Seeing standing water in your brine tank can be a little disconcerting. Isn’t it supposed to just be salt? Well, that depends. For some households that don’t go through much water, this can be a common occurrence. Although you may need to add a bag of salt in the near future, it’s nothing to cause alarm.
However, standing water can also be a sign of a problem. The components that regulate water intake might be allowing the tank to overfill, or water is not being drawn down after regeneration. How can you tell? Let’s troubleshoot.
Incoming brine line hose is disconnected
There is a float inside the brine well that controls brine level, like the float in your toilet tank. If the incoming water line is not securely attached, the float won’t stop the water flow at the correct level. Check to confirm that the line and float are secure.
Salt clog in the bottom of the tank
There are horizontal slots in the brine well that allow water to flow in and out. If the salt buildup is clogging the tank at the bottom, that will reduce the amount of water that can enter the tank, absorb salt, and then flow back out. If this is your problem, it’s time to clean the tank.
Drain line malfunction
If the drain line has become clogged, has a kink in it, or is damaged, clean or replace it.
Clogged drain flow control
If the line itself is OK, disconnect the line and see if the control valve has become clogged. This is a typical issue in households where the water has a high iron content. If you see buildup, simply cleaning out the control valve may fix your issue.
Clogged brine line flow control
If debris accumulates in the brine well, it can eventually clog the line. Flushing it out may solve the problem.
Brine level control malfunction
If the float and incoming line are securely attached, the float itself may be the problem. If it becomes clogged, it cannot move freely, so it’s a good idea to remove it for cleaning. Note that there is supposed to be a cap on top of the brine well — if it is askew or missing, salt can get into the well and cause clogs.
This is another common problem (again, especially if your water has high iron content) that can be fixed by removing and cleaning the injector. There is a tiny hole that regulates intake using suction. You can use a wooden toothpick to clean it, but do not use anything metal because you can easily damage the injector by altering the size of the hole. You can also use a cleaning product such as Calcium Lime Rust (CLR) remover. If you aren’t able to clean the injector, you will need to replace it.
Is the base plate on your electric water softener lit up as it should be? If not, that indicates there is a problem with the circuit board and it should probably be replaced.
Malfunctioning spacer stack and/or pistons
The problems we’ve already discussed are most common, but over time the spacer stack and pistons in your water softener will also wear out. You can verify that this is the problem by disconnecting the drain line and brine line while the valve is operating. If you see water is flowing over the valve, it’s time to replace the spacer stack and pistons.
Replacing the base plate, spacer stack, or pistons is not a DIY project. The best thing you can do is call a professional. Whether the problem is simple or complex, following these troubleshooting tips will help you resolve the problem of standing water in your water softener salt tank.