Effects Of Water Softener Discharge on Septic Systems

There can be over 20 million households in the United States currently using on-site septic systems, and that number appears to be growing. We get quite a few questions from our customers as to what effect (if any) water softener discharge has on a these systems. Through such a wide range of information and opinions available, we felt it had been appropriate to examine some of the studies on this topic, and try to appropriately present an overview of current understanding.

The Septic Product and Water Softening Process

Septic system function is really straightforward. Your homes plumbing is piped into a in-ground storage tank. When wastewater enters this tank, the particular heavier solids settle to the bottom. Bacteria present in typically the storage tank digest the solids, breaking it because of a liquid. After this process is complete, relatively clean water is discharged from the primary tank into a minute holding tank or distribution box. Water then re-enters the surrounding soil through a drainage field consisting of perforated up until now hidden piping.

The water softening process is accomplished by a inorganic cation exchange that replaces the calcium and magnesium in your water with a equivalent number of sodium or potassium ions. During the softening process, your household water flows through the resin bed, and the magnesium and calcium inside the6112 water are removed. A given sized resin bed incorporates a fixed capacity to remove hardness before it needs to be regenerated to full capacity in order to continue to provide softened waters (for example, one cubic foot of resin has the capacity to remove 32, 000 grains of hardness from your water). When the resin bed is nearing exhaustion, the regulate valve washes the resin bed, and draws salt containing solution from the brine tank through the resin. Given that the salt contacts the resin bed, the process of ion transaction occurs, and the magnesium and calcium (hardness) that was stored in the bed during operation is washed to draw. After a final rinse to remove the excess salt, the resin bed is again ready to provide softened water.

The concern of discharging water softeners into an on-site septic system arises out of a belief that sodium salts used by water softeners during the regeneration stage – or even increased amount of water entering into the system – may be unhealthy and possibly cause septic systems to fail. Although there is no controlled data available that supports harmful effects, there have been lots of investigations into the potential for problems to occur.

The Effect of Sodium Salt on Septic Systems

Common knowledge supports that more significant levels of sodium salt can have a direct impact on bacterial everyday life forms. For instance, most bacteria usually found in fresh water ecosystems would be unable to live in a high salinity environment like an beach. For this reason, concern was generated that septic systems the fact that rely so heavily on bacterial action may be effected by high concentrations of sodium.

These concerns sound like unwarranted. First, a typical residential sized water softener discharges between 40 and 70 gallons of water every regeneration. Through much of the regeneration process, fresh water is dispatched, containing no salt at all, so the total concentration connected with salt is very dilute. However , during some stages with regeneration, the sodium concentration can reach as great a 5, 000 to 10, 000 ppm just for brief periods of time.

To see if this level of sodium effected harmful bacteria typically found in aerobic on-site septic systems, a study was initially performed that exposed these microbes to a worst condition scenario of 10, 000 ppm brine solution. The research concluded that “there were no statistically significant differences in often the metabolic activity of the microbial community”, and that it was “unlikely that failures in domestic water treatment system could be the result of exposure to the brine from home water softeners. lunch break (1)

Other studies indicate that the effect of putting softened water into septic system can actually be beneficial. There’s a very low amount of sodium contained in softened water. For every commencement of hardness removed, approximately 8 ppm (parts a million) of sodium is added. Although some naturally occurring mineral water sources have very high sodium levels, softened water in most cases has a slightly elevated sodium level vs . untreated really hard water. While this concentration is normally insignificant at typical hardness levels, these higher sodium levels are more in the maximum range for septic system bacterial growth, and can boost bacterial development. (2, 7)