The element in the system that performs the water purification is the Reverse Osmosis Membrane. The synthetic membrane is highly susceptible to bacterial growth. It will be evident that bacterial growth occurred if the freshwater from the unit smells like rotten eggs. Regular freshwater flushes and attention to detail with membrane maintenance will keep your membranes in optimal condition. For our energy recovery based systems, on average you can expect about 5-8 years out of a membrane. Some cruisers can get 10+ years on a single membrane, others can foul a membrane within a season.
Aside for drying out, membrane killers are:
- Biofouling (Organic Growth)
- Contaminants (Chlorine, Oil, Etc.)
- Mineral Scale (Far less common on Spectra systems compared to conventional reverse osmosis)
Extensive bacterial growth will destroy the membrane permanently. Mild bacterial growth can be rinsed out. Before assuming your membrane is destroyed, run non-chlorinated freshwater or seawater though the system for up to 6 hours with the pressure relief valve open to rinse out the membrane unpressurized.
As a substitute or follow up procedure, bacterial growth can be cleaned out with SC-2. Mild bacterial growth can begin within five days of a freshwater flush, and within two days if the system has not been flushed. There have been cases where membranes have been growing bacteria for 6 months and they were able to be salvaged. Spectra always recommend that you limit bacterial growth in your system whenever possible.