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water softener drain question...

Posted by dbrasili (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 20, 13 at 10:53

I bought my house about 4 years ago. It came with a water softener that is in the basement. But they just drilled a hole at the bottom of the foundation wall and used flexible tube from the softener out through the hole in the wall. Now this hole is in the wall is about 6 feet under grade! So I have no idea where all this water is going? There is no perimeter drain that I am aware of outside of the house. I am also worried about all of this salt water dumping outside of a poured concrete foundation and washing out all of the backfill along the foundation. I think this water softener has been there for about 8 years.

What do you guys think? Any suggestions on what I should do? I also live in a cold weather climate so in the winter I do need to worry about the drain line freezing. I also have septic for waste water.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: water softener drain question...

Doesn't sound like code to me. IMO the only dumber thing to do would have been to let the softener drain on the floor and then mop as needed.

Every code I've seen prohibits draining any appliance to an outside wall.

Along with the erosion damage that may be happening freezing is a big consideration if that drain line is above the frost line. 6 feet below grade should be below the frost line.

Softener drains can be run up and horizontal for a ways to an approved drain.

I don't know what the best solution is, but I'd get a KNOWLEDGEABLE plumber in there to look at the situation and make a recommendation. Maybe a few plumbers and a few estimates. Be prepared for it not to be inexpensive.


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RE: water softener drain question...

Great. After 8 years I just wonder how much damage has happened! Can't so it. I know who put the system in and he is a hack. I have a farmers porch that I could run a PVC pipe under and just let it dump on the rocks underneath the porch. Do you think that is a good solution? How much water gallons of water are usually dumped during a water soften cycle?


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RE: water softener drain question...

Check governing code to see what is allowable and then look for your options. Some local codes allow a french drain or the like but I'm pretty sure it has to be away from the house... not under an adjoining porch.

It's better to be code compliant if you ever go to sell.

Without knowing your water conditions, water usage, what make and model softener you have or how it is set up 50 gallons (or could be more) of effluent each regeneration.


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RE: water softener drain question...

Awesome. 50 gallons dumping outside of the foundation! Gives me a warm feeling inside.

How would I look up the governing codes in my area? I live in Massachusetts. I plan on calling a reputable company in my area that installs wells and has a water treatment unit. I know from their website that we are not allowed by code to dump it into the septic, not that I would do that anyway.

For now I am just going to unplug it until I figure out what do to.


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RE: water softener drain question...

The easy way to get an answer on plumbing code is to call (from a pay phone...) and speak to a plumbing inspector. You might also get an answer from your city environmental health department. Local plumbing code might be online but it can be confusing.

You're better off finding out the permissible way and then hiring someone to do it rather than asking another trade person and not getting it done right.

If you're going to shut down the softener there should be a bypass valve so the water is not going through the softener and then pull the plug. If you just pull the plug then you may foul the resin.


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RE: water softener drain question...

  • Posted by dwpc 7 - N Arizona (My Page) on
    Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 14:00

Keep it in perspective. Unless you live where there are no building codes, your foundation was poured over a layer of well-drained gravel, it amounts to a vast sump for dispersing the tiny volume (maybe 5 gal per cycle) of brine, which is clean salty water. (The salt doesn't settle out) Check around; that may be common practice there.

If it worries you, flush the brine drain line with clean water every once in a while (but not with pressure) to help move the brine through the drainage bed. See how it drains; If your foundation drainage can't handle 10-15 gal a week from the softener, you have bigger issues.

I wouldn't lose any sleep over it unless you have groundwater or periodic flooding issues and the basement could flood from water coming through the hole made in the basement wall. In that case, you should have a pipe and check valve properly grouted into the wall penetration.

This post was edited by dwpc on Sun, Apr 21, 13 at 14:42


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RE: water softener drain question...

""Since foundations are poured over a layer of well-drained gravel, it amounts to a vast sump for dispersing the tiny volume (maybe 5 gal per cycle) of brine, which is clean salty water"

That's fine for your house.

1. IIRC code prohibits any draining including downspouts proximate to the foundation of a house and that is only rainwater.

2. It is not 5 gallons per cycle it's more like 50 gallons plus for the average 1 cu ft softener. The larger the resin capacity the more water is discharged per regeneration.

3. Softener effluent is NOT clean salty water it is water highly concentrated with sodium and chlorides and is discharged on a regular schedule.

Not fine for my house. The OP is smart to notice this and should find the most cost effective code approved solution and get it done.


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RE: water softener drain question...

Seems to me the OP wants to know whether he has a real problem that warrants an expensive remedy or simply a code technicality.

BTW, the largest Sears softener uses only 19 gal. per regen but even your 50 gal would be insignificant for a house with good drainage as long as it not pressurized.


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RE: water softener drain question...

The largest Sear/Morton/Whirlpool/GE et al softeners are less than 1 cu ft of resin and are packed bed designs which use less water per regeneration but usually regenerate more often and they are not the most commonly installed softeners in the US. Millions and millions and millions of Industry standard, Rainsoft, ECO Water, and Culligan softeners expelling 50 gallons of effluent and up are more the rule and the Sears style disposable softeners more the exception.

Effluent drain from softeners during regeneration is pressurized and not gravity drained.

I'll not have 50+ gallons of sodium and chloride concentrated water along my foundation week after week after week after week after week after week after week... cause you say it's OK while code and common sense says it's not.

I grew up in the middle Atlantic states and have seen body panels on cars and concrete roadways destroyed by far less exposure to a much less concentrated dose of salt and water much less frequently.


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