Why your water softener brine tank keeps overflowing

Once in a while, you may experience water flowing from your water softener brine tank to the floor of your utility room or wherever you have placed your filter. What should you do?

If your water softener brine tank overflows; it does not necessarily mean that you will have to replace your whole water softener. You can follow a few simple steps to stop the overflowing and examine the issues, which, in most cases, you can fix the problem yourself.

Brine Tank

Here are the reasons water softener brine tank will overflow?

  1. Your brine screen or injector may be clogged. If this happens, the injector or brine screen cannot draw out brine from the brine tank. Therefore, the water softener will continue to add more water until the tank overflows. This is easy to fix. You either need to clean or replace the injector or brine screen.
  2. Sticking Brine Float. The brine float may not open or close correctly, which will leave the brine behind during the regeneration process. The water softener will continuously add water, causing it to overflow. Take care of the brine float assembly by cleaning regularly or replacing it when needed.
  3. Setting the brine float too high. This will cause the water softener to put too much water in the brine tank making it overflow. Consult your manual before setting the brine float at the right height.
  4. Your Brine float may be dirty. If there is debris on the brine float, it will not shut off properly and cause the water softener to continue adding water to the brine tank. It should be cleaned regularly, and parts replaced when needed.
  5. The drain line may be restricted or kinked. If this happens, the water flow will not be strong enough to create enough draw to use all the brine in the brine tank, causing the water softener to add more water. You should straighten the line and remove the restriction.
  6. The main piston may be worn out. As the main piston in the water softener wears, water passes through the seals of the piston going into the brine tank and may cause it to overflow. To solve this problem, you must replace the seals and piston.
  7. The brine valve may be leaking. If the brine valve leaks, it will not shut off the water completely, and it will also add water to the brine tank causing it to overflow. In case this happens, you must replace the brine valve.
  8. Low water pressure. If this happens during regeneration, the water softener will leave brine in the brine tank during the process, causing the overflow. You need to check the incoming water pressure as well as the pressure tank.
  9. You may have what is referred to as a salt bridge. This happens when you are using salt that also has potash in it. The potash will build up in the bottom of the brine tank, choking off the flow of water to the softener. The softener will still push water into the brine tank but not be able to suck it back up again. This is also quite common

How should you stop brine water from overflowing?

If at the moment, you have noticed that your brine tank is overflowing, first bypass the water softener, then we can have a look at how you can stop the overflow.

The bypass that is connected to the water softener is located directly behind the unit and connects the system’s plumbing to the system. There are several different bypasses out there, and you need to examine your water softener to find out which one you have. Put the system immediately in bypass. Then wait for a few minutes, and the brine tank will stop overflowing because the system is under pressure. Once the system releases pressure, the water should stop.

Some bypasses are challenging to turn or push, depending on the type. Please do not use a hard tool such as a hammer to hit it in an attempt to move it. If the bypass is difficult to move, depressurize it by shutting off your water supply, flushing a toilet, or turning on a sink faucet. After the system depressurizes, turn or push the bypass you may need a set of pliers. Remember to keep your water off.


Clack Bypass

How do you deal with a stuck water softener bypass?

If following the above process, the bypass remains stuck. Then you may try moving it by giving it light taps using a mallet or hammer to start it off. Remember not to hit it hard. If it does not budge, leave your water off and call a professional.

If your bypass is a slider-type piston that can be pushed from side to side to bypass your water softener, then give it many light taps with a mallet or hammer to get it moving. Or you may have a single lever bypass that needs a quarter turn, as shown by a small arrow that points to SERVICE when the water softener is working. You should turn the lever and point it to BYPASS. If you have this type of lever bypass and it sticks a bit, then use a little muscle or give it some light taps with a mallet or hammer to move it.

Push Bypass

How do you bypass a water softener that has two bypass knobs?

You may have a water softener that has a dual knob bypass which is just a set of two valves that redirect water before it moves into the water softener. The arrows on these knobs will point in and out, showing the direction in which the pipes are going into and out of the water softener. Turning the two levers one-quarter turn will bypass the water softener. At first, the knobs will be hard to turn, but they turn quickly as soon as you get them started. If they have arrows, point them towards each other, and the water softener will be in bypass.

Autotrol Bypass

Autotrol Bypass

How do you bypass a water softener that has a three-valve bypass?

If your system does not have any previous bypasses, you will have to bypass the system by rotating a few levers on your plumbing. Find three levers that are usually placed close to one another. One will be pointing in a different direction from the other two. Turn each lever a quarter turn, and you will be able to bypass your system. By doing this, you will have shut off the two valves that let water in and out of your water softener and opened the one valve that allows water to flow into your home.

Three-Valve Bypass

Once and got the water bypassed, what next?

You can decide to get rid of the extra water in the brine tank. You can do this by bailing out some of the brine or siphoning it out. Brine water should be properly disposed of because saltwater will kill flowers, grass, plants, or even small trees. You can use the water to melt snow during winter.

Once your brine tank starts working properly, you should remove some extra water though this is not mandatory. The water softener will draw the water from the brine tank once the issue has been fixed, and it will also maintain the appropriate water level.

Checking the Injector on a Softener