Water Softener Drain Options: Quick and Easy (2023)

You are interested in buying a water softener, like most of the households in the United States.

But you are worried about learning there would be liquid waste that requires to be flushed. Earlier you had an idea of installing a water softener in your utility room, but you have no drainage solution in that room?

Don’t worry we are here to help you. To help you drain your water softener backwash water, and to make your system work the way it should.

Actually, it is the regeneration that produces lots of wastewater. And regeneration is the most important, and must follow-through a procedure for a water softener.

In this process, a salt solution is flushed through the resin beads, to make them charged with sodium ions.

Water Softener Drain Options

Why Does the water system need a drain?

I am sure to this point you have learned water system requires a drain.

But, to learn why do they require a drain, you have to understand the whole system, how the water softener’s function, why do you have to regenerate them, and all.

Water softeners require a drain to discharge the backwash. This backwash generates when you regenerate your water softener.

Water softeners, come with two tanks, most of them. One is a brine solution or sodium solution tank and the other is a resin tank.

The resin tank holds resin beads that are negatively charged, the material requires for ion exchange, they are negatively charged, attracting any positively charged ions.

During the regeneration process, brine solution or sodium ions are flushed through the resin tank. In this way, the resin beads attract most of the sodium ions, now resin beads are positively charged.

This flush is then moved backward, which contains lots of sodium, iron, magnesium, and calcium ions.

Now, when you require to soften the water, you flush water through the resin tank. The resin beads which are positively sodium charged, replace the dissolved minerals in the water, and capture the minerals onto them.

These minerals would be again flushed during the regeneration process, to make the resin beads charged all over again.

So, this is the flushed water aka backwash that is being produced in every regeneration process, which requires to be discharged.

Keep in mind, that flush contains high minerals quantity, salt quantity, which if discharged near a water wall, vegetation, or if other animals consume, may die or get sick. This is why your water softener requires draining.

Now we come at the drainage solution and options. What options do we have? Let’s dive deep into it and learn.

Types of Drain

Before you get into any drain options, read the local regulations.

Whatever you do should be complying with the local regulations, or you will be disrupting the peace and harmony of our ecosystem.

These are some drain options you can follow, or go with.

Laundry tray

A laundry tray, any bucket that has an air gap, or any utility tray would do for backwash draining. Not only that, it is very efficient, and most commonly used a draining method.

If you have a small home, with limited water softening requirements, that is a great, and affordable drain option.

For those, with lots of water requirements, it might not be a good idea, as it can overflow, and can make you reach square one all over again.

Or you manage to dispose of off the water before it ends up in this tray.

Floor Drain

For most consumers, a floor drain is the most useful, convenient, and easy to follow through option.

Here, unlike a bucket, you are not required to drain it every time it fills. And If you’re busy with something else, it can overflow and turn your home into Hudson Bay.

The most important benefit of floor drain is, once the backwash goes into the drain, it would not back up because great amount of air gap between the drain line.

But, many times, consumers don’t do research, and they do end up discharging this water softener backwash into a drain that reprocesses water.

In other words, if the drain reprocesses water, that means, after reprocessing, you would be getting it into the form of tap water in your homes. 

These reprocessing systems are not equipped to hand high sodium-rich water or fluid, it would be your harm in the end.

Authorities prevent doing this, make sure that it is the sewerage where you are discharging off the water not a reprocessing facility.

Properly Trapped outlets

If you are not interested in making a drain line but want a direct outlet instead, the better for you would be to use properly trapped Outlets.

These are also known as P-traps, they don’t let sewer smell or anything coming back to your system.

You can connect this trapped outlet to the sewer lines, or you can use a dry well or many other dumping methods most commonly used for outside backwashing.

If you are draining it into the dry well, then more than anything you should mull over the amount of water you would be draining. Look at the size of the dry well, and drum.

For instance, if you regenerate 50-gallons of water every week, you at least require a 60-gallon drum, to ensure that the backwash reaches the dry well gradually, not abruptly.

Where can you drain your water softener?

There is more than one option to drain your water softeners. But, again, read the local guidelines and regulations for draining your rich-salt liquid, because if you drain it into the surface, near a water well, this might infect the water nearby.

Or if there are any vegetations near about, it might get to them, and impacts on their growth, in some cases, kill them because rich sodium limits plant water acquiring capabilities.

Outside drain

Outside draining is the most suitable draining option, it easily discharges your brine water outside of the home through the draining pipes.

There is more than one way to get this done, you can dump that sodium-rich water into the dry well, or use a French drain field.

Dry well

In dry well-draining, you make a vertical hole with a porous wall that allows slow draining or backwashing into the groundwater.

French Drain

A French drain is like a dry well, but here instead of vertical, a horizontal large area is chosen for dispersing.

A pipe is also placed with interspacing, and a long ditch with pebbles to filter bigger contaminations.

Basement Drain

 If you have your softener installed in the basement, the water softener might not be able to push the backwash. For that, you may have to use a sum-up pump or a sewerage ejector pump.

A sum-up pump is placed in the sum tank, whenever the water level in the sum is high, it turns on automatically and pushes water to the dry well or wherever you want.

A sewerage pump is a little different than a sum-up pump. As it is directly attached to the sewerage line, it would not let the liquid come back into the drain line.  

How to Install water softener drain line?

Every water softener is different, you can’t go like one size fits all.

If you are a DIY enthusiast, you can do that yourself, read through the manuals to get the drain lines with regard to the softeners. For others, they may be hired expertise.

Usually, two drain lines connect one water softener.

The first line connects at the beginning of the system, at the control valve. This control valve drains backwashed water to be drained out, this happens during the softener regeneration.

The second line though does not have a particular usage, this is only used when your water softener overflow, this connects to the brine tank though and goes into the first drain line.

How Many Times Does a Water Softener System Drain Water?

There is no certain ratio or number of water softeners draining water. It is dependent on more than one factor, including how much water you consume, size of the softener, type of the softener, hardness of the water, and many more.

It also depends on the number of resins used for regenerating water softener beads. On average, the water softener disposes of water in the draining line three times a day.

If it is an old water softener you are dependent upon for softening water, it could be more than 3 to 5 times a day.

Can I Drain My Water Softener Outside?

If there is any legal regulation that does not allow you to discharge backwash water or water softener drained water, you can’t do that.

This backwash water contains high salt and mineral mixing that can harm the vegetations, plants, animals, and any water level in the surrounding.

You can make a dry well, to let the high sodium and mineral water dump into it.

What happens if my drain line becomes blocked?

On average, the water softener drain line does not get blocked. There is plenty of surface area in your drain pipe that ensures water flows through smoothly when it is regeneration.

Suppose, if it happens, the excessive minerals, irons, and dirt will be accumulated in the softener resin. But, if you don’t know the system is blocked, it may damage the resin beads.

And if the water softener gets blocked for a long time, it can blow off and all the contaminations stored or gathered will be flooded.


If you are using a proper full-fledged water softener that filters hard minerals dissolved in the water, it will require draining. For filters though, draining is not required.

In water softeners, ion exchange is the key process, which involves exchanging sodium ions with the minerals. The excess of sodium and hard minerals are required to be flushed off the system and drained.

We mentioned how you can drain your softener, and where you can do that.

Draining backwash outside may harm the ecosystem, you can’t do that unless allows in local regulations.

Emily Davis

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