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
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
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
Many water softener models use a check valve at the top or at the bottom of a brine pick-up tube in the brine tank. This valve closes when the brine level in the tank drops - at the end of a regen cycle - to preven drawing air into the water softener itself.
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.
If you find air discharge at plumbing fixtures after a water softener regen cycle the brine tank tube air check valve itself may be debris-clogged.
Also see WATER SOFTENER CHECK VALVE STUCK where we explain that a stuck air check valve in the brine tank can cause air discharge at plumbing fixtures after a softener regen cycle.
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
Continue reading at WATER SOFTENER BRINE TANK FAQs or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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