Discharge from Iron Filter and Water Softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Brook, Sep 8, 2019.

  1. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    Background ... I live in a bungalow (single story house) over a 4 to 5 foot crawlspace with a rocky (bedrock) floor. My water supply is a 50' well with a significant mineral content ... mostly iron, manganese and calcium. And since it's a heavily treed area, a not insignificant amount of stinky sulphur. When we moved here 20 years ago, it had an abandoned iron filter using PP and a softener, that used bags of salt per week and that didn't get rid of all the minerals. Whoever put the original devices in plumbed them STRAIGHT into a DWV pipe 1/2" copper. Ouch!

    So we decided on a new softener and an iron filter and asked that they plumb the discharge properly.

    The drain to the septic system leaves the house about 16" below the first floor joists and the house main drain is horizontal about 12" below the joists. This winter we had several blockages in the septic pipe and the main drain (partly from freezing) and on several occasions the drains backed up and out of the standpipe pouring questionable water around the basement (since it's on bedrock it doesn't drain away too quickly!) Of course the main worry is back transmission of anything up the softener and filter's discharge tubes.


    I've got to change that somehow! A few inches higher and it will flood into the shower and a few inches higher and it will be in the bathtub!

    Any ideas? I'm wondering about another pumped out holding tank to get a little more height.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I think you are mainly describing a septic system problem, right?
    Pump the softener into a really big laundry sink maybe?

    Maybe have the iron system discharge several feet above ground onto a lawn place where the water will run away or stay for a while as an iceberg?

    I am not a pro.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
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  4. Brook

    Brook New Member

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    Oct 17, 2014
    Yup that's why I said Discharge. Code I understand requires that it goes into the septic system. Even if I pump into a holding tank, I still have the problem of what happens if the house drain backs up. The only advantage is that the tank will provide isolation of the water system from the DWV system. Just need a sump pump to pump it out into the DWV but may not need an air break.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    It? Which is "it"?-- both drains?

    What code says that you can't dump the iron filter backwash onto the lawn? Does your iron filter use some chemical, or what?

    Regardless, if the drain to your septic tank freezes shut, you should address that. Maybe you could get something above the ground where the pipe travels to give you more insulation.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2019
  6. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    "It" refers to both the water softener (salt) and iron filter (air injection, not chemical) ... they are not allowed to discharge outside.

    I am trying to deal with the existing septic system without changing it, because to do so will be a can of worms so big I'd go bankrupt!

    Bottom line is my concern for the discharge for the filter and softener being only inches above the main drain for the house. The standpipe they are using is below the flood plane of everything else in the house and has contact to the incoming water supply via the softener and filter. At least if the shower or bathtub back up, effluent doesn't come within a couple FEET of potable water.
     
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Your iron filter discharge should be no problem for the yard. Consider it reuse of water, if there is a question. You don't want to drain the softener onto the yard.

    But I think the problem you describe is this. If you feed the septic, you don't want the lowest exit to be hidden in the basement. If the septic drain line backs up, you would rather it backed up into a tub or shower, where you can see it.

    The good news is that you can probably run the drain lines up from the basement, and have the drainage discharge into a standpipe or laundry tub that is on that higher floor. For that to work reliably, you would want the water pressure to be able to overcome the rise of another 10 ft, which translates to a pressure of roughly 5 psi. If your water pressure into the iron filter and softener can be set to 35 psi or more, you should be able to run 3/4 inch pipe to the higher floor. If you don't have that pressure, then a more detailed analysis could be run.
     
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    As Reach4 mentioned, the drain lines can be run up to be the highest point in the house. Another possibility would be to run them into a backflow preventer on the sewer line. That would also prevent sewage from above to overflow into the crawlspace.
    The air gap would mean however that if the sewer drain plugs, the backwash will still overflow so you would want some sort of sump alarm to sense the overflow.
     
  9. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    I can certainly find somewhere to put a standpipe higher than other flood plane levels (like the shower! I just had a horrible thought about that shower tray though! Modern shower trays are very shallow but that's another worry!)

    Moving the standpipe to the main floor, I can overflow clean water back down into a sump barrel in the crawlspace. The standpipe only needs to go about 3 feet above the softener and iron filter and even if it fills the sump clean water isn't a disaster. Putting a backflow preventer on the sewage pipe might also be a good idea to stop backflow into the shower. The bath wouldn't be a huge disaster.

    Water pressure is 55/35 and could go up if needed.

    LLigetfa - you'll understand the problem with running iron filter water outside in the winter up here in the GWN! -30C ... 1 to 1.5 m of snow! I presume you're up North of Superior :)
     
  10. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    It seems your main concern is the possibility of freezing and blockage of the sewer line between the house and septic tank. As the problem is with the septic configuration, a new water softener and iron filter are only relevant due to the water they discharge, possibly backing-up into the home during regeneration throughout the winter.

    As previously suggested, is there a possibility for additional soil to be added above the sewer pipe, effectively burying the pipe deeper? If that is not doable, could the soil surrounding the pipe be temporarily removed so as to add insulation directly to the pipe? Perhaps multiple layers of expanding spray foam sprayed onto the pipe will provide enough R-value, so ground frost will have less effect, and the heat generated from bacterial action within the septic tank will be adequate to prevent the pipe from freezing.

    As a further idea, maybe an electric heat cable, similar to those used for rooftop ice damming, could be buried directly beside or below the pipe. If a thermostat wired remote sensor is also buried at the same depth, the supplemental electric heat would only be activated when the sensor measures a specific temperature.

    Although a less direct and more temporary approach, bales of straw or sheets of extruded 2" foam covering the ground above the pipe may possibly delay frost penetration and reduce frost depth. If 4' X 8' sheets are used, they could extend 2' or 4' to each side of the centerline of the pipe, providing a wide swath where the frost depth may be less. If the foam is covered with staked tarps, that should prevent UV degradation of the foam while also holding the foam sheets in-place before they are covered with snow.
     
  11. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I keep both the iron filter and the softener drains out of my septic tank. They go into my sump pump pit and are pumped from there to the surface into a ditch. The chloride is detrimental to the trees near the discharge during times of drought when there is no rain runoff to dilute it. I have a few dead trees I need to cull because of it.

    My sump pump line exits the house and goes deep below frost for about 20 feet before it turns vertical and comes to the surface. The line is insulated and does not have any check valve so the vertical portion drains back to the pit. The horizontal run does not drain back. Where the 1-1/4" line exits, I have an air gap into a 4" sloping drain that is about a foot deep out to the ditch where it then breaks to the surface. It has never frozen in 20 years.

    There is a long swale that drains my yard into the ditch. The air gap is beside the swale and the 4" drain is under the swale. I shovel snow into the swale and ditch so it has good snow cover all Winter.
     
  12. Brook

    Brook New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2014
    Bannerman ... I have actually been thinking about putting extruded foam over the septic line ... 2" of foam would be like adding nearly a couple feet of depth. I have about 4" of foam over the well to house pipe because of it being so shallow also. The problem is really that the house was built on bedrock with the top of the foundation wall only a couple inches above grade. So the septic tank sits too high as well! The house was built at a time when the home inspection, I'm sure, was done in the neighbourhood bar. The original owner built it for himself. He was apparently a builder although I have my doubts!

    LLigetfa ... Lucky you that your yard drains into a ditch. If there was a ditch, it would drain into my house, just like my neighbours! My crawlspace maybe gets wet about a week in spring thaw. One neighbour has to get 3 sump pumps going to stay dry and the other has water flow in one side of the basement and flow out the other side! Terrain here is really quite weird.

    Anyway, I think I have the answer to the problem of the isolation of the water conditioners waste output isolation from the septic system ... Thanks for that guys.
     
  13. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
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