Water 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.
Too Much Water in the Brine Tank - Diagnosis and Cure
Question: 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. Normally the water conditioner backwash or regen cycle requires about fifteen minutes for the softner's brine to flow through the resin bed in the softener body and out to the brine drain. If your brine drain flow is much longer, much stronger, or very weak, check the diagnostic table we give below, and also see BRINE TANK WATER TOO LOW.
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: 
Water Softener Control / Brine Tank Problems: Table of Causes & Repair Steps
Causes of Water Remaining in Brine Tank
Cures for Flooded Brine Tank
Low building water pressure
Make correct setting according to
See WATER PRESSURE MEASUREMENT then use your browser "BACK" button to return to this article., Typically you need at least 20 psi water pressure for the water softener to function properly.
Clogged water softener drain tubing
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.
Check the water softener backwash/regeneration drain tubing for clogs, bends, crimps, or routing too high above the unit. Do not install water softener valve drain line runs of more than 30 feet and of more than 8 feet above the floor level.
Restricted, kinked, clogged brine tank tubing
Remove the obstruction, kink, bend or clog in tubing between the water softener and the brine tank
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.
Clogged or Plugged injector system
Clean the injector or its filter-screen
On the water softener - there is an injector and screen that need to be cleaned
Leak in brine tank 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.
Leak in water softener internal control
Change seals, spacer, piston assembly
Water softener valve disk not closed (present on some systems)
Disassemble & clean the valve;
Check disk for closing by pressing in on stem; replace the part(s) if needed.
Water softener / brine tank air check valve closed prematurely or clogged
Try manual brine tank refill / regen cycle; replace or repair the air check valve if needed
"Foreign material" inside of the brine level control valve
the valve can be disassembled and cleaned (if there is a valve)
"Foreign material" inside the brine line flow control
The flow control can be cleaned
Stuck brine tank refill control valve
Manually free the stuck valve; clean if needed.
The 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.
Weak brine tank draw - weak water flow at the brine tank drain
Water softener does not draw enough brine from the brine tank (salt tank)
Weak brine draw or poor brine flow from the brine tank through the water softener resin tank will result in hard water or the delivery of soft water for abnormally short period.
Run an extra regeneration cycle at the water softener and observe the brine drain. If the water flow at the brine drain is weak check these causes of weak flow at the brine tank drain, or of weak brine draw at the tank:
Collector basket (upper) in the water softener debris fouled (not present on all water softeners)
Control valve clogging at the valve feeding water to the water softener injector screen; check for silt in the water supply or high iron content clogging of the injector.
Distributor basket (in the softener unit) clogged with debris or iron
Put the water softener in bypass mode. If house water pressure improves the problem is clogging in the water softener.
Check the water softener control valves or collector or distributor basket openings or slots for debris clogging and clean or replace these components.
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. 
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.
These typical diagnostics are adapted and expanded-upon from an Aqua brand water softener but pertain to many models for which the manual describes diagnosing and repairing a softener that won't draw brine from the brine tank:
Water Softener Air Check Valve Troubleshooting
If your water softener system uses an air check valve (sketch at above left example from G.E. ) 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. 
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
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  and Water Right.
[Click to enlarge any image or table]
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.
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
The 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.
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.
 Water Right, 1900 Prospect Court
Appleton, Wisconsin 54914, Tel: 920-739-9401, Website: http://www.water-right.com/ and their water softener manuals are available online at http://www.water-right.com/library/literature/literature_manuals.html
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
 North Dakota Standards for Water Softeners, North Dakota General Authority Law, Chapter 62-04-08, Water Softener Units http://www.legis.nd.gov/information/acdata/pdf/62-04-08.pdf. "The objective of this chapter is to provide a standard of quality, capacity,
and performance for water softener units. Water softener performance
is to be based upon referee tests procedures described in section
 Culligan Mark 10 Water Softener 1994-1998 Installation and Operating Instructions (covering models manufactured after 1995) (1-96) 01881948.pdf available from www.culligan.com
 Water Softeners, CMHC, Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation, cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/maho/wawa/wawa_005.cfm - October 2008. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation acknowledges the contribution of Health Canada to the development of this document. For further questions regarding water treatment and water quality, contact Health Canada at email@example.com or call 613-957-2991 or 1-866-225-0709.
 "Commercial Water Softener Installation and Operating Instructions", IBC Filtration & Water Treatment Products (Australia) for commercial, industrial and residential application www.ibcwater.com.au (07) 3219 2233
 "Non electric water softener,
Installation and Operating Instructions", IBC Filtration & Water Treatment Products (Australia), op.cit.
 "Water Softener Twin Tank Installation and Operating Instructions", IBC Filtration & Water Treatment Products (Australia), op.cit.
 Our Water Hardness Table used at originated with but was edited and added to from http://www.bestfish.com/tips/110598.html and also from http://www.water-research.net/hardness.htm
 Thanks to reader Gail Sanchez for discussing water softener backups and floods after an electrical outage - August 2010
 Water Right, 1900 Prospect Court
Appleton, Wisconsin 54914, Tel: 920-739-9401, Website: http://www.water-right.com/ and their water softener manuals are available online at http://www.water-right.com/library/literature/literature_manuals.html
 General Electric Corporation, Operation Manual, 740/760 [Water Conditioner or Water Softener] Control, 255 and Performa Series Valves, (268, 268 FA), General Electric Corp. 2007
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
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Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
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"International Private Sewage Disposal Code," 1995, BOCA-708-799-2300, ICBO-310-699-0541, SBCCI 205-591-1853, available from those code associations.
"Manual of Policy, Procedures, and Guidelines for Onsite Sewage Systems," Ontario Reg. 374/81, Part VII of the Environmental
Protection Act (Canada), ISBN 0-7743-7303-2, Ministry of the Environment,135 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5 Canada $24. CDN.
Manual of Septic Tank Practice, US Public Health Service's 1959.
Builder's Greywater Guide, Art Ludwig; Buy New: $10.17. Installation of Greywater Systems in New Construction & Remodeling; A Supplement to the Book "Create an Oasis With Greywater" (Paperback).
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... These books talk the talk and walk the walk better than anything else that I've seen. Buy a set for yourself, a set for your neighbors, and a set for the regulators.
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Quality issues in harvested rainwater in arid and semi-arid Loess Plateau of northern China,
K. Zhu, L. Zhang, W. Hart, M. Liu, H. Chen (out of print, find by search and deferred order).
Amazon's description may be helpful: Loess soils cover vast areas in the arid and semi-arid regions of northern China. Due to the lack of reliable surface water and ground-water, rainwater harvesting has played a prominent role in farmers' domestic usage and agricultural irrigation. An economical and valid type of water storage cistern with optimum design of components has been introduced to rural areas in the Loess Plateau. Different collection alternatives showed apparent variations in rainwater quality. By using different catchments, such as mortar roofs and cement-paved courtyards, compacted land or road surfaces, rainwater can be effectively collected for storage in cisterns. This study focused mainly on the quality of rainwater harvested from the different catchment systems and stored for different periods of time. By analysis of the water samples stored in these cisterns, it was evident that rainwater quality could be improved significantly by self-purification during the storage. With emphasis on rainwater quality affected by the
different catchment systems, it was found that the measured inorganic compounds in the rainwater harvested from roof-yard catchment systems generally matched the WHO standards for drinking water, while the concentrations of some inorganic compounds in the rainwater collected from land and road surfaces appeared to be higher than the guideline values for drinking water, but generally not beyond the maximum permissible concentrations. However, Fecal Coliform, which is an important bacteriological parameter for the three catchment systems, exceeded the limits of drinking water to a greater extend. Trace amounts of 55 organic pollutants were identified, including aliphatic hydrocarbons, aromatic compounds and phthalate esters, etc. The analytical results indicated that roof-yard catchments that included the ''first flush'' usually provided safe drinking water with low organic contents, even for rainwater collected immediately after rainfall. In contrast, rainwater harvested from road surfaces had poor quality
with respect to the organic constituents, regardless of stored time.
City eying home water-recycling technology; uses bath and washer water for irrigation., (ReWater Systems' equipment for greywater irrigation):
This is an article from: San Diego Business Journal [HTML] (Digital) available online in digital format. I have not (yet) reviewed it -- DF
Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
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Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. (DF volunteers to serve as indexer if Burks/Minnis re-publish this very useful volume.)While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference
for both property owners and septic system designers. We refer to it often.
While Minnis says the best place to buy this book is at Amazon (our link at left), you can also see this book at Minnis' website at http://web page .pace.edu/MMinnisbook
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
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Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
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