A Guide To Commercial-Grade Water Softener Brine Tank Replenishment For Operators

Manually-controlled water softeners suitable for use in industrial and commercial applications, such as large dish and glass washing machines, require periodic salt replenishment. If you work in or operate a facility that uses commercial-grade water softeners, it is important for you to understand when and how to replenish salt so the brine tank functions as designed. Below are tools and materials as well as a step-by-step procedure for performing a salt replenishment:

What you will need

  • Commercial-quality water softener salt - Be sure to choose salt that is formulated for use in commercial water softening units and avoid salt that hasn't been properly cleaned to remove foreign debris such as sand and other sludge-causing particles. Consult with your manufacturer's representative for assistance in obtaining the proper softening salt.

  • Drain tubes - These tubes are designed to fit on the softener's intake and outflow valves during the cleaning process. If you do not have a manufacturer-supplied pair of tubes, then you can use other rubber or plastic tubing that snugly fits the valve outlets.

  • Clean cloth

  • Adjustable wrench or socket set

  • Five-gallon bucket

How to replenish the tank

While individual brine tanks vary in their specific design based on the system, manually-controlled water softeners use a similar operating sequence. Water enters the top of the tank through the intake valve, circulates inside the brine tank, then exits at the bottom of the tank. Access to the brine tank is achieved by removing the top of the tank. Below is a set of step-by-step procedures to follow in order to replenish the salt supply inside the tank:

1. Turn off all connected equipment and place the system in bypass mode. To avoid damaging attached equipment, such as dishwashers, be sure that you power down these devices to prevent accidental operation without an available water supply.

2. Release the pressure inside the brine tank - Before you attempt to open the top of the brine tank, you must release the water pressure inside the tank. Attempting to open a pressurized brine tank could lead to injury or damage.

To reduce the reduce the pressure, attach one end of the drain tube to the intake valve's bypass connector and place the other end inside an empty five-gallon bucket. While holding the tube to maintain control, slowly turn the intake valve from its operational setting to a bypass or maintenance setting and allow the pressurized water to flow into the bucket. Once the water stops flowing or is merely dripping from the tube, then you are ready to remove the top of the tank.

3. Remove the top of the brine tank - After relieving pressure from the tank, you can remove the top of the tank in order to add water softener salt. Some tank lids are attached using a hand-turned screw and clamp system, so simply turn them counterclockwise by hand to loosen and remove the clamp. If your brine tank uses a lid attached via a bolt or other mechanical fastener, then use an adjustable wrench or socket in the appropriate size to loosen and remove the fastener.

After loosening the clamp or fastener, lift the lid from the tank. Observe the salt level inside the tank, and add water softener salt to the appropriate level inside the tank as indicated by a line or other marker. If you are unable to determine how much salt to add, a general rule of thumb is to add at least three or four more inches of salt than the visible water level.

4. Reattach the top of the brine tank - Once you have added the salt to the appropriate level inside the brine tank, wipe down the edges of the lid with a damp, clean cloth to remove residues that might prevent a good seal. Next, reattach the lid using the hand-operated clamp or another fastener, whichever is relevant to your situation. Never use a wrench or pliers to tighten a hand-tightened clamp.

5. Flush the salt - After reattaching the lid, open the intake valve to its normal operating position and place the end of the water outlet tube into a suitable drain such as a sink or other sewer connection. Next, open the outlet valve at the bottom of the brine tank to the service or maintenance position, and water should begin to flow from the tubing. Permit the water to flow for at least 20 minutes to flush the salt and reestablish the proper balance of the brine.

6. Remove the tube and restore normal operation - Once the salt is flushed, turn the outlet valve to its normal operating position and remove the service tubes from the intake and outlet valves. In addition, reestablish your connections with your attached devices and resume operation as normal.

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