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!
PeggiMarch 7, 2022 at 5:03 am
Good morning! Such an informative post! I’m so surprised at the reasonable cost of the system; I think I imagined it would be thousands of dollars. I’m not shocked that Emmett found the install relatively easy (that guy!), but I would probably opt to call my plumber. The information on the system mentions several filters. How often do those need changing? Are there sensors or indicator lights to alert you, or do you just notice a difference in the water? Our city water tastes terrible (I-can-barely-choke-down-a-pill-with-it terrible), so we just keep gallon jugs filled at the local RO machine. Even though it’s not my chore, I love the idea of ridding ourselves of that task. Your experience definitely makes owning a water filtration system doable. Let’s talk about those trace minerals that Emmett adds to his water though. Who knew that was even a thing? Not this girl. Maybe they would improve my water intake. (I’m THE worst.) Thanks for sharing this; I always find personal testimonials so helpful in decision-making. Cheers to a super week…toiling away in your stunning new office! 💜
SarahMarch 7, 2022 at 9:28 am
Good morning, Peggi! I imagined RO systems would cost much more, too. Based on the amount of water we drink, I definitely think it’s worth the convenience and knowing we have healthy water. The filters do need changing (great question!), and I wish the system had sensor lights that notify us of needing changed, but we just made reoccurring notes in our calendar. Some of them need changed once a year, while a few of them are every 6 months (depending on how many gallons you go through). It gives specifics in the user manual on swapping filters and cleaning. Our city water is also terrible, so I know the feeling. The local RO machine (at least the one at our grocery) uses the same type of system and filtering, so I’m willing to bet the water would taste the exact same as what you’re used to drinking from your refillable jugs. We didn’t know about the trace mineral drops until we did a deep dive into researching RO. Some systems that don’t filter the good minerals back into the water recommend physically adding trace minerals yourself. That’s when Emmett discovered those and he has been drinking them since, for flavor. They’re not for me (solely based on taste), but he really likes adding that to his water. Cheers to a stellar week, indeed! I’m loving working in my new space :) Hope you have a good Monday! xo
TraciMarch 7, 2022 at 5:08 am
This is so timely. I am in the process of remodeling my kitchen and needed one. I trust your reviews and will purchase the one you linked. Thank you!
SarahMarch 7, 2022 at 9:21 am
I’m so glad to hear that, Traci! We really love our system and haven’t had any issues with it. Five stars from us! We’ve had it up and running for around 6 months now.
Danna FMarch 7, 2022 at 9:54 am
Have you seen a Berkey water system? We love ours. I want my mom to get one because her water is so awful where she lives. I ask because I too do not like the way the standing units take up space or how they look. Of course, I also like your RO faucet…beautiful!
Water is such an integral part of our lives and especially good tasting, healthy water is so essential! Sorry to read about the sprayer. Yikes to the amount of radium!!! Scary! Emmett wins “best handy husband” award for the set-up and install of your RO system!
In this part of Texas we have hard water. In others, it is salty or smells/tastes like sulphur. When we moved into our rental I noticed the taste was different and read a couple of posts about there being some water issues in our area. I immediately looked into a water bottle unit like yours and almost bought it when I found the Berkey. I loved the aesthetics and ease of it. Once we got it filled, I could not believe the difference in taste. I even did a blind taste for my husband because he thought I was being silly about the tap water here. He couldn’t believe how much better it is. Plus we don’t get the hard water build up in our dogs bowls. I too prefer room temp water and tend to drink more of it.
About the well water….we will be drilling a well on our property and I want to hear about your experience growing up with it. Glad to read you loved it. I am concerned about laundry (whites) and corrosion on plumbing fixtures, etc. Maybe a RO system in the house will be a good option too! Have a great Monday! It was 70* here yesterday and this morning woke up to 40*. I cannot make this crazy weather up!
SarahMarch 7, 2022 at 5:19 pm
I haven’t, until now! I just did a quick search because curiosity got the best of me :) That’s definitely better looking than the freestanding units- thanks for sharing, Danna! Water really is so important and I’m thankful to know we have clean and healthy drinking water now… especially after the radium notice. Oof. Emmett did an awesome job installing everything- I’m very happy he knows how to do that. I love that you did a blind taste test with your husband- so smart and fun! We have hard water here in Utah, too. Growing up with well water was the best (childhood through college). Personally, I think it tastes so good, but having hard water was kind of an issue- we did a lot of cleaning build-up. A water softener can help with that, but we never had one. Our laundry was always crisp and white, so we never had any issues there. I will say, the biggest problem we had with well water was during power outages. We would often have bad thunderstorms and tornadoes, and when the power went out- we weren’t able to use our water. We would get one toilet flush and that was it. Something to think about… or invest in a generator, if you take that route. The weather has been wild here, too. It went from 65 and sunny to below 30 and a foot of snow. Haha! Today it was 35. I hope your week is off to a good start :) xo
LaurenMarch 11, 2022 at 6:54 am
RO is a feature we had growing up, and the flavor of the water was unparalleled then; I can’t imagine how much better it is now. Our city water comes directly from the well that supplies Arrowhead water, so it’s not completely terrible when it comes to flavor. We have a filtered water dispenser on our refrigerator, but it would be nice to move to something like this. What needs to be taken into consideration when installing a system like this? And are they designed to fit under the sink? Certainly I can appreciate the convenience and benefit of having an RO system and it’s nice to know you’re happy with yours. I would have thought a system like this would cost thousands more; it’s good to know it’s an affordable option. Are the filters terribly expensive? If I’m not mistaken you also have a water softener in your house? I wonder how much that extends the life of your filters. We have terribly hard water here. Thank you for sharing your experience and have a wonderful weekend!
SarahMarch 11, 2022 at 4:51 pm
It really is so good (and convenient)! In terms of consideration, the biggest thing is where it will be installed and if it will fit. They make countertop ones, ones that fit under the sink, and of course more robust systems that are pretty large. Ours is technically and under the sink system… it just doesn’t fit under our sink because our sink is gigantic and so is our garbage disposal. The filters aren’t too bad. A year worth of filters cost us roughly $150, which for us has been worth it. We do have a water softener in our house. I’m not quite sure if that helps with the RO or not. I’ll have to do some investigating. I hope that helps :) Have an amazing weekend, Lauren! xo
SuhairMarch 13, 2022 at 9:17 pm
Thanks for this timely blog! I am curious to know about the softener system . There are few options but very expensive and I am not sure what to choose!
Can you share your thoughts about it please.
SarahMarch 14, 2022 at 4:41 pm
I’m so glad to hear that, Suhair! We have an A.O. Smith water softener… I believe it came from Lowe’s. We replaced the original one in our home shortly after moving in. It does a great job and we’re very happy with it! I hope that helps.