Is my backwash Drain from Softener OK? -Pic included...

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by hobiecatter, Dec 22, 2011.

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  1. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    Check the picture out. My plumber said that this is an air break and will work just as good if not better than an air gap because it won't splash out. He said this is code and ok for my application. Please confirm.

    I have a whole house sediment and chlorine filter that backwashes so it needed to go to the same drain. I had him run two separate drain lines to this vent stack because the filter manufacturer said they couldn't use the same drain line. Any issues with this either?

    They both drain and don't leak, so I guess that is good.

    Drain2.jpg
  2. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

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    i'm not a plumber, but that does not look code approved. that is not an air gap or an air break, that is a direct connection from the looks of it, and that is a no-no. if that 'vent stack' is above other fixtures you cannot drain into that either.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  3. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    The purpose of an air gap is to ensure that the sewer/drains can never back up into equipment that is connected to the potable water system.
    That connection does not meet this requirement.

    I would also be concerned about using such small ID tubing for the softener drain, as it might limit the required flow to properly clean the resin bed in the softener.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  4. johnjh2o1

    johnjh2o1 Plumbing Contractor for 49 years

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    If your in a area with a cold climate that foam insulation won't prevent the trap from freezing.

    John
  5. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    I take it the systems are in the attic? I wouldn't put anything that uses water in the attic. When (not if) they leak, they cause a mess. If the drain tubing for the softener has an opening in the short tube, then the air gap is there. It is hard to tell, but it looks as though the drain line has a clear piece directing the water down the short tube. There looks to be a gap there. Can you provide another angle of the connection?
  6. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    If your filter is a normally sized unit, there was no reason to run a separate drain line or a larger than the normal 5/8" OD PE drain line used for softeners. And certainly not as large as was run.

    And it is not "to code" but will work fine with some changes.

    The softener drain line is running uphill to the elbow and that will prevent gravity draining of the line leaving water in it to freeze. That is a serious problem and has to be fixed. The hole in the side of the PVC under the softener connection may leak

    If the softener is in the room below this attic area, you should have run 3/4" PEX, PVC or CPVC instead of using regular softener drain line; or increased the DLFC in the control valve for more flow due to the height to this connection is above the softener.
  7. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    It is the vent stack that is used for the washing machine. There are many plumbers, DIY'ers on here, and even most of my neigborhood that has an air gap in the attic that is attached to the top vent of the washing machine.
  8. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    That's what I was told as well about the air gap. My plumber, however, said this is fine because the water will never back up that far into the attic to reach the drain. If it did, he said I would have much more issues because that means all the toilets, sinks, drains in the house would be overflowing first.
  9. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

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    330
    Location:
    USA
    if that line is serving a fixture as a vent below it, you can not tie it in like that. they may have a line in the attic, but it should be a drain line connected BELOW a fixture, not into the fixture's vent.
  10. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

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    330
    Location:
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    your 'plumber' is incorrect. you CANNOT use a VENT as a DRAIN like that.

    ( I tried to be more like HJ with his BOLD type, lol)
  11. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
    TX
    I'm in a climate that gets cold, but not for long periods. Since this is a drain line for the softener, this foam insulation should be the only place water is collecting. So during a freeze wouldn't that insulation not keep me safe...no?
  12. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    Because it is not an air gap? Since when can you not use a Vent as a drain. I agree this may not be code, even though he said it was, but please let me know how to get it to code using an air gap.
  13. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    Sorry, the system is not in the attic. In the garage, but the drain line goes up and across the attic to the vent to drain down. I'll try to get more pictures.
  14. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

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    330
    Location:
    USA
    look up 'air gap' on google. you don't understand what an air gap is. here, look at this:
    http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&...=69&ndsp=35&ved=1t:429,r:28,s:69&tx=133&ty=49



    every fixture needs a vent. when you use your washing machine's vent below, you send that wastewater from the softener past that trap and it may siphion that trap, as it no longer has a vent. you need a separate line underneath the washing machine drain to come up from where it is to the attic and then you can drain your softener into it. your softener p trap needs a vent as well, tied in after the p trap before it goes into the drain. tie this vent into the one coming from your washing machine.
  15. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX

    Gary,

    The filter is a Whirlpool whole house filter that does a backwash every couple of weeks. The reason there are two drain lines is because I called the manufacturer of the filter "Whirlpool" and they stated many times to me that the drain for their filter cannot tie into a water softener drain. They must be run separately. It cost me more to do it this way, but I was going by what Whrilpool said. It kinda made since to me as well, because the water could go back into the other unit and contaminate it. The size was also recommended by the Whirlpool rep. They said if the run is more than 25 feet, I needed to go to one inch drain. So I had the plumber do the 1" drain instead of the 1/2" for the filter and keep the softener drain line seperate. So I ha the plumber do them separate all the way to this point where they go into the p trap and down the vent.

    So the elbow on the top of the drain in this picture is a concern because water will freeze underneath it causing the PVC to break?

    The softener is below the attic, but runs across the attic at a slight downhill slope until it reaches this point in the pic where it rises just before the elbow. I can get a better pic of the rest of the run. It is PEX (the blue line) but I was told by the softener dealer that increasing the size wouldn't be necessary as long as it doesn't go more than 8 feet up.

    So in summary... if I'm reading this correctly, you say I should have used a smaller drain line for the filter and larger drain line for the softener, and I should do something to fix where the elbow is on the top in this picture?
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2012
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The height of the drain line is the critical part, not the length of the run downhill to the drain.

    If the height is over 8' from the drain line connection on the control valve up to where it goes horizontal or downhill, you increase the ID of the drain line but... 3/4" would have been more than enough. AND THEN you could tee the softener line into that filter line instead of running a separate line. Both use the same water so there is no contamination in one and not the other.

    The reason you could do that is due to the filter and softener being set to backwash and regenerate at different times; like one starts at least 30 minutes after the first one has finished; although they shouldn't be set to do their thing on the same night in some cases, like a low producing well. The filter should do its thing first.

    You must get rid of the belly in the softener drain line so it can all drain out instead of freezing. The foam will not add any heat to the water so it isn't going to prevent freezing. The freeze would occur a bit later than with no foam.

    BTW, I agree with your plumber with the exception of the trap. The hole in the side of the vertical pipe being used as an air gap allows any odor out of the vertical line so the trap serves no purpose and causes a potential freeze problem. Well, I wouldn't have used PEX either, I would have used 3/4" PVC IF I had to increase the ID. 3/4" PEX does not have a 3/4" ID, it is smaller because PEX, copper and CPVC maintain the OD because they are all copper tubing size (CTS), not iron pipe size (IPS) that maintains the ID.

    If the height was less than 8' I would have used one piece of regular (5/8"OD) opaque PE drain line and teed the softener into the filter line about 3' past the connection on the filter.
  17. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
    49
    Location:
    TX
    Ok, I have included some more pictures for clarification.
    As for the softener drain using the PEX 1/2 ID (5/8 OD) it goes up from the softener about 6 feet, but then as you can see in the pictures it doesn't really go down hill the entire way, especially at the end where it goes up the elbow. So would this existing PEX be ok if I maybe just fastened it to the underside of the roof in that corner so that it goes up a couple more feet creating more of a down hill?

    What about just tying it into that 1" PVC in the attic that the filter is using and remove the rest of the PEX so that they go down one 1" line across the attic. Any other ideas of how I should salvage this, or should I just remove both drain lines and do exactly as you said Gary.

    Please help as I have our first freeze coming in a couple of weeks.

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  18. hobiecatter

    hobiecatter New Member

    Messages:
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    Location:
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    Now for where the drain exits into the vent stack... I just had this plumber do this whole install a couple of weeks ago and I was talked into the air break instead of an air gap so I need to get that part figured out so I can have them come out and fix it to code. I want it right because when I go to sell the house I don't want an inspector ripping it apart because it was not installed correctly. From EVERY WHERE I read on this site and other sites on the internet with the same situation, they all say it is OK to go into the the vent stack in the attic IF you are using an air gap. Except for Chad Schloss on this thread. He is the only one that says even an air gap will not work and I need to install a new drain pipe to come in below the washer drain...?

    Anyways, I am also seeing some say an air BREAK is also ok and this is where I was talked into one by my plumber. The PVC below the elbow where the softener drain line comes in which is PEX, does not have any kind of a gap or break in the pipe. He told me just this design is called an air gap and that it works the same but without having any splash. So if I need to get him to come back out and put a proper air gap in, I will.

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  19. Chad Schloss

    Chad Schloss Member

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    i'm not a plumber, as i stated in my orig. post. I do know that you are not supposed to drain any fixture into another fixture's vent like the way you have it. that's all i said. you may think it is ok and some small town plumber and inspector may ok it, but it is not the correct way to do it from everything i have ever read about plumbing on here or other sites. do as you wish, it's not my house.
  20. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

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    739
    Location:
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    I just talked to my brother-in-law who is a master plumber in Florida. I explained your set up and he said, "That is illegal". You can not dump into the vent stack of another devise. I told him what Chad said about sucking the water out of the other p-trap and he said yes it sure will. Thanks Chad. I will not have thought that would happen. What you might want to do is to get ahold of the building inspector and have them inspect it. If they pass it, then you are fine.
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