RO Refrigerator water with bypass installed now smells like sulfur.

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Old 11-29-14, 09:02 AM
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RO Refrigerator water with bypass installed now smells like sulfur.

Hey Folks,

After purchasing my house in August, we recently replaced my house's water softener with a Kinetico S250 and K5 RO system to the kitchen sink, which is wonderful. I had a tech out yesterday to tap the fridge water line from the K5 line to the sink, so I now have RO water going to both the fridge and the sink. This morning I got a bypass plug for the fridge so I didn't require the separate water filter in the fridge anymore (thus giving me higher pressure).

I can verify that the RO water gets to the fridge because of the low TDS levels. Prior to overhauling our system, they were about 900 at the sink and fridge and are now about 60 at the sink and 120 at the fridge). The water is properly softened.

However, after putting the bypass plug in and tasting the water, I was met with the all-to-familiar sulfur smell that I've worked hard to eradicate (we have a carbon post-filter after the softener, not to mention the additional filtration in the K5 RO system).

I ran the fridge through several cups of water, but the smell is still there. Do you folks have any ideas on how to get rid of the smell? I think it's a bit odd that the TDS is not the same at the fridge as it is at the sink - do I just need to run more water out of the fridge? Is there a possibility of some sort of residue build-up somewhere contributing to both smell and slightly higher TDS? I'm not a plumbing expert, so I'm not sure how much I could do in terms of re-tubing the fridge.

Thanks!
 
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Old 11-29-14, 09:18 AM
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I'm not the appliance repair specialist, but have seen and installed almost all types.
Look inside fridge, usually inside the bottom rear. You may see a large coil of 1/4" plastic tubing.
This large coil of tubing is there to provide you with about 1-1/2 gallons of cold water at the door dispenser.
Run a couple of gallons through dispenser to drain/exchange the water in cooling tubing.
 
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Old 11-29-14, 09:49 AM
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The levels should be the same at both the fridge and the sink if they are on the same RO supply.
Plastic pipe can absorb both tastes and bacteria and it is possible that when you removed the filter from the fridge you are allowing what is in the supply line to pass through.
The fridge filter that you bypassed would be a carbon filter and it would have masked the contamination that is in the line and filter housing.

You might want to replace as much as the tubing as possible.
Carbon filters are a double edge sword.
They do a very good job in removing tastes and odors but if you are on a chlorinated water system carbon will also remove chlorine.
This sets you up for potential bacterial contamination downstream of the carbon filter.
 
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Old 11-29-14, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for the quick reply, guys. I've run a fair amount of water through the system now (though probably not a full gallon and a half), and the TDS levels have come down to around 50, which is where I would expect the RO water to be. Still smelly, though not as strong as before.

Looking at the hoses, it looks like the waters flows as follows:

1) Up through the filter at the top (if installed)
2) Down to the bottom of the fridge
3a) At this point, either to the front of the fridge and up for water or,
3b) Back up to the top of the fridge for ice production

Since there was no smell with the filter installed, I don't know that it makes sense for the smell to be coming from something (hoses/tank) after the filter. This would lead me to think it comes from the line running into the fridge to begin with, from the main water supply. Does the flow chart make sense to you guys? If I can figure out how, that would be a lot less tubing to replace, I think.

As a note, I am on a well water supply, not city water, so no chlorination. The water has been treated/filter 6 times before it makes it up to the fridge: sediment pre-filter, softener, carbon post-filter, RO sediment filter, RO membrane, and RO carbon filter.

Thanks!
 
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Old 11-29-14, 12:03 PM
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Like I said, the cooling coils contained within the fridge cavity itself will most likely hold at least 1-1/2 gallons of cold water. Drain (exchange) completely or just let it take it's course. Throw out several buckets of ice, or let that take it's course.
Is ice line ran through cabinets? I think so. If plastic, change out line to 1/4" copper.
I don't know if Greg means to change out tubing within fridge, I wouldn't (unless he specifically instructed me to). I would do everything I could before that point. I know it's a pain to run many gallons of water from fridge dispenser, rig up a funnel and run into 5 gal bucket.
 
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Old 11-29-14, 03:45 PM
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I think Brian has it in thinking the taste can be coming from the cold water coil if yours has one.
Bleach is often overused but in this case it could help.
If a retail store tests their bottled water dispenser and has high bacteria counts usually disinfection of the distribution tubing will usually take care of it.
Sometimes it doesn't.

Anecdotal story alert!

A retail store had their RO production unit at the back of the store and the public dispensers were 250 feet away at the front of the store.
They maintained and supposedly disinfected their own unit but after being condemned by the health department the equipment mfr asked me to look at it.
After twice disinfecting the whole system I was unable to get the bacteria counts in the acceptable range.
It took replacing the 250 feet of poly supply line and a third disinfecting to fix it.
 
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Old 11-30-14, 12:26 PM
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Wow, 250ft! That sounds awful.

Once again, I really appreciate the input from everyone. I'm content to give the unit a chance to purge itself through normal use and flushing the system. The TDS levels are great now (about 46, down from almost 1,000) and the smell is not as strong, so perhaps it will go away altogether before too long.

However, I like the idea of an approach that might solve the problem without having to replace the tubing. Could one of you provide a brief primer on how to do the disinfecting? I don't want to go nuts with bleach since I'm on a septic system, but perhaps in moderation it might be just the trick.

Thanks!

-Griffin
 
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Old 11-30-14, 12:54 PM
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I think rather than worry about disinfecting you could consider replacing the cartridge in the fridge.
 
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Old 11-30-14, 01:36 PM
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Do you mean the cold water chiller? I'll look into that. There is no filter cartridge in the fridge anymore since with the RO water coming to the fridge, it shouldn't be needed but mainly because the pressure drop is insane now with it in-line.
 
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Old 11-30-14, 01:46 PM
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I would just let the water take it's course and eventually flush out the system.

One thing that occurred to me was that the RO system may not provide enough water on demand to flush out coil in fridge. It will happen though. Over time all the bad water will be bled out.
 
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Old 11-30-14, 03:24 PM
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You might want to consider a 1 gal pneumatic tank after the RO unit.
When it is full it will give you a gal of water at the same volume as a regular tap.
 
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Old 12-02-14, 07:21 AM
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Good news! The smell is gone! The flavor isn't quite as awesome as direct from the RO tap itself, but I think that too will improve.

I feel like adding another pressure tank would be a bit much. The RO unit itself already has the Kinetico WOW tank, and that pressure is adequate enough - it's probably not worth the hassle for me to get another one done. Thanks for the idea, though!
 
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