Water softener drain issues

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MJDGator

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So I had a water softener installed and it is having issues during the regen. It is not siphoning water out of the brine tank during the brine draw. I have a long drain that is 1/2" hard pipe. The drain setup is as follows: PVC coming off of the valve drain connection through an inline check valve then straight up approx 5'. The drain then runs horizontally along the wall then across the top of the garage for a total of about 30' (all horizontal). Then the drain runs down 8 feet back towards the ground and through the block wall to the outside where it ties in to the sewer cap. I can see water flow all the way through the drain set up for the first 30 seconds or so of the brine draw and then it stops. When that happens the brine water is no longer getting pulled from the brine tank and it is actually trickling back in to the brine tank. I disconnected the drain line and just ran 6' of 1/2" hose to a bucket and what happens is the first 30 seconds of the brine draw is heavy flow. Then the remaining 60 minutes is almost a slow trickle. I wonder if that trickle is no not enough pressure to keep the in-line check valve open thus causing the backup? Or is the 5' of elevation causing the issue?
Valve injector ratings: BLFC .2 gpm, DLFC 2.4 gpm
I am thinking about scrapping that drain setup and going to 3/4" pipe with no in-line check valve and just the air gap at the end either just inside the garage on the downward flow section or just outside the garage where it exits the wall. But I don't want to go through that if the elevation of the drain is the issue and not the valve.

Thoughts?
 

Reach4

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I don't know what is causing your symptom, but it is not your long drain line.

Instructions would have called for you to use 3/4, but it's only carrying 2.4 gpm. So in practice, that is not causing your symptom.

It will be interesting to see what it turns out to be.

You probably want to identify your softener valve.
 

Bannerman

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The drain is usually pressurized by the plumbing system pressure so assuming your water pressure is not unusually low, elevating the drain line 5' should in itself not be a problem

A softener installation manual will often specify a larger diameter drain line is to be utilized when the drain length is to be greater than a specific distance, often 15'. Although 1/2" diameter is common for shorter distances, increasing the drain diameter to 3/4" will help to reduce the frictional restriction which can occur within a longer run. As your 1/2" drain exceeded the usually recommended length, I suspect the 5' rise plus the check-valve added to the restriction occurring within that long drain length.

As the drain line is to drop 8' before being discharged, there is potential for negative pressure to occur in the softener's drain at all times, and within the softener if the softener's drain valve is ever opened when the incoming water is shut off. If an air gap is not located at the drain line's highest point, consider installing an inline vacuum breaker device at the top of the verticle drop. A VB device will allow air into the drain line when there is negative pressure on its outlet, thereby allowing all water in the verticle section to quickly drain and eliminate any potential of negative pressure on the softener.

While an air gap is important to prevent cross-contamination where the softener's drain line is to connect to the sewer/septic system, a 'P' trap will also be required. The trap is to prevent sewer gas from escaping from the sewer/septic system. Even if the connection is to be outdoors, with no trap, sewer gas may find its way into your garage space.
 

Mikey

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When you tested it, did you disconnect the drain line before or after the check valve?
 

Mikey

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Yeah, I'm with Reach4; it isn't your drain line. Don't know anything about the SoftPro, but most valves I'm familiar with use source water pressure to siphon brine from the brine tank. If the source flow deteriorates, the siphon fails. After doing its siphon thing, the source water goes to drain. So if you're seeing the drain quantity diminish, there's a constraint in source water flow -- either the source itself or restriction in the valve. Caution - I am far from a pro...
 

MJDGator

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I'm going to pull the check valve and do a manual regen probably over the weekend and see what happens.
 

MJDGator

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I removed the check valve and then ran a manual regen. Still a no go. The water was not being emptied from the brine tank when running through the long elevated drain. Again it works fine when using a 6 foot hose so its not clogged. I'm wondering instead of messing with this long drain to the sewer can I set up some sort of gravel bed under the mulch and have it drain right out of the side of the garage? Then the drain would be about 10 feet long and not elevated.
 

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Reach4

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Again it works fine when using a 6 foot hose so its not clogged.
Again??? What words did you use to say that the softener worked fine with a 6 ft drain line? That changes everything. I thought you said it did not work fine with the 6 ft hose.
 

Bannerman

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While the advice offered will be often applicable to most softeners, it will mainly apply to softeners equipped with Fleck and Clack control valves since they are the two brands most commonly recommended on this forum. Perhaps your SoftPro valve does not operate in a similar manner. Does the SoftPro installation manual specify any restriction to drain height or drain tube length?

With regard to draining into the soil beside your garage foundation, are there any local building/plumbing/environmental code restrictions addressing discharge to the environment? Could the salty discharge effect your building's structural support?

Perhaps the drain length is the larger issue vs height. You could connect a shorter length of drain tubing long enough to drain into a bucket, start Brine Draw while the tubing is lower than the softener valve, and raise the open end and bucket to the height needed. If brine draw ceases, then the height is likely the issue whereas if it continues and will start with the open end raised, you could then consider installing a 1.5" diameter stand pipe up to the height needed, to continue for the remaining distance. The pressurized softener drain line could then discharge through an air gap at the higher elevation location, directly into the stand pipe, so as to flow by gravity for the remaining distance to the sewer/septic connection location.
 
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MJDGator

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Again??? What words did you use to say that the softener worked fine with a 6 ft drain line? That changes everything. I thought you said it did not work fine with the 6 ft hose.
I guess it is a little confusing the way I stated it. When I run it through the 6 foot drain hose it works fine. Which means a 10 second burst of high flow then slows to a trickle for the whole 60 minutes. At the end of the 60 minutes the brine tank is basically drained off water. The slow trickle during the brine draw seems to be the issue with trying to have an elevated drain.
 

Reach4

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I guess it is a little confusing the way I stated it. When I run it through the 6 foot drain hose it works fine. Which means a 10 second burst of high flow then slows to a trickle for the whole 60 minutes. At the end of the 60 minutes the brine tank is basically drained off water. The slow trickle during the brine draw seems to be the issue with trying to have an elevated drain.
The brine should be drawn out in about the first 15 minutes of the 60 minutes.

The flow should be much slower than during the backwash.
 

MJDGator

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Thanks for the help everyone. I found the issue. A spec of carbon partially blocking the brine draw injector. Now everything is flowing like a champ through the long elevated drain.
 

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Reach4

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Thanks for the help everyone. I found the issue. A spec of carbon partially blocking the brine draw injector. Now everything is flowing like a champ through the long elevated drain.
Interesting. You might also check the injector screen, if you did not do so already.
 
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