Septic Systems And Water Softeners – Effects & Alternatives

Do water softeners damage septic systems? Here is all you need to know.

Hard water problems have been known to cause a wide range of issues including harming septic systems. Water softeners are among multiple solutions to this problem. However, these two are known to alter the normal functioning of septic systems.

Our aim in this guide is to discuss septic systems and hard water softeners.

What is Hard Water?

One of the simplest ways to define hard water is simply water that’s high in dissolved minerals. A major part of these minerals includes calcium and magnesium.

This type of water results when it percolates or moves through soil and rock, dissolving certain mineral contents.

These soils and rocks are usually deposits of limestone, and gypsum which are rich in mineral contents. Such water is evident when soap or detergents are being used.

They hardly foam and mostly require a double dose of these detergents to actually form.

  • How Hard Water Affects Septic Systems

Part of our focus here is to make the connection between hard water and septic systems.

This raises a question; how does hard water affect septic systems? If you’ve lived in hard water locations or still do, chances are that you know the connection and how it affects septic systems.

One o the things hard water is known for is the scaling of drainage surfaces. The response to this has been to use hard water softeners to combat such issues. So, has this been effective enough?

Are hard water softeners a reliable solution for septic systems?

This is the crux of our discussion.

Hard water softeners are mostly installed to treat water hardness. However, when it comes to treating septic tanks and systems, it becomes a bit problematic.

How Water Softeners Affect Septic Systems

When it comes to hard water treatment for septic systems, the condition of digestive bacteria in the tank is of utmost importance. These bacteria help in breaking down waste.

Now, when adverse conditions affecting their normal function get introduced, it becomes a problem.

The water softener system adds sodium to water which could pose a problem to beneficial bacterial. There’s also the extra salt contained in the backwash that finds its way into septic tanks. Certain septic system types (concrete) are likely to corrode or deteriorate due to excess salt.

This increased salinity impacts the pH level which may become unfavorable for beneficial bacteria. This is more common with inefficient water softeners. So, does that mean there are inefficient and efficient water softeners?

Definitely, there are! You’ll need to find one that’s reliable enough.

Remember, the point is too limiting the damage done by hard water. Water softeners help remove such hardness, thus making such water safer for use. There’s a direct link between hard water and the volume of cleaning supplies used.

More chemical-containing cleaning supplies are used in a hard water situation. All these chemicals end up in your septic system which isn’t good for digestive bacteria.

In other words, it affects their normal functioning and kills quite a lot of them.

An Efficient Water Softener Won’t Present Problems

When getting a water softener, emphasis should be on the type and quality of softener you get. Newer designs come with much better improvements regarding functionality.

Here, a lesser amount of wastewater is produced during the regeneration process.

This brine being discharged isn’t as much as older and less efficient water softeners will let out.

As such, there’s no major change in the balance of your septic tank. Plus, these minimal brine discharges results in zero issues to your drain field.

In other words, it doesn’t overload the drain field capacity. The best way to lessen the negative impact of water softeners on septic systems is by taking some measures.

These include not softening all the water, only regenerating based on water flow, and using newer water softeners.

Other helpful tips include avoiding clay in the leach field, using potassium chloride, and installing larger tanks. Let’s take a look at these points individually.

  • Not Softening All the Water

Not all the water you use in your home needs to be softened.

Outdoor use of water won’t require softening. Such water can be used in its hard form. This will lessen the volume of salt that goes into your septic system.

  • Only Regenerating Based on Water Flow

Large volumes of backwash need to be limited by only regenerating based on water flow. As such, you may have to set your water softener to do just that; only regenerating based on water flow.

This allows for only the right amount of backwash.

  • Using Newer Water Softeners

As mentioned earlier, there are newer water softener designs that are much more efficient. Efficiency is seen in the limited volume of sodium chloride being used.

As a result, the common problem with the high salinity in septic tanks is eliminated.

Beneficial digestive bacteria can survive and thrive while the water softener treats hard water. To choose the right piece of equipment, you’ll need to go through product reviews.

Such reviews reveal tons of vital information regarding efficiency.

  • Avoiding Clay In Leach Field

The condition of your drain field is highly important. You need your leach field to be in perfect condition to ensure proper filtration and enhance its hydraulic conductivity.

The best way to ensure improved efficiency is by avoiding the use of clay in the leach field.

  • Using Potassium Chloride

Apart from sodium chloride, potassium chloride can be used in its place.

The reason for using potassium chloride as an alternative is simply to limit the amount of sodium that finds its way into your septic tank. This is much more septic-friendly than sodium chloride.

  • Installing Larger Tanks

When buying a septic tank, it’s important to take into consideration your hard water treatment needs. In this case, you’ll need a higher size to account for the hydraulic load that accompanies the water softening process.

Septic systems and water softeners go hand in hand in areas having hard water issues.

We’ve seen that this hard water treatment process may sometimes cause issues. However, this problem is mostly associated with older water softener models.

New models have been designed to be more efficient and present fewer problems to septic systems.

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