A conventional water softener uses ion exchange to replace calcium and magnesium ions within hard water with sodium ions. The periodical 'charging' of this system needs excess amounts of sodium, therefore every time your water softener regenerates you are left with gallons water with a high sodium concentration. The salt concentration within this backwash is so high that some considerations should be taken into account when picking a drainage option for your system.
By far the easiest way of getting rid of the water softener backwash from your brine tank is to attach it straight to your local sewage system. However, various reasons might not make this a viable option. In some remote areas a sewer system might not be available and some municipalities have restrictions concerning discharging water softener backwash directly into the sewer system.
How Can I Drain My Water Softener Outside?
The simplest way to drain your water softener backwash is to simply run it onto the ground, however, as there is a lot of salt in the backwash it can be very harmful to the ecosystem and the local water treatment facilities. Therefore keep in mind that in some places local rules or regulations might prohibit you from using this option.
Even if it is allowed simply discharging your water softener backwash into the ground will damage the plants that surround the area. So you might want to look into one of the options listed below to mediate the effects that backwash can have on the environment.
If source your water from a local water well make sure that any drain is located at a maximum distance from the source of your well to avoid any contamination. If you are in doubt of the distance between your drain and the well it might be better to have a look at offsite discharging options for your backwash.
If none of the options listed below is a fit for you, you might consider using your water softener backwash for other applications like killing weeds or deicing your driveway.
Best Water Softener Drain Options At Home
Please inform your local municipalities regarding any permits necessary before applying any of these drainage options.
Dry well - A dry well is a deep hole with a porous wall that allows for a slow soak of backwash into the groundwater. As long as a dry well is implemented above the groundwater level it can accept large amounts of water in a short amount of time which it can then dissipate into the surrounding ground over a longer time. This makes it a perfect solution for draining water softener backwash.
French drain - A french drain is like a dry well, except instead of using a deep hole, the backwash is dispersed over a larger area horizontally. It is a long ditch with a pipe that contains holes and is covered by pebbles. Because the holes are spread over a long distance the backwash is not concentrated in a certain area. The pebbles allow for an easy dilution of the backwash by any rainwater.
Convert an existing septic tank - An old septic tank can serve as a perfect substitute for a dry well. To convert your existing tank clean your tank and disconnect the outlet pipe. After it is cleaned make small holes scattered around the bottom of the tank and fill it up with pea stone. Your tank is now ready for use.
Options In The Basement
Sewage Ejector Pumps/packages
Some industrial processes produce such large quantities of brine water that the local ecosystem would simply not survive the influx if it were drained into it. Here are some of the tactics that are used on a larger scale to get rid of salt water.
Evaporation - In this method, large shallow basins are filled with the water and left for days, weeks, or even months until the water is evaporated. What is left behind is the salt and any other minerals which can then be disposed of as a solid.
Deep well injection - With deep well injection a deep well is drilled down into a soil layer between two impermeable zones. However, instead of taking something out of the well, the contaminated water is injected into the well between the two layers in the hope that it does not contaminate any of the surrounding soil.
Don't Forget The Airgap
Code violations (possibly), you wouldn't want to contaminate your water supply as water streams back.
Why Does My Water Softener Keep Draining?
If you are producing more backwash than expected or can handle something might be wrong with your water softener system. Be sure to check your systems for any leaks in seals or connectors.
Alternatively, there might be a leak somewhere inside your home. Check all faucets and other water outlets for leaks and check whether there is a continuous flow through your water softener even at times when no one is using any water. Your water softener might be continuously working without you even knowing it.
Generally, the salt concentration within the backwash is simply too high for your lawn to stay nice and green. However, the solution to pollution is dilution.
Salt mushing and bridging can wreak havoc on your water softener system, severely reducing performance or even damaging it.
When storing water softener salt it is important to keep out any contaminants, here are some top tips to keep in mind when storing your salt to avoid any issues.
Potassium is a great substitute for sodium in your water softener system. However, despite the big benefits, the cost may not be worth it.
Without any salt, your water softener will no longer be able to soften water. Unless your water is iron-rich this should not have any permanent consequences.
Water softener backwash has a big impact on any environment. Here are some options for reusing your water softener discharge.