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Thread: Water Softener Drain Line

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member bioran's Avatar
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    Default Water Softener Drain Line

    I have a Kenmore 370 Softener with a drain line that runs outside. Every winter I battle it freezing and need to do something this year to fix that. The softener is in the basement. I don't have any drains in the basement and I have a radon system so I don't want to cut into the floor to create one. My laundry is on the first floor, but is higher than the 8' the manual says I can go for the drain line. I was reading some other threads and saw something about increasing the diameter of the drain line to go higher than 8'. Is this true? I would have to go about 14' high in total to drain into the laundry waste pipe. It's also about 25' horizontal run to get from the softener to under the washer.

    I was also thinking about a condensate pump based on other threads but am not exactly sure how they work. Does the softener drain go directly into the pump and then the pump to the laundry drain? Do you put it in a bucket? What would be the best approach?

  2. #2
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    The 8' is typically very conservative. You could do a fairly easy test to determine if the higher drain height is ok. Simply put the system as it currently is into regeneration, time how long it takes to remove the water from the brine tank. Relocate the drain temporaily to the new height and repeat. if it is nearly identical (the time to remove the brine water brom the brine tank) then you should be just fine. The drian height limit is based on the ability of the venturi injection system to overcome the backpressure of the drain. In general, higher incoming water pressure allow for higher drain lines. A larger drain line is unlikely to help, nor will it hurt. Larger drian lines are recommended for longer runs to reduce the frictional pressure issues, and excessive noise due to velocities rather than accomodate for height.

    Condensate pumps are great, but check their capacity. Some will not flow at the rate you may need. Condensate from AC units etc. tends to be very low. Also, when one fails to work, where will the water go?

    Hope this helps.

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    If you've got room for another small barrel, run the drain line into the barrel, and put a small pump in it operated by a float switch. Sump pump, bilge pump, pond recirculating pump, lots of them available for under $40. Use a barrel large enough to contain 2 or 3 regenerations' output, and put in an alarm to let you know if the pump hasn't done its job.

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    DIY Junior Member bioran's Avatar
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    I tried option 1 of hooking up to the washer drain and ran 2 regeneration cycles and both times it has left about 9 inches of water in the salt storage tank. Typically there are only 2 or 3 inches left after a regeneration. I'm not sure what that is an indication of, but the water at the tap also seems a little salty. I'm going to run another cycle tonight with the old drain line outside again (temps are above freezing) to confirm the water level after the cycle completes and to check the water for taste.

    I think my next option will be to use Mikey's recommendation to use a barrel for the drain and use another pump with an alarm to move that to the washer drain.

    Thanks for your advice.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Sounds correct. The backpressure from the drain height can affect the venturi injection system. That is why testing above normal heights is recommended. Looks like you are stuck with the transfer pump.

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    You could plumb a standpipe into a sink pump, which would be much more adequate for the volume than any condensate pump.

    http://www.libertypumps.com/Products...?p=19&s=8&c=24

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Any manufacturer who doesn't tell me how much the thing costs is suspect; sure enough, that pump is over $200. I admit to not fully understanding the problem -- like how much water are we taliking about, and how long does he have to pump it overboard, but he sure doesn't need a 1 1/2" discharge, since the drain line is -- what - 5/8"? -- and probably not a 1/3 horse pump. On the upside, this pump will probably last forever.

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    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Funny, I can't think of many manufacturers that publish prices for anything.

    It would not be the first time I have been accused of overdoing something.
    One of my thoughts is that there are some solids in the backwash, so I would question how much the softener drain line can rise upward before some of the solids are not flushing out of the line.
    I have never measured it, but I would guess that when my softener does a regeneration that it might dump 50 gallons of water. Not something to take lightly if you are not home and your pumping system fails.

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cacher_chick View Post
    One of my thoughts is that there are some solids in the backwash, so I would question how much the softener drain line can rise upward before some of the solids are not flushing out of the line.
    I have never measured it, but I would guess that when my softener does a regeneration that it might dump 50 gallons of water. Not something to take lightly if you are not home and your pumping system fails.
    Good points. I was just thinking of the brine draw, but forgot about the backwash and rinses (details, details). My actual numbers are 10 minutes for backwash, 60 minutes for brine & rinse, 6 minutes for rapid rinse. I have no idea what the actual flow rates are for those cycles, but the book says 0.35gpm for the draw, 0.7gpm for the slow rinse, and 2.4gpm for the rapid rinse. If those numbers are correct, the total dumped would be around 80 gallons - wow! - over the entire 84 minute cycle. His numbers may vary, but if they're anything close to ours, he's going to need a BIG barrel for my scheme to work (allowing for room to hold an entire regeneration, in case the pump fails). Not so big, maybe, if he just needs a reservoir to contain the pump and limit the peak pump capacity required.
    Last edited by Mikey; 01-09-2013 at 04:10 AM.

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    The easiest and most fool proof solution is to raise the drain line a few inches like a foot or so ahead of where it goes out the wall into freezing temps so the end of it is down hill sufficiently to allow the water to drain out as the regeneration is finished.

    That requires no possibility of pooling of the water that would allow ice build up to rise to the end of the drain line. The water remaining in the drain line inside the house is not a problem.

    Strange the "professionals" that replied in this thread didn't think of that...

    There are no solids in the drain water of softeners or backwashed or regenerated filters, and if there were, the drain line flow is sufficient to flush them out.
    Last edited by Gary Slusser; 01-09-2013 at 06:00 AM.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The "end" of the drain line would have to be positioned so air could enter the line, and it would have to be large enough so the air and water could flow past each other to enable the water to drain out, or a "vacuum relief vent" would have to be installed at the house to enable complete drainage. We don't know where it is draining to or how long the pipe is so we are guessing at solutions. At times the discharge is "full flow" which could overpower any "small pump" or its receiver.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    The easiest and most fool proof solution is to raise the drain line a few inches like a foot or so ahead of where it goes out the wall into freezing temps so the end of it is down hill sufficiently to allow the water to drain out as the regeneration is finished.

    That requires no possibility of pooling of the water that would allow ice build up to rise to the end of the drain line. The water remaining in the drain line inside the house is not a problem.

    Strange the "professionals" that replied in this thread didn't think of that...

    There are no solids in the drain water of softeners or backwashed or regenerated filters, and if there were, the drain line flow is sufficient to flush them out.
    Well I hadn't got around to reading it yet but......HJ is correct.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Another out-of-box idea: run a heat strip along the drain line. Determining how and when to turn it on is left as an exercise for the reader.

  14. #14
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    Maybe I didn't make myself clear... the end of the drain line would be suspended in air, high enough above the ground to prevent ice from building up under it to be able to eventually touch it.

    I have seen hundreds of drain lines as I describe and none have had a problem with water not draining out of them. I've seen a few thousand inside houses draining into sinks and sump pump holes and the water drains out of them too. And they were all the industry standard for residential drain line 5/8" OD PE tubing. The only water that stays in the line is on the back side of the highest point of the line and that is inside the house where it can't freeze.
    Gary Slusser Retired (= out of business)
    Click Here to learn how to correctly size or program a water softener.
    CAUTION, as of Nov 12 2013 all YouTube videos showing how to rebuild a Clack valve have an error in them that can cause damage.

  15. #15
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mikey View Post
    Another out-of-box idea: run a heat strip along the drain line. Determining how and when to turn it on is left as an exercise for the reader.
    S
    Heat tapes take awhile to warm up.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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