With an ion exchange resin the hardness minerals of hard water are exchanged for sodium ions. For the process to be effective in the long term, water softeners need to flush themselves out to remove a buildup of hardness minerals inside the resin.
In this guide, I’ll be covering everything you should know about your water softener drain line. You’ll find out how your water softener drains, where you can connect it, and how to install a drain pipe.
Having a water softener, you’ll also want to learn how to adjust your water softener hardness setting efficiently that we’ve written about in a separate article.
Why Does a Water Softener System Need a Drain Line?
Ion exchange water softeners need to regenerate to maintain their water softening performance. Regeneration is the process of flushing the resin bed, which contains calcium and magnesium. During ion exchange, these minerals are removed from water, in exchange for sodium.
Eventually, the resin becomes saturated with calcium and magnesium, and the softener must regenerate to remove these minerals and replenish the softening tank with sodium. This is how our wastewater is processed. This water filters ions out of your system.
When a pipe gets old or breaks, you need to repair it. Before you do that, though, you must know where to put the pipe, so it doesn’t affect the water supply in your home.
Where Can You Drain Your Water Softener?
Most people will use their local sewage system for flushing out their water softener’s drain line after it has been installed. This is the most convenient means of getting rid of backwash water.
A city sewer line could be miles away, which means you may have no access to a sewage system at all. Even if you don’t discharge backwash into your sewage system, your municipality might have restrictions that could mean that you can’t.
Importance of Understanding Local Regulations
It’s a good idea to read up on any local laws or regulations that your local authority might have regarding water softener drainage before you purchase a system. Water softeners are one of the most popular home upgrades, and in this section you’ll learn the key differences between ion-exchange, reverse osmosis, distillation, and activated carbon filtration.
If you live in an area that forbids you to flush your backwash to the sewer, it’s time to look at an alternative. For example, you may not be allowed to drain your water softener backwash onto the ground if your local authority uses groundwater as a source for its public drinking water. In this case, you should consider using a toilet that uses tank-less technology to avoid clogging your sewer system.
Sometimes your sewage system will not accept backwash water. In this case, you can consider using your water softener to make your own rainwater
Can I Drain My Water Softener Outside?
It’s best to avoid the hassle of connecting your drain to your sewage system. If that’s the case, you may prefer not to use this product. For environmental protection reasons, you may want to avoid using this product.
The book explains how to use the book to make laundry powder without harming the local ecosystem. If you want to water your lawn, this book will show you how to protect plants and trees around your home.
Backwash Drain Options for the Basement
The options below are best for draining your softener backwash from your basement. If your water softener is installed in your basement, any of these options will likely make sense.
If the house isn’t equipped with a sump pump, the easiest option is to install a floor drain. Most water softener units provide enough water pressure to send water up a drainpipe and out of the basement. If your water softener does not have enough water pressure, you can use either of the two pumps mentioned below.
A sump pump sends water away from the system when the water level reaches a certain height. This type of pump is usually installed in a sump basin. You can run your drain of your water softener directly into a sump basin.
If you’re experiencing an overflow, you can activate the sump pump to pump the backwash to the required height. The waste will then be drained into your preferred type of drainage, such as a sewer system. Combine a sump pump with a dry well, and the sump pump would only be required if the soil’s ability to hold water couldn’t handle the backwash from the well.
Sewage Ejector Pump
One option for alternative pumps is a sewage ejector pump. This system works in the same way as a sump pump, and can be used to send water from one place to another. Sewage ejectors are the best way to empty a cesspool. They force water out, allowing it to run straight into the sewer without any back pressure.
Your drains could use some help. These pumps use a vent, which prevents raw sewage from flowing back into your drain line. Gasoline in the piping is vented out. If you opt for a pump, make sure to choose a plastic or stainless steel pump, which won’t be affected by the corrosive nature of your softener’s wastewater brine.
It’s best to make sure that the pump isn’t submerged in water for extended periods of time, which could shorten its lifespan.
A wet well works better than a dry well and is recommended if your water softener requires it. This is just a deep hole which allows the backwash to slowly seep into the ground. It is important that a dry well needs to be drilled above the water table and it will be suitable for holding large quantities of backwash and allowing it to slowly and gradually travel into the earth around the well.
Because dissipation is a slow process, dry wells are a good solution for water softener backwash, as they prevent too much sodium or hardness from getting into your local ecosystem.
Septic Tank Field
A septic system is useful in spreading water softener water across a large surface area. There has been some debate over the safety of using a septic drain field. Although, there isn’t enough conclusive evidence to determine if this drainage method is safe.
You could use an old septic tank as a dry well if you prefer. If you want to add an automatic dishwasher to your home, you need to clean the tank and make holes in the bottom of the tank, then attach the drain line of your dishwasher to it.
A French drain is similar in function to a dry well. The difference is that this well is much wider horizontally than it is deeper vertically. Installing a french drain requires you to place a pipe along a ditch. It’s important for a plumbing system to have pipe holes that let water drain back into the earth.
When it comes to water in your ditch, the longer you can make it, the more surface area the water will cover. This is because you should avoid causing a buildup of backwash in one area which can prevent damage to the environment.
You’ll need to make sure that any drain options you install are appropriate for your home before you install them, and you should follow any rules and obtain any permits in advance. Find out more about how your municipality can help you if you can’t find the information you need online.
How to Install a Water Softener Drain Line
For most softener systems, the exact installation procedure will vary depending on the system you’ve purchased. The first drain line is installed, and then the second drain line is installed. The drain line connections will typically be made at the system’s control valve, allowing the drain line to be used for backwash water.
Install the second drain line to the brine tank, and lead this to the same drain that you are using for the water softener. Your system will only use this line to drain overflows. It’s clear that these two drains run together, but it still doesn’t make sense to put them both in at the same time. Read your water softener’s manual to learn more about how to install its drain lines.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does my softened water taste salty?
Check out our separate article on why our softened water tastes salty here.
Why does my water softener regenerate so frequently?
The problem could be due to a variety of different issues, including a slow water flow rate and an obstruction in the drain line. Check for leaks in your system’s connectors, hoses and seals. It may not fix all issues, but it will help to ensure that any repairs are done correctly.
Check to see if there are leaks around the outlets, piping and faucets. If your house is older, you may need to replace the plumbing.
Is it important for your water softener’s drain pipe to have an air gap?
It is very important for your water softener’s drain pipe to have an air gap. Yes. Having an air gap in your toilet’s drain is required by the local plumbing code. The purpose of the air gap is to prevent water from flowing back into the bowl through the drain. There’s a potential for dirty water to flow into your water softener if it’s not equipped with a proper water-seal system.
How often should my water softener drain?
Hard water can make your appliances wear out much faster than those using softened water. Fortunately, there are options for fixing hard water and ensuring that your water is softer so it’s better for your appliances and other water-using devices.
Ion-exchange water softeners regenerate every four to 10 days. It’s likely that you’ll be able to use the washer for approximately two weeks, during which time the machine will drain and the more efficient softeners will regenerate only when necessary.
An old water softener will begin to lose its efficiency, and the resin’s capacity will start to diminish. As a result, the system will have to regenerate more often. It’s always wise to replace your softener to keep your water waste as low as possible.
What happens if my drain line becomes blocked?
There needs to be enough surface area in the drain pipe to allow water to adequately flow out when the water system is regenerating. If the drain pipe is blocked, the softener resin will get gunked up by hard minerals, iron and dirt.
If you have to replace your resin it could get quite costly. But don’t worry about it. A resin specialist can replace it for you. Your hard-water pipe should not restrict the water in your system. This causes a blowoff, which is when the water softener blows off during regeneration.
You should check your drain line for blockages, or your toilet might be backing up into the house or causing a flood. If you need to fix an issue with your plumbing, always check first. A simple solution will often prevent a bigger problem from happening.