ater softener brine tank  or salt tankWater Softener Brine Tank Troubleshooting
Salt Tank level too high, flooding, overflow, brine tank float repairs

  • BRINE TANK WATER TOO HIGH - CONTENTS: How to Diagnose & Fix a Water Softener brine tank or salt tank that Is Not Working Properly - How to diagnose brine tank water level too high, overflow, or won't empty
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about how to diagnose water softener salt dosing tank or brine tank operating problems; how much water is in the brine tank, how much salt, how salty or soft is the household water, more.

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Water softener brine tanks: what causes too much water in the water conditioner brine tank or salt tank & how do we fix it. Problem diagnosis & repair with brine tank float control & other salt tank level controls.

Diagnose & Fix Water Softener Problems: this article series describes procedures for diagnosing and repairing water softener or water conditioner problems including water conditioner control settings and adjustment or repair, brine tank and brine tank float cleaning and repair, and the proper amount of water softening or conditioning that is needed.

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Too Much Water in the Brine Tank - Diagnosis and Cure

Water softener brine tank in normal condition (C) Daniel Friedman Mark KlugQuestion: I don't see a brine control valve and the water softener brine tank is too full of water. What should I check?

I did as you suggested and emptied and cleaned out the water conditioner brine tank, I notice that there is nothing in the tank except a 1/4 inch line for water and that is it,

When I put it all together again it fill up to 3/4 full again and the salt was all submersed. In other words, my water softener brine tank does not seem to include a brine refill control valve.

What else should I try.

[Click to enlarge any image]


Our photo above both shows the water softener brine tank in normal condition. My buddy Mark K. (page to photo) has poured salt pellets into the brine tank to a safe level that does not risk pellets falling into the brine tank float assembly should its cap be removed. The smaller round cylinder in this salt tank contains the brine float control assembly. If your salt tank does not have this component the water entry quantity and salty water dose quantity for a water softener regeneration cycle may not be properly controlled.

An accurate diagnosis of what's wrong with your water softener depends on the particular model water softener and what controls it uses.

When we find that the brine tank on a water softener or water conditioner system seems to be too high, or the tank is flooded, there are several things to check. An accurate diagnosis of what's wrong with your water softener depends on the particular model water softener and what controls it uses.

Here are the most common reasons for finding too much water in the brine tank: [1]

  • The drain line flow control is clogged with debris - the control needs to be cleaned
  • The injector system is clogged - there is an injector and screen that need to be cleaned
  • The water conditioner timer is not cycling properly - this problem means a new timer is needed
  • There is crud "foreign material" inside of the brine level control valve - the valve can be disassembled and cleaned (if there is a valve)
  • There is crud "foreign material" inside the brine line flow control - the flow control can be cleaned.

Water softener brine level valve - GEOther explanations for too much water in the softener brine tank:

  • Missing brine level or regeneration control valve: your system has lost its entire Brine Refill Control Valve assembly (sketch at left from G.E. [2]) and it needs to be replaced.

    In some water softener manuals you can see the "regenerant tank check valve" and a note - not provided, furnished as an option from the water conditioner system manufacturer. Note in this GE manual that some filter systems do not use the regenerant (brine) connection.
  • Your system supposed to be using a different method of brine level control - and that control is missing or more likely, not working or not properly set. There are some water conditioner models that do not use a brine tank float valve. [2]

    But you'll see that in no case does normal operation leave the water softener brine tank full of water. So if this is like your system the control on the conditioner is not working properly or not set properly. In other water conditioner manuals the manufacturer describes how the control is set to change the length of "brine tank refill time" - this is the same as the amount of water to be sent into the tank.
  • Your system has a leak in the tubing between the brine tank and the water conditioner. Even a small leak can cause the regenerant (brine solution) to drain back into the brine tank when it is supposed to be flowing through the water conditioner.

    Check your tubing for leaks at the tubing connectors as well as through its length just to rule out this problem.

Water softener air check valve - GE
  • If your water softener system uses an air check valve (sketch at above left example from G.E. [2]) when it should not have one installed (some controls have a built-in air check valve) this can cause the system to stop drawing brine back into the conditioner before the brine tank is empty. Or the air check valve itself may be debris-clogged. Here is another air check valve sketch from According to G.E. [2]
    • The regenerant line from the tank connects to the [air check] valve. Make the connections and hand tighten. Be sure that the regenerant line is secure and free from air leaks. Even a small leak may cause the regenerant line to drain out, and the conditioner will not draw regenerant from the tank. This may also introduce air into the valve causing problems with valve operation.
    • Most installations utilize a [brine tank] check valve. This is not necessary when using the 255 valve with the built-in aircheck. Using a tank check valve with the 255 valve with aircheck will result in premature checking of the aircheck valve, before the tank is empty.

Below we illustrate two other air check valves used on some brine level control systems such as GE [2] and Water Right.[1]

[Click to enlarge any image or table]

Air check valve on water softener brine tank GE Water Right Air check valve on brine tank - GE Water Right
  • Your system has a clogged or partly clogged drain tubing, or a too-small drain line piping, or a drain line not properly routed, resulting in abnormal brine water levels.

Bottom line: until we are sure we have correctly identified the water conditioner model, found its installation and operating manual, and made sure that it has all of the proper parts installed, trying to debug a problem with water level in the brine tank leaves us just guessing.

Give your water conditioner manufacturer a call - their contact information is right there in the water conditioner operating manual - and ask about your model and just what brine tank level controls it uses.

In addition to the questions & answers about water softener operating problems presented in the article above, additional Water Softener Diagnosis& Repair Q&As are at WATER SOFTENER DIAGNOSTIC FAQs


Reader Question: water softener brine tank not draining

Water softener has water stuck in tank, not draining. - Amy 9/19/11


Amy, at DIAGNOSE SOFTENER BACKUP / FLOODING we describe how to diagnose & fix a water softener that is not draining properly. Typically the problem is a crimped drain line, a control not operating properly, or a stuck brine control float that is not allowing the regen cycle to function properly.

Question: water softener brine tank does not empty fully

I just noticed today that there was still some water in my salt tank after the cycle completed this morning (the drain hose is fine). Is this something I need to worry about? The softener (Kenmore) is 12 years old now. - Scott 8/27/12


Scott, possibly the float control valve in the brine tank needs cleaning, or the whole tank is due for a cleanout. See BRINE TANK FLOAT LEVEL ADJUSTMENT - if your water softener brine tank is overflowing the float control may be stuck.

Also see SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING for the steps to solve this problem.

Question: Water-Rite 740 water softener has brine tank full of water - what's the normal liquid level in the brine tank?

Hi, can you tell me how much water should be in a brine tank of a water rite softener under normal use, now it is full of water all the time, is this normal. I think this will just melt all the salt in the tank all the time. It is a model 740 - M.C., Canada

Reply: you should not normally see liquid in the brine tank unless it's about out of salt

A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem or in this case just what's wrong with your water softener. That said, here are some things to consider:

We don't know specifically by quantity, but in general, you should not see water in the brine tank unless salt has been used up to the last 6-12 inches in the tank. So we suspect that the brine tank float level control valve that sets the water level in the tank is not working properly.

Check the brine refill control valve in your water softener brine tank

Photo of a water softener salt tank ready for cleaningThe BRINE REFILL CONTROL VALVE device is found in the vertical tube in your brine tank. Typically it incorporates a float, vertical rod, and a switch that controls the water level in the tank during a brine generation cycle. The part is also called the brine refill control valve.

We discuss how the brine refill control valve works and how it may be adjusted at SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS.

More photos of this valve are at SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING.

How to fix the brine tank water level

First check the water softener settings SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS .

Try emptying the brine tank completely, cleaning all the parts, make sure that the brine control valve (the float actuated switch in the brine tank) moves freely up and down, then fill it at least 1/3 full of salt. For details about cleaning out the water softener brine tank see SOFTENER CLEANING & SANITIZING.

Then send the water softener through a manual regeneration cycle (SOFTENER ADJUSTMENT & CONTROLS) and watch what happens.The volume of water that is pumped into the brine tank and then out back through the water softener is set by the salt "dose" setting on the water softener control.

The manufacturer of your Water Rite water softener, properly a Water-Right water softener, can provide you with the installation, operation, and maintenance manual for your water softener if you don't already have one.

  • [1] Water Right, 1900 Prospect Court Appleton, Wisconsin 54914, Tel: 920-739-9401, Website: and their water softener manuals are available online at

Question: sudden increase in water softener salt usage

I have a twin tank and all of a sudden I am using tons of salt. Any ideas? - Joanne 8/16/12



Check for a change to the salt dose or water softener backwash/regen cycle frequency on the unit controls

Check for a water softener stuck in backwash/regen cycle - see DIAGNOSE SOFTENER BACKUP / FLOODING and Water Softener Keep Running Longer Than it Should

Question: water level too high in the brine tank: how do I fix a stuck salt float on my Kinetico model 50 water softener? Kinetico stuck in regeneration?

The water level in the water softener brine tank is higher than the salt level by about an inch. Is that right?

I have a Kinetico Model 50 water conditioner. The float seems to be stuck and the brine tank sis filled with water and overfills causing a flood. Any suggestions would be helpful. - Anon

I set my time and left the tabs as is as I am renting the house. The tank where the salt is has water in it about 1 inch higher than salt level which is half way up. I also do not know if i was to do something other than set time and turn dial to in service? any help is appreciated. - Diana


Diana, your salt tank sounds as if it's got too much water - or else your salt level must be near the tank bottom in which case just add salt. You can also send the softener through an extra regen cycle (see the control panel and the article above) to see if it seems to be working. In the article above you'll see a sketch and discussion of the "Brine Refill Control" that you'll find in your salt tank.

Usually if there is too much water (above the top of the salt in the tank) either

  • The level of salt in the brine tank is too low - and is near the bottom of the tank - add salt


  • The brine control float switch is stuck.

I don't usually expect the water conditioner control itself to be at fault, though I guess that's possible too.

On a conventional water softener the brine refill control is basically a float-operated valve that opens or closes a water supply valve that allows water to enter the salt tank.

The float mechanism can get stuck due to caked on salt, due to someone pouring salt inside the plastic shroud that is intended to allow the float and switch to move freely up and down ad water level rises, or due to mechanical damage. I'd start by taking a look at the float assembly to see if its parts are moving freely.

Sometimes I can just grasp the upper end of the vertical float rod and manually move it up and down a few times to free one that's stuck.

Better, but more trouble, is to completely empty and clean out the salt tank and then remove, clean, and reassemble the brine level control assembly. Details about the float control in brine tanks are found in the article above



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