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  • Water Softener

    When adding a water softener, how much replumbing is required? I have read that exterior faucets, sprinkler system, pool, and the ice machine needs to be kept hard water because of the sodium. Is this normal in a water softener addition to a house (required: what problems if you didn't)? It seems like a great expense because it is difficult to get to the plumbing for some of the above mentioned items.

    Also, when you guys plumb a house, do you typically run your first run from the main into the water heater?

  • #2
    The reason people don't plumb the softener to the outside faucets and things isn't because the sodium. It is because they don't want to exhaust the softner. Irrigation systems and outside watering use alot of water. You can get by with a much smaller water softener by having those things bypassed. If you want those things included you need larger equipment which costs more.

    Minimal pumbing is required to add a water softener. Typical installations include 3 ball valves 2 tees a couple elbows and less then 5 feet of pipe. Cost is generaly 150-200 bucks.

    If for some reason the outside lines you want seperated where not do off a tee near the pressure tank(or city water inlet) bypassing them could be difficult. In which case compare the cost of new pluming to the cost of upgrading to a larger softener.

    Off the main the first tee tends to be outside faucets and the second one is usualy the hot water heater.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by boytyperanma
      Off the main the first tee tends to be outside faucets and the second one is usualy the hot water heater.
      Thanks for the reply. That actually works out better, since I want to leave outside faucet(s) hard anyways. What about the ice machine? Also, won't the sodium cause rust if I wash my vehicles with soft water? I might just run a pipe directly to that outlet.

      Comment


      • #4
        The amount of sodium added to the water is very minimal. The brine water from a salt tank is sucked into the softner only during regeneration. The resin bed absorbs some sodium it later uses for ion exchange, but the majority is backwashed out. The sodium actualy added to the water is sodium bicarbinate not sodium chloride.

        Soft water has no negatives for ice makers or washing cars. It is somewhat helpfull for cleaning cars because soap is much more efficient in soft water. Also softered water has less hardness agents like iron or manganese that lead to spots after the car dries. Though a cartridge filter does a much better job of taking care of spots.

        For more info you can check out the water quality association www.wqa.org .
        They have a large amount of data availible on water softening. Almost all the articles there are based on scientific data.

        I would recomend using only someone certified with the WQA when purchasing any type of water treatment equipment.

        Comment


        • #5
          If you are on a septic make sure the backflush goes somewhere other than the honey pot

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by wbrooks
            If you are on a septic make sure the backflush goes somewhere other than the honey pot
            why?

            The only reason I generaly see for not discharging into the septic is if the home has a failing leach field that can barely handle the homes waste water so can't take the extra burden.

            Many towns and counties have laws concerning discharging into the septic, so be sure to check before doing so. These laws have generaly been put in place by people who were not qualified to make that technical decision.

            Here is some data to back my claim

            Originally posted by WQA
            Water Quality Answers
            Are there harmful effects of water softener discharges on household septic tanks?

            It is not true that water softener regeneration discharges pose a problem to septic systems or to the leach field. Studies have shown that water softener regeneration wastes not only do not interfere with the septic tank system drain field soil percolation, but, actually could, because of the polyvalent water hardness cations in the regeneration discharges, improve soil percolation particularly in fine-textured soils.

            WQA has research reports by the University of Wisconsin and the National Sanitation Foundation on septic tanks and water softeners. This research was completed in the late 1970s. It was about that time that numerous regulatory agencies were contemplating restriction on the discharge of water softener wastes to private sewage disposal systems. More recently the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviewed this research report, and an expert in on-site waste treatment wrote October 1993 that he "does not believe that the conclusions of the earlier study would change since the chemistry and physics of soils have not." He also goes on to say that he knows this work to remain "scientifically excellent." These studies conclusively show that water softener waste effluents cause no problems for septic tanks. The allowance of water treatment system discharges to hundreds of thousands of septic tank systems is practically universal now. It has not caused damage or hazards; but it has provided convenience and economic savings to many homeowners. This conclusion is supported by the Ten States’ "Recommended Standards for Individual Sewage Systems" The states have concluded that even in Montmorillinite clay soils, "the disposal of brine wastes from water softening equipment does not have a significant effect upon the permeability of soils suitable for soil absorption systems."

            The addition of sodium to a septic system by use of soft water actually has beneficial effects on the digestion of wastes by bacteria. The volume of wastes from water softeners (about 50 gallons per regeneration) are added to the septic tank slowly and are not of sufficient volume to cause any deleterious hydraulic load problems. In fact, they are lower in volume and rate of addition than wastes from automatic washers. And the calcium and magnesium in softener regeneration wastes contribute to good air and water movement (improved soil percolation) through the septic system drainage field.

            The University of Wisconsin and the National Sanitation Foundation reports clearly indicate that when the sodium content from the softener regeneration cycle is discharged into the soil via a septic system along with other salts such as calcium, magnesium, and iron the result is an improvement in the soil's percolation rather than a detriment. The enclosed copy of a letter from

            Dr. Fred P. Miller, Professor of Soil Science, Department of Agronomy, University of Maryland, in which he evaluates this study clearly indicates this same conclusion. I specifically direct your attention to Dr. Miller's closing statements. Dr. Miller points out that when the septic system is receiving soft water only, containing a very low mineral content, and not receiving the mineral salts from the backwash cycle, this condition "might result in swelling and dispersion of clays and lowered hydraulic conductivity in the absorption field."

            There are other advantages that are directly related to the use of ion exchange softened water when the hardness minerals calcium and magnesium are removed by softening. The homeowner uses less soap -- studies have indicated as much as 50% to 75% less. There is also less biodegradable products discharged into the system which relieves the loading on the system. It is a known fact that many homeowners do not maintain a septic system properly; not pumping the system at proper intervals allows detergent solids, as well as other solids, to be carried over into the drainage area causing clogging. Also, by having soft water or stain-free water available, the homeowner's fabrics are cleaner, and the amount of water used can be reduced. This reduces the loading on the septic system a great deal.

            Many people may be under the impression that water conditioning equipment regenerates quite frequently and puts a high loading of sodium salts into the waste water. This, of course, is not true; the average family of four people would require a softener regeneration approximately two or three times a week.

            The water quality improvement industry has earnestly sought to sort out the factual information on softener effluent. The septic tank study clearly indicates that there are no adverse effects when water conditioning effluent is discharged into properly installed private septic systems. There are a few additional reports that also explain further evidence of the hardness ions in a softener’s regeneration wastes causing less clogging and maintaining higher permeability than the regular septic tank effluent.

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I don't have any research to back it up but my builder said in no way to allow the softener to backwash into the septic. From what I understand of chemistry the salt will have an effect on the bacteria, it will speed the corrosion of the tank and baffles and the backwash will flush out about 1/8 the volume of a large tank which may cause problems with the time solids have to settle out especially in a tank nearing pumpout time.

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for the help.

                Is there a way for me to see if the pipe teeing into the water heater is the first interior run?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fronty
                  Thanks for the help.

                  Is there a way for me to see if the pipe teeing into the water heater is the first interior run?
                  By looking? If you have access follow the different pipes and you can see where they go. I'm not sure how you would do so otherwise.

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