How to Drain Brine Tank on Water Softener – The Ultimate Guide

The brine tank is part of a water softener that plays a key role in the ion exchange process. It removes calcium and magnesium ions from hard water and replaces them with sodium ions, turning the water into soft water.

It’s meant to be maintained and troubleshot in 1 – 5 years, however, when issues such as excessive water arise, it needs to drain with immediate effect to help it properly carry out its regeneration process and prevent any further damage. 

So, in this article, we will discuss the different ways of draining your brine tank so that you can choose which is the best way for you. 

But first, is it okay to have water in your brine tank in the first place? and what are the possible reasons why your brine tank gets filled to the brim?

Is It Okay To Have Water In Your Brine Tank?

Yes, it is okay to have water in your water softener’s brine tank. 

During the process of ion exchange, the resin beads in the resin tank trap the minerals responsible for the hardness of your water to release salts like sodium ions into the water and soften it. 

So, after the softening process has been done on some gallons of water, the trapped minerals need to be washed off the resin beads and recharged with sodium ions. 

This washing off and recharging is done by a brine solution formed by the water and salt in the brine tank. 

You might not be able to see the water at the initial stages of using your water softener because it is oftentimes covered with much salt, and the sight of it at the bottom of the tank can be said to be a sign to refill salt. 

A brine tank is meant to have water in it, but when it goes beyond the expected volume, it becomes a cause for concern.

Why Is The Water In Your Brine Tank Filled To The Brim?

Here are some possible reasons why the water in the brine tank of your water softener is filled to the brim:

• Clogging

Clogging is one of the major causes of excessive water in your brine tank, and it can affect the following areas:

The Brine Valve: Different variations of water softeners use different brine valves. Some have an injector brine valve, while some have a venturi brine valve. 

Whichever your water softening system has, it can be clogged. 

A brine valve plays the role of drawing salt water (brine) from the brine tank through the brine line to the resin or mineral tank for the regeneration process to take place, and they could get clogged during this process, making the water unable to move out and causing it to become excessive in the process.

To prevent this, ensure that you clean your brine valve at least twice a year and check for possible issues.

To do this, remove the components of the brine valve assembly and clean each one using a cleaning product that can remove scales, white vinegar, or soapy hot water. 

Ensure that you push in the bypass handle on your brine valve to put the valve on bypass mode first before opening it for cleaning, and also remove it from bypass mode after cleaning it.

If it can’t be cleaned anymore or after cleaning it, water can’t still go through the brine hose, then your brine tank needs a new brine valve. 

Flow Controls: Another possible reason why the water in your brine tank is filled to the brim is a clogged drain line flow control or control valve. 

If your water supply has a substantial amount of iron and is harder than usual, it can cause the formation of minerals in these control systems, hence leading to clogging, making water unable to leave the drain, and causing your tank to overflow. 

To handle this, endeavor to clean and maintain these control systems properly.

However, if it still prevents water from flowing through it after cleaning it, it is a good idea to purchase a new one and change it. 

Brine Line: Clogging in your brine line could also cause an overflowing brine tank and the inability of your water softener to soften hard water effectively.

Safety Float: A clogged safety float can also cause your brine tank to overflow, so endeavor to clean it and change it if necessary. 

Water Intake: Another part of your brine tank that clogging can cause overflowing is the water intake, which is also called the incoming water line. 

• Mushing

Mushing happens at the bottom of the brine tank when there is an accumulation of a salt bridge, impurities, or dirty deposits. 

Salt bridging is the process whereby semi-solid crusts in the water either due to the use of the wrong salt or overfilling the tank with too much salt. 

A brine tank needs salt to form a brine solution, but when the salt is overfilled, it becomes a problem. 

Salt bridging doesn’t only cause clogging in your lines. It prevents the proper regeneration cycle of your resin bed and the softening of hard water by causing the salt level of your water softener to keep going up.

It could also affect the water level of your water softener. 

You can correct your brine tank’s water salt bridge and mushing problem by:

• Turning off the water in your water softener through the bypass valve 

• Breaking the semi-solid salt crusts using a solid tool lightly ( be careful not to break the tank’s walls)

• Using a container (preferably plastic) to remove the salt pellets that are still left 

• Using a wet-dry vacuum to draw out the water at the bottom of the water softener.

In this step, you can alternatively carry out a brine solution with the water and salt remaining and then clean the water softener tank afterward.

• Turning the water back on and refilling new salt in the brine tank. Ensure quality salt (preferably evaporated salt or potassium chloride) is in the right quantity.

• Lastly, endeavor to carry out a manual regeneration cycle afterward. 

• Wrong Installation 

To function effectively, the brine line must be properly installed and connected to the brine tank’s float valve assembly and the water softener’s control valve. 

Improper brine line/tubing installation will lead to failure to draw brine from the tank and leakage, which will fill the tank to the brim.

On the other hand, the wrong installation of the float assembly, which ensures there is no overflow in the brine tank, will also lead to too much water in the tank. 

• Other possible causes could be a kinked brine drain, a damaged seal, and a wrongly programmed timer. 

How To Drain Brine Tank On Water Softener

There are different ways of draining the brine tank of your water softener system. They include: 

• The Wet Vacuum Method 

This method involves using a wet(or dry) vacuum to drain water out of your water softener brine tank. 

However, the first you must do when using this method is to confirm if your vacuum is built to handle water. Because using a vacuum that can’t handle water will damage it, even just a little water can harm your vacuum. So the first thing is to ensure it can before trying this method.

Also, endeavor to run a regeneration cycle after draining the water softener tank.

• The Manual Regeneration Method 

This method is the easiest way to drain your brine tank. 

This method requires no tools as all you need to do is press the regenerate button.

However, when the regeneration begins, you can press the button for the second time to neglect the brine cycle.

And when the brine tank has completely drained, make sure you press the button again to restore its default settings and turn the softener off immediately. 

The con of this method is that it won’t be fully effective if your drain hose has small holes. 

• The Scoop and Bucket Method 

This method requires scooping out the water into a clean bucket. 

This method is most effective if there is a blockage in the overflow tube or it has difficulty draining.

It is advisable that you run a backwash cycle after using this method to drain your tank to regenerate your resin bed. 

This particular method will take more time to accomplish compared to other methods. However, the good news is, it will still give you the same result.

• The Lift and Dump Method 

This method involves lifting your brine tank from its position and disposing of the water and salt in it in a good location — preferably where there are no plants or grasses. 

Before carrying out this method, endeavor to remove the fill tube, overflow elbow, and other removable parts of your brine tank to prevent them from falling off while you are on your way. 

How to Drain Brine Tank on Water Softener Summary

Having read this article, I am sure that you can now put these overflow-causing issues in check and prevent it from happening. 

However, if it is overflowing, I am sure you can use any of the methods above, which you feel is the easiest way to drain your brine tank.

While the manual regeneration cycle method is considered by many as the easiest method, it is important to note that there are pros and cons to each method, and you should analyze them properly before making a choice on which one to use. 

Nevertheless, if you feel you can’t try out these draining methods due to a lack of confidence or the fear that your softening system might break down, then you should hire a specialist to do it for you.