How Much Water Should be in My Water Softener Brine Tank: No More Guessing!

A brine tank is an essential part of a water softener. It’s where you put salt or potassium chloride pellets.

The brine tank is where the brine solution is stored. This solution flushes the mineral tank and replaces the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium.

These are used to regenerate the ion exchange resin inside your tank, allowing it to remove hardness minerals from your home’s water supply

Water softeners use brine water to regenerate the resin, but there is a specific amount that needs to be present in the resin tank.

If there is too much water in the tank it can cause a salt bridge, which stops water from reaching the resin beads. If there’s little water in the tank it’ll stop working.

Because the brine tank is an integral part of a water softener, it’s important to keep it in proper working order.

That means paying attention to the water level and how much salt is needed.

Refill a brine tank that runs out of water, and clear a salt bridge before it becomes too sturdy or damages your system.

What’s The Perfect Amount Of Water In My Water Softener Brine Tank?

Too high and you waste water; too low and you can’t soften your water. So, how do you find the sweet spot? We’ve got the answer right here!

The amount of water in your brine tank depends on what type of brine tank you have.

Here, we’ll take a look at the different types of brine tanks and their appropriate amounts of water.

Types of Brine Tanks and Their Appropriate Amounts of Water:

1. Wet Brine Tanks

  • Filled with a solution of salt, potassium chloride, and water that not only makes soft water from the hard water but also regenerates the salt media inside the tank.
  • can hold anywhere from 3 and 6 gallons of water. The water level should be from 6 to 19 inches high.
  • typically made out of stainless steel or plastic.

2. Dry Brine Tank

  • Has a digital valve to help regulate the system. If you have a newer water softener tank, it is likely that it will have a dry brine tank.
  • A dry brine tank holds only pure potassium chloride crystals designed for use with resin cleaning systems.
  • Dry tanks require a clean-out port that can be easily accessed to empty the tank. These tanks should only be cleaned by a water treatment professional.
  • Dry brine tanks hold from 10,000 grains to 40,000 grains which are equal to about 1 cubic foot to 3 cubic feet depending on the model.

Wet Brine Tank vs Dry Brine Tank

Wet Brine Tank

  • The wet tank system is designed for maximum performance and economy in softening home water supplies.
  • Wet salt will soften more water than dry salt at a lower cost per pound since fewer pounds of material are needed when using a wet salt system than with a dry salt system.
  • Wet salt systems also remove chlorides and other ions such as sulfate, bicarbonate, and nitrate from the water system which other ionic regeneration media can not do.
  • Wet systems should last for up to 10 years while dry brine tanks should be replaced every five to ten years.

Dry Brine Tank

  • Dry salt systems are designed primarily for convenience and easy installation since no potassium-chloride solution is required for mixing with the salt crystals.
  • Dry salts require an initial fill of about 50% of the total capacity of your tank (sodium chloride runs at 45%, potassium chloride runs at 55%) followed by filling to 70-75% capacity when needed.

If you’re unsure about your particular model of Wet or Dry Brine tank, then it’s always best to consult with your owner’s manual since each model varies depending on how it operates.

A good rule of thumb is that you should have about 2/5 or 3/8-inch of water in the bottom of your brine tank when it’s empty.

This would mean that around 5 gallons of water are needed for every 40-lb. bag of salt added to the system.

Another way to figure this out is by reading and following your resin tank manufacturer’s instructions for adding salt and checking its level before starting up the unit again

One of the most important things to do when maintaining your water softener is to make sure there’s enough water in your brine tank at all times.

What Happens If There Isn’t Enough Water?

If you ever run out of water in your brine tank, it can be extremely damaging for your system.

Salt tablets will stack up and start clumping together, which could end up jamming your injector nozzle, leading to a slow or incomplete regeneration cycle. 

If this happens, you may have to unplug your system, take apart the injector nozzle and clean it out with vinegar and a toothbrush before running another regeneration cycle.

Drinking water straight from the nozzle is not recommended, as it will contain way too much salt for human consumption!

But sometimes there can be too much water in the brine tank, this is not normal, and you may have a problem with your system.

What are these issues?

What causes standing water in my water softener brine tank?

  1. Salt Deposits

Water evaporating during the regeneration process causes water build-up in the brine tank.

You can drain it out by hand with a bucket or hose when you notice there’s too much water standing in the tank.

If this issue is not resolved, your system may need to be upgraded with a new internal drainage system.

  1. The System is Leaking

It’s normal for little cracks in the tank to allow water out of the brine tank if it needs to be refilled.

If you have a lot of standing water in there while not in use, though, there might be a bigger problem.

If you notice rust, corrosion, flaking around the brine tank’s fittings, or any other damage to the water softener itself, contact your local professionals for an inspection.

  1. Your Water Softener Needs Resin Regeneration

Regenerating resin requires salt, and this is why we suggest using a water softener salt substitute.

Suitable for everyday use, this product dissolves just as well as salt and will not damage your system or leave rust stains.

The resin in your tank needs to be cleaned and recharged with sodium ions once every few months.

This is the only way to prevent hard water build-up inside the tank.

If you’re going to be away from home for a while, turn off your water softener and drain out the brine tank


1). The salt level should ideally be at least halfway up between the bottom of the brine tank and the top of the control valve.

  • If you have good reason to believe that there is less than that amount of water in your brine tank then you need to add additional.

2). To be safe it is the best way to add an extra gallon when filling a water softener’s brine tank.

However, if you’re unsure about whether or not this will raise its level enough, it’s best to add a little more.

3). In cases where the brine tank is completely empty, you should add at least two gallons of water before refilling.

4). If you have an overflow system on your brine tank then any excess water will go into a wet brine above the control valve or into a dry brine below it.

In either case, you wouldn’t need to drain anything.

5). If the salt levels are low then there is not enough salt for regeneration and your system would be unable to work properly.

6). There may also be mineral buildup on top of the resin beads which can cause an issue known as bridging, but if it does happen it will only occur when very little water is present inside your brine tank.

8). To reduce or eliminate these problems, it is a good idea that you always keep your water softener’s brine tank at least half full at all times.

If it does happen to be low on the waterline then simply fill the tank.


Q: In your brine tank, should the water be above the salt?

A: Your water level should always be lower than the salt level in your water softener brine line tank.

This is because the water needs to touch the salt so that it can absorb it and create the correct concentration of brine.

If you have too much water, it won’t be able to absorb all of the saltwater, and your water will not be soft.

Q: What is the height of the water in the brine tank?

A: The bottom of the brine tank will usually have several gallons of water. But it is never more than twelve inches high.

We recommend that you check the salt level in your brine tank at least monthly.

If your system regenerates more often, you will need to add the amount of salt to the tank more often.

Q: How to Add Water to Your Brine Tank

Once your brine tank is empty, add about three inches of water into the bottom of it. Then add a bag of salt until it is two-thirds full.

If you want to avoid having too much water in your brine tank, start by adding only two inches of water into it before adding any type of salt.

Be careful not to overfill your brine tank, but instead use this as an opportunity to examine the way that you’re using your salt.

So, there you have it!

The perfect amount of water in each brine tank depends on the size and type of tank you have and some other factors like hardness level from your water supply, water usage and how often do you use hot water.

What’s the perfect amount for you? Let me know in the comment below! I’m curious!

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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