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Can I use an Elkay water fountain or bottle filler with a reverse osmosis (RO) water filtering system?

NOTE: Always be sure to consult a qualified plumber before proceeding with any project involving RO.

Reverse Osmosis is a method for filtering and purifying water, so most people would assume that it has fewer chemicals and impurities and would be even safer for pipes and plumbing fixtures. The fact that you're reading this article, likely implies that you have heard differently or at least have a suspicion that it is otherwise.

Reverse Osmosis (sometimes referred to as “RO”), does, in fact do all of the above, however, as we all learned in school, water is the universal solvent. Meaning, given enough time and exposure, it will, in fact, dissolve any material it comes into contact with.

So why aren’t all of our pipes and plumbing fixtures leaking already? Well, as it turns out, certain minerals and other impurities in typical water supplies, bond with the inside of pipes (different ones for different pipe materials) to form a protective layer. In addition, many people don’t realize that “pure” RO water has a low PH (is actually acidic) and can attack plumbing materials that way as well. Naturally occurring water accumulates minerals and other dissolved solids that reduce its acidity and municipal water treatment facilities may even add chemicals to increase its alkalinity (raise its PH).

Pretty much all common types of plumbing are subject to this corrosion, pitting, and eventual leakage (not to mention leaching of metals into the water). This includes copper, brass, lead, galvanized steel, PVC, and even stainless steel (albeit at a slower rate). The only types of pipes that are relatively immune from this are: PEX, a special material designed especially for use with reverse osmosis water supplies, and PVDF (polyvinylidene fluoride).

SO, what does all this have to do with our original question?


Using Elkay or Halsey Taylor water dispensers of any kind (fountains or bottle fillers) with reverse osmosis water systems may result in dangerous impurities being leached into the water, as well as the eventual destruction of their water pathways. Needless to say, it will also void the warranty.

"But I really want to!"

If you’re really a fan of Elkay ezH2O bottle fillers, and need to install into an existing RO facility, you will need to treat the water before it enters the water dispenser. This process is generally referred to as “remineralization” and there are commercially available products to accomplish this. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to examine this approach, and the validity of the warranty might still be affected.

For more information on specific Elkay and Halsey Taylor products, please call us at (704) 937-2673, or email info@berls.com and we will be happy to help you!

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