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Home Improvement

How To Drain And Clean A Water Softener? Explained!

Cleaning your softener’s brine tank is at the top of your “Weekend Fun Activity” list, isn’t it? A brine tank only needs to be thoroughly cleaned once a year – and it’s not hard. We’ll show you how to clean a water softener brine tank in easy steps.

One quick warning: Some of the softening salt pellets sold at supermarkets and home improvement stores are evaporative salt pellets that contain a high level of water-insoluble matter or impurities. As a result of insoluble matter, your reservoir can fill up and cause a malfunction.

Clean the brine tank more often if you notice buildup. Make sure you’re buying softening salt that is labeled to indicate the highest purity level. 

Your Water Softener Full of Water? – Here’s How to Drain It

Draining the brine tank of your water softener can be accomplished through a few different methods. Among them are:


By hand, you can simply scoop all the water out of your water softener. Once you have fixed the problem, you can scoop the water into your laundry tub or a large container so you can reuse it.


Wet-dry vacuums, or shop-vacs, can easily and conveniently remove water from your water softener brine tank without having to scoop it out by hand.

Shop vacs designed to suck up water and dry items are called wet-dry vacs. Ensure that your shop vac can be used for wet and dry applications. Not all shop vacs can collect water.


As the water from your water softener does not pose an environmental hazard, you can pour it down a drain. Before you attempt this, you will need to remove the brine well. Located in your brine tank, this is the long cylindrical device that holds a safety float.

If your unit has an overflow elbow, you can take it apart by taking out the float. Finally, remove the cylinder.

In the case of a side-by-side water softener, you will also need to disconnect the fill tube that connects the brine tank to the head valve and the brine tank’s overflow hose.


If your water softener allows for manual regeneration, you can empty a water softener full of water by pressing and holding the “regenerate” button.

Your water softener automatically removes all of the water from the brine tank during regeneration, so enabling this cycle can remove the water for you. Push the button twice during the regeneration cycle to skip the brine cycle.

If you empty your water softener’s tank, then you can skip all of the remaining cycles and your softener will function normally.

Regeneration of the water softener must be working properly for this method to work. Your unit needs to be drained using one of the first three methods if it is not.


The water softener can be full of water for a number of reasons. These include:

  1. You may need to replace your drain line if your water softener brine drain is kinked, plugged, or leaky. Professionals can assist you with this.
  2. The brine tank and float are not properly connected: If your brine line isn’t properly connected to your float, the water will flow directly into your tank and the float won’t shut it off.
  3. The drain line flow control is clogged: If this happens, then the system cannot control how much water flows through it. Clogs must be removed.
  4. A clogged flow control in your brine pipe: Clogged flow controls prevent brine from being drained from your tank.
  5. The bottom of the brine tank may be clogged with salt. This will prevent water from draining.
  6. Your safety float may require cleaning: If it becomes stuck, you should clean it to allow the water to flow freely.
  7. Your injector is clogged: This will prevent the injector from making the suction required to drain your tank.

You can read our post, “Water Softener Full of Water – Complete Step By Step Guide Of What To Do” for more information on how to solve each of the above causes.

Causes of Poor Water Softener Drainage

1. Poorly Installed Hose

If your hose is connected above your softener at any point, your water softener may not be draining. Poor drainage can also be caused by a kinked or blocked hose pipe. A wet exit end can also cause the softener not to drain properly.

2 Incoming water lines improperly installed

It is possible that incoming water lines are hooked incorrectly during installation. This causes the count in the display not to increase because the water flows the wrong way.

3. Wrongly Programmed Timer

An incorrect model code programmed in the Timer/Faceplate may also prevent the softener from draining properly. Venturi assemblies can also cause poor drainage or no drainage because they do not provide sufficient suctioning to the pipes.

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