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Thread: Can I drain my water softener in a floor drain?

  1. #1
    DIY Senior Member amateurplumber1's Avatar
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    Default Can I drain my water softener in a floor drain?

    As far as I can tell, the floor drain was put in when the house was built specifically for the water softener.

    I know I have asked this before as part of a different post, but never got a definitive answer. Thanks guys!

  2. #2
    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    For the most part yes. Can you post a picture of the floor drain? It must have a legal air gap.

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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Stuff a garden hose down there and let it run for 15 minutes or so to make sure the drain will handle the flow. Sometimes those floor drains are not attached to anything other than the foundation drain.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

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    DIY Senior Member amateurplumber1's Avatar
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    Hmm...I don't think I can get a garden hose down there but I can slowly dump water out of something and see what happens! Hopefully my house doesn't crumble or anything.

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    Water systems designer, R&D ditttohead's Avatar
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    Water softeners are required by most municipalities to go to either sewage or septic. Check with your local municipality to confirm. It should not go to storm drains.

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    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    IMO you are talking to two anti DIYer guys that love to make things difficult for DIYers if they can but, the best place for the drain water from the softener is into a normally working septic system or sewer line.

    If you want to use the floor drain, there really is no way to measure how high the water could get in the basement so you can't install an air gap to where it would be at an 'approved' height. And then if it were me, I'd say I have more important things to concern myself with than if flood water in my basement touched the end of my softener drain line. I'm just saying...
    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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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Slusser View Post
    IMO you are talking to two anti DIYer guys that love to make things difficult for DIYers if they can but, the best place for the drain water from the softener is into a normally working septic system or sewer line.

    If you want to use the floor drain, there really is no way to measure how high the water could get in the basement so you can't install an air gap to where it would be at an 'approved' height. And then if it were me, I'd say I have more important things to concern myself with than if flood water in my basement touched the end of my softener drain line. I'm just saying...

    Here we go with the anti DIY crap again. Its not anti DIY to expect EVERYONE to follow the code's and do the job right. Not only because its the right thing to do but to cover home liability and the law as well. If the discharge goes into a septic system the following piece of information should be heeded and this also covers existing systems as if your existing system should fail for ANY reason and the insurance adjuster comes out to take a look, there is a very good chance your claim will be denied.

    If you read the warranty of any ATU septic system (which many states now require or are in the process of requiring) they all state discharging a water treatment system into their system voids the warranty.


    As for discharging into the floor drain, which neither of us advised, the air gap need only be twice the diameter of the appliance discharge pipe. However, it must discharge into an approved receptor and a grated floor drain is not approved.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  8. #8
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    I'll bet he doesn't have an ATU septic system or that AR requires them but...

    That twice the ID of the drain line also means it has to be at least that high above the high water level, which you failed to mention. So in your opinion, how high might his water level get in his basement?

    I see ditto and I were typing at the same time but by damned he agrees with me about the use of the septic or sewer.

    BTW, no one should by an ATU septic system. What does that ATU stand for tommy?
    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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    DIY Senior Member amateurplumber1's Avatar
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    All I know is, I can either use that drain, or somehow use the sump pump drain. I've been told not to use the sump pump drain because its a metal sump pump and the discharge will make it rust. I have no idea how to route the drain up a floor and over to use the washing machine drain.

  10. #10
    That's all folks! Gary Slusser's Avatar
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    If you can see your drain lines in the basement you can use them. Going up a floor can cause problems. Most control valves can't handle higher than from the drain line connection on them up 8'-10' max. And that depends on your minimum water pressure being no less than 30 psi.
    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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    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    For code purposes the weir of the floor drain trap would be the normal (normal) point of measure or, the inlet of the receptor but since the grate floor drain is not considered a proper receptacle it Is a moooooooooot point.
    [B]No, plumbing ain't rocket science. Unlike rocket science, plumbing requires a license[B]

  12. #12
    DIY Senior Member amateurplumber1's Avatar
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    Can I modify the drain at all to make it more appropriate for drainage?

  13. #13
    In the Trades Tom Sawyer's Avatar
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    Yep. Remove the drain and replace it with a 12 x12 floor sink. oatey company et.al. Makes them
    [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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    For a discussion of the effects of discharging softener backwash into a conventional septic system, see:

    http://www.caitechnologies.com/water...ic-systems.htm

    Bottom line:

    "The results of our review are corroborated by a fact sheet published by the Environmental Protection Agency(5), that points out the following:
    • High concentrations of calcium and magnesium in the softener backwash water have no deleterious effect on the biological function occurring in the septic tank and may, in some cases, be helpful.
    • The additional volume of wastewater generated is added slowly to the wastewater stream, and does not cause any hydraulic overload problems.
    • Soil structure in the soil absorption field is positively affected by the calcium and magnesium ions in water softener effluent.

    Based on a detailed evaluation of information and studies performed in this area to date, we conclude that water softener regeneration discharge does not negatively impact common on-site anaerobic septic systems. Slightly elevated levels of sodium in regeneration discharge do not seem to effect septic system microorganisms, and may indeed benefit the septic process.

    (5) “Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Special Issues Fact Sheet 3”, EPA 625/R-00-008, Environmental Protection Agency Fact Sheet (2000)

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    DIY Junior Member catman's Avatar
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    Chlorine is your enemy in a biological system, not the sodium, potassium, calcium or magnesium. However, a gram of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) will neutralize 1ppm chlorine in 100 gallons of water. So if you were concerned you could easily nuetralize the chlorine, but more than likely it is not going to be a major problem or it would be a standard protocol for everyone using a softener who has a septic tank!

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