A brief answer to the question posed in the title: maybe!
A more complex answer is going to require quite a bit of knowledge about septic systems and water softeners. We’ll go over the important factors in a very general sense. Why? Because there are several types of septic system and water softeners. In this article, we’re going to talk about water softeners that use a brine solution as a regenerator.
Hard water is highly mineralized water. While it’s not necessarily harmful to human health (and in some cases has health benefits), it does reduce how efficient cleaning products are when you use it for washing. In order to get rid of these minerals, the water softeners we’re concerned with, use systems full of small beads that attract the minerals in the water, cleaning it. These beads can only hold so many minerals, though, so another solution is required to wash the minerals away. This solution is very salty water known as brine which attracts the minerals and is then flushed away. When you have a septic tank, that’s where the solution ends up.
The main concern with water softeners and septic systems is this salty solution. Septic systems use bacteria in order to clean wastewater. The fear some scientists have is that the brine could negatively affect those bacteria, rendering them less capable of processing waste. A couple of studies on this found that water softeners had no effect on the functioning of septic systems; what’s more, they may actually make septic systems more efficient.
At this point, you might be asking yourself why the brief answer to the question was “maybe” when it seems there’s concrete evidence of the effect (or lack thereof) of water softeners on septic systems. The answer to that question lies in one of the keys of science: just because a few studies say something is true, doesn’t mean it truly is. In this case, there were some potential problems with the studies that were conducted – chiefly, their testing of aerobic, rather than anaerobic septic systems. Although anaerobic septic systems are much more common, there have been fewer studies on the use of softeners in conjunction with those septic systems.
And now you know more than you may have ever wanted to about septic systems and water softeners! Have any questions about hard water or septic systems? Call us; we’re your Winnipeg plumbing contractors and we’re more than happy to answer any concerns you may have. Want even more knowledge on this subject? Check out this overview by the University of Wisconsin. Enjoy!