Living your life with a septic tank at home means you look at water and waste differently. Aside from conserving water and marking your calendar for your next septic pumping, you have to be careful what goes down your drains. Is softened water okay when you depend on a septic system? It turns out the answer to that question is more complicated than most people used to think.
The Case for Soft Water
When water softeners first became popular, many people with septic tanks began to worry that the new technology wouldn’t be one they could enjoy. The basic thought was: the increased sodium content of softened water may damage the bacteria that live in septic tanks and break down waste.
Early studies concluded that the increase of sodium from a water softener doesn’t harm septic systems, and might actually help the bacteria grow and work more efficiently. However, those results have been called into question, making homeowners worry that installing a water softener may be a bad idea.
The Case Against Soft Water
Newer studies contest that the wrong type of bacteria was studied previously, calling everything back into question. Since septic systems depend on anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that does not need to breathe), it seems that increased saline can cause more damage than once thought. Many also believe that the hard water a water softener flushes away could overload a septic tank as well.
Pairing Septic Tanks and Water Softeners Today
Water softener technology has advanced a lot in the last few years. With computerized efficiency controls, a water softener can use less water. You can even pay more for softener “salt” that uses potassium instead of sodium. These changes mean water softeners can be safer for septic tanks.
If you have a concrete septic tank, the increased sodium may damage the walls of your septic tank. Those who own plastic septic systems need not worry about damage from salt, though.
One final point to note is the hardness of your water source. Not all parts of Maui have the same level of hardness in their water. Follow this link from Maui County to see how your area may rate. The lower your local water hardness, the less work a water softener will do, and introduce less sodium into your water as a result.