While owning a water softener requires a fair bit of maintenance, it certainly is not excessive. The true challenge is when something goes wrong and you aren’t exactly sure how to fix it. You may start by opening the brine tank, and then you realize, how much water should be in your water softener brine tank?
The answer is that you should have about five gallons of water in your brine tank, and it should look like there are a few inches of water on the floor of the tank itself. The long answer is that it depends on a number of factors.
What Does the Water in the Brine Tank Do?
Before exploring how much water should be present in the brine tank itself, it is critical to understand what the water in the tank does. If your brine tank does not have any water in it, it is not going to operate appropriately. The job of the water in the brine tank is to dissolve the salt. When salt dissolves in water, the solution is called brine, thus the name of the tank.
Then, it is the job of this brine to travel to the resin as your water softener regenerates. This brine solution will clean the resin using the salt level required to perform the ion exchange process that is responsible for softening your water. So, without the water, the salt would be unable to do its job appropriately, and the water softening process would grind to a halt.
At the same time, it is important to strike a balance. Remember that the salt will dissolve in the water to create a specific solution. How much salt is needed? If the amount of water in the tank is off, then the salt concentration could also be a bit off, which would make it difficult for the water softener to do its job. You may need to add more salt to the water softener’s brine tank.
There are a number of factors that will play a role in how much water you should have in your brine tank.
Wet Brine Tank vs Dry Brine Tank
There are two main types of brine tanks, and the type of tank you have will influence how much water should be present. If you have a wet brine tank, it should have water in it constantly. The overwhelming majority of water softeners that were manufactured prior to 2015 should have a wet brine tank. A dry brine tank probably will not have very much water in it, but it doesn’t mean that it will always be dry.
What this really refers to is the point at which the system makes the brine solution. Historically most system have been “wet”. This means that when the softener completes a regeneration process the last step is adding water to the brine tank so that there is plenty of time for the water to dissolve the salt into a high concentration of brine. The benefit is that its ready to go right away for the next regeneration process.
Over the past few years “dry” systems have gained popularity. This just means that the first step of the regeneration process is to add water to the brine tank, since it remains empty after a cycle.
DROP system brine tanks can function either way. When the “Before Regen”, or “dry” option is selected on the app for a DROP Smart Water Softener, the system adds the water to the brine tank then waits 2 hours to begin the actual regeneration process so that there is time to create a concentrated brine solution. The brine tank would remain dry most of the time, but the weakness is that if the user wanted to initiate an immediate regeneration it would take 2 hours longer than the “After Regen”, or “wet” option.
You Have a Wet Brine Tank
If you have a wet brine tank, it should have between 3 and 6 gallons of water in it. The water on the floor of the tank should be between six inches and a foot deep. If you feel like your wet brine tank has a low level of water, the drain itself could be blocked or frozen. There could also be a mechanical issue.
Keep in mind that just because you cannot see standing water doesn’t mean there is no water in the tank. Depending on when you opened the tank, it could be completely full of salt. If the water level is beneath the salt, it can get hard for you to see.
You Have a Dry Brine Tank
There is also a chance that you might have a dry brine tank. This is common on some newer systems, and if you have a digital valve, it is a sign that you have a dry brine tank. As the name suggests, this probably will not have very much water in it, but it doesn’t mean that it will always be dry.
Regardless of the type of tank you have, you need water for the brine tank to perform properly. On the other hand, a dry brine tank is going to be empty after your water softener carries out a regeneration cycle. Just before the ion exchange process takes place, it will fill with water.
So, the exact water level in this tank is going to vary depending on when you check the water level and the exact specifications of the tank itself. You may want to take a look at the user manual to see how much water should be present in the tank, or you may want to reach out to the company that made your water softener if you would like some clarification.
What If I See Standing Water in the Brine Tank?
If you open the tank and you see standing water, it is easy to be alarmed; however, keep in mind that this is not necessarily a bad thing. Your brine tank could have some standing water in it purely because it is going through a regeneration cycle or because it is getting ready to perform the ion exchange process.
If you know that something is wrong with your water softener, and you see standing water in the water softener itself, there are a few reasons why this might be present. They include:
- There might be an issue with the incoming brine line. It might be clogged.
- There might be a clog present inside the salt tank itself.
- There could be a malfunction involving the drain line of the brine tank.
- There could be a problem with the safety float valve.
- There could also be a blocked injector.
Before you can diagnose this issue, you need to know what is normal and what is not. Remember that your brine tank will usually be about half full of water. If you know that the hardness level of your water supply is still too high, or if you feel like the water tastes salty, it could be a sign that the standing water in the brine tank itself is excessive.
You need to diagnose and fix the issue as quickly as possible. While problems with the brine tank could certainly cause your water hardness level to be off, it can also shorten the lifespan of the water softener itself, leading to other issues. You may want to try troubleshooting a few of these issues above if you are comfortable going through the manual, but you may also want to reach out to the company that manufactured your water softener to figure out exactly what is going on.
Remember These Factors Moving Forward
Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that will play a role in how much standing water you should have in the brine tank. Some of the most common factors you need to remember include:
- The type of water softener you have, such as a wet brine tank or a dry brine tank
- The overall efficiency of your system
- The settings on your water softener
- The amount of water you consume regularly
If you know how much water is supposed to be present in your brine tank, you will be able to identify and rectify potential issues more quickly.
Find the Right Water Softener From DROP
You need to find the right water softener to meet your needs, and at DROP we have smart water softeners and water filters, and we can help you find the right water solutions for your home. Take a look at our selection today, and reach out to us to speak to a member of our team.