View Full Version : soft water loop

10-12-2005, 06:23 AM
i am building a house currently and am doing the plumbing myself. i have been able to get all the info i need from a couple books i have, however idaho code sais i need to have a soft cold line, a soft hot line, and a hard cold line to my kitchen, i dont undrestand 3 lines to the kitchen and a 1/2" drain, are there fittings for a 1/2" drain? my books and all the others i have looked at have no info on a soft water loop. i'm no plumber so pictures or an idiots guide to plumbing type explination would be great. also what if i want softend water to showers and washer how do they get plumbed? :eek:

10-12-2005, 07:07 AM
A softener loop is simply an access point, usually in the main water supply line before it gets to the WH or any other usage point. By cutting into the loop, the softener is simply inserted "in series" with the water flow. One technicality is that the softened water should NOT be fed to outside hose bibbs. Sodium softened water will cause plant leaves to turn yellow.

As far as the drain, most softeners use something like a 3/8" ID vinyl tube. This must be connected INDIRECTLY to the drain system. It must (a) be connected via an air gap, and (b) of course it must connect to a trapped entry point. One common connection is to drain it to the washing machine standpipe.

10-12-2005, 07:27 AM
if it is simply put in series why three lines to the kitchen?

10-12-2005, 07:38 AM
The three lines to the kitchen are there so that you can have unsoftened drinking water if you are on a low sodium diet, do not use potassium as the regeneration material, and do not have a reverse osmosis system under the sink. The 1/2" drain is merely 1/2" copper, (or PEX or similar), tubing piped from the softener area to a drain, usually the washing machine standpipe, and terminated there properly.

10-12-2005, 08:01 AM
Click! that was the sound of the light (bulb) coming on in my head. Thanks guys.

Gary Slusser
10-12-2005, 10:55 AM
jimbo, IIRC, the only softeners/filters that use 3/8" drain line are older Sears and Rainsoft. All others use a minimum of 1/2" CTS (not to include CPVC) and they will in some instances due to the length, require 3/4". That depends on the make of the control valve and a few other things like elevation from the control valve etc..

Vinyl tubing should never be used because it kinks very easily and has a reduced ID and kinks cause failure of the equipment. Continuous run PE is the best material and is usually suggested by all control valve manufacturers; such as Autotrol/GE, Clack, Erie, Fleck etc.. The big box stores have been going to it for their GE, Whirlpool, North Star, Morton Salt and Sears/Kenmore brands.

I can't believe ID requires a separate hard water faucet at the kitchen sink! I sell softeners all over the US (delivered one to ID yesterday) and haven't heard of that anywhere including WI, MN, AZ etc. where there are many folks mistakenly thinking it's a good idea. I have many people cuss their hard water at the kitchen sink plumbing.... It's a really dumb idea, especially if there is iron, manganese, H2S etc. in the water!

For those concerned about the added sodium in their softened water. To calculate the added sodium from a softener, multiply the gpg (grains per gallon) of hardness by 7.85 (mg/l). I.E. 20 gpg hard water * 7.85 = 157 mg added sodium per liter (that's roughly a quart). Check a loaf of white bread and you'll see the sodium content varies from 120-150 mg per slice. An 8 oz glass of skim milk usually has 530 mg of sodium. And for those on sodium restricted or low sodium diets, those folks know how to adjust their intake of sodium and can plan accordingly IF they drink any of their daily required 8 8 oz glasses of water per day. And who does?

Also, all water has some naturally occurring sodium in it, so those wanting less sodium in their diet should test their non-softened water for sodium. Or simply eat a few less pickles or potato chips or pretzels, or less ham etc...

Check this out:

Here's a picture of that ID softener and his loop.

Quality Water Associates

10-12-2005, 03:15 PM
I was referring to the GE units sold at the depot, and if I am not mistaken they still come with 3/8" ID green (vinyl?) tubing.

Gary Slusser
10-12-2005, 09:13 PM
I've got a GE and a Sears here that I've taken out and replaced and the junk guy hasn't come to pick up yet. They're 3-4 years old. I'll have to look if they don't have a combination type fitting for the drain line connection. Yeah the green or clear is vinyl.

Quality Water Associates