There’s no doubt that the most convenient way of getting rid of the backwash created by your water softener is to just connect the water softener’s drain to the sewage line. However, this might not be the most ideal solution since discharge systems in different areas are designed to handle incoming charges differently.
Some areas don’t have a direct sewage connection. Even if you live in an area that does have a direct sewage line, there are better options than discharging the backwash down the sewage system.
Here are the most ideal places where to discharge water softener backwash:
- Outside your house
- In a dry well
- In the French drain
- In a Septic drain field
- Floor Drain
- Subsurface discharge
- Surface discharge
First, Know the Local Regulations:
Before you connect your water softener discharge to the sewage system, you have to be aware of your local backwash dumping regulations.
In fact, it’s a good idea to do the research before you even pull the trigger on your softener purchase. This is because you may not even be allowed to use a particular water softener in your area. Simply check your state’s Health and Environmental Agency to be completely safe.
For the most part, water softeners are salt-based and/or ion-exchange systems. The reason why backwash discharge regulations exist is that these chemical compounds might be dangerous when they come in contact with other chemicals in the sewage system.
That said, even if your local regulations do not permit you to discharge your backwash in the sewer or on the grounds, there are still good ways to get rid of it. Here are our top picks.
Draining the water softener backwash outside may not always be the best option because you might end up causing harm to the environment and life forms in close proximity to it. Nevertheless, if there are no local regulations for it, then it means that local grounds are not being used for groundwater distribution.
You should always consider the distance between your water source and the drain. If you’re discharging outside, then make the extra effort to dump the backwash as far away from the water source as possible.
2. Discharging in a Dry Well
Getting rid of your backwash using a dry well is a great alternative because you’d also prevent the sodium in water softener salt from mixing with the local groundwater. The dry well approach makes it possible for the backwash to slowly be absorbed into the ground.
When digging the dry well, ensure that it sits above the high water level. The well should be capable of holding large quantities of backwash impurities and absorbing them at a relatively slow pace.
3. Discharge Backwash in The French Drain
The French drain is another great way to dump backwash that has a lot in common with dry wells. The main difference is that the space focuses on width rather than depth.
In order to make use of the French drain approach, you will need a long pipe and a ditch. More specifically, you’ll need a French drain pipe with holes in it. This allows for the high salt backwash to gradually seep out onto the grounds.
If the ditch is longer, then you will need to make it wider as well. This will help with the water dispersion. You don’t want to constantly accumulate salt or backwash in the same spot because this is harmful to the ecosystem, even if your local regulations permit you to do so.
4. Septic Drain Field Discharge
You can make use of the septic tank discharge method in order to disperse the salt that is gathered in the backwash. Septic drain fields are quite common in the US, but not all states allow them.
A septic system will usually consist of a septic tank, a drain field, or a soil absorption field. The way it works is that the septic tank takes in the organic matter and segregates solids from the wastewater.
If you have a soil-based system, then the septic drain will spread out the waste through a number of perforated pipes that are buried under the leach field.
There are also advanced septic systems that evaporate or disinfect wastewater before discharging it into the soil.
In order to clean an old septic tank, you will need to make holes at the bottom of it and plug the drain pipe at the very bottom. If everything goes as it should, your backwash should be dispersed across a longer area and not harm the ecosystem in any way.
5. Discharge Backwash in the Floor Drain
Most modern water softener systems should be able to provide enough water pressure in order to discharge the backwash directly to the drainpipe. If this happens to be the case, then, by all means, make use of the floor drain to discharge the backwash.
Even if your water softener does not have the pressure required to discharge down the drain line, you can still make it happen by using additional equipment to aid it along the way.
Using an ejector pump is one of the best and most convenient ways to go about it. This makes it possible for the water to climb up the drainage. Ejector pumps are equipped with vents that prevent thick sewage materials from coming back into your home.
When buying a pump, you will want to stick to ones that are made out of plastic or steel, mainly because you could end up having problems with corrosion if you opt for an iron one due to the constant flow of salt.
Subsurface discharges should be kept as the last resort when you have exhausted all other avenues. You will need to be familiar with the rules of your state and know the contents of your waste before attempting this.
Make sure that the distance between the well and discharge point is as great as it could possibly be. In most areas, you will be permitted to drain your backwash into a water well of 100 feet or more.
If you are planning on using this method long-term, then you can look into installing a subsurface system that will help you with the discharge of brine water. The system has to be sturdy enough so that it won’t get damaged by the compound elements of the backwash or the environmental wear and tear.
This is not really a method to should consider if you are able to afford any of the other six options mentioned on the list. However, sometimes, it’s the only available approach, and you should know how to do it properly.
When discharging your backwash to the surface, always make sure that there are no plants that could potentially be killed and that there are no animals that might access that brine. Surface discharging of the brine should always be done on your own property. Send the brine water through the length of a pipe in order to make it easily soakable.
Discharging softener backwash can be a daunting task because you’ve got your hands on material that might prove harmful to the environment and other living beings.
The important thing is that you always double-check the rules and regulations for your local area. Never take shortcuts that skirt these regulations as harm can be done to you and your local community. You will need to find a sweet spot where convenience and safety meet.