Considering that 25% of all homes in the United States have a septic system and nearly 85% of households deal with hard water, it is common to hear concerns regarding adverse effects of water softeners on a septic tank.
The answer is “no”, using a water softener does not typically cause harm to a septic system. In fact, water softeners can actually provide some advantages to your septic tank. Fortunately, studies by the University of Wisconsin (UW) and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) answered this question in detail. They found that the water softener’s discharge was not toxic to the septic tank’s bacteria. Softeners will increase the amount of sodium in the water, and this actually helped the tank’s bacterial organisms and did not inhibit the soil’s ability to perform normal water absorption.
Using a water softener involves a regeneration cycle that many homeowners are afraid will disrupt the healthy flow rate and digestion process in the septic tank. Again, there is nothing to worry about here. The UW and NSF studies reported that “The volume of softener backwash during regeneration was easily within the limits of what the septic tank could handle. An automatic washer would pose a greater threat to the septic tank than a water softener. The calcium-rich backwash acted similar to gypsum, which is a high-calcium mineral long used to increase the porosity of clay soils.”
Not only is you water softener safe for your septic tank, it can also be beneficial.
Recent studies found consumers tend to reduce the amount of soap and detergent they use if they have softened water. Because household-cleaning products can disrupt the proper operation of your septic system, this is a significant advantage to homeowners who use water softeners.
If you have hard water and want to use a water softener, the professionals at Metro Septic can evaluate the health of your tank and ensure your settings will accommodate a water softener safely. It is always best for septic tank users to ask an expert before adding anything to their plumbing system.