Septic tank maintenance

Do Water Softeners Harm Septic Systems?

Millions of households resort to using water softeners to make their water more usable for drinking, bathing, washing dishes, laundry and pretty much everything else one might want to do with water. If your well or central supply is feeding your home with hard water., When the water is hard, the soaps and detergents do not lather up and therefore, do not clean well. While chemically altering hard water to a more suitable state is relatively easy, for homeowners that have septic systems, the usual question is… do water softeners harm septic systems?

                You may already know that your septic system receives the waste water that your household produces everyday. The septic tank catches everything including the solid waste materials. The solid wastes settle at the bottom of the tank and get degraded by the anaerobic bacteria found there. The resulting pre-treated effluent is then dispersed into the drain field to be purified and then returned to the environment by the distribution box.

                Since all of this water travels throughout the home and eventually into the septic system, there is some concern over whether or not the agents used in the softening process will have a detrimental effect o the bacteria life found throughout the septic system. The process of water softening is done by the exchange of chemical cations. This process replaces magnesium and calcium with potassium or sodium. The water that is to be used by your household first passes through a resin bed wherein the magnesium ions and calcium ions are removed. This resin bed is designed to handle a certain amount of water that needs to be rejuvenated to provide water that is already softened. When exhaustion reaches the resin bed, the control valve washes it out and absorbs the salt. When the salt gets in contact with the resin bed, ion exchange takes place. The calcium and magnesium ions are collected in the resin bed are then washed and drained. When the final rinse to remove the salt is done, the resin bed is reset to give soft water again.

                The effects of the water softening process are brought up because the excess salt and the excess water may prove harmful to the septic system and may cause premature failure. It is said that salt has a direct effect on the bacterial population in the septic tank. If the bacteria present in the tank thrive without the excessive presence of salt, then their population might dwindle when salt is dumped in great amounts as a result of water softening. While some manufacturers claim that their units discharge produces very little concentrated salts to be discharged into the septic system, the only true way to determine the actual composition of the discharge would be through testing each individual design in a real world setting. Set aside this and focus on the increased amount of water that enters the system during the process of water softening. 

The volume of water depends on the design of the water softener, diameter of the pipe, and water pressure. If the issue of water volume is raised, studies show that this does not significantly harm the septic system. The flow increase from water softening is much lower than from an automatic dishwasher. With the time lock used in water softening, water in your household is only regenerated when needed. In effect, this lowers the amount of water discharged. When it comes to the soil percolation rate, water softening improves the percolation of the soil types that are fine textured. This is brought about by the calcium ions that are found in the discharge of the water softening process. The calcium improves the soil porosity of the soil. Bare in mind, softeners that discharge concentrated levels of salt or high volume water can and will affect the bacterial life and those units that discharge high amounts of water will cause excess water pressures. Excess water pressure disrupts normal decomposition, regardless of salt content.

                With all the evidence collected, it can be concluded that the water softening process may or may not negatively affect the septic system. Super efficient designs can actually offer simple benefits. For instance, having a water softener installed can lessen the amount of soap or detergents that you use because when water is soft, it

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