Water Softener: How much brine should be in the tank?

plumbmanJuly 24, 2011

My softener fills the brine tank until the Float / valve shuts it off. Is this normal? It seems like an excessive amount of brine to me. During regeneration all of the brine is sucked out of the brine tank normally. The refill time is set for 8 minutes but the float/valve shuts it off way before that. Seems like an excessive amount of brine (waste of salt)

I dont have a manual on the unit but it looks like a Fleck Econominder 2500 series and the capacity gear goes up to 24000 so I am assuming it has a 24000 grain capacity resin tank ?? If I knew how much brine is actually needed I can adjust the refill time accordingly.

Any help or suggestions would be appreciated.

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justalurker

"During regeneration all of the brine is sucked out of the brine tank normally"

Is that the case right now? If the brine isn't sucked out and the control replaces the water to make brine for next time you'll accumulate more water till the float shuts thew water off or the brine tank overflows out the overflow elbow.

You need to identify your control valve and download the manual for it.

http://www.pentairwatertreatment.com/en-us/Products/ResidentialControlValves/

How old is the softener?
Have you been doing routine maintenance?
Well or water system?

More than likely you have a problem in the brine valve/venturi or the brine line to the brine tank or a loose connection on that line.

Salt may have solidified around the brine pickup preventing the control valve from sucking the brine out. How long since you cleaned out the brine tank?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2011 at 10:54PM
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plumbman

justalurker ...thanks for the quick reply

Unfortunately the softener was here when I bought the house so I have no information on it except that it looks just like the picture of the Fleck 1500 on the link you provided (has a meter). The house is 24 years old so it could be that old.

Trust me ...the brine IS being emptied out of the tank during regeneration I watched it go down and even saw a couple of small air bubbles in the clear plastic tubing when it got empty.

Maintenance: I cleaned the injector and replaced the gaskets a few years back ...Thats it... never payed attention to the brine level until now.

I am just looking for a ball park on how many gallons of brine would be typical in a softener so I can not waste salt. I can tell you that the timer is set for 8 mins. refill time and there is a 0.5 gpm flow restrictor on the brine line so the math tells me I should have approximately 4 gallons in the tank. Does this sound typical?

I realize the exact amount of brine depends on the amount of resin (which I dont know) My guestimate is that there is about 10 gallons at the point where the safety valve shuts it off.

My city water pressure is "killer" I guess that could be the root of the problem. If I can find a answer to my question I would just adjust the timer.

Thanks again .....

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 12:22PM
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justalurker

1 gallon of water will dissolve 3 lbs of salt so 4 gallons will dissolve 12 lbs of salt.

Without knowing your water conditions and the # of people in your house and the resin capacity of your present softener there's no way of knowing if 12 lbs is the correct salt dose but it is not an unreasonable dose for an antiquated timer based softener.

You should consider replacing that 24 year oldie with a contemporary demand based softener. Correctly sized for your needs and set up to run efficiently it would save you money in lower operational costs in both salt and water used during regeneration.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 1:57PM
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plumbman

Thanks again justalurker .... thats what I needed to know.

I agree with you, I am considering replacing it, I'm getting the "softened" water tested tomorrow to see how soft (or not soft) the water is and go from there. Hate to think of how much salt may have been wasted over the years. I wonder why these systems aren't engineered to have the float set the proper brine dose for the system (would that make too much sense)

Thanks again for the info

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 5:43PM
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justalurker

Industry standard design using the Fleck 2310 safety float assembly softeners DO use the sensible approach...

The control valve sets the salt dose, doesn't apply system pressure constantly to the float valve, and the float in the brine tank is a safety device to prevent overflow.

The way you think makes sense really doesn't. That is how Kinetico does it... the control valve always applies system pressure to the float valve and the float sets the salt dose. IMO that is a poor design and why, although I'm a big fan of Kinetico's control valve design, I'd never have one of their softeners in my home..

    Bookmark   July 25, 2011 at 6:04PM
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justalurker

The difference in efficiency between the antiquated timer based softeners and the demand based softeners is that the timer based unit regenerates at a set # of days regardless of water usage while the demand based units regenerate based on water usage.

Since water usage varies softening capacity is usually wasted with a timer based unit regenerating while there is still softening capability to be used up.

Varying salt doses based on water conditions and volume of resin allows different grains (of hardness) removed per pound of salt used rates which improves operating efficiency and lowers operating cost.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 9:00AM
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