Drinking Water Systems; The Watts Premier Reverse Osmosis
While the United States has one of the world’s safest drinking water, it doesn’t mean it’s the best tasting. There are also many toxins in our water that while considered very low by the standards of the World Health Organization, still cause many of us concern enough to eliminate them. Thus there are many reasons, including taste, as to why people want healthy water at home. Because of the mounting costs we were incurring for buying bottled water at our home, we decided it was time to invest in a quality drinking water system. After investigating the myriad of choices available, we decided on the Watts Premier RO-Pure 4-Stage System.
In brief, a reverse osmosis drinking water system works by using the water pressure of your home to force water through a series of membranes to filter your water and empty the impurities down the drain. The remaining pure water is stored in a small holding tank for drinking. The removal of these impurities is what improves the water’s taste, odor, and appearance.
The Watts Premier 4-Stage System is an “under the counter” design system with a nice stylish faucet that mounts on your sink or countertop. It also features easy to use snap-in filters that you can change with the push of a button and a 3 gallon storage tank.
The first two stages of this system are called the pre-filters. The reason for this is that they filter before the reverse osmosis membrane. Stage one is a 5 micron sediment filter that catches a wide variety of particulates such as silt, rust, and dirt that can affect the look and taste of the water. Stage two is a 5 micron Carbon Block filter. This filter provides an additional decrease in chlorine and other matters that can create odors and other bad tastes in your water. The third stage is the RO Membrane which is the core of the filtration system. It is made with the more desirable thin film composite also known as TFC. This stage reduces the total dissolved solids (otherwise known as TDS) which are a measure of the combined content of all inorganic and organic substances contained in a liquid. It also reduces Arsenic, Lead, Copper, Chromium, Percolate and Lead. Nitrites and Nitrates are another contaminant that this filter reduces in your water. From here the water enters the storage tank and then passes through the fourth stage of the system to the faucet. This filter (known as the post filter) is a high quality carbon filter. It’s also important to note that the Watts Premier 4 Stage System removes over 99.95% cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
If you want to know the levels of Total Dissolved Solids in your drinking water, you can purchase testers for under $25. Just don't be surprised by the results!
Long Term Review
We purchased and installed the Watts Premier RO-Pure system four years ago and it has been producing good tasting, quality drinking water with no problems. I found that the directions were very thorough and not confusing at all. Some people have complained about leaks with this system but I have found that the majority of these problems have been due to installation error. Even plumbers have remarked at the quality of the product and ease of installation. It is also very quiet compared to other systems we have experienced. R.O. systems empty the waste water into your kitchen drain when filling the tank which can cause various degrees of gurgling sounds. We rarely hear it and when we do, it’s usually after the tank has been emptied for maintenance and the kitchen is very quiet.
The maintenance of this system is another added benefit. You are required to change the red and yellow pre-filters once every six months, the blue post-filter once a year, and the green R.O. Membrane once every 2-5 years. You will replace the green Membrane filter earlier in the range if you have harder water. With the push button filters you are not required to turn off the water pressure to the system and they are very easy to change out. It takes only a minute without any mess. My mother has an older style R.O. system with the type of filter cartridges that are in a housing that you have to unscrew. It’s a hassle because you have to use a special wrench and water can spill everywhere if you aren’t careful. The whole process takes about a half hour because it also requires you to clean the housing and re-lube the rubber O-ring for the housing.
This system does require you to sanitize the water storage tank once a year. The best time to do it is when it is time to change the blue post-filter. This process requires you to inject about ½ a teaspoon of bleach or hydrogen peroxide into the tank and then drain the first two tanks of water before changing the filters. The physical process of this only takes minutes but the total time involved before you can drink the water is about a day. This is because it will take about 3-5 hours to fill up each tank with water depending on your home water pressure and how much solids are being filtered out.
We did have a problem with the original faucet however. The finish didn’t hold up and it started to develop a small leak. When we remodeled the kitchen we decided to replace it and it was then that we discovered that Watts was having problems with this faucet. They have since changed the design and the one we have now works superbly. Watts Premier has a 3 year warranty on this system.
There are some draw backs though to using an R.O. system that we were aware of before we made the purchase. It will take 3-5 gallons of unfiltered water to make 1 gallon of filtered drinking water, so there is water waste to consider. There is also the cost of the replacement filters to factor in. Approximately $65 a year with an additional $70 every few years for the RO Membrane filter. While the cost may seem substantial to the replacement filter cost of lesser systems, it is still far less than the expense of purchasing your drinking water, and there are no plastic bottles to affect the environment. Additionally there is the argument that because it is so effective, it also removes essential minerals that we get from most tap water. While this may be true, a proper diet that is supplemented with vitamins more than makes up for any minerals that may be lost in your drinking water.
Would we purchase a Watts system again? Definitely. While a Reverse Osmosis System isn’t perfect or the most efficient way to filter your drinking water, Watts produces a quality product that you can be assured will deliver you years of good, safe drinking water for you and your family.