The Ultimate Guide For Buying The Best Water Softener For Septic Systems

Water softeners have become essential to us, especially in areas where there is excessive hardness in the water. It has also raised the question as to the use of water softeners, how it improves the quality of life, and how it is linked to the septic systems.

But, before understanding how hard water can affect septic tanks, let us understand all about hard water and the need for water softeners. 

Hard Water and Its Effects

effects of hard water

Hard water is water that has a large number of minerals, such as calcium and magnesium. It also has other heavy metals that are harmful and cause several problems to our homes and our health. It causes scaling on household appliances, pipes, and plumbing. It leaves us with dry and itchy skin, dull hair, and an increase in the use of soaps and cleaning solutions.

The impact of using water softeners?

Water softeners help improve the quality of water by removing magnesium and calcium through a process called ion exchange with sodium. Sodium chloride gets added to the water softener system as a source of sodium ions.
However, it also increases the sodium chloride levels in the water that is used in this regeneration process. The backwash also has high concentration levels of magnesium and calcium.  

Water softeners come with a media tank and a brine tank. The resin beads in the media tank trap the particulates and minerals. The brine tank has salt or potassium to clean the resin so that the hard minerals can be sent into the drain, and a new batch of minerals can be trapped. This process is repeated each time, ensuring that only softened water is distributed into your home. 

To understand the connection between hard water and septic systems, let us review the components of a septic system.

Components of a septic system

septic tank

A septic system includes a septic tank, a distribution box, and a drain field. They are all connected through pipes. The wastewater flows through these pipes and reaches the septic tank, where the sludge sinks to the bottom, leaving the scum to float. The bacteria that occur due to human waste works on the sludge and scum to initiate the decomposing process.

As more and more water gets released into the septic tank, the partially decomposed water drains and enters the drain field. 

When you have hard water, you tend to use a greater amount of soap and cleaning solutions to get the required lather or soap suds. When only hard water enters the septic tank, it comes with other consequences such as the higher level of cleaning solutions used in the house, the detergents and chemicals, etc.

Just as the hard water affects the plumbing and pipes inside the house and from the main water supply, it can also affect the components of the septic tank.

While the water softeners can minimise the drainage of strong cleaning solutions into the septic tank, they could increase the sodium chloride levels flowing into the septic tank. The regenerated backwash causes increased salinity that can damage concrete septic tanks over time. It can also alter the pH levels required for the bacteria to work efficiently. The bacteria from human waste help digest the organic waste in the septic tank. When the bacteria are affected, wastewater treatment becomes ineffective. 

Having hard water in homes, using water softeners, and how they affect septic tank systems are all connected. 

Why do you need demand initiated water softener for septic systems?

There are two types of water softeners – demand-initiated regeneration (DIR) and timer-based systems. The DIR water softener measures the water usage, average water hardness and determines when it should regenerate.
The demand-initiated regeneration water softeners are more efficient and save water and salt usage. It is why DIR water softeners are the better choice for septic systems.

The volume of water discharged by a DIR system is around the same amount of water as a load of laundry. Moreover, since the DIR only regenerates when necessary, there is no overload of backwash from the softener. The discharged solution has a greater ratio of magnesium and calcium ions to sodium. 

On the other hand, the timer-based water softeners work on a predetermined timeframe, which is not always accurate.

Which is the best water softener for septic systems in 2021?

After considerable testing and review, we have found that the Tier1 Everyday Series 48,000 Grain Water Softener is the best and especially suited for septic systems in 2021. Our review and selection are based on available water softeners in the market suitable for working with septic systems. 

Why you should trust us?

We look beyond the brand names and customer popularity. By studying the market and understanding the qualities of hard water and how it can damage household appliances and your health, septic systems, and their types, we have selected the top six water softeners that are best suited for septic systems. 

List of 6 Best DIR Water Softener For Septic Systems

1. Tier1 Everyday Series 48,000 Grain Water Softener  (Top Pick)

tier1 water softener

The Tier1 Everyday Water Softener is combined with the Tier1 Ultra-Filtration Drinking Water Filter System to target contaminants. The Tier1 Everyday Water Softener helps with dry skin and hair. It also reduces the scaling of pipes due to hard water. It comes with an easy-to-use LCD with all the operational information.

The unit is easy to install with quick fittings and a power cord. It has a brine tank, mineral tank, valve with bypass and adapter, and the addition of the 4-stage under sink system. Its Ultra-Filtration System features Tier1’s innovative twist and lock filter change design and provides clean, great-tasting water for your entire house. This softener is by far the best for septic systems as compared with others available in the market.

Also, we have found this useful video on how to install Tier1 48, 000 Grain Water Softener. Do check it out.

Pros

1. The Tier1 Everyday Series 48,000 Grain Water Softener has a manual regeneration option.
2. It can be installed inside the house or outside, even in above-freezing temperatures.
3. It comes with instructions and quick fittings for installation, and strong customer support.
4. The bypass valve lets you divert water away during maintenance.
5. You can install it even in small spaces. 
6. It has an easy-to-read electronic display and simplified programming.

Cons

1. The 48,000-grain capacity is average; it could be better.
2. It needs a more informative user manual and instructions 

2. AFWFilters 5600sxt Metered On-demand 48,000 Grain Water Softener with brine tank

afw filters

The Fleck 5600sxt Digital on-demand Metered Water Softener has a paddle wheel meter (BR5600SMS-SXTPW) and is made in the USA. It is a Black Structural 10×54″ PG 2.5T (CH30579-03010203-30), with a 14 “x34″ black square brine tank that has a safety float. It includes a Fleck bypass valve (60049) and 1” male threaded yoke connection. It can treat up to 12 GPM service flow rates (28 GPM peak) and is perfect for six people in a home with moderate to very hard water. 

Pros

1. The Fleck 5600sxt Digital on-demand Metered Water Softener can extend the life of any home appliances
2. It provides better water for drinking and bathing
3. It comes with an adaptable installation
4. It recharges automatically
5. It is budget-friendly
6. There are no issues with water pressure.

Cons

1. The unit is a little unstable because the back of the control head is connected with a few fittings.

3. Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener (RUNNER UP)

Whirlpool water softener

The Whirlpool WHES30E is ideal for households of 1-4+ people and can remove up to 8ppm of clear water (ferrous) iron. It is NSF certified to reduce symptoms such as stains, scaling on your plumbing and faucets, and spotting on dishes. The Whirlpool water softeners automatically calculate how much water and salt is required to regenerate. This ensures that there are significant salt and water savings.

It comes with a full 1-year warranty on parts and service. You can add to the warranty period by two years when you buy three bottles of Whirlpool WHEWSC water softener cleaner (sold separately). It is designed, engineered, and assembled in the USA.

Pros

1. The Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener has a compact design
2. It is good value for money and is efficient. 
3. It is budget-friendly. 
4. It has a salt saving technology
5. The Whirlpool WHES30E is ideal for families having 4 to 5 people
6. It has a high resin capacity
7. The system is easy to install and easy to use. 

Cons

1. The display is not as clear as it can be.

4. EcoPure EP31 31,000 Grain Softener 

Ecopure Ep31

The EcoPure EP31 31,000 Grain Softener has salt-saving technology, as Autosense calculates how much salt and water is required for regeneration. It only uses what is absolutely necessary, resulting in a significant reduction in salt and water usage. It is NSF-certified to reduce hard water symptoms such as hard stains, scaling on your pipes and plumbing, spotting on kitchen utensils, and ensuring appliances’ longevity. It has intuitive programming controls, low salt indicator light, and it is a compact single tank design. The EcoPure EP31 is an exact-fit replacement for Kenmore water softening systems. 

Pros

1. EcoPure EP31 31,000 Grain Softener has an Autosense technology to calculate how much salt and water is necessary. 
2. It is NSF-certified
3. The EcoPure31 is of a compact design and has a single tank.

Cons

1. The EcoPure31 is only suitable for families up to 4 people
2. It can only remove iron up to 8 ppm
3. It doesn’t remove chlorine

5. WaterBoss 36,400 Grain Water Softener System

waterboss softener

The WaterBoss 36,400 Grain Water Softener System is a highly efficient tank as a whole house softener. It saves water and uses the least amount of salt necessary for regeneration. A 10 GPM water flow rate at 15 psi drop provides minimal pressure drop to the water flow. It works for the city and well water. The features include a built-in self-cleaning sediment filter.

WaterBoss 36,400 Grain Water Softener System can soften up to 90 grains per gallon, reduce up to 10ppm of ferrous iron, and filter dirt and sediment. The factory-installed bypass helps extend filter longevity.
The system is compact and has a shut-off option for safe operation. It softens water in 26 minutes using less salt, water, and electricity. The user-friendly controls allow easy setting levels of softness and salt. The unit comes with water test strips, an 8 ft drain line, an overflow elbow, and a 12v transformer, 5-year warranty on the controller.

Pros

1. The WaterBoss 36,400 Grain Water Softener System is a compact, attractive design.
2. It comes with comprehensive instructions for installation.
3. The digital controller has a variety of optional settings
4. The powerCleanTM feature for use when high levels of iron are present in the water
5. The demand led regeneration is based on water flow, with a timed regeneration as an option
6. The system has high efficiency or high capacity regeneration options
7. It has a built-in self-cleaning sediment filter.

Cons

1. The unit may not be suitable for chlorinated water supply.
2. The screws are exposed to salt and tend to corrode, causing leaks.
3. The magnetic wheel design may need to be improved.

6. Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener 

aquasure water softener for home

The Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener reduces hardness in the water and eliminates scale, spot build-up for the entire home. It is rated to treat 48,000 grains of hardness by removing skin-damaging hard minerals like iron and magnesium. It is equipped with Aquatrol Advanced Digital On-Demand Meter Control Head, in and out bypass, 1″ NPT Male Adapter, and prefilled premium quality resin. For optimum regeneration, cleaning, and performance, the features include time-delayed, metered, and manual double backwash. It is constructed of high strength corrosion-resistant fiberglass-lined polyethylene tank, durable bypass valve, and prefilled premium-grade resin. It also comes with a 5-year manufacturer warranty.

Pros

1. The Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener has a metered regeneration option that reduces wastewater and salt use. 
2. It has an easy-to-read backlit digital interface.
3. The bypass valve allows maintenance without turning off the water.
4. The high-capacity salt tank requires fewer refills.
5. The unit comes with a straightforward DIY installation.

Cons

1. The Aquasure Harmony Series 48,000 Grains Water Softener has a large salt tank and is heavy to move when full.

Most water softeners allow you to set the length of the regeneration cycle. However, the default regeneration cycles take between 30 and 60 minutes to complete. It is a practical time frame for most households.

If the regeneration cycle is too short, it could result in ineffective resin beads, and if the cycle is too long, it will increase the time you go without soft water.

Why it is important to have high performing water softener for septic systems?

The performance of a water softener can have an impact on the septic system. A high-performing water softener is essential for septic systems because it prevents excess brine solution during the regeneration cycle. Studies show that salt can affect bacteria in the septic system, thereby affecting the breakdown of solids in the wastewater. 

If you have a septic tank and a water softener, it’s vital to ensure that both systems work efficiently. This is why a high-performance water softener must be optimized for your needs.

How to maintain your septic system safely?   

⮞ Routine maintenance is an important part of an efficient septic system. Apart from regular maintenance, there are ways to prevent damage to the septic system. 
⮞ Pump the water in the septic tank. When more people use more water in the household, the septic tank will fill up that much faster. Therefore, it needs frequent pumping. 
⮞ Keep the lid of the septic tank closed firmly. An open septic tank can be a health hazard. It is also good to ensure that the covers are not cracked or show wear and tear over time. 
⮞ Be economical with water. Conserving water is good on many levels, including the lifespan of the septic system.

There are a few don’ts if you want to keep the septic system working at its optimum.

⮞ Ensure that you don’t flush anything that should go into the garbage disposal.
⮞ Ensure that household chemicals don’t go down the drain. These chemicals can destroy the bacteria in the septic tank. 
⮞ It is best to avoid using septic tank additives.

There are a few don’ts if you want to keep the septic system working at its optimum.

The Verdict

Our verdict is that Tier1 Everyday Series 48,000 Grain Water Softener is the best water softener for septic systems in 2021. It has a manual regeneration option and can be installed inside or outside the home regardless of freezing temperatures. The bypass valve allows you to divert the water away during regular maintenance. It is also suitable for small spaces. 

A close runner-up is Whirlpool WHES30E 30,000 Grain Softener. It is good value for money and is efficient. It has salt-saving technology, high resin capacity, and is ideal for small families. 

If your water contains very high amounts of minerals, it might require a higher-than-normal salt dose. 

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Can you use a water softener with an aerobic septic system?

You can use a water softener with an aerobic septic system without any negative impact on the bacteria in the tank. An aerobic septic system depends on the bacteria that use oxygen to dissolve the solids and nutrients in the wastewater. 

2. How many gallons of water does it take to regenerate?

In a family of approximately four people, they use around 35 to 65 gallons of water. The amount of water used can depend on the hardness of the water. Moreover, it depends on the size of the water softener as some of them may use 20 -25 gallons during regeneration. You can install a water softener in a rental, too. A compact water softener in design or used in point of use can be installed in apartments and condos. 

3. Can I drain my water softener into my sump pump?

Using a sump pump to discharge the brine from water softening is not a good idea. The saltwater may prove corrosive to the pump and its components over time and may damage the sump pump. 

4. Will salt water harm a septic system?

Whether saltwater harms a septic system or not is open to debate. One theory is that excessive saltwater can negatively impact the bacteria in the septic system that breaks down the solids. Saltwater can also damage the soil surrounding the drainfields around the septic system.

Ideally, it would be best if you tried to prevent the salt water from reaching the septic system by adding a salt miner. The salt miner will collect the salt from the water softening process in a bucket, and it can be emptied into the trash or recycled. 

5. What is a DIR water softener?

The DIR water softener measures the water usage, average water hardness and determines when it should regenerate. The DIR water softeners are more efficient because they reduce water and salt usage. It is why DIR water softeners are considered a better choice for septic systems. The amount of water that gets discharged by a DIR is around the same amount of water as a load of laundry.
Moreover, there is no overload of backwash from the softener. The discharged solution has a greater ratio of magnesium and calcium ions to sodium. 

6. Will a water softener cleanout pipes? 

Hard water enters homes with around 300 ppm of calcium carbonate. As it passes through a water softener, this level is reduced. As the softened water enters your pipes, it dissolves the limescale deposits from them. Over time, the water softener continues to flush out the pipes and into the drain. 

Conclusion

After considerable research and review, we have compiled pertinent information on the best water softener for septic systems and how it can eliminate scale build-up. With so many brands and water softeners in the market, choosing the right one can be overwhelming. You may find it easier to make a selection now that you have a shortlist of systems that cover the product details and their pros and cons. 

About The Author

Our Web Producer

Judith— a passionate water treatment specialist — is a waste water management enthusiast, clean drinking water advocate, and someone with deep personal experience and knowledge about various water equipments. Her work was mentioned in countless notable water associations. Previously she was an editor at Water Alliance.