Need advice: softener backwash/overflow disposal

ezgrowerJanuary 30, 2007

I purchased a house that is on hard well water, and replaced the old water softener in the basement (DIY). Backwash discharge of the old softener was completely bad: direct connection (no air gap) through a steel pipe cemented through the cement block foundation wall above the control valve. I don't know where this pipe goes. With other jobs needing immediate attention, I sacrificed my sump pump by temporarily discharging the new softener into the sump pit. No surprise -- the pump is now a useless blob of rust.

I've stomped out my other fires, and now I want to find a permanent solution for the softener discharge. I don't like the idea of poking another hole lower in the basement wall (for one thing, it would be about 8 feet below grade on the outside of the wall), so I'd like to be able to discharge to the septic tank. That means pumping brine up 6 to 8 feet. I need to install a discharge pump (eg. Drainosaur) to get laundry grey water into the septic line (existing laundry was set up to drain into the sump pit!). Is there something similar that would handle the brine backwash from a water softener without disintegrating? How else could this be done?

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There are products that are referred to as "sewage ejector systems". One type calls for you to break your concrete floor, excavate a hole and install a plastic reservoir about the size of a 55 gallon drum that sits flush with the floor. It has a removable lid with a cut-out in it for the discharge pipe coming from the submersible pump.

There are also submersible sump pumps that are constructed of high-strength plastics that won't be affected by the brine.

There are rectangular tanks that sit above the floor that do the same thing as the in-floor type does.

However, an even better solution is to switch to a water softener that does not use salt of any kind. Yes, they are pricey up front but ........... no more buying, lugging and pouring salt plus you can use the discharge water to irrigate your lawn, flowers or vegetable garden. No worries about what that salt is doing to your septic tank and tile field either.

Here is a link that might be useful: sewage ejectors

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 7:21AM
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My water softener is in the basement as well. The discharge is routed through a flexible tube up and across the ceiling where it is inserted into a vertical standpipe that is connected to the cleanout to the septic tank. No pump - works great!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 9:12AM
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Castoff, thanks for your reply. I think this is the sort of thing that's going to give me a solution. I've looked at ejectors, and I've seen many that I can use to solve my laundry problem, but I'm not having any luck finding one that will stand up to brine. Product literature always seems to say "do not use with salt water or brine". Can you suggest any makes/models designed for brine?

Princeton, I've considered what you're suggesting, but I'm concerned about the possibility of contamination. At the end of the regeneration cycle, the hose would not drain completely into the waste -- it would sit stagnant in the hose, wanting to drain back into the softener. Not a certainty, granted, but a possibility. That's why the installation instructions for the softener specifically say that the end of the drain tube must be below the control valve on the softener, with an air gap between the hose and the drain. My guess is that this would be a code violation (but, more importantly, I want to guarantee clean water).

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:18AM
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The tube end is below the control for the softeners (I have two) and there is an air gap. Think dishwasher or washing machine standpipe. I've not had an issue in ten years.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 11:39AM
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Princeton -- your in better shape than me. My waste pipe goes through the basement wall a couple of feet above the height of the control valve, so the top of the stand pipe (and thus the end of the drain tube) would be even higher. I wish I could move the softener out of the basement, but I'm living small -- house is just over 900 sq. ft. and space is a premium.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2007 at 12:11PM
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Can I use backwash water from my softner for the swimming pool?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:13PM
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I know this post is old but just wanted to comment regarding the original authors concern about Princetons suggestion. If you're concerned with using the flex pipe then rigid pipe it.......use PVC! When you rise up off the softener into the floor joist just go as high as you can at the softener and pitch the pipe 1/4" per 10' of run.....I know you have at least 2"x8" floor joist and probably 2x10 or you won't have any problem with getting the 1/4" per 10' required on drainage lines!Given the average home is somewhere around 50' you could easily get 1" per 10' on a softener........not recommended on a waste line because the water will out run the solids and cause pipe clogs! Sometimes people get so involved inserting technical aspects thay really don't know anything about they over look the most obvious simple measures! Another solution is just using a waste pump as most have brass or plastic impellers that are not subject to restrictions......they'll pump just about anything you can dump in there!!

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 9:54AM
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