Today at the office we were talking about some of the unexpected issues Bellows has faced lately when we took over representing and servicing EcoWater’s Water Softener, Refiner and Reverse Osmosis (RO) product line from another company. The first thing we did when we took over the new leads was to contact our new customer base, check in on them to see if they needed service on their systems. Surprisingly, customers were initially standoffish and weren’t interested in working with us. Many customers said that their reason for not doing service or maintenance with us was because our prices were slightly higher than the previous company, but the price wasn’t that much higher, so we knew it had to be something more. Many couldn’t articulate why they didn’t want service from us, they just seemed frustrated.
Once we explained how our pricing worked and made the effort to learn more about their system, customers started to warm up and share more about their experience with the other contractor. It was then that we realized one of the unexpected reasons that our new customers were hesitant to work with us… they hadn’t had good service before! According to our customers, the other company has set the bar low, didn’t truly service the systems and customers didn’t want more of that! A RO system offers the highest quality drinking water and needs some consistent love and care, our customers spent a lot on these systems and they deserved great service.
Why Customers Were Frustrated with their RO systems
Our technicians have been listening to our new customers and here is just a short list of what they heard.
- The other company never explained why or what they were doing at the visit. They were in and out in 15 minutes.
- The customers said the basics of the systems were rarely explained, they were never told what things to look out for within the system.
- The customers sometimes felt they were sold items that they did not need but just did it because they trusted the “expert” opinion.
- The scheduling was often pushed back and there were times the service was not performed for years because of the difficulty getting someone out to their home.
Once our technicians realized the reason that the customers were hesitant about getting service on their old water purification RO systems was because they didn’t expect good service, we were able to delight them with a thorough visit, taking time to explain their system and answer their questions. Almost every one of our new customers was happy by the end of the appointment and many have said that they had no idea how expensive and important an RO service visit is!
What should be done at an EcoWater Reverse Osmosis service visit?
For the ROs we do a system flush, which takes quite a bit longer than our customers are used to, we also test total dissolved solids (TDS), pressurize the reserve tank, install air gaps when they are not present, and change all the filters. The homeowners usually want to be, and are very involved in the whole process because many said they were never really given the opportunity to be a part of the maintenance before and they are curious how the system works.
One of the most time consuming parts of the RO maintenance visit is cleaning and changing filters. Most RO systems will have up to 5 filter stages. These stages can vary based on the model, but some system may have between 3 and 5 filters. While each model can differ, there is some basic maintenance that will apply to most units.
The first filtration stage is usually in place to protect the RO membrane. Water is passed through a prefilter that is designed to eliminate any sand, silt, dirt or other types of sediment. Prefilters typically need to be changed between every 6 to 9 months. If customers don’t change the prefilter on schedule, it can become clogged or foul, so it is no longer able to protect the delicate RO membranes.
The second filtration stage is typically a carbon filter. This is designed to eliminate any traces of chlorine or other contaminants that can affect the odor or taste of the water. This is a vital stage as chlorine can cause significant damage to an RO membrane. Again, this filter needs to be changed every 6 to 9 months.
The third stage is the actual reverse osmosis. RO is essentially a separation process that utilizes pressure to push water through the membrane. Any contaminants are retained on one side of the membrane and flushed away, allowing the pure water to pass through. Water typically passes through the membrane at approximately 35 psi (pounds per square inch). This is a rate of approximately two drops a second, which obviously exerts pressure on the membrane.
Typically RO membranes have a lifespan of 2 or 3 years, but the specific lifespan will depend on household usage and the local water conditions.The system may also have a final carbon filter to “polish” the water. As the final stage of the treatment cycle, a carbon filter can remove any odors or tastes that remain in the water. Carbon filters typically need to be replaced every 6 to 9 months.
The Importance of a Filter Replacement Schedule
If you neglect to change the filters or forget about the details of the schedule, there is a risk that water quality will be compromised. Over time the system will start to produce less water and ultimately will be unable to produce any water at all. A decrease in water production is a reliable indicator that a filter or membrane has reached the end of its useful life.
Additionally, some of the filters are designed to protect the membrane and ensure that water quality is not compromised. This means that it is vital to set a reminder and stick to a replacement schedule. Since many of the filters require changing twice a year, customers aren’t able to rely on the replacement being synchronized with annual system service. With proper care and maintenance, an EcoWater RO system can last up to 10 to 15 years, so it is important to ensure that a system is properly looked after.
A Win-Win when the customer gets good service
By going above and beyond to provide the best RO service possible, customers are happy with not only that specific service, but they have said they are very happy with Bellows as a whole. The experience they get from the first call to the end of the appointment is a completely different experience than they were given previously, and when that happens you get quality and price becomes so much less of a concern! So if you have an EcoWater that needs some love or are interested in learning more about them, give us a call today!