What is the effect of a water conditioner (softener) on a septic system?

Water conditioners are often needed to improve the quality of your water supply, but they are
harder on your septic system. All water conditioners have backwash cycles that discharge into your
septic tank. They often discharge at a relatively fast rate which causes turbulence in the septic tank.
When the liquid in the tank is stirred up, a higher percentage of suspended solids escape over into your
drain field causing the soil to clog and become less permeable.

There is also a concern that brine discharge may harm the bacteria responsible for breaking down the
wastewater. Scientists are studying this issue. Some think the brine is sufficiently diluted with other
plumbing wastes that it does not adversely affect the septic system. Others believe that it clogs the
infiltrative surface below the stone.

Our suggestions regarding water conditioners (softener) are as follows:
1. If you don’t need a water softener, don’t get it.
2. Buy a good quality conditioner. One that backwashes the least amount of water.
3. Keep it maintained. If it has a timer, make sure the timer is set to discharge as little water as possible
with the least frequency. Better yet have it discharge based on usage intervals, not on timed intervals.
4. Install an effluent filter in the outlet baffle of your septic tank to catch the solids that would otherwise
clog the soil of your drain field. We would be happy to provide you with a quote to install one.
5. Sign up for our annual maintenance agreement to monitor your septic system so we can determine
recommended cleaning frequencies of your septic tank and filter(s).

Posted in: Septic Systems