How to Fix Standing Water in Water Softener Salt Tank?

Why Learn To Fix Standing Water?

Water softeners are designed to soften hardened water to make it easy for you to lather up soap or shampoo when washing dishes or taking a bath. It is clear that water softening systems offer a ton of benefits, but maintenance and troubleshooting it may often feel like a big challenge.

One of the most common problems that you may face with your water softener salt tank is standing water.

Seeing standing water in the brine tank your water softening system can be a little disconcerting since you’re supposed to see salt in a salt tank. However, this can be a common occurrence, especially if your household does not usually go through much water and it’s generally not a cause for concern.

On the other hand, having standing water in your water softener salt tank can also be a sign of a bigger problem, such as a defect in the brine line flow control that allows the salt tank to overfill, or water not being drawn down after regeneration. To get to the bottom of this, you’ll need some troubleshooting skills.

Should There Be Water In the Salt Tank?

Some water in the softener brine tank is not typically an issue and in fact, there should be around 5 to 12 inches of water in the average residential water softener unit.

This water is required to dissolve a portion of the softener salt to form a brine solution. The brine solution then works to flush captured hardness out of the resin beads and replenish them with a new charge of sodium ions.

Sometimes seeing water in your brine tank may be a sign that you need to add more salt into the water softener salt tank. It is also recommended that you add enough salt to your brine tank to completely cover the water.

Why Is My Water Softener Salt Tank Full of Water?

There are several reasons why your water softener brine tank is full of standing water. Low water levels can be expected in some systems but you’re probably facing a bigger issue if your water softener salt tank is overflowing, has excessive water, or you’re experiencing a dip in water pressure. Here are a few possible reasons why there may be standing water in your brine tank:

Disconnected incoming brine line hose

The brine tank is usually equipped with a safety float inside to control the water softener salt tank level and it works much like the float in your toilet tank. If the incoming water line is not attached properly, the float may not be able to stop the water flow once it reaches the brine line. If this is the case, you need to check and confirm that the brine line and float are secure in your brine tank.

Clogging of salt in the bottom of the brine tank

Another reason to brine tank overflow could be salt buildup at the bottom of the water softener salt tank. The water softener brine tank has horizontal slots that allow water to flow in and out. But if salt from the brine solution clogs the slots, the amount of water flowing back out. If you see salt buildup at the bottom, it’s time to clean your water softener brine tank.

Drain line malfunction

Another possible reason why your brine tank has standing water would be a clogged drain line. The drain could possibly have a kink in it or be damaged. In this case, you should either clean or replace the drain line.

Brine line flow control clogged

Similarly, if there is debris accumulating in the water softener brine tank, the brine line can eventually get clogged and you’ll need to flush out the buildup to solve the problem.

Drain line flow control is clogged

If you’ve checked that the drain line is working fine, you can try disconnecting the drain line and check if the control valve is clogged. This can be a common issue with households that have water with high iron content as it could cause a buildup in the control valve. If you notice a buildup in the control valve, you can simply clean it out to fix the issue.

Injector is clogged

This is another common problem for households with high iron content water. However, a clogged injector is not difficult to fix as all you need to do is to remove and clean it. The injector has a tiny hole that works to regulate water intake via suction.

You can grab a wooden toothpick to clean it, but make sure you stay away from using anything hard, such as metal, or you may risk damaging the injector by altering the hole size. Alternatively, you can also use a cleaning product such as a calcium lime rust (CLR) remover. The last resort is to simply replace the injector.

Incorrectly configured timer

A water softener control is used to determine how often the system performs a regeneration cycle and it can be set according to your water usage and/or hardness levels. If the timer isn’t programmed properly, it may cause the softener to either regenerate too often or not often enough.

This may also prevent some or all of the phases of a full regeneration process from taking place within the proper amount of time or even not taking place at all.

Malfunctioning electronics

Another thing to check is the base plate of your electric water softener. Is it lit up as it should? If it doesn’t, it could indicate a problem with the circuit board and may need to be replaced.

Spaced stack and/or piston malfunction

The spacer stack and pistons in a water softener tank may wear out over time. This can be verified by disconnecting the drain line and brine line while the valve is operating. If water is flowing over the control valve, then it’s time to get a new spacer stack and pistons.

How to Fix Standing Water in Water Softener Salt Tank?

Most of the problems discussed above can be solved by cleaning out or replacing the units. But what if you’ve done it all and you’re still facing an overflowing salt tank? In such cases, it might be worth resetting the system by draining the brine tank and starting from scratch again.

Draining the bring tank also gives you an opportunity to clean out the inside of the salt tank. Most water softeners’ brine tank require cleaning once every 1 to 5 years while the resin should be cleaned every 12 months at a minimum.

It is advised to drain the tank when it’s nearly running out of salt since it’ll make it easier to empty. But if you notice that your water softener system isn’t operating properly and you need to fix the issue A.S.A.P, then you shouldn’t wait so long.

Here are the steps to drain your water softener brine tank:

Step 1: Remove the Water

The first thing to draining a brine tank is to remove the remaining water within the brine tank. You need to dolly the tank to your dumping location – you may need some help here as the salt tank can be quite heavy when it’s full. Alternatively, you could scoop out the salt and water with a tub or bucket, however, this method may take a little longer.

Here are the steps to remove the brine well and dump the water:

1. Remove the float. You need to take out the float and an overflow elbow(if present) located inside the brine tank before removing the brine well.
2. Pull out the cylinder. Carefully pull out the cylinder that contains the safety float.
3. Disconnect the fill tube. If you have a side-by-side water softener model, you may also need to disconnect the fill tube connecting the brine tank to the head control valve and the brine tank’s overflow hose.
4. Dump the water. Lift the tank and dump the water down the drain (brine water does not pose an environmental hazard).

Make sure you’re disposing the salt and water in a proper location. It’s not advisable to empty out the water in your back yard as the high sodium levels could kill your grass. You can also consider reusing the water inside if it’s still relatively clean. Simply scoop the water into a larger clean container or your laundry tub to use it again once you’ve fixed the problem.

Step 2: Manually Run a Regeneration Cycle

Program your water softener to regenerate manually by setting it to draw down the brine tank and shut the system off before the unit can refill. To perform a manual regeneration, you can do the following:

1. Push the regenerate button. Activate the manual regeneration cycle by pushing and holding the “regenerate” button to begin emptying the water softener. During regeneration, the water softener will automatically suck all the water out of the brine tank.

2. Push the regenerate button again. Once the brine tank is empty, you can push the button again to skip all of the other cycles and return your water softener back to normal.

Keep in mind that this method only works if the regeneration function of your water softener system is functioning properly. Otherwise, you will need to use other methods to drain the water from your unit.

Step 3: Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum

There may usually be some water leftover in your brine tank and you can use a wet/dry vacuum that’s designed to handle water to completely remove any remaining water in the salt tank. Below are the steps for using a wet/dry vacuum:

1. Empty the collection tank. If your wet/dry vacuum uses the same collection tank (some may use a separate wet tank and dry dust bag), make sure to empty the brine tank before you begin.
2. Remove the filter. If you’re expecting to suck up a large amount of water, it is advisable for you to remove the filter before you begin or you may risk damaging it.
3. Attach the right accessory to the hose. The wet/dry vacuum will most likely have a dedicated attachment used for sucking up water and it’ll look like a squeegee. Identify the right accessory and connect it to your hose.
4. Turn on the vacuum. Plug in the vacuum and turn it on. Place the hose and attachment into the brine tank to begin removing the water.
5. Empty the container. Once you’ve sucked up all the water, you can empty the collection tank. If the water is relatively clean, you may consider dumping it into another container or laundry for use later.

Make sure to completely and properly clean and rinse your vacuum after sucking out the water from the brine tank or you may need to purchase a new one sooner than expected.

What Happens if My Water Softener Doesn’t Drain Properly?

A water softener full of water won’t be able to perform its functions properly. If the softener isn’t fully drained during the regeneration cycle, the water may eventually fill up the brine tank. Having too much water in the brine tank will mean that the brine water to become too diluted and not be able to properly regenerate the resin tank within the softener system.

The resin beads will remain saturated with calcium and magnesium ions and not effectively remove hardening components in your water anymore.

Are There Ways to Prevent a Water Softener Not Drawing?

A water softener that will not draw down properly might be a bit of an issue since you’d rather have a fully functioning system at all times. When operating poorly, the water softener full of water may affect your home’s water pressure or even cause irreversible damages. Fortunately, there are a few simple methods you can take to prevent draining issues and the are discussed below:

Use high quality salt

Sometimes it’s worth investing in better quality salt for your softener as it means less potential for the system to salt clog. Such salt are signed to effectively dissolve in water to not cause bridging or mushing that will contribute to clogging issues. You should also opt for higher purity salt to reduce any potential dirt buildup in the brine tank.

Clean the Brine Tank

As mentioned earlier, it is recommended to conduct regular cleaning for your brine tank once every 1 to 5 years. This is especially true if you have high water hardness or iron levels in the water supply.

Proper maintenance of the brine tank will help prevent scale buildup within the softener tank and control valves, thereby reducing or eliminating chances of high or low water levels in the brine tank due to clogging issues.

This will ultimately reduce the maintenance cost as well. If you know that the iron levels in your water are too high for your water softener to deal with, you can also consider using salt with iron remover.

Use a Resin Cleaner

A resin cleaner can ensure cleaner resin beads in the system for more effective water softening and to ensure proper regeneration can take place. This will help maintain the overall health of the water softener system. It is recommended to clean the resin at least once a year to remove any iron, salt, heavy metals and other pollutants that may have built up within the brine tank.

Sometimes you may even need to replace your resin bed, though this is not something that needs to be done regularly. Most water softener resin beads have a lifespan of at least 10 years, but the actual length may depend on the resin quality, water usage, chlorine levels, proper maintenance, as well as the hardness minerals and iron present in your water.

Cleaning the Venturi Valve

Clean venturi, injector assembly, nozzle, throat, screen, drain line flow control, refill control, piston assembly, seals, spacers, and other system components are necessary to draw brine into the media tank to replenish the resin bead. However, the valve and nozzle may get blocked by salt, dirt, and sediment present in the tank.

It is therefore essential to ensure that the venturi valve is free of such blockages, or the system may not be able to draw brine out of the salt tank. It is advisable to clean the venturi valve at least once a year to maintain the proper flow of water during the regeneration process.

Here are the steps to clean the venturi valve:

  • Step 1: Unscrew the cover and take out the components.
  • Step 2: Soak and wash them in hot, soapy water.
  • Step 3: Soak the components in white vinegar to remove tough stains.

Perform System Checkups

Checking the salt in the brine tank is one of the best ways to make sure that your water softener system is performing the way it’s designed to. But you should also familiarize yourself with the other components of your softener system, such as the brine and bypass valves, seals, drain line, o-rings, and control settings.

You want to make sure that everything is in good condition and that there are no damages to these components, incorrect programming, or other issues that could contribute to improper operation. Once you know what to look out for, you’ll be able to prevent some of the issues that can lead to excess brine tank water.

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