- This topic has 4 replies, 5 voices, and was last updated 17 years, 10 months ago by nicktheplumber.
9 Jul 2003 at 9:57 pm #279265MasterPlumbersKeymaster
Question my husband is a plumber and i am wanting a water softner installed and he said they are not good for septic tanks. So i am wandering if we can install a water softner with a seperate line for the kitchen sink and that their will be no harm done to septic tank in the future? We keep up the maintanence on the septic tank so will their be any harm done installing a water softner? The hard water is damaging sinks, dishwashers, toilets, tubs, showers etc. Please help.
9 Jul 2003 at 11:35 pm #300402Retired plbg1
Some say they harm the tank others say no. I think it is the water when it is regenerated that hurts the tank, run the discharge pipe out side into a french drain are on the surface.
10 Jul 2003 at 12:24 am #300403racefanone
Have the water tested to see what all it contains before doing anything,then deceide what the next step would be.Could be that some sort of filter set up might be all you need.
10 Jul 2003 at 3:31 am #300404John Aldrich1
Tisha, I have read reports of studies that have been conducted by such agencies as the US EPA, the US Public Health Service and a couple of Universities (paid for by water softener manufacturers) regarding the effect of Water Softener backwash on the performance of a septic system. The conclusions drawn from the studies, and recommendations made by some of the researchers were diametrically opposite of the conclusions and recommendations of other researchers.
Some researchers found a significant reduction in septic tank treatment performance, while others reported no significant reduction in tank performance, but also there was no increase in tank performance. There usually are not enough controls, nor enough replications in these studies, and not enough money to fund a truly comprehensive, scientific study which would reveal the truth in this issue.
In the meantime, we have to deal with reality. If the backwash water has a negative effect on the treatment performance of your particular septic tank, then install a septic tank effluent filter in the outlet tee of the tank, and increase the frequency of sludge removal, or take retired plbg.’s advice and just run the backwash water into a ditch, onto the surface, or into a french drain.
If the backwash water has no significant negative effect on the treatment performance of the tank, then install a septic tank effluent filter in the outlet tee of the tank, and maintain your current sludge removal program. Notice that my recommendations are almost the same.
I think that it is a very good practice to install septic tank effluent filters on all septic tanks. :>)
Another concern with the practice of discharging water softener backwash into a septic system is the impact of applying saltwater on clay soil that may be below the leach field. The negative impact evidently is a chemical reaction which causes colloidal material in clay to shift and clog soil pores making the soil below the leach field less permeable, and eventually sealing the soil which would cause leach field failure. Well, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to inspect and determine exactly what chemical reactions are occurring at the gravel/soil interface when that site is 2 or 3 feet underground in the field. So, the soil scientists conducted their research in the soils lab. They used “simulated” septic tank effluent and applied it to a simulated leach field. This is like drawing life changing conclusions while engaged in a “simulated” marriage. Typically, your conclusions would be wrong.
One camp claims a devastating impact on the accecptance rate of the soil and that the saltwater should never be applied to a leach field. The other camp claims that there is no scientific basis to reach this conclusion.
So, what should you do? I think that retired plbg.’s recommendation is the proper course of action.
11 Jul 2003 at 4:13 am #300405nicktheplumber
As I understand it, your question was “can I install a water softener just on the kitchen sink (or on just a few fixtures where I want softened water).” The answer is that you can. Since your husband is a plumber, I’m not sure why you are asking us about this…I assume that he has his own ideas on the subject, and I would be loath to second-guess him. Having said this, it is a fact that despite my demonstrable and generally appreciated expertise as a plumber, my spouse has on more than a few occasions questioned my own plumbing judgement (most recently my opinions about garbage disposals).
I am not an expert on septic systems, since we have very few here in the SF Bay Area, and I don’t really know how water softening affects these systems. However, I do know that you can install water softeners on individual fixtures, such as sinks and showers. I also know that “gray water” from these fixtures (as opposed to “black water” from toilets) can be separately routed to dry wells in many jurisdictions, thus avoiding the need to run such waste water through the main septic system.
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