How To Fix Standing Water in Water Softener Salt Tank

Although water softeners are considered one of the low-key home appliances, there are some areas where they require special attention and maintenance.

Its brine tank is one of them, if there is standing water in the brine tank, it could prevent your water softener from proper regeneration. Improper or not regeneration, in other words, no producing of soft water.

Water Softener in itself is one of the expensive purchases. There are monthly salt expenses, maintenance, and services expenses, and if something goes wrong, such as overflowing the brine tank, there will be separate charges for that.

The services and maintenance on regular basis are a must, but you can save other extra fixing charges if you top up the brine tank with quality salt on time, and keep an eye on the brine tank, check if it is working right.

If you have been lazy like me, and your brine tank is full of water, overflowing sometimes, don’t worry we are to help.

In this guide, we are going to discuss how much standing water is good in a salt tank, and how to prevent overflowing brine solution.

Standing water in the salt tank

Why is there water in the salt tank?

For most households, having water in the salt tank is alarming. They think that the only water they get from the water softener is through the faucet, they don’t know how the water softener works, and why the water in the brine tank is required.

Actually, salt acts more like a cleaner, a detergent to your clothes. What detergent does, it removes the debris and grimes from your clothes and makes your clothes clean and sparkling.

In the same way, the brine tank gets the hard water, it mixes with the salt and makes a brine solution.

This solution then travels towards the resin tank where it charges the resin beads with the sodium positive ion which attracts the dissolved minerals in the water. If there is no sodium in the brine tank, there is no soft water.

How much water should be in the salt tank?

The level of water in your brine tank is determined by how your softener is set. Keep in mind that water in the salt tank after regeneration standing is different than the water in the softener brine tank before regeneration.

Before regeneration water standing can be more than after standing. Well for most of the part, the water in the salt tank should be one quarter to one half of the tank.

The amount of water in the brine tank is determined by the salt quantity required. It is the salt that requires water, your softener requires hard water for mixing the salt and making a brine solution. If the salt dosage is high, the requirement of the water would obviously be high.

In some cases, if your soft water requirements are less than regular, and you filled the tank with the current salt requirement, the water would be more than required, and the water level here can be up.

This is normal, as the water in the brine tank is set for that level since it was installed.

Your salt level in the salt tank should be higher than the water level, it should be one-quarter full. Never overfill the salt tank with the salt, it should not be above than six inches from the top, or the crystals can stick to one another, and form a salt bridge, which prevents the salt from mixing the hard water and making a brine solution.

When should not be any water in the salt tank?

Actually, your salt tank will have water every time. It requires water for brine solution, and without water, how can salt be mixed in the hard water to make a brine solution.

There is a short phase or pause when you have to clean the brine tank. It is during the regeneration cycle that you flush the brine solution towards the resin beads. After that, all the brine solution is drawn from the brine tank for rinsing purposes.

After this rinsing, more salt will be deposited in the brine tank, and more water goes into it, to make the brine solution so that it could be used for the next regeneration cycle.

So, water is always there in the salt tank. But, most of the time, households don’t monitor it, as the water level is always set lower than the salt level, which is a good thing. Normally, in a brine tank or salt tank, around 3 to 6 gallons of water is always there.

How would my system know how much water to put in the salt tank?

It is all math. You have already set your water softener. You have made it known the gallons of water to filter before regeneration. You also fill the brine tank with salt.

It will put the water in the brine tank for a present amount of time to dissolve the salt it requires to filter the water.

Smaller water systems may have a seven inches diameter tank with forty-eight inches eight, ½ cubic feet of resin, which can consume around 3 gallons of brine solution for regeneration. If it is a larger system, it requires more brine solution.

So, it is all calculated, your softener knows the hardness level of your water, your amount of water consumption, and when to regenerate once the brine solution is short, or the resin beads are overwhelmed with the minerals.

But what if there is more than the required water in the brine tank? I mean, if the water level is above the salt level, and it is not draining at all?

There can be an issue in the brine tank, water standing there and not emptying can be because of more than one reason. Let’s move our discussion to that side, and try to learn the top reasons why more than required water is standing.

Brine tubing is not installed correctly

The top reason why your brine tank is full of water and is not emptying is its brine tubing’s improper installation.

The brine line delivers water to the brine tank and withdraws salt from the brine tank during the regeneration process. If the brine line is installed incorrectly, it can lead to overfilling of the brine tank.

Maybe the brine line is installed correctly, but from the inside, the brine line is leaked, which is leading to overflowing the brine solution.

You can say, the tubing is in good condition, and from any side, it shows no sign of leaking, but from inside it is leaking, making the brine tank always full of water, even when not needed.

Blocked brine drain

If the brine drain is blocked, it would not let the brine solution flow towards the resin tank for regeneration.

Yes, if the brine drain is blocked, you will be receiving no water in the resin tank, even when you initiate the regeneration more than once.

Clogged Flow Control

If it is not the brine line, then it can be clogged flow controls or the control valves, leading your brine tank to overfill with the water and preventing it from emptying. 

Actually, it happens only when your water hardness with the iron is more than regular levels if it contains lots of iron in it. The iron build-up can be inside the control valve, which can prevent water from flowing. Proper maintenance and cleaning of the control valve can prevent internal valve issues.

It can also be softener injector clogged which is leading to the brine water issue. For that, you can simply remove the injector assembly, and clean all its components.

Timer issue

How does the water softener know when to regenerate? It is the timer control that is linked with the control knob or valve that acts as per instructions.

It determines the regeneration cycles upon your water usage and hardness level. What if the timer is not correctly programmed? 

What if it regenerates too often than required, it will be pouring more than required water in the brine tank.

In case of too often than required regeneration, the same, more than required water will be there in the salt tank. So, program the timer all over again, and check if it is functioning rightly.

How to Empty your softener’s salt tank?

There are many more causes that can lead to water overflowing the brine tank or standing. I am sure you will diagnose it, if none of them all is working for you, the best would be to drain the brine tank, and maintain or service it once more.

Water softeners require proper maintenance, their resin beads in some cases required to be replaced in every 12-months, maybe the resin tank is not accepting more resin, and your softener still is pushing more water to the brine tank, which is leading to more than required water staying.

Dump the Water

If nothing is working out for you, maybe you should dump the water standing in the brine tank. You can take assistance to take the tank to the location where you are dumping it.

Keep in mind that this solution is mixed with high sodium intake, if any animal consumes it, this can deteriorate its health, so be careful.

Or if you can’t lift the heavy tank, scoop it out. Use a bucket or bowl to remove all the brine solution, as well as the standing water, and dump the salt and water.

Manual regeneration

Now, when you have removed all the remaining solutions, you can check where the issue is in the brine tank.

Try to check the mentioned ones, if not, then check the resin beads, if it has been ages since you replaced the resin beads, do it, maybe the resin beads have reached their lifespan and required replacement.

Program your water softener, set its timer again, and follow all the steps required for regeneration.

You can use a vacuum to suck all the brine solution stuck in the corners. You can clean all the valves, brine tube, and other parts which take part in bringing water or brine solution to or from the brine tank, it is more like maintenance of the brine tank.

Why Don’t I see water in the water softener brine tank?

In the water softener’s brine tank, the salt level is always set higher than the water level. That means, there is water in the brine tank, but it is lower than the salt, that’s why you can’t see it.

Or maybe, there is actually no water in the brine tank. Because modern softeners take tap water for mixing the salt just 3-4 hours before the regeneration cycle begins.

So, this allows the salt tank to mix the water with the salt to make a brine solution, which will be used for the regeneration.

Is it better to have water in the salt tank just before regeneration?

In new water softeners, it is set that the softeners take water just before a few hours of the regeneration cycle. And if it is not set, you can set it manually.

It is better, the top benefits are, the salt will not be sitting in the tank for a long time, which leads to salt clump and in some cases salt bridges.

And if you are not using high-quality salt, prolonged hours of water standing in the salt can lead to odors and in some cases bacteria growth too.

So whatever system you have, the water in the softener brine tank should not be more than 3 to 6 gallons or one-third of the way up the tank.


Water standing in the brine or salt tank is nothing a big deal. Water is required for mixing the salt, to make the brine solution, which then will go into the resin tank to rejuvenate the resin beads for further softening the water.

But, if there is too much water standing in there, and no salt is being used, that means, that standing water is a sign of something bad has happened.

You can find the issue, we also mentioned some in our posts, and most of the time, there will be one among those mentioned.

If nothing works out for you, the better would be you empty the water softener brine tank, rinse it off, clean its different parts, and regenerate it manually.

Emily Davis

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