Where To Discharge Water Softener Backwash – The Ultimate Guide

Where To Discharge Water Softener Backwash - The Ultimate Guide

Are you tired of wondering where to discharge your water softener backwash? Look no further! The best way to properly discharge backwash is by draining it into a dry well or French drain.

It’s important to handle the drainage of backwash brine water with care as it contains high levels of salt and minerals. If not handled properly, it can lead to environmental problems. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on the top 5 easy ways to discharge backwash and the places you should avoid.

In this article, you’ll also learn about water softener drain lines and pro-tips for using backwash. So, keep reading to get all the information you need to make sure your water softener is working efficiently and safely.

Related articles:
Ultimate Guide to Water Softeners: Everything You Need to Know
A Complete Guide to Drain Lines for Water Softener Units

Best Places to Discharge Your Water Softener’s Backwash Water

Here is a list of the five best places to discharge the backwash brine from your home’s water softener.

1. Drywell

Discharging backwash water into a drywell is an effective solution for managing the drainage of this water. A drywell is a deep hole with porous walls that allow the backwash to slowly soak into the ground. To ensure optimal results, it’s best to place the drywell over a water table.

The water table allows the backwash to be gradually released into the surrounding area, preventing a sudden increase in sodium concentrations in the soil. This method is beneficial for both the environment and the surrounding ecosystem.

2. French drain

Discharging backwash water into a French drain is a reliable solution for managing the drainage of this water. A French drain is a trench that is equipped with a horizontal pipe that is covered with pebbles. The pipe has strategically placed holes to allow the backwash solution to be dispersed over a larger surface area. The pebbles in the trench ensure that there is adequate space to prevent overflow. This method is effective in dispersing the backwash water in a controlled manner and preventing any negative impact on the environment.

3. Septic tank

Discharging backwash water into a septic system can be an efficient solution, as long as the system has a drain field. One way to do this is by converting an old septic tank by disconnecting it from the outlet pipe and drilling holes at the bottom of the tank. Adding pea stone to the tank and connecting it to the water softener will help to disperse the backwash water and keep it from clogging the drain field. It is important to note that before making any changes to the septic system, it’s essential to check with local regulations and to have a professional plumber to do the work.

4. Subsurface

Discharging backwash water underground into the subsurface is a suitable solution for managing the drainage of this water. To do this, it’s crucial to maximize the distance between the point of brine discharge and the well. Typically, it is recommended to keep a distance of at least 100 feet. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the brine discharge is located downhill from any sources of drinking water. This will help to prevent contamination of the water supply and protect the environment.

5. Onsite wastewater treatment system

The Onsite Wastewater Treatment System is a good way to handle backwash water drainage. You need to make sure the system is the right size for the amount of water you want to treat. The brine (salty water) is heavier than regular water and may settle at the bottom of the tank. This might make the system not work as well, so you would need to clean it more often. Check with local laws and regulations before using this method, and get a professional plumber to do the work if possible.

Understanding Backwash Brine: Composition and Importance

The backwash process is a crucial step in maintaining a water softener system. It involves high-pressure water flowing upward through the resin tank to clear out any excess hard minerals that have settled in the resin bed. This water is then directed to a drainage system.

During the backwash process, the water softener is being regenerated and made ready for use again. The backwash brine solution that is produced contains a high concentration of chloride, potassium ions, and sodium.

This process is essential to keep the water softener running efficiently and typically occurs every two to three days in conventional systems, and even more frequently in newer models. The entire process usually takes around 10 minutes to complete.

It’s important to note that the backwash brine solution is rich in salt and mineral content, containing high amounts of sodium ions, low levels of calcium and magnesium ions, and sometimes trace amounts of other minerals like iron. This is why proper disposal of backwash is essential to avoid environmental problems.

Avoiding Environmental Hazards: Places to Avoid Discharging Water Softener Backwash

Now that you know the best places to discharge your water softener backwash, it’s important to be aware of the places to avoid. Before moving forward, make sure to check your local regulations regarding water softener drainage solutions.

Here are some places you should avoid when discharging backwash:

  • Areas rich in animal and plant habitats: Backwash brine water with high levels of minerals like sodium can be harmful to both humans and the surrounding environment. It can contaminate natural habitats and be toxic for plants and animals. Avoid draining backwash brine in ponds and lakes.
  • Near local water sources: Draining backwash near local lakes, ponds, or rivers can increase the sodium content and potentially cause negative effects if these sources are connected to your main household taps.
  • Fertile farmland: Discharging backwash brine on fertile farmland can create an imbalance in the soil mineral salt content and potentially damage vegetation. While the backwash can be diluted before use, it can still cause mineral toxicity in crops, leading to crop failure.

It’s important to remember that proper disposal of backwash is crucial for protecting the environment and the health of plants and animals in your area.

Innovative Ideas: How to Put Water Softener Backwash to Good Use

While backwash water can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly, there are some smart ways to put it to good use. Here are a few creative ideas for using backwash water:

  • Killing bacteria: The high mineral and sodium content in backwash brine makes it difficult for bacteria to survive, making it an effective cleaning solution for kitchen surfaces and bathrooms.
  • Getting rid of garden slugs: Garden slugs can be a nuisance, but backwash brine can help get rid of them. Mix a solution of brine and water in a 50:50 ratio and spray it on the slugs. The slugs should be gone within a few minutes.
  • In a sea fish aquarium: If you have a sea fish aquarium, you can use the backwash brine solution as some fish require saline water to survive. Mix 2/3 of the brine solution with 1/3 of fresh water in the aquarium.
  • Deicing: Backwash brine can be used to deice driveways during winter. It works better than freshwater as it has an even lower freezing point.

It’s important to keep in mind that backwash brine contains high levels of salt and minerals, and should be used with caution. Always dilute the solution before use and avoid using it in places where it can cause harm to the environment.

Basement Drainage Made Easy: The Ideal Places to Discharge Water Softener Backwash

If your water softener is located in the basement, the best place to discharge the backwash is in the basement itself. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Floor Drain: The easiest way to drain backwash in the basement is through a floor drain. Most water softening systems have enough water pressure to send the backwash up and out of the basement. However, if your system has less pressure, you can use the alternatives mentioned below.
  2. Sewage Ejector Pump: This works similar to a sump pump but instead of disposing the water to the outside, it pushes the water to a certain height and then drains the backwash water directly into the sewage. These pumps also use vents to avoid the reentry of sewage into your water supply line.
  3. Sump Pump: A sump pump is a device that disposes the water once it reaches a certain height. These pumps are usually installed in a sump basin. You can run the softener drain in the sump basin which will trigger the sump pump to push the water to the required level so that the backwash can be drained out.

It’s important to note that the backwash brine contains high levels of salt and minerals, it should be handled with care and disposed of properly. Always follow local regulations and guidelines when discharging backwash in the basement.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Draining Your Water Softener

Draining a water softener is a simple yet effective process that can be done quickly and efficiently. Here is a quick guide to follow:

  1. Start by scooping or vacuuming the tank to remove dirt and sediments. This can easily be done by hand.
  2. Once you think you’ve cleaned enough, rinse the tank thoroughly. If the water comes out clean, it can be reused.
  3. Initiate the regeneration process by adjusting the programming on your water softener system as per your requirements.
  4. The final step is to empty the brine tank into the drain. Make sure to bypass any remaining water before moving the tank.
  5. Lastly, remove the overflow hose and salt grid before disposing of the backwash brine.

Remember to always follow local regulations and guidelines when disposing of backwash water. By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your water softener is working efficiently and safely.

Frequently Asked Questions: Clearing Up Confusion on Water Softener Backwash Disposal

Can I discharge my water softener backwash into my septic tank?

Yes, softened water can be safely drained into septic tanks without causing any harm or adverse effects.

What is the purpose of an air gap in my water softener drain pipe?

An air gap is necessary to prevent the mixing of non-potable and potable water, and to avoid contamination of the water used for consumption.

How frequently should I backwash my water softener?

It is generally recommended to backwash and regenerate your water softener once a week. Some systems may regenerate every night.

Why is my water softener constantly backwashing?

Over time, the resin beds in the water softener can become covered in hardness ions and minerals from frequent use. Backwashing is a way to remove these minerals and restart the water softening process for producing soft water.

Is regeneration the same as backwash?

No, they are different processes. Backwashing removes particles and trapped gases, and helps to remove resin bed compression. Regeneration involves replacing the sodium ions exchanged during the ion exchange process in water softening.

Final Take

As a homeowner, you need to take care of your water softener so the water you drink is safe and clean. The backwash from a water softener can be harmful if not handled properly. You can discharge the backwash in different ways, including dry wells, French drains, septic systems, subsurface, and onsite wastewater treatment systems. If you follow these tips and guidelines, you can be sure that your water softener is working efficiently and safely, and that your drinking water is of the highest quality.

Boch Richard

Richard Boch is a chemical engineer responsible for designing water filtration systems for industrial and residential customers. He has more than 20 years of experience with ion exchange, activated carbon, and reverse osmosis. Richard's expertise has made him a go-to source for municipalities and businesses looking to improve their water quality. When he's not working, Richard enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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