Problem with neutralizer backwash cycle causing water overflow and spillage

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Hollow Man, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    CT
    A small update, although not that much to add. The system ran tonight and still overflowed. My estimation is about 3-5 gallons spilled. For the heck of it, a few minutes after the system stopped regenerating, I flushed toilets and ran water, and saw and heard no problems whatsoever.

    Since it was above 50 degrees today, and was above freezing yesterday, that pretty much rules out an issue with something frozen in the pipes or septic system.

    Curiously enough, in the last minute or so of the regeneration, it seemed to settle and more or less stop overflowing. Since I haven't seen this happen before, and I can't imagine the water flow is lessened at the end of the cycle, I really wonder if this is an indication that there's something about the way it's connected into my drain lines that's causing an issue. Seems unlikely (because if this was the case, why doesn't the problem with flooding occur instantly?), but the fact that it started to stop overflowing as the cycle ended is very odd.

    -Gregg
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Exactly how and where does the drain line tie in to the waste system?
  3. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    CT
    Here's a photo. I apologize in advance if it's a bit big. The backwash line is the transparent tube entering the top of the pipe. It's overflowing out of the hole right underneath it. As you can see it goes down, does an elbow loop, then heads left into the main drainage system, which continues straight for about 50 feet, when it then exits the house.

    photo.jpg
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Have you taken the trap apart to see if there's any obstruction in there?
  5. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    CT
    Not yet...I'd probably mess it up! :) The installer is coming next week to check the system, whether the flow is set properly, etc. I can also have him check the trap. I'm also waiting for my contractor to get back to me about the possibility of checking the rest of the line/septic for blockages.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,938
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Something to consider, the air gap may have difficulty handling the flow rate of the Calcite system. Make sure it is rated for the high flow rate of the calcite system. The proper flow rate for the backwash of the 12" calcite tank should be around 8-10 GPM.
    Also, the fast rinse can be reduced considerably. I would set it to no more than 5 minutes. You mentioned it was currently at 12 minutes. You can also extend the time between the 2 cycles if your septic is having problems. Extending the time between cycles is not te correct solution, a properly operating septic system should be able to handle the volume, but... Let us know what you find.
  7. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    CT
    An update:

    The guys who installed the system came out and extended the wait time between the backwash and rinse from 5 minutes to one hour. This helps a bit, and once (out of three times) it didn't overflow at all, but it's not perfect.

    Since I'm still entertaining the idea that their may be a blockage, I went down to the local health department to get the records on my septic system. While there I spoke to one of their inspectors, and he told me it was, in fact, illegal for them to have hooked up the system to my existing septic.

    Armed with that information, I called back the installers, and they said while they have protection in place so contaminants cannot flow back into the house, they also normally tell people about installing a separate small leeching field/drywell (and claims they have lost business when people find out about the extra cost). I explained they they most certainly did not tell me about this, because if it had been explained to me that this was in fact an illegal hookup, no matter what protection they can put in place to prevent health hazards, I certainly would've gone with a legal option. I also pointed out it was not mentioned in my proposal/contract, and had copies to prove it. I also pointed out that when I started complaining about a flooding issue, that would've been the time for them to say, "Well, we told you there could be issues hooking it up to your existing drainage line."

    Upshot: they admitted to not doing this properly, they're going to come out again to try to tweak the cycles a bit more for the short term, and then install a separate drainage area for it in April, once the snow softens (we had over 30" due to the blizzard, and it's now as hard as a rock).

    -Gregg
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2013
  8. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
  9. Hollow Man

    Hollow Man New Member

    Messages:
    15
    Location:
    CT
    Yeah, it's illegal to dump it into the septic tank, period. It sounds like it's a concern about contamination coming back into the house. The installer told me they have preventative measures in place for that, BUT, I wouldn't have gone ahead with this solution, no matter what workarounds they have, unless it was 100% legal to do so.

    -Gregg
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You may have one of those cleanable filters in the outlet of the septic tank that needs to be cleaned. Or you have a failing or undersized septic system IMO.

    So now you are going to go with a in ground drain which for the AN filter is not bad but it is for a softener due to the salt water contaminating your well IF the drain is inside the well recovery area in your yard. The AN filter drain water could flush contaminates in the soil into the well recovery area or the well itself also.

    Residential septic saystems are sized based on the number of bedrooms and 2 people each to each bedroom. Most houses never have that many people living in the house at the same time so no septic system that is sized properly and not damaged by broken baffles or a sludge build up or from dumping grease, oils or cleansers or products that kill bacteria etc. should not have a problem accepting a water filter or softener discharge.

    Your air gap is EPA approved and trapped as required by codes. If this was mine, I'd be grateful of learning about a problem with my septic system and fixing it ASAP before it quits working all together. And I'd be leave the filter drain as it is instead of running a risk of contaminating my well; but that's just me, I don't suffer government foolishness very well.
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