How to drain tank on brine water softener

How to Drain Tank on Brine Water Softener: Step-by-Step Tutorial

The brine water softener is a device that removes calcium and magnesium ions from the hard water to turn it into soft water.

Brine water softeners work by replacing minerals with sodium ions or ion exchange.

The tank on this type of device needs to be drained every few months to remove the buildup of minerals, which will eventually cause the unit not to function properly or stop working entirely.

The good news is that draining this tank doesn’t take much effort!

In a hurry? We got you. Below are the steps you need to know.

Steps on How to Drain Tank on Brine Water Softener

  • Turn off power to the unit.
  • Use a hose or bucket to pour out all of the liquid from inside.
  • Make sure no objects are blocking the small hole in the drain at the bottom of the brine tank.
  • Plug up any holes where air might escape during drainage

The brine tank of a brine water softener should be drained regularly to prevent brine from getting stale.

A brine water softener or brine solution contains a salt tank that must be periodically refilled with table salt.

When it’s time to refill the tank, you need to drain gallons of water from the machine first. Draining your brine water softener depends on its age and model.

Usually, however, it is after turning off the power supply and ensuring that the salt container is empty.

Different Ways to Drain Tank on Brine Water Softener

A.The Manual Method

Simply turn off the switch and let the resin bed drain naturally through its overflow tube into a bucket brine water softener.

This method is the simplest and requires no extra equipment, which makes it ideal for occasional or emergency draining of a brine water softener’s brine tank.

But this method will not be effective if your brine water softener has a small (1/8-inch) outlet.

In such a case, you can insert a short length of 1/4-inch tubing into the tank’s overflow to divert all the water from the resin bed brine water softener into a container.

This tubing should be at least as long as your water softener is tall and no less than 18 inches.

B. Scoop and Bucket Brine Water Softener Brine Tank Draining

The common reason for using this method is that it provides an effective means of draining a water brine water softener’s resin tank if the overflow tube is blocked or unable to drain.

This is done by removing the access port cap on top of your water softener and scooping out all the water with a bucket.

Take care not to damage any parts inside the brine tank while doing this brine water softener.

An effective place to catch all the draining fluid is a metal container placed under the tank.

When you have scooped out all the water, replace the cap and re-connect your brine water softener’s power cord.

Now you need to run a regeneration cycle to flush out the resin bed in your water softener.

This backwash cycle may take several hours depending on the size of your water softener’s brine tank and how long it has been since your last regeneration process.

C. Wet Vac Brine Water Softener Brine Tank Draining

If your water softener has separate hoses for filling the brine tank and draining, then you can connect a wet/dry vacuum to one hose or the other.

The hose that is connected to the brine tank port should be plugged off with a rag.

Then you need to start the vacuum and allow it to suck as excess water as possible from the tank until you cannot anymore.

When that happens, plug off the vacuum and disconnect it from your brine tank.

Then you need to open the access port cap on top of your water softener and scoop out all the resin inside.

When done, wipe the bottom of this tank and replace the cap before re-connecting your water softener’s power cord.

Now you need to run a regeneration cycle to flush out the resin bed in your water softener.

This brine cycle may take several hours depending on the size of your brine water softener’s tank and how long it has been since your last regeneration cycle.

D. Lift and Dump Brine Water Softener Brine Tank Draining

If you have a wet vacuum then you can connect a lift and dump kit to your wet/dry vacuum and use it for draining your water softener brine tank.

Here are the steps to this method:  

  • First, you need to disconnect the hose from the access port cap on top of your water softener and connect it to the lift and dump kit.
  • Then you start the wet/dry vacuum (while the lift & dump kit is not in place) to allow it to suck all the water from your resin tank.
  • When done, remove the lift & dump kit and replace the cap on top of your water softener.
  • Now run a regeneration cycle to drain out all remaining resin inside.

This cycle may take several hours depending on the size of your brine water softener and how long it has been since your last regeneration cycle.

If you do not have a wet vacuum then you need to wait until the water softener dries.

You can also fill a separate container with this brine water and use it for purposes such as watering plants.

Just be sure that you dispose of the brine water properly so that no one gets hurt by it.

E. Old-Style Brine Water Softener Using Gravity

  • Open the pressure relief valve located at the back of the tank by unscrewing it counterclockwise one turn until water begins to flow out.

If there’s no relief valve, skip this step.

  • Open the hose bib located on top of the tank and attach a hose to it.
  • Turn the water supply back on and allow all of the water to drain from the tank as quickly as possible by turning off faucets as they fill up.

NOTE: If you have a sump pump, attach its discharge hose to the hose bib and run it until no more water comes out.

Otherwise, use a wet/dry shop vacuum or buy an automatic instantaneous water pump that attaches directly to your faucet spigot; place it into a bucket or drain tub deeper than the brine tank is high.

  • Disconnect hoses when no more water flows out of the tank. Turn the bibs’ handles clockwise to close them.

F. Drain an Active Brine Water Softener Using a Pump

  • Locate the clear drain valve located at the bottom of the tank.
  • Unscrew it counterclockwise one turn until water begins to flow out of it, then continue turning it counterclockwise until all of the air vents are open and all of the water flows out.

NOTE: If you do not have a clear venturi valve, skip this step.

  • Open either low-flow or high-flow valve depending on your model.

Low-flow valves are more common because they prevent drainage problems in some states where solids are prohibited from being discharged into the sewage system. These will safely float instead.

  • Obtain a sump pump that is capable of pumping the amount of water in your brine tank.
  • Place the discharge hose through the opening between the tank and top cover.
  • Attach a low-flow or high-flow valve, depending on your model, to the other end of the hose.
  • Turn on the power supply to softeners if it isn’t already turned on.

If you do not have an automatic water pressure switch, manually open both valves using control knobs located near them.

NOTE: Make sure all electrical wiring is secured against shock hazards before turning the power supply on!

  • Place sump pump into a bucket or drain line or tub deeper than brine tank is high see.
  • Run the sump pump until water stops flowing out of the clear drain valve or no more air is coming from the tank.
  • Turn the power supply off and close valves to stop all water flow.
  • Drain remaining water from the sump pump using a wet/dry vacuum or by removing the pump and tipping it into a bucket or draining the tub.
  •  Disconnect the hose and attach hose bibs to their respective ends; turn clockwise to close them.


  • What’s the simplest method to drain the brine tank on my water softener?

Manual regeneration or using a wet/dry vacuum is the simplest method.

  • How can I tell if my water salt softener line has a salt clog?

You’ll notice hard water symptoms (taste, rust, soap residue, water spots), or you’ll have too much or too little water in your brine line or tank.

You could even have an overflow!

  • What kinds of salt reduce salt bridging and salt level?

It’s a good idea to use salt pellets that have been evaporated. 

They are extremely pure and contain only a tiny portion of preservatives to help to keep your effective filtration system running smoothly.

  • How often can I clean my brine tank?

We suggest doing it annually, though it may need cleaning more frequently or less frequently depending on the quality of your water.

Check the owner’s manual for your water softener.

  • My water contains a high level of iron. How can I reduce my maintenance needs?

Make sure you’re using water salt softener, resin, and resin cleaner that are specifically designed for iron-rich water.


All of these options for draining your water softener tank all depend on how much salt you need to get rid of in the first place. 

  • The personal preference from most people will be the manual regeneration cycle, however, there are advantages and disadvantages with this and all methods. 
  • The scoop and bucket give you more control and is easier for some people to deal with than the wet vac method. 

However, it can be messy and can create a mess if you do not empty the salt tank in an appropriate place, or are not capable of moving it wherever necessary. 

  • The wet vac is a popular choice as it is easier to work with, normally requires no or minimal help, and makes less mess than the other two ways. 

However, you can expect to need at least a 1 horsepower wet vac pump if you are dealing with a large amount of water softener salt that you have inside your tank. 

  • The lift and dump method requires removing your brine tank from its drainage connection and carrying out a manual single cycle. 

This tank can be up to 50 pounds heavy so bear in mind that this will require strength and patience on your part.

Note: Do NOT perform any steps involving plumbing or electrical work if you are not confident or qualified to do so safely without supervision. 

Please consult a professional before attempting any of these steps yourself or hire one to do it for you. 

Consult your warranty agreement—the manufacturer may require that you complete an Authorized Service Center (ASC) survey before initiating any on your appliance/equipment under warranty.

Cleaning a water softener’s brine tank takes more than pouring hot water, but it can be done simply by following the steps mentioned above. 

If not done regularly, it could lead to a breakdown of the system, which is why checking the tank and cleaning it out is highly important.

So, now that you know the simple steps you need to take in order to clean a brine water softener, it’s time to get started. 

If you have your own tips on how to ensure clean water, please share them with us by commenting below.

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D. Hahn

DIY guru, dad, husband, blogger. When I'm not creating life hacks I'm teaching my kids how to fix stuff after their dad breaks it.

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