Cleaning Your Brine Tank

How often do you clean your water softener’s brine tank?  I’m sure not often.  It’s a household chore homeowners don’t often think about or perform until there is an issue with their water.  This isn’t a household chore that needs to be completed often, but maybe once a year.  Since all water softener salt has impurities or water insoluble matter, these impurities will settle on the bottom of the brine tank. They will sit on the bottom of the brine tank and during regeneration will enter the water softener potentially causing a malfunction with your water softener.

With different types of salt which can be used, a brine tank will need to be cleaned, more or less often based on the water softener salt used.

Cleaning your brine tank is easy and doesn’t take a lot of time, but why would a homeowner need to clean their salt tank?  Problems will occur with bridging or clumping salt inside the brine tank. A salt bridge occurs when a homeowner continually tops off the brine tank with salt.  Clumping occurs when salt mushes together into a gooey mess.  Oftentimes, a homeowner will use a salt with many impurities and the brine tank will have dirty, foamy water.  Our company recommends using a salt which is 99.8% soluble or clean.  This will eliminate having to clean your salt tank yearly.  The best type of salt to use is pellet salt, or a yellow bag.

Instructions how to clean your brine tank:

**Note** – You’ll want to perform this procedure when the salt tank is nearly empty with salt.

  1. Go to your water softener and bypass the system per the manufacturer’s or dealer’s instructions. This will shut down the system so no water will pass through the system during this process.
  2. Disconnect the plastic tubing lines going from the brine tank to the water softener. Typically, the plastic tubing is held onto the water softener with a brine nut.  Be sure to turn carefully so you don’t break off the fitting connected to the water softener.
  3. Depending on how much salt is in the brine tank, you’ll need to remove as much of the remaining salt as possible and dump or siphon the remaining water in the brine tank to a proper disposal location. It is best to take the brine tank outside, but might not be possible with the amount of salt and water in the brine tank.  Your goal is to make the brine tank as light as possible to carry outside.
  4. If your salt tank has a bridge, you’ll want to pour warm water over the salt to loosen. The salt will then need to be scooped out.
  5. Once the salt and water are removed, remove the platform or salt grid at the bottom of the brine tank. Not all brine tanks have a platform.  It depends on the type of unit.  The platform is molded plastic with 4 cups and little pin holes.
  6. Check the brine valve in your salt tank. It is usually on the side of the brine tank either exposed or within a brine well tube.  The brine valve needs to be free of any salt chunks or residual.  It’s a good idea to run water over the brine valve to clean.
  7. After the brine tank has been cleaned of salt and water, add enough water so the water is 4-5 gallons of clean water into the brine tank with ¼ cup of unscented household bleach. Take a brush and clean the salt tank thoroughly.  Let the bleach solution sit in the brine tank for 15 minutes.
  8. Dump and rinse thoroughly the bleach solution from the brine tank
  9. Carry the brine tank to its original location and put the platform or salt grid back into the brine tank. Connect all plastic tubing lines to the water softener.  Take the system out of bypass.  Check for leaks.
  10. Put enough water in the brine tank so the water level is 4-6 inches above the platform/salt grid along with 2-4 bags of salt.

By cleaning your salt tank on a yearly basis and using a high purity salt will keep your water softener working at peak efficiency.  The higher quality salt used, the less often the salt tank needs to be cleaned leaving you with one less household chore to handle.  We all know time is of importance in today’s world.  During this process, if you have any questions, contact our office at (815) 385-3093.


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