Thoughts on how often to clean the brine tank

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Reach4, Aug 18, 2015.

  1. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    As I search, there are different recommendations: every year, every 2 or 3 years, every 5, never. I suspect the median actual as-done interval would be higher.

    It seems to me that the reasonable interval would be better expressed in terms of bags of salt and what kind of salt it is. I tried doing some calculation. Morton solar salt says "Morton® Solar Salt is 99.7% pure salt harvested from natural salt brine through solar evaporation." I figure that much of the not-salt stuff is water soluble (or forms a suspension), so I arbitrarily chose 99.9% soluble or suspended-- 0.1% estimated residue. If I very arbitrarily pick 1 lb of debris in my tank at cleaning, that would call for a cleaning every 25 40-pound bags.

    For my rough calculations, I arbitrarily picked 18 grains of hardness, 6 pounds of salt/cubic ft of resin, giving 185 gallons of softened water per pound of salt.

    At 60 gallons softened per day, that would suggest cleaning every 8.6 years. Two people totaling 120 gallons per day: half that and so forth.

    I use Morton System Saver pellets mostly. They have even less insolubles than their solar salt. They also contain a citric acid additive, which is very soluble. Iron in the fill water would make more frequent cleanings warranted.

    Remember these numbers are estimated and/or arbitrary, and I may have made a calculation mistake. I think my numbers are reasonable.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  2. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
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    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    We have a difficult time convincing customers about the importance of cleaning the salt tanks regularly. Consider a commercial account that uses 300-500 pounds per month with the same calculations.

    Residentially, I recommend every couple years, let the system run low on salt, then simply lay the brine tank on its side and rinse it with fresh water and wipe it down with a mild bleach solution.
     
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  4. PumpMd

    PumpMd Kevin

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
    Occupation:
    Water Well Pump Installer/Diesel Mechanic
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I use the pettets, going on almost 6yrs now without cleaning mine, 4 people at 21 grains hard. I can post a picture, to help with your research.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    A picture of the accumulated whatever would be interesting if you do get to cleaning.

    It seems to me that having the brine refill done with softened water would help a tad in minimizing the insolubles in the brine tank.

    In letting the salt go low before the cleaning, how low is desired? I figure if some salt is tilted above the water line, that natural mixing will occur in a fill-last softener, but if the salt top was lower than X, there would be a worry about stratification. I guess that stirring the brine a couple of times with several hours between the stirs could help this when anticipating an upcoming cleaning. Maybe pouring in an extra gallon of water from a bucket during the day could compensate.

    When I cleaned my rectangular brine tank, I might have had 150 pounds or more of salt left. That was a mistake. I was concerned about a potential bridge, because things were awfully solid when I probed. I actually rigged a strap to let the thing tip slower. After tipping, I was using hammer and chisel. I did not detect any voids. My tank does not have an air check valve in the tank; it is in the controller.

    The junk in my tank was all accumulated before I got the system with the house. The stuff in the brine tank was not that impressive, at least compared to the water heater. Had I let the salt go down, that might have given more concentration. I added filters to my incoming water which will prevent stuff in the softener and water heater via the pipes.
     
  6. PumpMd

    PumpMd Kevin

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
    Occupation:
    Water Well Pump Installer/Diesel Mechanic
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I have a cabinet model, where the resin tank & the brine tank are hooked together, I bought it off my uncle because his water turned soft in his well (lucky dog). I think he is in the Garber-Wellington Aquifer.
     
  7. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Pellets tend to be cleaner than solar salt or mined salt but they can "mush" in the bottom. It depends on the brand, the binders used etc... Mined salt tends to be the dirtiest, but the solar tends to have more organics (envision if you will fields of salt drying in the sun near the ocean... with lots of seagulls also overhead...).

    Regardless, brine tanks should be cleaned occasionally and sanitized. Hot water tends to dissolve the cement like build-up that is common with some pellets.

    Cabinet units... ugh. Let the salt run low, then shop vac the debris and use a high pressure nozzle to try to knock the junk from under the tank and from behind the tank. You can remove the tank, but that is a lot of work. Add some bleach to the tank and you will be fine.
     
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  8. PumpMd

    PumpMd Kevin

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
    Occupation:
    Water Well Pump Installer/Diesel Mechanic
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    When that model goes out, I would like to get this one:
    http://www.water-right.com/softeners/impression-plus/impression-plus/

    http://www.water-right.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/WR-Impression-Plus-Spec-Sheet.pdf
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  9. Bannerman

    Bannerman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2014
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Suggest you ensure the unit has a Fleck, Clack or Autotrol control valve. These are the most common, high quality brands which have a long service record and easy availability of replacement parts.

    The tank mounting should use a common 2.5" threaded insert instead of a less common flange mount.
     
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  10. PumpMd

    PumpMd Kevin

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2015
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    Water Well Pump Installer/Diesel Mechanic
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    I think they make their own control head but I am not sure, you guys can find out quicker than me. They have been great so far (about 10yrs) but like you said parts would be harder to find. Only had to work on one of them so far.
     

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  11. PumpMd

    PumpMd Kevin

    Joined:
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    Water Well Pump Installer/Diesel Mechanic
    Location:
    Oklahoma
    Sorry Reach4, I will clean it this year(almost 9yrs now). I was busy working on my 70 cutlass supreme and my 98 cbr 600 F3 motorcycle. My other well is 21 and this one is 24 (set at 30)Morton® System Saver® II 40lbs bags from Walmart



    Dittohead
    Cabinet units... ugh.
    I got some pictures for you

    also to show that I did have the two handle by pass valves
     

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    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
  12. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2012
    Occupation:
    Water systems designer, R&D, Technical Director
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Cabinet units are not fun to clean out. I usually recommend simply doing your best, wet/dry vac... then put a small amount of bleach and water into it. This will also sanitize your resin.
     
    PumpMd likes this.
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