Author Topic: Suggestions? Water softener - drain pipe out of salt tank keeps getting clogged  (Read 242 times)

Turkey Leg

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What do people do when the salt tank drain pipe keeps getting clogged?

It stands to reason the pipe will clog since hard water (and salt) are exiting through it. So is there some sort of regular maintenance people do to that pipe to prevent eventual clogging?

We've had so many overflows with water everywhere in our utility room, so I'm hoping there's a solution. (I have an water alarm on the floor, but it's too late by then.)

Another question: Is there a salt-free water softening system you'd recommend? (Our Kinetico dual-tank system has to be 20 years old or so. Might be time for an upgrade.)

six-car-habit

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  MAybe a reverse osmosis unit, which forces water thru fine filters. Though this may be cost prohibitive for an individual home.

 Can you re-pipe the drain line in such a way that the whole pipe could just be swapped out every few years ?   Maybe you buy a few lengths of pipe, some elbows, pipe thread sealant, and keep them on hand ?   Or find a roll of Hose / tubing of the right size, clamp it in place between the unit and the floor drain[?] , and swap that out every other year.  Plus if you get see-thru tubing, you'll have an idea of the progress of the buildup.

  Short of mechanical scrubbing to remove the deposits, i'm not sure how you would even use chemicals to break down the salt restriction that only affects the drain line [?]

uniwelder

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I just installed a water softener, so I'm curious to see the responses.

@Turkey Leg --- how big is your drain line?  Mine came with a 3/4" rubber hose with probably 1/2" inside diameter, which I can imagine clogging like yours.  Are you using something similar or does it exit almost immediately to a 1 1/2 or 2" pvc pipe?  If it is just a rubber hose, do you at least have it pitching evenly downhill to drain completely so there aren't valleys that will trap liquid, which will then dry to form a salt deposit?

Turkey Leg

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@Turkey Leg --- how big is your drain line?  Mine came with a 3/4" rubber hose with probably 1/2" inside diameter, which I can imagine clogging like yours.  Are you using something similar or does it exit almost immediately to a 1 1/2 or 2" pvc pipe?  If it is just a rubber hose, do you at least have it pitching evenly downhill to drain completely so there aren't valleys that will trap liquid, which will then dry to form a salt deposit?

The drain line that goes down into the crawl space and out the foundation wall (installed when the house was built by the prior owners) is 1 1/2" black flexible piping. The salt tank's drain pipe is 1/2" clear flexible tubing that sticks down into the black pipe in our utility room. Our reverse osmosis system (drinking water spigot at the kitchen sink) also feeds down into that black pipe, alongside the salt tank drain pipe.

I snake the black pipe as far as I can (about 25 ft), and that helps, but whatever the black pipe is connected to outside might be the issue. (No idea what it's connected to. I don't think it goes to our septic tank and field. At least that's what the house inspector told us when we bought the house...you don't want it to drain to the septic tank and ours doesn't. Of course, our neighbor who just sold his house last month said the inspector told him it was supposed to drain to the septic tank. Rules out here in the country are a bit lax.)

We've tried that CLR stuff, which helps a bit, too.

Turkey Leg

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Can you re-pipe the drain line in such a way that the whole pipe could just be swapped out every few years ?   

We don't know where the pipe ends up...the black flexible pipe starts in the utility room floor and goes down into the crawl space and then through the concrete foundation to the outside somewhere. Maybe a french drain? Or a tile?

The septic system pipe that goes out the same foundation wall is about a foot away from the black salt tank drain pipe. (So we have two holes in the concrete in the same general area: one for the septic, one for the salt tank drain pipe.)

Sanitary Engineer

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Why does the brine tank need a drain and how does this affect operation of the softener? Maybe you are looking at the resin tank drain? I think your guess that the 1 1/2" black polyethylene pipe drains to a french drain is correct and I would think your overflow problem is because that french drain not longer functions. I would locate the end of your drain pipe, dig it up and redo the drain.  You may also be in groundwater and a french drain isn't appropriate.

Interestingly, from a drinking perspective, your home water system is removing beneficial minerals and replacing them with minerals we often have too much of in our bodies.  But that doesn't matter, because then you remove all the minerals and everything else but the H2O with your point of use RO and then add whatever mixture of minerals the RO unit you bought has in it.  Unless there are other contaminants of concern in your water being treated by other processes not yet mentioned, you might benefit by plumbing hard water from before the softener to your drinking water faucet, rather than maintaining an under counter RO unit. 



six-car-habit

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 You could be getting conflicting info on where the Salt drain line should be going into - the septic tank or not- based on different considerations or perspectives.
a] Too much salt could throw off the balance of microbes / bacteria in the septic holding tank that are usually helping break down the waste, so don't pipe it there.
b]  But the county may want to know that all the water / salt /and waste is going to one centrally managed drainfield, so put the pipe into the septic.

  I didn't realize it was the buried pipe that was the issue.  Maybe it's time to spend a day digging from the foundation outward to find where the Salt / ion exchange waste 1 1/2" pipe goes ?     

 When you say the 1 1/2" black pipe is flexible , do you mean it is just not completely rigid like metal pipe would be - or do you mean it is like dryer vent pipe that is " accordion style" ?     If it is the latter, i'd say replace it with pipe that has a smooth inner bore, so the saltwater would drain out faster, and keep moving quickly to it's final destination, because the pipe is at a constant slight angle downward.