The basic systems, such as the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems, determine the comfort of your house during the shifting weather season. In addition to keeping your family members comfortable, they highly impact the health of those who dwell in your home by ensuring factors such as enough heat during the cold winter night. However, for these systems to operate effectively, they need facilitation and other systems that work together to be in their best condition. Taking the plumbing system as an example, it requires regular maintenance and cleaning from a reliable plumber.
On the other hand, your plumbing system requires an adequate septic system to help drain the wastewater from your Arlington, TX home. However, the septic system operation also depends on regular cleaning services from a plumber and the type of water and its components. Unfortunately, the condition of a home’s plumbing and septic systems is not a constant thought for most homeowners. So long as the water is draining and nothing is compromising the water supply in the house, aspects such as having a professional regularly maintain the systems and what might affect the septic system are rarely considered. Therefore, this article will highlight the septic system’s operation and how water softeners can affect the septic system’s operation.
What Is a Septic System?
A septic system is an underground interconnection of components that processes sewage and wastewater from your home. Unlike popular belief, the septic system is not only composed of the septic tank. It has an interconnection of inlet and outlet pipes to aid in efficient disposal of waste from your home. In addition, most septic systems are not connected to the main sewage system; thus, they are common in rural or older properties.
A conventional septic system has three major parts: the septic tank, the drain field, and the soil. The primary purpose of a septic system in any home is to facilitate safe sewage digestion and disposal and wastewater disposal. Therefore, if you do not know much about your home’s septic system, you can ask a plumber about your septic system during the next maintenance visit.
How Does a Septic System Work?
As outlined earlier, a conventional septic system comprises a septic tank, a drain field, and soil, all interconnected with pipes. Understanding the components of your Arlington, TX, home’s septic system and how these systems work together is vital in understanding the potential problems this system can encounter. In addition, it helps you as a homeowner understand the importance of having a plumber clean it and ensure its proper operation.
A septic tank is a large watertight tank divided into two compartments. Most septic tanks have access ports at the top, which a plumber uses for inspection and service. The septic tank receives wastewater from your house through pipes. The primary purpose of a septic tank is to sieve fats, solids, grease, and oil from the incoming wastewater to prevent these components from getting to your system drain field. Therefore, the septic tank protects the drain field since these materials will cause the drain field to clog and block if they get through.
Upon being sieved, the solid materials sink to the bottom of the tank, and the scum layer (lighter material) components float to the top of the tank. The solid and the scum layers are partially decomposed by the bacteria found in human waste during the septic treatment process. After decomposition, the septic tank releases the water formed into the drain field, and the cycle continues.
The Drain Field
Also referred to as the absorption field, distribution field, or tile field, the drain field is a system is a grid of perforated pipes. Its purpose is to distribute the decomposed wastewater over a large soil area. The water from the septic tank can be distributed in two significant ways. It can be transferred either by pumps or by gravity. When the drain field uses gravity, the wastewater enters a distribution box and is later distributed into pipes.
Conversely, when the drain field is a pressurized or pumped system, it has a more uniform distribution, reducing the possibility of clogging or overloading the drain field. Occasionally, a drain field is surrounded by gravel, increasing the soil’s absorption surface area. It also acts as a preventive measure that stops the soil from blocking the perforated distribution pipes.
The soil under the distribution pipes is to absorb, treat, and transfer the disposed water away from the distribution pipes. The water eventually finds its way underground and then to a nearby lake or river. However, a plumber will advise the soil to be granular to allow oxygen availability. Granular soil also helps quickly absorb wastewater into the ground. On the other hand, soil acts as a filter, thus removing any inhabited particles in the wastewater. Aerobic bacteria in the soil treat the water in a final process making your wastewater suitable for the environment.
Notably, for the soil to efficiently treat the water, it must be at least three to four feet deep beneath the ground level. Lack of enough soil depth means that the groundwater is too close to the surface, and the soil will not sufficiently treat the wastewater. Therefore, consult a plumber to verify if your soil depth is at the required depth. It is also crucial to note that regularly scheduled visits from a plumber keep your septic system functional and prevent overflowing.
How Does a Water Softener Work?
Now that you understand how a septic system operates, the next important thing to consider in answering the question of whether water softeners affect your septic system is the basic operation of a water softener. However, it is vital first to understand hard water and why water softeners are crucial to your Arlington, TX, home.
Treating Hard Water
If you have been dealing with any of the above effects, your home’s water supply is hard water and needs to be treated. However, this should not worry you, contact a plumber, and they can advise on the best way forward depending on your home and the plumbing system. Although having a plumber install a water softener might seem daunting and expensive, it is worth it in the long run.
Not only will it ease your washing experience and brighten your garments, but it will also prolong the life span of our equipment and help maintain their efficiency. On the other hand, a plumber can easily add a water softener to your existing plumbing. Since there are several different brands and styles of water softeners, it is advisable to consult a plumber before buying one.
Hard Water and Its Impacts
Since the water supply in most homes is underground water, it contains high quantities of minerals, making it fall under the category of hard water. Hard water contains high amounts of magnesium, calcium, and undissolved minerals. Although hard water might not harm your family’s health, it poses numerous problems around your Arlington, TX, home. Firstly, hard water reduces the efficiency of cleaning products when using it for washing, thus necessitating the use of more soap and detergent.
In addition, hard water causes scales in your plumbing system and your household equipment, reducing efficiency and negatively impacting their life span. Finally, the combination of soap and the minerals found in hard water leads to the formation of scum which is hard to rinse from clothes and other surfaces. Therefore, these lead to the clothes losing their brightness and the surfaces having patterns after rinsing. Hard water will also cause dry hair and skin to your family members.
The Workings of a Water Softener
Regardless of the many brands and styles of water softeners in the market, a water softener is an appliance that typically involves a media tank that softens the water and a brine tank that is salt storage. The media tank holds the resin beads, which remove the minerals in the hard water. The resin beads inside the media tank are negatively charged; thus, there is ion exchange when the magnesium and calcium minerals interact.
The resin beads collect the hardness from the water by taking away the positive ions from the minerals leaving the water without these minerals. Once the beads collect the hardness from the minerals, the water softener rinses them with a saltwater solution. Therefore, the resin beads are regenerated to collect more hardness.
Once the hardness is accumulated in the water softener, the system cleans and recharges itself through regeneration. In most cases, regeneration happens in the middle of the night or when nobody needs soft water. The regeneration process helps the system continue providing your home with soft water. A plumber will advise you to add water softener salt to the brine tank occasionally. The salt helps the tank create a salt solution called brine.
In the regeneration process, the system transfers the salt (brine) solution to the water softener tank, where the process of ion exchange happens reverse. The resin beads are washed with the salt solution, and the hard minerals are released. The system also disinfects and cleans itself during the regeneration process. Finally, the water with the hard minerals and other wastes is flushed out of the system.
How Do Water Softeners Affect Septic Systems?
Water softeners solve your hard water-related problems, make your Arlington, TX home supply water suitable for daily cleaning, and facilitate your appliance’s life span retention. But the main question is, does the water softener affect the septic system’s efficiency? Since there have been significant concerns about the relationship between these two systems, various studies have been conducted to determine the correct answer.
Unfortunately, the results of these studies keep varying from time to time, with earlier studies indicating that the two systems do not affect each other. On the other hand, recent studies have disputed these findings, outlining that water softeners have specific effects on septic systems. Therefore, asking a plumber for some input on the topic during the next cleaning visit is essential.
When treating hard water, a plumber will advise you to add salt, also known as sodium, to the water softener. Unfortunately, most septic systems are not designed with the workings of a water softener. Therefore, the sodium in the system seriously affects the drain field’s hydraulic conductivity and the digester due to a lack of necessary ions. In addition, hard water regeneration from the water softener system might result in hydraulic overloading of the septic’s backwash. Some of the other adverse effects of water softeners on your septic system include the following;
Reduced Hydraulic Conductivity
The high amount of sodium in the ground causes the soil to swell, which results in reduced hydraulic conductivity. This is evident in soils where clay soil is in abundance. Contact a plumber in Arlington, TX, to measure your soil’s Soil Absorption Ratio (SAR).
Killing Desired Anaerobic Bacteria
During the water softener’s regeneration process, the backwash injects more sodium chloride into the septic system, which affects the PH balance, increases the salinity, and kills the desirable bacteria in the septic system. The killing of bacteria means less anaerobic digestion and an ineffective septic tank.
Fast Deterioration of the Septic tank
The highly salty backwash from the water softener ends up in the septic tank. This solution deteriorates the septic tank, especially concrete ones, lowering their life span. You might find that you have to call a plumber often to have your septic system pumped or repaired.
How Can We Help?
Although water softeners pose acute adverse effects on your Arlington, TX home’s septic system, it is essential to note that these two systems can also work harmoniously without affecting each other. However, this can only happen with the help of a plumber. The plumber can install a modern water softener at your home or use potassium chloride instead of sodium chloride. Therefore, contact us at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Fort Worth before giving up.