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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPING
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DRINKING WATER TESTING
EPA GUIDE to WATER QUALITY
FHA WATER TESTS REQUIRED
FREEZE-PROOF A BUILDING
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
PLUMBING SYSTEM ODORS
PRESSURE CONTROL SWITCH ADJUSTMENT
REVERSE OSMOSIS CONCENTRATE DISPOSAL
SEWER GAS ODORS
WATER HEATER SCALE REMOVAL
WATER HEATER SCALE PREVENTION
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PRESSURE & FLOW MEASUREMENT
WATER QUALITY TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SOURCE ALTERNATIVES
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
Water Softener Salt Effects on Drinking Water & on Septic Systems - water softener salt problems: this article explains the effects (and potential damage or harm) of water softeners on septic systems. Also see REDUCE IMPACT of SOFTENER on SEPTIC and see OTHER SOFTENER METHODS for examples of water treatment & water softening methods that do not use salt or ion-exchange.
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Salt or Water Loading of the Septic System: Will the Water Softener Salt or Water Volume Damage the Septic System?
At HEALTH RISKS & WATER SOFTENERS we introduced possible health concerns for salt added to drinking water by a water softener. Also see REDUCE IMPACT of SOFTENER on SEPTIC. Also see SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS where we provide details about water softener setting and salt dose adjustments.
Some septic system experts assert that salt discharged into the leach field is an important factor in shortening the life of the biomat which forms below the leach field (to treat effluent as part of the sanitizing process for septic effluent).
Certainly high levels of salt can kill septic tank or drainfield bacteria.
But a normally-operating water softener is unlikely to harm the septic system.
We start by agreeing that a malfunctioning water softener may damage a septic system in two ways:
His opinion was that in a normally-working home water softener system the level of water softener-produced salt in the septic tank was so diluted by other water flowing into the tank that in his experience it never reached a level that was harmful to septic tank bacteria.
We are not sure if this same conclusion applies to bacteria in the drainfield biomat. Gayman and others have conducted research on salts in drainfield soils and their role in drainfield life.
Normally water softener water volume should not be a problem for the septic system. See REDUCE IMPACT of SOFTENER on SEPTIC and then be sure to read SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS to be sure that your water softener is operating properly.
Water Softener Maintenance Tip: Should You Use Potassium Chloride (KCL) ?
Some water softener manufacturers such as for the Sears Kenmore electronic water softener recommend using potassium chloride "salt" (KCL) instead of standard sodium chloride (NaCL) which is standard or ordinary salt. and remark that potassium chloride salt will give longer equipment life and will permit lower hardness settings on the water softener control. Kenmore explains that if you are not using KCL in their water softener you might need to increase the equipment's hardness settings by 25%:
Watch out: Sears-Kenmore warns:
Effects of Water Hardness or Softness on Plumbing & Heating Equipment, Heating Boilers, Water Heaters, Tankless Coils
Effects Hard Water (high in mineral content) on Building Piping, Water Heaters, Heating Boilers, Tankless Coils
The effects of water that is too high in mineral content are widely understood to lead to mineral deposits in building plumbing systems and heating equipment. The percipitation of minerals out of hard water into or onto plumbing and heating components is generally more rapid and extreme at points of highest temperature in the system, but the effects of hard water on building mechanicals are also a function of the volume of water moving through the system. In sum, for hard water, the effects on building piping, heating equipment, water heaters, and tankless coils is a function of
Tankless coils used on heating boilers to product domestic hot water are particularly prone to clogging from minerals in hard water, as we discuss in detail at Clogged Pipes / Tankless Coil De-Scale
Hydronic heating boilers themselves are less affected by hard water because except in the case of chronic leakage, the water placed into a hydronic heating boiler system is static - we are not normally constantly introducing new water and more minerals. However water chemistry is nevertheless important in some heating system applications, and special additives may be used to protect the system. Discuss this quesiton with your heating service company.
Steam boilers, unlike hydronic heating boilers, may indeed suffer from high mineral content in hard water, as new or makeup water is regularly requried and added (manually or by an automatic fill valve) in steam heating boiler systems. And as we just cited, water chemistry is nevertheless important in some heating system applications, and special additives may be used to protect the steam heating system.
Effects of Soft Water (very low in mineral content) on Water Heaters & Heating Boilers
Lochinvar® LLC, a producer of high efficiency boilers, water heaters, and pool heaters, has produced an interesting technical bulletin that warns installers and building owners about special considerations when their equipment (and most likely that of other manufacturers when the heat exchanger is made of copper) is installed in buildings served by a water softener.  Quoting:
The company's technical bulletin includes a table that relates heater BTU Input Rates (between 90,000 & 500,000 BTUH), and Delta T at 0-7 grains of hardness compared with Delta T at 8-25 frains of hardness. We note that the higher the BTUH firing rate of the heating equipment, the higher is the required Delta T (temperature rise). For example,
So you can see there is a significant change in temperature requirements for high-BTUH equipment.
Extensive quotation & technical review requested of Lochinar 12/15/12
Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQs) about water treatment equipment and their effect on septic systems
[Also please see the Q&A section at SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING].
Question: slimy scum water softener problems along with septic system failure - due to water softener?
Since I installed my water softner, I've noticed a few changes.
I suggest following the procedures at SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING, followed by a test of your water supply (ahead of the water softener) for contaminants. It also sounds as if you have two problems: unsanitary water in the home and a failing septic system.
A relationship between the water softener & septic could be that the softener's regen cycle is flooding the septic system tank & fields, but a puddle over the septic tank could be caused by other septic problems too. So also see SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR.
For more depth of understanding of the possible issues, also see
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers or comments about the effects of water softener or water conditioner salt on drinking water & on septic system life.
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.