Effects Of Water Softener Discharge on Septic Systems

 


Article by: Bill Cordonna

There are over 20 million households , The Pros And Cons Of Purchasing Refurbished Home Appliances in the United States currently using on-site septic systems, and that number appears to be growing. , Home Improving with Solar - The Important Concept of Gain We get many questions from our customers as to what effect (if any) water , Leather Sofa Care softener discharge has on a these systems. With such a wide range of information , Locking Mailboxes Keep Your Identity Safe and opinions available, we felt that it was appropriate to examine some of the studies on this topic, and try to accurately present an overview of current understanding.

The Septic System and Water , Homebuilding: Installing Sill Plates Softening Process

Septic system function is very straightforward. Your homes , Laminate Floor - Stylish, Convenient and Robust plumbing is piped into a in-ground storage tank. When wastewater enters this tank, the heavier solids settle to the bottom. Bacteria present in the storage tank digest the solids, breaking it down to a liquid. After this process is complete, relatively clear water , Need More Room in Your Closet? Try a Custom Closet Organizer is discharged from the primary tank into a second holding tank or distribution box. Water , Laminate Flooring, A Floor For All Seasons? then re-enters the surrounding soil , Dishwasher Secrets - Make It Clean Perfectly through a drainage field consisting of perforated underground piping.

The water , Unfinished Furniture - Finish It Yourself! softening process is accomplished by a chemical cation exchange that replaces the calcium and magnesium in your water , Laminate Floor - Stylish, Convenient and Robust with a equivalent number of sodium or potassium ions. During the softening process, your household water , Choosing and Installing a Replacement Above Ground Pool Liner passes through the resin bed, , Home Improving with Solar - The Important Concept of Gain and the magnesium and calcium contained in the water , Need More Room in Your Closet? Try a Custom Closet Organizer are removed. A given sized resin bed , Major Remodel - Upgrade Your Electrical Service! has a fixed capacity to remove hardness before it needs to be regenerated to full capacity in order to continue to provide softened water , Laminate Flooring, A Floor For All Seasons? (for example, one cubic foot of resin has the ability to remove 32,000 grains of hardness from your water). When the resin bed , Overhead Garage Doors is nearing exhaustion, the control valve washes the resin bed, , Basement Ideas to Consider and draws salt containing solution from the brine tank through the resin. As the salt contacts the resin bed, , How does a Justice mattress rate? the process of ion exchange occurs, and the magnesium and calcium (hardness) that was collected in the bed , Kitchen remodeling and design ideas during operation is washed to drain. After a final rinse to remove the excess salt, the resin bed , How does a Justice mattress rate? is again ready to provide softened water. , Repairing Pinhole Leaks in Copper Pipes

The concern of discharging water , Simple Rules For Small Spaces softeners into an on-site septic system arises out of a belief that sodium salts used by water , What to Know Before Signing a Home Improvement Contract softeners during the regeneration stage - or the increased amount of water , Choosing and Installing a Replacement Above Ground Pool Liner entering into the system - may be harmful and possibly cause septic systems to fail. Although there is no scientific data available that supports harmful effects, there have been many investigations into the potential for problems to occur.

The Effect of Sodium Salt on Septic Systems

Common knowledge supports that higher levels of sodium salt can have a direct impact on bacterial life forms. For instance, most bacteria usually found in fresh water , Cool New Pin Clock ecosystems would be unable to live in a high salinity environment , The Mighty Dust Mite and How To Deal With It like an ocean. For this reason, concern was generated that septic systems that rely so heavily on bacterial action may be effected by high concentrations of sodium.

These concerns seem to be unwarranted. First, a typical residential sized water , Information about latex gloves and latex allergies softener discharges between 40 and 70 gallons of water , Unfinished Furniture - Finish It Yourself! per regeneration. Through much of the regeneration process, fresh water , Bathroom Tile Design - Material Types for Bathroom Tile Designs is discharged, containing no salt at all, so the total concentration of salt is very dilute. However, during some stages of regeneration, the sodium concentration can reach as high a 5,000 to 10,000 ppm for brief periods of time.

To see if this level of sodium effected microorganisms typically found in aerobic on-site septic systems, a study was performed that exposed these microbes to a worst case scenario of 10,000 ppm brine solution. The study concluded that "there were no statistically significant differences in the metabolic activity of the microbial community", and that it was "unlikely that failures in domestic water , Low Cost Decorating Ideas that Say Luxury to Homebuyers treatment system are the result of exposure to the brine from home , Cool New Pin Clock water softeners." (1)

Other studies indicate that the effect of putting softened water , Overhead Garage Doors into septic system can actually be beneficial. There is a very low amount of sodium contained in softened water. , Home Improving with Solar - The Important Concept of Gain For every grain of hardness removed, approximately 8 ppm (parts per million) of sodium is added. Although some naturally occurring water , Wood Pellet vs Corn Stoves: The Choice May be Out of Your Hands sources have very high sodium levels, softened water , The Effects of Melting Snow and Roof Leaks normally has a slightly elevated sodium level vs. untreated hard water. , What to Know Before Signing a Home Improvement Contract While this concentration is normally insignificant at typical hardness levels, these higher sodium levels are more in the optimal range for septic system bacterial growth, and can promote bacterial development.(2,7)

The Effect of Increased Water , Real Estate: Seller's Checklist Volume from Water , Basic Information About Trash Can Liners Softeners on Septic Systems While the volume of water , Clean Decorating: Decorating with Housekeeping in Mind discharged by a water , Real Estate: Seller's Checklist softener during the regeneration process will vary depending on water , Locking Mailboxes Keep Your Identity Safe pressure, pipe diameter, and softener design, , Fireplace Buying Tips water , When Should I Change my Vacuum Cleaner Bag? softeners typically use 40 to 70 gallons of water , Locking Mailboxes Keep Your Identity Safe during regeneration. Questions have been raised as to what effect this increased volume of water , When Should I Change my Vacuum Cleaner Bag? (hydraulic load) may have on septic system performance. Did the flow rate and volume of water , How does a Justice mattress rate? softener entering the system during water , Choosing and Installing a Replacement Above Ground Pool Liner softener regeneration adversely effect the normal settling process, and allow solids to enter the drain field?

Investigations by NSF International determined that the additional volume of water , Dishwasher Secrets - Make It Clean Perfectly due to softener regeneration is not sufficient to cause any harm to septic tank systems. In fact, water , Are Sun Rooms Safe? softener regeneration flow rate and volume is lower than the typical discharge from an automatic washing machine.(3) Further, old style "time clock" based water , Laminate Flooring, A Floor For All Seasons? softeners regenerated as set on a calendar basis, normally one to two times per week - the newer generation of metered (on demand) water , Major Remodel - Upgrade Your Electrical Service! softeners measure household water , Dishwasher Secrets - Make It Clean Perfectly consumption, and only regenerate as needed - this further reduces the amount of water , Low Cost Decorating Ideas that Say Luxury to Homebuyers discharged into the septic system.

The Effect of Water , Real Estate: Seller's Checklist Softener Salt Discharge on Percolation in Septic Drain Fields

There has been some anecdotal evidence that sodium added to septic systems by a water , The Mighty Dust Mite and How To Deal With It softener may have negative effects on the ability for the drain field soil , Basic Information About Trash Can Liners to percolate properly.

Many studies have been performed to investigate this issue (2,4,6), and seem to indicate that water , Information about latex gloves and latex allergies softener regeneration discharge does not interfere with drain field percolation, but may actually improve percolation in finely textured soils. , Low Cost Decorating Ideas that Say Luxury to Homebuyers This may be due to a higher calcium concentration found in softener regeneration discharge. When this "calcium rich" water , Home Improving with Solar - The Important Concept of Gain enters the drain field, it sometimes increased the porosity of the soil , Repairing Pinhole Leaks In Copper Pipes (dependent on the type of soil , Real Estate: Seller's Checklist present), improving the percolation process. To further support this finding, gypsum, another calcium rich material, has long been used for this same purpose.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The results of our review are corroborated by a fact sheet published by the Environmental , Unfinished Furniture - Finish It Yourself! Protection Agency(5), that points out the following:

a) High concentrations of calcium and magnesium in the softener backwash water , Major Remodel - Upgrade Your Electrical Service! have no deleterious effect on the biological function occurring in the septic tank and may, in some cases, be helpful.

b) The additional volume of wastewater generated is added slowly to the wastewater stream, and does not cause any hydraulic overload problems.

c) Soil structure in the soil , Are Sun Rooms Safe? absorption field is positively affected by the calcium and magnesium ions in water , Tips For Cleaning Lawn Furniture & Other Household Items softener effluent.

Based on a detailed evaluation of information , The Effects of Melting Snow and Roof Leaks and studies performed in this area to date, we conclude that water , Leather Sofa Care softener regeneration discharge does not negatively impact common on-site aerobic septic systems. Slightly elevated levels of sodium in regeneration discharge do not seem to effect septic system microorganisms, and may indeed benefit the septic process.

Other matters seem to play a much more important role in proper septic tank function. You should always minimize the amount of household , Why You Should Choose a Retractable Awning cleaners that enter the waste stream. Whenever possible, reduce the use of soap and harsh chemical cleaners, and consider "natural" products , Power Washing Roofs Like A Professional containing low levels of phosphates. If you already have a water , The Effects of Melting Snow and Roof Leaks softener installed, remember that you can reduce the amount of soap use substantially - by as much as 50% to 75% - soap no longer has to work as hard to remove the minerals already removed by a water , Repairing Pinhole Leaks In Copper Pipes softener. Avoid using a garbage disposal with an on-site septic, as minimizing these types of organic , Autumn Wreaths Mark The Season wastes will reduce the load on the system. And finally, reduce when possible the amount of water , Power Washing Roofs Like A Professional flowing into the system from showers, , The Mighty Dust Mite and How To Deal With It baths, washing machines and dishwashers.

Work in this area is on-going, and a symposium discussing this issue is scheduled for March, 2006 in Chicago. A joint task force has been established between the Water , Use Mahogany Decking Have A Deck That Will Stand Out Quality Association (WQA) and the National Onsite Waste Recycling Association (NOWRA) to plan , Real Estate: Seller's Checklist and oversee joint activities and investigate any future findings. Failures of specific on-site septic systems will also be examined by this task force in order to determine the cause.

In conclusion, and after reviewing a range of scientific studies to gain a present-day understanding of this issue, it appears that owners of onsite septic systems can continue to enjoy the benefits that softened water , House Plans: The Best Investments provides, without concerns of system damage.

Bill Cordonna is president of CAI Technologies, based in the Philadelphia, PA USA area. CAI is composed of two groups, the Catalyst Technology Group and Water , Protect Your Pool With Pool Covers - Reap Benefits Treatment Group. Founded in 1991, the company is a global , The Mighty Dust Mite and How To Deal With It provider of environmental , Information about latex gloves and latex allergies systems and consulting services for emission control and water , Need More Room in Your Closet? Try a Custom Closet Organizer treatment. Bill can be reached at 215-679-0470 or by email at cordonna@gmail.com


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