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Water Softener Brine Tank: How Much Water Should Be in Tank?

Scott Winfield
Last Updated on
by Scott Winfield

Everyone loves a fresh, cold glass of water on a hot summer day. You can avoid hard water in your home by using a water softener brine tank.

This article will help you understand why it is so important, how they work, and how to keep yours running smoothly!

Water Softener Brine Tank With Salt
Water Softener Brine Tank With Salt

What Is a Water Softener Brine Tank?

Water softener brine tank is a tool used to make hard water into a drinkable soft liquid. When water goes through the tank, hard water minerals and salt are taken from the liquid.

The output is clean water for human consumption. 

How Does a Water Softener Brine Tank Work?

A water softener brine tank has special metals that remove calcium and magnesium from water as the liquid filters past it.

When hard water enters the tank, it is sent to the resin beads which are made of plastic material. Those are commonly used to filter water and keep larger particles to the side while water moves on to the next point.

The beads do not stop the H20.

The beads inside the tank are made of polystyrene infused with sodium ions. These resin beads are negatively charged anions.

When water, which has a large amount of magnesium and calcium, flows through the tank, it has a positive charge.

When the particles with opposing charges clash, they stick together. As the hard water moves past the resin, the beads latch on to as many oppositely charged minerals as possible.

The process helps separate them from the water. The sodium goes into the water when a bead latches onto the mineral ion.

Periodically, you will need to clean out your device. The brine tank hosts a salt solution that flushes the mineral tank.

This process helps replace calcium and magnesium ions with sodium. Usually, a meter at the top of the mineral tank will help regulate when a new recharging cycle should begin.

There are three phases to this.

First is the backwash phase. It reverses water flow to filter dirt out of the tank. Next is the recharge phase.

This is when the sodium-rich salt solution flows out of the brine tank and into the mineral tank.

The sodium latches onto the beads and replaces the calcium and magnesium. The two minerals are flushed down the drain.

Once that is over, the mineral tank is cleaned of excess brine, and the brine tank refilled.

This filtration process helps water become lighter and mineral-free, keeping all the hardness back inside the tank.

Once the process is complete, water flowing through the connected pipe can be used for regular use and drinking at your home.

What Is the Adequate Water Softener Brine Tank Water Level?

Your brine tank should be at least a quarter full of salt. That should be around four to six inches below the top of the tank for excellent efficiency and keep the salt level over the water line.

If you want more salt pellets in the brine tank, do not forget to break all large pieces of salt and bits that are crusted onto the sides or in hard-to-reach corners.

If the salt is stuck together in a solid mass, you can break it by dumping hot water over the salt block. It is the easiest way to break it up and take it out of the tank.

How Much Water Should Be in the Brine Tank After Regeneration?

This depends on whether you have a wet brine tank or a dry one. It’s either between three to six gallons or none at all.

If you have a moist brine tank, you have water in the tank all the time.

This type should always have about three to six gallons of water inside. That is about three to six inches of liquid.

If you have a newer water softener system, the brine tank may be a dry one. That means you will only have water in your tank for an hour or two before the softener goes through the regeneration cycle.

Between cycles, there should be no water in the brine tank.

Water Softener Brine Tank Maintenance

Water Softener Brine Tank Maintenance
Water Softener Brine Tank Maintenance

If you have questions about maintenance for your brine tank, this section will help answer some commonly asked questions.

How much salt should I have in my brine tank?

Your brine tank should also be at least one-quarter full of salt.

The salt should be no more than four to six inches from the top. That will help keep the softener performing at its best.

The salt level should also always stay a few inches above the water level.

You should have as much salt in the brine tank as your household needs. It is all dependent on how much your water softener is used and how hard your water is.

If you have the right size softener and it’s programmed properly, you will most likely use around 40 to 50 pounds of salt a month.

How often do I have to add salt?

You should add salt to your softener every 4 – 6 weeks. This can also depend on usage and how frequently the device is being used.

How often should a brine tank be cleaned?

You need to clean your brine tank a minimum of once a year. It is not very often, but it is a vital thing to do.

Adding water softener cleaner to brine tank
Adding water softener cleaner to brine tank

If you wait until there is an issue with your water, it could be costly procrastination. You also may experience troubles with your water for longer than you would prefer.

How do you unclog a brine tank?

Unclogging a brine tank can be done in a few easy steps:

  • Turn off the water of your water softener.
  • Take an object and insert it into the tank. Tap the salt bridges to break them. The object should be long enough to reach the bottom and heavy to destroy the salt mass.
  • Put the small chunks into a plastic container.
  • Remove all the water on the bottom of the brine tank.
  • Pour hot water over the remaining salt.
  • Program a manual regeneration for the tank.
  • Repeat all the steps until the clog is cleared.

Can a damaged brine tank be replaced?

The short answer is yes; you can replace your damaged brine tank without having to replace the entire water softener system.

If the brine is not flowing correctly and clogs frequently, that could be because of a sodium build-up. That is a sign that your brine tank should be replaced.

You can try to remove the salt yourself. It is easily done, but if the salt bridge forms again in a few days or weeks, that’s a sign that you either do need to get the brine tank replaced or another serious problem is occurring.

You can call a water softener repair technician in your area to inspect the device for you. They will be able to tell you what is exactly wrong with the water softener and fix it for you.

How much will it cost to repair & replace brine tanks?

Repairing and replacing a brine tank can cost anywhere between $125 to $700, depending on which company you go to.

That may sound expensive, but it is not the worst repair you could face. Other repairs on the water softener system can cost over $1,000.

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Scott Winfield
Scott Winfield
My name is Scott Winfield and researching and writing about water filters and other strategies to purify water has become my full time passion in recent years. I'm glad that you found our site and you can look forward to authoritative and well researched content here to help you get the best in water.
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