What Is a Water Softener and How Does It Work?

Posted by
John Woodard on August 12, 2022

A water softener removes minerals that create water hardness, one of the most common water quality problems many homeowners encounter. Hard water destroys appliances, leaves filmy soap scum across bathrooms and kitchens, and dries out hair and skin. With over 85% of the United States relying on hard water for their cooking, cleaning, and bathing, water softeners serve a vital purpose. A water softener saves you from replacing prematurely ruined water heaters, scaly faucet heads, and hours and hours of cleaning up soapy residue. Investing in a water softener saves you time, energy, and money, and protects your home and your property. 

What is a water softener? 

A water softener is a whole-house filtration system that removes hardness-causing calcium and magnesium minerals from your water through a process called ion exchange. A water softener addresses one of the most prevalent and devastating water problems: hard water. Hard water wreaks havoc on the modern home. Scale builds up in your pipes, clogging them and decreasing water pressure. Scale dramatically shortens the lifespan of appliances like dishwashers, coffee makers and ice machines. Hard water destroys hot water appliances. The higher the temperature of the water, the more calcium and magnesium will solidify and harden into solid deposits inside your hot water heater. If you live in hard water territory, it can sound like your water heater is popping popcorn. This is because scale has attached itself to the heating element. As the temperature of the heater rises and the tank expands, the calcified rock deposits crusted on the heating elements start cracking and stretching. Hard water-induced scale is the culprit of that popcorn popping sound.

Without a water softener, laundry demands extra detergent to prevent it from looking dingy. Dishes will come out of your dishwasher streaked and stained. Filmy scum builds up on your shower curtains and your soap and shampoo will not lather. Bathing in hard water leaves your skin itchy and dry and your hair lifeless and sticky. The sheer amount of time, energy, and money required to clean up the detrimental side effects of hard water is dizzying. A whole house water softener is the solution to the scourge of water hardness.  

How does a water softener work? 

A water softener removes calcium and magnesium from water through a process called ion exchange. When the hard water enters into the mineral tank, it flows through a bed of spherical resin beads. These plastic beads, usually made from polystyrene, are charged with a sodium ion. The resin beads are anions, meaning they have a negative charge. The calcium and magnesium minerals have a positive charge, making them cations. Since opposite charges attract, the negative charge of the minerals is attracted to the positive charge of the resin beads. As the hard water passes through the resin, the beads grab ahold of the mineral ions and remove them from the water. When the bead seizes the mineral ion, the sodium ion is released. The column of resin strips all the hardness out of the water as it passes through the mineral tank, and softened water flows out into your home. 

| Learn more about the effects of hard water. |  

What are the components of a water softener?

A water softener is made up of three components: a control valve, a mineral tank, and a brine tank. These three work in conjunction to remove the minerals from hard water, monitor the flow of water, and periodically clean the system through a regeneration process. 

1. The mineral tank 

The mineral tank is the chamber where the hard water is softened. The water supply line feeds the hard water into the tank. The water seeps through the bed of resin beads, depositing the water-hardening calcium and magnesium ions. The water exits the tank soft and flows through your pipes and out to your household appliances.  

2. The control valve 

The control valve measures the amount of water passing through the mineral tank and into your house. The valve houses a meter that tracks the volume of water entering the mineral tank. As hard water flows through the mineral tank, the resin beads exchange their sodium ions for hardness ions. Over time, this depletes the capacity of the resin to continue to effectively soften water. Before the beads become too burdened with mineral content to continue removing calcium and magnesium ions, the control valve automatically initiates a regeneration cycle. This maximum capacity is pre-programmed into the control valve’s onboard computer and is based on a range of factors, like the size of your house, the number of occupants, and the hardness of your water. Control valves are demand-initiated controllers, which allow water softening units to be extremely efficient. 

3. The brine tank

The brine tank aids the water softening system in regeneration. It is a shorter tank that sits adjacent to the mineral tank. The brine tank holds a highly concentrated solution of salt (or sometimes potassium) to restore the resin beads’ positive charge. Salt is manually added to the brine tank in the form of pellets or blocks. These dissolve in the water at the bottom of the tank. When the control valve registers the softening capacity of the resin is diminishing, the heavy brine solution is drawn out of the tank and flushed through the resin in the mineral tank. If the brine tank runs out of salt, the water passing through the unit will no longer be softened. 

water softener diagram

How does water softener regeneration work? 

Water softener regeneration cycles inundate the resin beads with a highly concentrated brine solution, washing off the hardness minerals and draining them out of the system. The resin beads are recharged and primed to again eliminate the hardness minerals. Resin beads are extremely durable and can effectively soften your water for twenty years or longer. Water softeners regenerate by one of two methods: co-current or counter-current regeneration (also referred to as downflow brining and upflow brining.) 

Co-current regeneration cycle

In a co-current regeneration cycle, the brine solution enters the mineral tank in the same direction as the service flow. The brine solution flows down the depth of the bed of resin beads and an ion exchange process occurs again, only this time in reverse. As the brine flows over the beads, the salts force the beads to release the magnesium and calcium ions in exchange for the sodium ion. As the brine passes through the resin, an increasingly-concentrated surge of hardness minerals forms and flows through the entirety of the system. As the brine solution pushes more hardness minerals through the bed, continuous exchange and re-exchange of minerals and regeneration ions transpires. By the time the water has exited the tank, the solution’s strength is significantly reduced. In a co-current regeneration cycle, the highest charged beads will be on the ones at the top of the tank. Co-current regeneration uses more water and salt to complete the regeneration process than counter-current. 

Counter-current regeneration cycle

In a counter-current regeneration cycle, water enters the tank through the bottom of the mineral tank, where the water usually exits. The countercurrent cycle runs the brine up the resin bed, beginning at the bottom where the resin beads are usually the least depleted. This means there are fewer hardness minerals initiating re-exchange during the regeneration cycle. The brine is less depleted by the time it reaches the top of the resin bed, where the softener first makes contact with the hard water. A counter-current cycling water softener uses 75% less salt and 65% less water than co-current cycling. It also distributes the recharging sodium ions more equitably. In a countercurrent cycle, the most highly charged beads will be at the bottom of the tank, right before the water exits into the house. These are also known as high efficiency water softeners. 

What do water softeners remove? 

Water softeners are designed to remove calcium and magnesium ions from hard water. Calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) are the two water hardness-causing minerals. The ion exchange process will furthermore attract and eliminate any positively charged ion (also known as a cation). This can include other minerals like iron and manganese. 

Does a water softener remove iron? 

Water softeners remove ferrous iron (dissolved iron) when it is in low quantities and most of the iron is in a soluble state. Iron darkens the coloration of water and leaves visible stains on your toilet, bathtub, and in your sinks. Ferric iron (insoluble iron) is more difficult to remove with a softener. Ferric iron will accumulate on the resin bed and resist the backwashing of the regeneration cycle. This can produce slugs of iron in your softened water and diminish the potency of the resin beads. When dissolved iron is exposed to oxygen, it oxidizes and becomes ferric iron. So, even though a water softener can remove iron in its dissolved state, if you have high iron levels in your water, some of it will inevitably convert to an insoluble state. If your water softener is processing large quantities of iron you will want to use a chemical solution like Rust Out to cleanse your softener bed and prolong your resin beads' life. Iron is best removed from water by an iron filter or a more comprehensive filtration system like reverse osmosis.

Is soft water safe to drink?

Yes, soft water is safe to drink. During the ion exchange process, the resin beads do release sodium into the water when grabbing ahold of the hardness minerals. But the amount of sodium in softened water isn’t unhealthy, and actually is far less than what is widely imagined. If you have moderately hard water, for example five grains per gallon (about 86ppm), that’s only adding 37 milligrams of sodium per quart of water. That’s less than 2% of the suggested daily sodium intake. A slice of white bread has around 170 milligrams of sodium, and a slice of pizza has about 640 milligrams. So, comparatively, the amount of sodium added by water softeners is negligible. 

The amount of sodium added by a water softener is linearly related to the number of hardness minerals being reduced. For every milligram of hardness in the water, the softener releases two milligrams of sodium. This only becomes problematic if you live in an area with extremely hard water. If your water has a hardness level of over 400 ppm, you will want to install a reverse osmosis system to treat the water that you drink and cook with. The reverse osmosis system pushes water through a semipermeable membrane capable of eliminating almost all dissolved solids and salts from the water. If your doctor has recommended you reduce your sodium intake due to blood pressure or kidney problems, it is also advisable to install a reverse osmosis system after your softener. 

| Learn more about how reverse osmosis works. |

water softener resin beads

Do I need a water softener?

You need a water softener if you’re living with decreased pressure from scale-ridden pipes, dry hair, stiff laundry, and endless appliance repair bills. Hard water is not a problem that will go away on its own and the costs incurred by hard water will only continue to escalate. Without a water softener, appliances will inevitably fail sooner than their expected lifespan. If scale continues to accumulate in your pipes, your flow rate will continue to restrict and you risk losing water pressure throughout the house. Hard water ravages water heaters, and without a softener, your utility bills will continue to barrel skyward. If your water supply is hard, the perpetual cycle of repairs and replacements will continue until your house is safeguarded by a water softener. 

How much does a water softener cost? 

The cost of a whole-house water softener ranges between $600 and $1,500. If your home is in an area that has hard water, a water softener is not a luxury, it is an integral investment in your home and your property. The size of your house and the hardness of your water factor into the size and model of water softener that is right for you. Keep in mind, despite the high price tag, water softeners last for 20 years or longer. They also have very low monthly operational costs. They require minimal electricity to function (no more than a bedside alarm clock). Water softener resin can last over 20 years if properly backwashed. The only true monthly expense incurred is replenishing the brine tank with salt. The industry standard is that a household of four using a standard efficiency softener will go through about 40 lbs. of salt a month. However, water with high TDS content and iron levels will demand more salt to effectively soften. A 40 lbs. bag of sodium chloride pellets ranges in price from $10-$25. Upgrading to a high efficiency counter-current brining unit will use even less salt. 

Compared to the daily expenses and frustrations incurred by hard water, a water softener is ultimately an investment that will save you a considerable amount of money. Over time, the mundane costs of hard water quickly escalate. From cleaning products to eliminate soap scum build-ups in the bathroom to the extra container of laundry detergent to ensure clean clothing, hard water costs will stack up over the years if left unaddressed. In worst case scenarios, you may face having to replace plumbing fixtures, hot-water using appliances like coffee makers and washing machines, or even your entire household’s plumbing.The cost of the water softener system is greatly outweighed by the money and energy saved over time. 

| Explore 5 benefits of having a water softener. |

How do you install a water softener? 

A water softener should be installed as close to the water’s point of entry into the house as possible. This ensures the majority of your plumbing and appliances are reaping the benefits of carrying the softened water. It’s especially important to make sure your water softener is located before your water heater, as hard water does the greatest damage to hot water appliances. You will want to install the softener in a dry, level location, like a basement or garage. It will need to be close to the water’s main line, an electrical outlet to turn on the system, and a drain for the brine solution from the regeneration cycle. 

Most softeners have a bypass built into the inlet and the outlet. By turning a valve, you can bypass the softener in the event you have to provide some kind of maintenance to it or even while you're working on installing it. If the softener you choose does not have a bypass, then it's wise to build one out of plumbing to bypass the equipment in case you need to maintain the unit.

Steps to installing your water softener: 

    1. Position the water softener. Make sure that the softener is correctly positioned. The inlet should be connected to the water supply and the outlet should be facing the direction of the hot water appliances.  
    2. Turn off the water supply to your house at the main line. To prevent leaks from springing during the installation process, shut off the water supply to your home. Make sure your water heater’s water supply is turned off, as is the electricity running to the unit. 
    3. Drain your pipes. Open nearby faucets or faucets on the bottom floor of your home to ensure all water exits your house’s supply pipes.
    4. Cut into the water supply main line. Using pipe cutters, cut into the water main leading into the supply line. This is a whole house filtration unit, so you need to connect the inlet and outlet lines directly to the water main line. 
    5. Measure, cut, and connect the pipes. Before attaching any pipes to your water softener, measure and cut your pipes to fit. If you are using copper pipes, solder on any nipples and fittings before connecting the unit to the bypass valve to avoid melting the plastic. Seal all threads with plumber’s tape. Plastic tubing like PEX can also be used. Though it may require additional adapters, flexible tubing is far easier to work with and can utilize push-to-connect fittings, saving you time and the hassle of soldering. 
    6. Clamp the drain hose. The water softener needs to drain the depleted brine solution after the regeneration cycle. Clamp the drain hose securely and feed it into the dedicated drain, like a floor drain or utility sink. To prevent the hose back siphoning waste water, all drain hoses must have an air gap. The end of the hose be at least two inches above the dedicated drain. An air gap may be used to achieve this, and may be required depending on local plumbing codes. 
    7. Connect the overflow tube. Overflow tubes are an additional precaution ensuring the brine tank does not flood and overflow. Refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific placement of this hose. The overflow tub may also require an air gap. 

Why is my water softener leaking?

Water softeners leaks are primarily caused because of an issue at the point of installation or because of maintenance. When installing the plumbing to your softener, take your time and ensure your fittings are threaded well and your push-to-connect fittings are seated properly. If the bypass valve is cracked, it can also cause the system to leak. Bypass valves are fitted with o-rings that may need to be re-lubricated or replaced over time. A cracked rotor valve or rotor valve seal may also be the culprit. The rotor valve directs the water throughout the system during softening and regeneration processes. A worn water valve can lock up and spring a leak. If the rotor valve’s seal is leaking, it is likely cracked and simply needs to be replaced.

Day to day usage should not cause a water softener to leak. Leaks can also happen if you bump into the softener and jostle it, pulling the fitting apart. To prevent this from occurring, install the unit in a safe and stable location. If you live in an earthquake-prone area of the country, secure the softener so that if the foundation starts moving, the softener doesn’t fall over and rip out the plumbing. If your water softener is leaking during regeneration, you should wait until after the cycle is completed and then inspected the system for cracks or broken fittings. You should also check to make sure your drain line is never blocked up with debris. A clogged drain line can blow off of the softener during regeneration and flood your basement or garage.  

To prevent electrical shock, you should never attempt to fix a leak while the softener is plugged in. Always unplug the softener from its electrical supply before attempting any repair or cleaning. You should also shut off the bypass valve on the water softener to prevent any further leaks and to isolate the unit from the rest of your home’s plumbing. If your softener does not have a bypass valve, turn off the water at the main line. If you cannot locate the cause of your leak call a plumber or the service that installed the unit. 

| Learn more about troubleshooting your softener in our Water Softener Maintenance 101. |

When do I need to replace my water softener? 

Water softeners typically have a lifespan of 15 years, however, water softener systems can last much longer if they are properly maintained. Making sure the brine tank never runs out of salt will extend the unit’s life. Protecting the resin bed from high levels of iron and manganese will also protect the unit. Iron will foul the resin and lower its ion exchange performance. Resin cleaners enhance the regeneration cycle and help relieve the resin beads of hardness-causing minerals. Resin can last for 10-20 years if maintained well, however, heavily chlorinated water will exhaust the beads ion exchange capacity quickly. Heavy levels of sediment will also cause the screens and injectors within the control valve to fail prematurely. It is wise to place a sediment filter in front of your water softener, especially if you are on well water with lots of dirt and debris. If you live with extremely hard water (over 14 gpg), your system may not last as long as a system softening moderately hard water. 

These variances of factorss make it difficult to determine a specific time frame for replacing a water softener. If the unit is over a decade old and you notice that it’s softening powers seem to be consistently declining, it may be time to invest in a new system. That being said, vigilant care and maintenance can extend a water softener’s lifespan. 

| Learn more about how sediment filters work. |

What is a salt-free water softener?

A salt-free water softener doesn’t exist. There are salt-free water conditioners that use template assisted crystallization (TAC) instead of ion exchange to address water hardness. TAC uses small, spherical beads to convert dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals into micro-crystals. These crystals are unable to attach to surfaces, thereby blocking them from producing scale build-up in pipes. Salt-free water conditioners do not soften water, they are anti-scale systems. Though these systems are effective at both preventing scale and eliminating pre-existing scale, they do not provide many of the benefits reaped by water softening. They do not remove hardness minerals from the water. They transform the hardness minerals, but the elevated calcium and magnesium levels are still present in the water. This means you will not see many of the water softening benefits, like brighter laundry and cleaner dishes. You will still have to use additional detergent to achieve the desired cleanliness. Soap scum will still build up around your tub and shower. However, your showerheads and faucets will be safe from scaly accumulations, and you will see pressure and flow return to your pipes.

| Explore more about the truth about salt-free water softeners. |  

What are the disadvantages of water softeners?

While there are many advantages to using a water softener, they are not suitable for every situation. More often than not, the cons to water softeners are the  result of poor-quality softeners, or related to common misconceptions about water softeners. The following are some disadvantages or misconceptions associated with water softeners:

May contain too much sodium

Because ion exchange water softeners use salt, sodium ions enter the softened water. According to the CDC, the maximum amount of sodium a person should consume per day is 2300 milligrams per day. Because of the prevalence of heavily processed foods, the average American already consumes about 3400 milligrams per day. Adding more sodium on top of this salty diet can contribute to long-term health effects, which include the following:

  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Kidney stones
  • Kidney disease
  • Stroke

Sodium content in water can also cause a septic system to become less efficient. Too much or too little sodium in a septic tank can kill the bacteria that breaks down waste in the tank. Without these bacteria, the septic tank will fill too quickly and its contents can overflow into the surrounding soil.

Alternatives to sodium chloride pellets, such as potassium chloride, are available, but they cost significantly more than sodium. The most effective way to remove sodium from water without using an alternative salt is a reverse osmosis filtration system or water distiller. Both of these systems remove almost all sodium from water, as well as almost all other contaminants. Reverse osmosis systems are point-of-use filtration systems, meaning their installation can be localized to treat the water you are using to drink and cook with.

Expensive to install and maintain

A whole-home water system can cost you thousands of dollars, and replacing the salt in the system can also eat up a few hundred dollars per year. While many people living in areas with hard water may see the cost as a reason not to purchase a water softener, the costs of running hard water through appliances may be more significant. Hard water can cause scale buildup that reduces water flow and create leaks that damage appliances. If hard water in your region is significant enough to damage appliances, using a water softener can be much more cost-effective than running hard water in your home. Furthermore, if left untreated, the hard water will continue to damage your appliances, leading to an endless cycle of premature equipment replacements, making the initial costs of the softener well worth your investment.

Reduces mineral intake

Calcium and magnesium are essential in maintaining a healthy body, but water softeners eliminate them from water. For those on strict diets that require certain levels of mineral intake, a water softener prevents reaching these goals through drinking water. However, the main source of your body’s mineral intake should always be food, not water. Eating calcium-rich foods, such as dairy products, soybeans, and leafy vegetables will have much more effect than relying on drinking water for calcium and other minerals.

Can overload a septic system

The discharge from water softeners during a regeneration cycle can cause a hydraulic overload of a septic system if your septic tank is barely large enough for your home. Poor quality water softeners can regenerate more than they need to and are more likely to cause issues with septic performance. Purchasing a high-quality water softener can reduce sodium levels in soft water and prevent your septic tank from overflowing.

| Explore more about how septic tanks work. | 

Produces wastewater

An average water softener waste around 8000 gallons of water per year. This may seem like a significant volume of water, but it is not as wasteful as you might think. According to the EPA, the average American home uses about 300 gallons of water per day. 8000 gallons of water per year sits at just below 27 gallons per day. This means that adding a water softener to your home could increase the average daily water consumption of individuals in your home by about 8 percent. Despite the term “wastewater”, the water discharged by water softeners should not necessarily be considered wasted. Without a water softener, appliances can malfunction, and this can cause leaks and waterflow issues that waste a significant volume of water. Purchasing new appliances because of hard water damage will not only affect your wallet, but the environmental aspect should be considered as well. Many potential water softener buyers worry about the environmental impact of wastewater, but the environmental impact of creating and disposing of these appliances should not be ignored either.

| Explore the benefits of having a water softener. |

Alternatives to water softeners

While water softeners are the best systems at removing hardness minerals from water, they are banned in some municipalities, leaving residents with no choice but to find an alternative. While there is no perfect alternative to a water softener, there are a couple of options that will leave you with soft water.

Water conditioners

Water conditioners use a template-assisted crystallization (TAC) media to crystallize the minerals that make water hard. This crystallization prevents water from building up scale in pipes and appliances, but the conditioned water is not softened. Water softeners use an ion exchange resin to remove these minerals from water, while water conditioners physically alter them to prevent scaling.

Other than scale treatment, the benefits of a water softener do not apply to a water conditioner. Without removing hardness minerals from water, laundry will come out brittle and discolored, dishes will contain soap spots, and soap will build up scum and not lather properly. This makes water conditioners not an ideal alternative to water softeners.

| Explore more about water conditioners. |

Reverse osmosis filters

Technically, a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration system will soften water, but constantly running hard water through RO filters will cause the membrane to go bad much faster than normal. To get the highest efficiency out of a reverse osmosis system, water flowing through the RO membrane should already be softened. As a result, an RO system is not a good alternative to a water softener.

Best water softeners

Best well water softener for large homes - Whole House High Efficiency Softener and UV Disinfection for 3-4 Bathrooms

This Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener and UV Disinfection is a high-performance water softener suitable for 3 to 4 bathroom homes. It comes equipped with UV disinfection to ensure that bacteria and viruses do not contaminate the water in your home. Because city-treated water does not contain bacteria or viruses, this system is ideal for homes that use well water.

Best well water softener for small homes - Whole House High Efficiency Softener and UV Disinfection for 1-2 Bathrooms

This Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener and UV Disinfection provides peace of mind to homeowners that receive their water from a well. It comes with an activated carbon filter that reduces chlorine levels, UV disinfection that kills bacteria and viruses, and a high-efficiency water softener. This system is an ideal pairing with a reverse osmosis filtration system.

Best softener for large homes - Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener for 3-4 Bathrooms

This Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener is a high-performance water softening solution for large homes. It comes equipped with an activated carbon filter that removes chlorine from water. Not only does this give water a better taste, but it also prevents wear on filtration systems connected to the softener.

Best softener for small homes - Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener for 1-2 Bathrooms

This Whole House High Efficiency Water Softener is an excellent water softening solution for smaller homes. It features an activated carbon filter that removes chlorine, making it an excellent pre-treatment solution for a reverse osmosis system. This water softening system is an excellent option for homes that receive city-treated water.

If you have questions about water softening or buying a water softener, give us a call and we'll walk you through the process. For any water quality concerns, talk to a water specialist at 864.284.1801.

Comments 1-10 of 14

The greatest ion exchange water softener can give families more productive laundry and enjoyable showers while guarding plumbing and water appliances against limescale accumulation. Families that pick the best ion exchange water softener also won’t have to worry about outdated plumbing and fittings.

Cyrus Juliet on August 25, 2022

Do you recommend that the water supply to ice makers bypasses the softener so you don’t get “mushy” ice?

Steve Winter on May 20, 2022

How do I know that my softener is pulling water from the brine tank

Alfred Tembo on May 20, 2022

I have a new natural gas powered tank less water heater. I live in a very hard water area of LA., Calif. Is it possible to install a ion exchange water softener with a tank less water heater? I know a regular water softener can be paired with a regular 50 gal water heater, but I have not heard whether a waters softener is compatible with a tank less. I am not interested in a water conditioner system. Thanks

john on September 08, 2021

We bought a house 4+ years ago that already had a system installed. The first few years I continually contacted the service man every other month in the attempt to have him look at why every morning after the system does a filter discharge we end up with black water in our pipes. He blamed it on someone using water in the wee hours of the morning while the system was in its final phases but we quickly learned that wasn’t the case. So why does this happen and how can I correct it?

Ken on June 03, 2021

I just had a softener installed about 2-3 months ago, I don’t see any water in the salt part of the bason, but in the cylinder inside the basin is a little at the bottom, is this normal? Is there something wrong with my system

D Tyson on January 15, 2021

We live in a high rise condo which utilizes a water softener system. Whenever maintenance is done on the plumbing system we get deposits of brown and white crystals in the lines which clog the filters in our faucet heads. Is this related to the water softening system? If so, how can it be prevented because it requires plumbers to come to many units to clear the filters. Thanks Andrew

Andrew Borden on July 02, 2020
there is a plastic tube from the resin container to a drain in our mechanical room. What is this for and how often does liquid flow down the drain? we may have a leak in the tubing.
Brenda Ruthizer on July 02, 2020
Why do we hear running water for several hours night from our softener? We don’t have hot water tanks, just a tankless system, and no water is running in the house from 9 pm until 7 am?
Wes Gill on July 31, 2020

Hello Randy!

Water softeners will run to drain during backwash and fast rinse anywhere from 2 to 4 GPM (depending on the size of the unit). Each cycle will discharge 25 to 50 gallons of water with high levels of hardness minerals and chloride that you may not want just running outside. Not to mention plumbing code may be violated without proper backflow prevention.
The discharge line is pressurized and can run some distance. How far is the softener from the washing machine drain? Even a kitchen or bathroom sink drain will make better connection than running outside.
Hopefully this helps!

John Woodard, Master Water Specialist on December 27, 2019
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