Is it safe to use a water softener with your septic system?

If you live in Michigan, chances are you have a hard water problem. So, what do you do if you have hard water and a septic system? Can you have both? There are many trains of thought when it comes to this question. Some people believe the salt used in water softeners will damage how a septic system functions, but numerous studies have shown that isn’t the case and, in some cases, it could have some benefits.

The first step if you think you have hard water is to contact a company like Owens Soft Water to come out and test your water for chemicals and minerals. We offer free water analysis in central or northern Michigan or the Traverse City area.  

How does my septic system work?

Instead of being connected to a municipal sewage treatment plant, many homes in Michigan rely on home septic systems. Wastewater and water from every drain in your home find their way into your septic tank. As the solids separate out and settle to the bottom of the tank, microbes begin their work eating up much of the organic materials present in the waste. The remaining liquid eventually works its way into your leach field. Septic tanks need to be pumped out fairly regularly to make sure that the solid waste doesn’t build up too much and overflow the tank.

Most modern septic tanks have more than one chamber to give your home’s waste additional time to separate and the bacteria in your system to digest it.

How does a water softener work?

A water softener works by taking the water entering your home and running it through resin beads full of sodium ions. When the dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium that make your home’s water hard filter through the sodium ions, the mineral ions are exchanged for the sodium ions, essentially softening your water. At Owens Soft Water, we offer many different types of water softeners based on the size of your home and the space you have available.

Water softening technology has advanced so much in the past few years that newer systems waste less water and use less salt during the regeneration process, which is when the water softener purges the calcium and magnesium ions built up in the resin beads, essentially cleaning the system before it goes back to work softening your home’s water. All of this helps when your softened water goes down the drain into your septic system.

How does my water softener affect my septic system?

Numerous studies have been done over the years to determine if the salty brine used in water softeners kills off the septic system’s bacteria, causing the septic system to not operate at peak efficiency. A study by the National Sanitation Foundation in Ann Arbor, Mich., found that the discharge of brine wastes didn’t have a negative impact on the population of bacteria living in the aerobic treatment tank, even when the system used twice the normal amount of brine to soften the home’s water. The study found that the waste coming out of the water softener actually helped the treatment process.

A 2013 study by the Water Quality Research Council and the Water Quality Association found that the wastewater coming from a home water softening system caused no operational problems in either the traditional anaerobic or aerobic septic tanks. It also found that as long as the brine and dissolved calcium and magnesium coming from the water softening system were coming from a newer, more salt-efficient water softening system, the discharge would actually make the septic system and discharge fields do their job more effectively.

The NSF study also showed that the amount of waste coming from a water softener is not enough to overload your septic tank. It likened the amount of discharge to what comes out of your home washing machine.

Owens Soft Water specializes in Kinetico water softeners. Many of our softeners rely on kinetic power, or the power of moving water, to power them without electricity, which saves our customers money.

Our softeners come with a twin tank design which ensures that your home will always have clean, softened water. As one tank recharges, the other one provides your home with softened water. Water softeners eliminate the negative effects of hard water, including itchy, scaly skin and brittle hair. It also will make your appliances and plumbing run more efficiently because the dissolved minerals in your previously hard water are no longer leaving a crusty, mineral buildup everywhere.

Your dishes and glasses will come out of your dishwasher spotless, and you won’t need harsh chemicals to clean the mineral deposits from your bathroom shower surround or tub. Give us a call today and see how Owens Soft Water can help you eliminate your hard water problem and even improve the performance of your septic system.