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    September 08, 2022 5 min read

    How Much Water Should Be In The Brine Tank Of A Water Softener?

    how much water in the brine tank

    Why is my water softener brine tank full of water? First of all, your brine tank, or salt tank, should NEVER be full of water. The amount of water that should be in the brine tank depends on if you have a “wet” brine tank or “dry” brine tank.

    There will usually be several gallons of water in the bottom of the brine tank, but usually is never more than twelve inches high. 

    We recommend that you check the salt level in your brine tank at least monthly. The more often your system regenerates, the more you’ll need to check and add salt to the tank.


    A water softener protects your home from hard water by eliminating calcium and magnesium ions from the water. This prevents your appliances from becoming choked by scale build-ups, keeps your laundry bright and soft, and gives your hair a shinier, silkier appearance. All water softeners need to periodically clean themselves through a process called “regeneration.” Salt is needed for this process, and is housed in a container called a Brine Tank. This tank is attached to your water softener, and may or may not have water in it.


    water in brine tank

    How much water should be in your brine (or salt) tank? It depends!

    Traditionally, older softening systems have brine tanks with water inside at all times. These “wet” tanks usually have about 3-6 gallons of water in them, which is about 6-10 inches high depending on the dimensions of the brine tank. If you have plenty of salt in the tank, you may not be able to see the water. This is normal! But, if you see the tank half full of water or more, it can mean there is a mechanical problem or a frozen/clogged drain line.

    No brine tank should ever be FULL of water!

    Newer water softeners, especially those with digital valves, only have water in the brine tank two hours before the softener goes through a cycle. These “dry” tanks should not have water in them between cycles.

    How can you know which you have? You can’t tell by looking at your valve. The best way to know is to call the water treatment company who installed it. If you recently purchased a newer system, you might have changed from a “wet” to “dry” brine. That is the latest trend in water softening.

    The first rule when operating a brine tank is that it should never be full of water. The tanks can either be wet or dry brine tanks. Traditional brine tanks are wet ones and you will notice that they always have water inside. The content is usually 6 to 10 inches or 3 to 6 gallons. If you are having issues with a frozen drain line then the tank will be half full with water – which is not a good sign. Modern systems come with digital control units that regulate the regeneration process. In this instances the systems are always dry and you will only see water when the softener undergoes the regeneration cycle.

    When the water in the brine tank won't go down:

    1. Water softener injector is clogged: remove and clean the injector
    2. Water softener piston assembly is damaged or worn: replace the parts
    3. Brine line tubing or connectors between water softener and brine tank leaky or crimped: inspect and replace as needed.
    4. Water softener drain line clogged or too small or too high, causing backpressure: inspect, repair, re-route, replace the drain as needed. A drain routed more than 8 ft. above the softener or more than 20 ft. in length is likely to give trouble unless extra steps are taken such as using a larger diameter pipe and possibly an ejector pump.
    5. Water supply pressure too low: compare inlet water pressure to the water softener to the specifications in your water softener's manual.


    Should there be standing water in my water softener?

    Seeing standing water in your brine tank can be a little disconcerting. Isn’t it supposed to just be salt? Well, that depends. For some households that don’t go through much water, this can be a common occurrence. Although you may need to add a bag of salt in the near future, it’s nothing to cause alarm.

    The water level (or briny water or brine level) in a water softener brine tank may be abnormally high, or it may simply fail to drop when the water softener goes through a regeneration cycle.

    Here are some of the common causes when you Brine Tank Water is Too High:

    1. Water softener injector or eductor is clogged or plugged: remove and clean it.
    2. Or the nozzle and venturi that produces the pumping suction for the system are not properly seated.
    3. Water softener valve seals are leaking
    4. Water softener piston assembly is damaged or worn: replace the parts.
    5. Water softener drain line restriction: the line i skinked, plugged, or leaky: inspect and replace the drain line as needed
    6. Water softener drain line is routed too high, too far, of too-small diameter, or building water supply pressure is too low, thus combining to exceed the softener's drain lift capacity
    7. Water softener brine valve or tubing is clogged, stuck, obstructed
    8. Water softener backwash flow controller or drain line flow controller (DLFC) is clogged or closed: check, clean, or replace the part
    9. Water softener brine line float controller is stuck, damaged or clogged: replace the part.


    Try Cleaning your Brine Tanks!

    You should thoroughly clean your water softener’s brine tank about once a year. Routine maintenance ensures your softener is operating at peak performance, so frequent cleaning ensures the system stays effective. Letting your tank idle too long without thoroughly cleaning it can lead to clogged water inlet valves and salt mushing. Any time you notice discolored or smelly water, a salt bridge forming in the tank, or see a decline in performance, you should clean out the tank. This helps protect the lifespan of the system and keeps your water soft. To ensure you are keeping your brine tank as clean as possible, be sure to only use high purity salt pellets that do not contain trace amounts of minerals or other insoluble materials.

    Not sure what the problem is?

    Brine is vital for softening hard water. However, many users are often in shock when they find water in their brine tanks. For traditional water systems it is normal to have 6 to 10 inches of water in the brine tank. However, higher amounts will interfere with the regeneration process. Should you find your tank with half percent water then you could be having problems with a frozen drain line. Water softening equipment may seem complicated but knowing how to troubleshoot some of the most common issues responsible for brine tank overflow can save you time and money. Learning how to remove, inspect, and replace the most important components of your unit will help avoid unnecessary service calls and extend the lifespan of your softening system.