• September 08, 2022 6 min read

    Why Does My Water Softener Fill Up With Water?

    water leaking from tank onto floor

    Why is my water softener filled with water? Typically, there are several gallons of water inside a softening system’s brine tank, but when your water softener is full of water or your water softener is overflowing, the water is not passing through the tank to the rest of your home the way it’s meant to.

    An abnormally high water level in a brine tank often suggests a brine line malfunction, stuck float, or a damaged valve. There are a few simple water softener maintenance tips to help determine the cause of an overflow, and how to resolve it. First, a little background on what happens inside a brine tank and how this is important to the water softening process.

    Don't let your water softener fill up with water! A water softener full of water won't be able to function properly.

    If your softener isn't fully draining during the regeneration cycle then your brine tank will eventually fill up with water until the safety float is engaged.

    The salt water solution in your brine tank will become too diluted, and your softener will not be able to regenerate properly. As a result your water will remain hard.

    Should there be water in the water softener tank?

    During normal operation of a water softening system regeneration cycle, water fills the brine tank ¼ to half of the way, then the brine is drawn back into the softener tank to clean the resin. When a softener system isn’t drawing brine to use during regeneration, the water level may stay the same or increase during each backwash cycle.

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

    Should your softener have water in the brine tank? Yes, it should, as long as it’s a post-fill system. But as stated above, unless the salt is almost empty you should not be able to see any of it, because the tank is not supposed to fill up to the top (usually no higher than 10″ to 12″).

    If that’s still the case it means that your brine tank is either not filling or not emptying the way it should. Too much water also means reduced brine salinity which prevents your softener from recharging properly.

    Thus, it’s best if you drain the tank by hand and thoroughly clean it afterwards.

    Why is this happening and how can you fix it?

    More possible reasons why your brine tank is full of water or overflows:

    • Water pressure in your home is too low/high – Measure the water pressure in your home. If it does not meet your softener’s requirements adjust it accordingly.
    • Clogged drain tubing/control – Clean the drain tubing and control if need be.
    • Clogged injector/venturi – Check if the brine injector or venturi – used to suck brine into the resin tank – is plugged and if so remove any debris or salt deposits (refer to manual).
    • Malfunctioning timer – The refill time might not be set properly. We have covered this above.
    • Salt mushing
    • Blockage in control valve – Although it’s rare, a blockage in the main control valve might cause an internal bypass. Clean to unclog.



    There is a float inside the brine well that controls brine level, like the float in your toilet tank. If the incoming water line is not securely attached, the float won’t stop the water flow at the correct level. Check to confirm that the line and float are secure.


    There are horizontal slots in the brine well that allow water to flow in and out. If the salt buildup is clogging the tank at the bottom, that will reduce the amount of water that can enter the tank, absorb salt, and then flow back out. If this is your problem, it’s time to clean the tank.


    If the drain line has become clogged, has a kink in it, or is damaged, clean or replace it.


    If the line itself is OK, disconnect the line and see if the control valve has become clogged. This is a typical issue in households where the water has a high iron content. If you see buildup, simply cleaning out the control valve may fix your issue.


    If debris accumulates in the brine well, it can eventually clog the line. Flushing it out may solve the problem.


    If the float and incoming line are securely attached, the float itself may be the problem. If it becomes clogged, it cannot move freely, so it’s a good idea to remove it for cleaning. Note that there is supposed to be a cap on top of the brine well — if it is askew or missing, salt can get into the well and cause clogs.


    This is another common problem (again, especially if your water has high iron content) that can be fixed by removing and cleaning the injector. There is a tiny hole that regulates intake using suction. You can use a wooden toothpick to clean it, but do not use anything metal because you can easily damage the injector by altering the size of the hole. You can also use a cleaning product such as Calcium Lime Rust (CLR) remover. If you aren’t able to clean the injector, you will need to replace it.


    Is the base plate on your electric water softener lit up as it should be? If not, that indicates there is a problem with the circuit board and it should probably be replaced.

    How do I get the water out of my water softener tank?

    There are a few different methods that you can use to drain your water softener's brine tank. These include:

    1. USE A BUCKET:

    You can simply scoop out all of the water in your water softener by hand with a bucket. If the water inside is still relatively clean, you can scoop it into a large container or your laundry tub so that you can use it again once you have fixed the problem.


    If you don't like the idea of scooping out all of that water by hand, a wet-dry vacuum, also known as a shop-vac, can easily and conveniently suck out the water inside your water softener brine tank.

    Wet-dry shop vacs are specially designed to suck up water as well as dry items. Not all shop vacs are designed to suck up water, so make sure that you use one that works for both wet and dry applications!


    You can dump the water out of your water softener down a drain as it doesn’t pose an environmental hazard. Before you attempt this, you will need to remove the brine well. This is the long cylinder that holds the safety float inside your brine tank.

    You can do this by taking out the float inside the tube and then take apart the overflow elbow if your unit has one. Lastly, pull out the cylinder.

    If you have a side-by-side water softener model, then you will also need to disconnect the fill tube that connects the brine tank to the head valve and the brine tank's overflow hose.

    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. 


    If your water softener allows for a manual regeneration you can activate a manual regeneration cycle by pushing and holding the "regenerate" button to empty a water softener full of water.

    During regeneration, your water softener automatically sucks all of the water out of the brine tank, so activating this cycle can remove the water for you. When the regeneration cycle starts, make sure you push the button a second time to skip the brine cycle.

    When your tank is empty, you can then push the button to skip all of the other cycles and return your water softener back to normal.

    This method will only work if your regeneration is functioning properly on your water softener. If it isn't, then you will need to use one of the first three methods to drain the water from your unit.

    STILL NEED ASSISTANCE? Contact Aquatell

    If you have tried the above steps and your water softener is still not functioning properly, or if you don't want to attempt the above steps, contact a professional to help you.