Nearly 25% of all American households rely on their own private septic system to dispose of wastes and byproducts. If you are one of these people, pay special attention to whether you have installed a water softener in your house, as the water softener may be damaging your septic system and causing it to fail or causing you to have to pump it more frequently.
The Negative Impact of Excess Water or Salt
Water softeners are designed to remove the majority of all ions and salts present in your water supply in order to "soften" up the water. This may be beneficial for the internal plumbing system and for your skin. The softer water contains less ions that are less likely to accumulate on the surface of the plumbing, which can result in accelerated wear. In addition, it will also be gentler on your skin. Although beneficial, the water softeners need to get rid of the excess water that is produced by their system somehow. Water softeners with a cycle stuck on "backwash-on" will cause excess water to flood the septic fields. In addition, most of the salts that are filtered by the water softeners get delivered to the septic systems where they can negatively affect the organic flora present by causing an imbalance in the environment.
Effect of Environmental Changes on Septic Tank and Pumping Schedule
The excess water will quickly flood the septic tank and dilute the bacteria concentration. In addition, excess amounts of salt will change the environment; thus, warranting it inhabitable to some of the natural flora that was once there. The excess salt that has leaked into tank will draw water out from the bacteria; thus, killing them. Keep in mind that these bacteria are responsible for breaking down the waste byproducts in a natural and efficient manner. To make it simple, the environment is no longer ideal for decomposing and degrading waste byproducts.
Due to the changes, septic tanks will need to be pumped more regularly in order to retain and restore the original balance within its ecosystem. For example, a 2 person household with a 500 gallon septic tank size should schedule septic tank pumping frequencies to every 2.6 years; however, homeowners with water softeners installed may have to call the septic pumping experts a lot earlier than they expected.
Ways to Reduce the Impact of a Water Softener on the Septic System
If you can't seem to part ways with your water softener and it is definitely an equipment that you believe that you must need, then you should consider one of the three following suggestions on how to reduce the negative impact brought on by the water softener. This way, you may be able to opt for less septic pumping services. These techniques include:
- using other alternatives of salt rather than NaCl for the water softeners. Most water softeners use NaCl, which is sodium chloride. The sodium in this chemical compound can easily cause problems in the bacteria levels to emerge. Choose potassium chloride or other salt alternatives that will be less likely to have a negative effect.
- choosing to redirect the water from the water softener backwash into a separate drywell. This will reduce the harmful effects that a water softener may have on the septic system. Contact a plumber in order to discuss the options of installing another drywell.
- bypassing the water softener whenever possible. If a water softener is not needed, choose to bypass it. For example, when you are watering plants or washing your car, make sure that you turn the water softener off. By bypassing the water softener, you can reduce the accumulation of harmful effects that it can have on your septic system; thus, reducing the amount of pumping that your system may need to offset the imbalance.
Pumping your septic system regularly will help maintain the balance within. If you have installed water softeners in your home, the water softeners may disrupt your septic tank's function, so you should carefully monitor the condition of the septic tanks to determine when a pumping is necessary to restore the system back to its original condition. Implement the techniques mentioned above, and you will be able to reduce the negative impact that the water softeners have on your septic tank, so that you do not need to pump as frequently.