Proper lower brine level - salt sludge?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Eric Wesson, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Eric Wesson

    Eric Wesson New Member

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    Oct 19, 2019
    Location:
    San Diego
    I adjusted the lower brine level - that is, the brine level after the float switch stops further brine draw - to be just above the lower platform in my brine tank. I did this because the factory setting was too low: At the salt usage I'm running, one gallon of brine, the brine wasn't reaching the salt when it refilled.

    Having seen salt sludge at the bottom of a tank, I'm wondering if I made a mistake, considering I can now do brine refill (upflow / variable brining head) before the regeneration. Would it be ideal for the tank to sit with the salt held just above the water? It wouldn't be hard to lengthen the draw tube; would it be best to get the brine level below the platform?

    What causes the salt sludge to form? Is it where salt sits below the draw point?
     
  2. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    If your brine tank has a platform (salt grid), the platform's support legs will be typically open and shaped similar to a beer cup so as to fill with dry salt from above as the existing salt becomes dissolved. The area below the grid provides an area for brine with minimal displacement by salt in storage.

    What type of salt are you using. Perhaps try a different type.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    delete
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  5. Eric Wesson

    Eric Wesson New Member

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    Funny you should mention that. The "beer cups" were solid at the bottom. "Were" because I drilled holes around the bottom perimeter. I thought, that's weird to trap salt and brine in there.
    It raises a good point, though: The beer cup legs are down in the brine anyway. So I'm kinda worrying about something I can't avoid.

    I encountered it in a little Water Boss softener. I'm pretty sure there was no grid, and there was a solidified layer of salt in the bottom. I've also heard people complaining about it. I don't remember what kind of salt I was using; I think it was all over the map.

    I didn't see any salt sludge in the bottom of this tank when I cleaned it, so who knows. Better salt? Or presence of a grid?
     
  6. Eric Wesson

    Eric Wesson New Member

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    Reach4, it was set to 2-1/2" below the salt grid. I'd have to put a lot of brine in there to have it reach the salt.

    Maybe it was set up for a larger brine fill? Seems weird to depend on that, though.

    They weren't the most thorough guys; they omitted the top basket.
     
  7. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    The supports should have already been equipped with holes in them to allow water in to dissolve the salt within. As salt from above will continue to replace the salt as it is dissolved, there would be no need to adjust the fluid level to be above the platform.
     
  8. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

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    AFAIK the amount of brine used is determined by the brine fill time, not by setting the float in the brine tank. If you raise the float, it will leave more brine after the draw but then on the next regen, the amount of water let in during brine fill will add to what is left in the tank and the next brine draw will be the amount based on fill time.

    I believe the sludge is from binders used to make the salt pellets. When the sludge level gets too high, I scoop it all out and dump it on my gravel driveway.
     
  9. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Ontario California
    It depends on the system. Many units use a float refill. Erie, Kinetico, many of the big box systems, etc. don't have a timed refill. I would highly recommend sticking with standard solar salt.

    I have had huge success with South Bay Salt Works solar salt for those in the Southern California area. They may be a smaller operation but I have had very little trouble with their salt over the past 5 years.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Eric Wesson

    Eric Wesson New Member

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    Oct 19, 2019
    Location:
    San Diego
    Awesome, that's here in my neighborhood!
     
  11. Eric Wesson

    Eric Wesson New Member

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    There's an overfill float that stops water from going in above a certain point. It's a last ditch to stop water from going out the overflow tube.
    There's an inverse float (couldn't think of a better term for it) that stops the brine from being drawn down below a certain point. On a timed fill, the softener head dumps fresh water in for a certain amount of time (= certain amount of water), and during the next regeneration, the system attempts to draw brine for a longer time than it takes to be stopped by the inverse float.

    Fun effect: If the brine draw is shorter than the time to "empty" the tank, you'll build up brine with each regeneration, until stopped by the over-fill float.
     
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    That is called the air check valve.

    You normally want the brine to be sucked down about 25% into the brine draw.
     
  13. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

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    Location:
    Ontario California
    It is called the brine/slow rinse cycle for a reason. The brine draw should take about 25% of the total brine and slow rinse cycle to draw all the brine out of the brine tank. The remainder of the time is used to slowly rinse the brine out of the resin. The fast rinse cycle (packing rinse, rapid rinse or a few other names) is not used to rinse salt out of the resin. This should be accomplished by the slow rinse cycle. Many high efficiency systems and upflow regen designs require considerably longer cycles. Very small injectors are typically used in upflow systems in order to prevent the fluidization of the resin bed... anyway, I could keep going but I am off to my third hockey game of the day.
     
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