Water Softener Drain Line

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by bioran, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. bioran

    bioran New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    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. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Location:
    Ontario California
    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.
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
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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.
  4. bioran

    bioran New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    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.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,791
    Location:
    Ontario California
    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.
  6. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

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    Location:
    Central Florida
    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.
  8. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Messages:
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    Location:
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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.
  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central Florida
    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: Jan 9, 2013
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    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: Jan 9, 2013
  11. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    Location:
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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.
  12. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Location:
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    Well I hadn't got around to reading it yet but......HJ is correct.
  13. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Central Florida
    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. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    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.
  15. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

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    Location:
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    S
    Heat tapes take awhile to warm up.
  16. bookemdanno

    bookemdanno New Member

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    Ohio
    You say you are retired, but you promote your website with a picture of two scantily clad women that look like one is spanking the other. Very strange indeed!
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You sound like a young man that is very impressionable with a weird imagination.
  18. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Location:
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    LOL, now thats funny.
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    You should be able to recognize it, it's a Fleck picture of bicyclists.
  20. bioran

    bioran New Member

    Messages:
    5
    Location:
    Massachusetts
    Thought I would follow up on what I did. I ended up using the drain into a barrel approach. The drain is running into the 32 gallon barrel and I have a small submersible sump pump with float running through a pex line up to the laundry drain. As I watched the system go through the discharge cycle a few times with my earlier trials, I (incorrectly) made a guess that it only seemed like about 10 or 15 gallons were used during the recharge. I wanted to let a recharge run into the barrel without the sump to confirm how much water it actually used to see if it was ok if the pump broke. You can probably see where this is going! Well it turns out the system used about 34 gallons. I woke up in the morning to my floor water alarm screaming from the basement. I was relieved to see it was only a couple gallons on the floor (it's unfinished and everything is raised off the floor so it's not that big deal for a couple gallons). Glad it didn't run through 80 gallons like Mikey estimated. I hooked up the pump last night and drained the barrel with no problems.

    I previously setup the outside drain line (1/2" OD, 3/8" ID) so that the highest point was inside the basement and it drained downward toward the outside. I also put a small hole on the top of the line just where it exited the house so no water would stay in the line outside the house. However, the water would still stay in the line just on the other side of the hole where it passes through the house and that's where it would freeze. I considered heating the line but the heaters I saw said not to use on drain lines and I didn't want a fire hazard.

    The only thing I think I'm going to change is to get a bigger barrel that can hold one recharge cycle. From Spring through Fall I will run it outside as I have been.

    Thanks for your help - this is a great site!
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