any reverse osmosis system that will add some minerals to the water, thereby boosting the pH. Alternatively, we can suggest water filtration systems which do not affect the pH.

This is a very subjective question. We have been installing straight reverse osmosis systems since the early 90’s. This has included installations at a large number of health practitioner’s homes. We even installed a large commercial reverse osmosis system without remineralization in the cafeteria at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. That said, the trend over the years has been that many of these naturopaths have chosen to add the minerals back – but certainly not all.

In water, pH is affected by both “gases” and “minerals”. The more mineral vs. gas, the higher the pH. We boost the pH one of two ways:

The first way is by adding a filter that introduces a small amount of calcium bicarbonate to the water. This calcium is the same type that one would find naturally in surface water or in well water. This type of filter will “boost” the pH of reverse osmosis water to an even 7 or neutral.

The second method is by using a filter which adds small amounts of Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium and Sodium. This will bring the water up to a pH of between 7.5 to 8.5.

There are a few ways that we can change the pH of water:

  • A calcium carbonate filter: Theoretically this brings the pH to neutral. However, I’ve found that it takes a full 10″x2″ cartridge to achieve this. The smaller “in-line cartridges” are not very effective.
  • A magnesium carbonate filter (sometimes branded as Corosex): This will bring the pH up to more alkaline levels. However, it is not consistent and results in initial very high pH spikes and then settles to influent pH level very quickly

A Biocera filter which is a combination of calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium and tourmaline: Of all the methodologies we have found this to offer the most consistent alkaline pH – usually between 8 & 8.5.

This filter has the added benefits of lowering the Oxidation Reduction Potential (ORP). This is thought to give the water antioxidant properties due to the release of molecular hydrogen.The tourmaline is thought to reduce the size of the water molecule clusters and to make it easier for the body to absorb. It also emits far infrared rays which are thought to have healing properties.

Biocera filters are a blend of the following ceramics:

  • Alkaline Antioxidant Minerals, which make your water more alkaline and change the oxidation reduction potential of your water. These are calcium, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
  • Pi Minerals, which increases water absorption and natural healing ability.
  • Tourmaline, which reduces water molecular cluster size, and emits far infrared rays which are thought to have healing properties.
  • The ceramic materials are manufactured by Biocera: one of the leading companies in the development of bioceramics for healing purposes. The ceramics have NSF approval. Biocera is the first company to have gained this international safety approval standard for ceramic minerals.

Reverse osmosis storage tanks never hold as much as the stated size. Reverse osmosis tanks contain a thick butyl bladder as well as a pocket of air. The actual holding capacity of the tank – the amount of water that you actually have to use when you empty a full tank – depends on many variables. These include:

  • The pressure of your feed water going into the unit. (RO Systems usually stop filling when the tank pressure equals about ⅔ of the incoming line pressure).
  • The pressure of the air charge inside the tank. (The tank holds less if you put too much air in the storage tank or when your household water pressure goes down while your lawn sprinkler is on).

So there really isn’t an exact answer to the question. But a general rule of thumb is to assume about half the manufacturer’s stated size. If you need two gallons, get a four gallon tank.

Another point to consider is that you usually use less than the amount stored at one time. And that as soon as you use some water from the tank the system starts making up what you used.

Also, if you need more than the standard tank holds, it’s usually easier and more economical to add a second small tank rather than replace the original tank with a larger one. Hooking two tanks together is easy.

The reverse osmosis tank body is made of steel. But there is no actual contact between the water and the steel. The inside of a reverse osmosis tank is lined with a National Sanitation Foundation Certified lining made from polypropylene and butyl. According to the NSF none of this material will leach into the water.

Unfortunately no. But even if there were it wouldn’t make a difference. There is actually no contact between the water and the steel. The inside of a reverse osmosis tank is lined with a National Sanitation Foundation Certified lining made from polypropylene and butyl. According to the NSF none of this material will leach into the water.

Depending on the make and model this could be due to a few things. We carry mainly Viqua models. These instructions will apply to them.

The ballast was not properly reset when you changed the bulb.

  • Unplug the ballast at the ballast itself – not at the wall
  • Hold the small button on the ballast – depending on your system this may be on the front or on one of the ends
  • While still holding the button, plug in the ballast and keep holding the button
  • Wait about 5 seconds
  • You should hear a long tone. If you have a ballast with a digital readout it will say “Reset”.
  • When you hear the tone, release the button.
  • If you have a digital readout, it should say “365” on it.
  • If this does not reset the ballast then please check the connection between the socket and the bulb. Make sure the bulb is plugged firmly into this socket
  • Make sure the small green ground wire is properly fastened with the small nut.

Failing all of this, this means there is a problem with either the ballast or the bulb. Unfortunately there’s no way to tell which is the issue without changing one — then the other. We suggest changing the bulb first since it’s the least expensive of the two.

If this doesn’t solve the issue, then the bright side is that you have a spare bulb for the next change. The next step is to replace the ballast

Understandably, most customers want to fault the technician when this takes place. But during service, the cartridge that determines whether a faucet is definitively on or off is not touched.

What can happen is that air rushing out of a new set of filters through the faucet can damage the seal(s) inside the faucet and cause a drip. The solution to this is to replace the cartridge inside the faucet. Contact us for details.

This is common and doesn’t necessarily indicate a mechanical problem. The noise is usually coming from the “automatic shutoff valve” in your reverse osmosis system. This valve opens when the system starts making water – like when you’re filling a glass – and it closes when the tank fills to the top again. When automatic shut off valves get a little older, they tend to “groan” when opening and closing.

If you use a small amount of water it will “groan” within a shorter timespan. And if you use a larger amount it will take longer for the tank to fill and so it will take longer until it makes this sound again. Also, as filters load up with dirt it takes a longer time to get water through the filters and so it takes longer to get the tank to shut off. This can often result in the system groaning for a longer period of time. Again, this does not mean your system is malfunctioning. But if the noise bothers you we can come and replace this valve.

Ice cubes freeze on the outside first. This freezing makes its way gradually through to the centre. The water which is free of minerals and impurities freezes first. The entrapped air and minerals are slowly moved out of the freezing ice toward the unfrozen center. Eventually the trapped air and minerals become frozen water with air bubbles which look like cloudy ice.

Distilled or reverse osmosis water has very few minerals. Therefore these waters will make ice which is less cloudy. (Please remember that this just means better looking ice. Not necessarily ice which is better for you).

Make smaller ice cubes and add water slowly. The water freezes bit by bit and the entrapped air is forced out the top. This is how most of the ice you buy in stores is made.

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