Water Softener Salt Level Sensor - Sorta


I've been reading various threads on sensing of the level, that is, remaining salt, in Water Softener systems.

Examples are: @aaron's [PROJECT] Salt Tank monitor using Arduino & MQTT

And: @ireallyhopethisworks Height of a loose solid material - #9 by ireallyhopethisworks

And: @rlithgow1's idea here: What Have You Added to Your Setup Recently? - #63 by rlithgow1

All of these are great, and are quite different from each other, but when I thought about them, I realized that what I was really looking for, wasn't the level of the salt, but a notification that I need to buy salt. Any value between "full" and "buy salt" is irrelevant.

So, after much thought and consideration of the time between "need salt", and the execution of a purchase of the salt, I realized I needed an alert at about 50%.

I also wanted to keep it simple. More along the lines of Rick's water sensor than the other solutions.

Thinking on this eventually brought me to my solution.

Here are my components:

Plastic Hinge: McMaster-Carr

3M VHB: Amazon.com : B09PD969P9

Zooz ZSE43 tilt and shock sensor: ZOOZ ZSE43 TILT | SHOCK XS SENSOR – ZOOZ

Zooz weatherproof case: Waterproof Case for the Zooz XS Open | Close Sensor - The Smartest House

And a yardstick. Although, any similar piece of wood, plastic or even a PVC tube would do.

I used the 3M tape to secure the hinge to the lid of the salt tank, and then the yard stick was secured to the hinge.

The yardstick was cut down to 17" in length, and the sensor in its case was attached to the end of the remaining 17"-Stick.

Basically I put the sensor at the end of a hinged arm.

When the tank is >1/2 full of salt, the arm rests on the salt, and the tilt sensor is "open". When the tank is <1/2 full, the tilt senor is "closed" because the arm is hanging free (vertical).

The trigger for an alert is when the sensor becomes closed.

Everything except the hinge pin and the screws for the case are effectively corrosion resistant.

Simple tests seem to indicate it works. However I just filled the salt tank...

I tried a Ecolink TiltZwave5.0 and it wasnt sensitive enough. It require a jolt to get it to report closed in the vertical position. The Zooz Xs ZSE43 seems to work better and is much smaller. We'll see what its battery life is like.

Photos aren't great, but they are below anyway.


I keep my salt quite close to our softner. Basically I simply calculate how much I have left (lets say 4 bags) When I top off the tank I ■■■ x amount of bags to Anylist. Either my wife or I will pick them up at some point during the week after that. I've never run out of salt.

I have had a water softener for over 30 years. Neighbor changed from calcium chloride to potassium chloride because her new partner said the water tasted like salt. :thinking:

Had the company that installed it check my system and gleaned some valuable info about my softener. It might not apply to your system.

Once a year I dump the salt reservoir and clean it out. There is usually a ‘salt shelf’ at the bottom that water won’t penetrate. Also you never want to fill the salt reservoir to the top. Too much weight on the salt at the bottom, which exacerbates the formation of the salt shelf.

Use only salt that has rust remover. I use Morton Rust Defense

(Morton® Clean and Protect Plus Rust Defense - Morton Salt)

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You really only should need rust defense if you have a well.

Our local water supply comes from a well, hence the rust remover. The water is HARD and has iron in it. When I had the resin tank rebuilt, the tech saved some of the resin. It was UPS brown. That is when I switched from the regular salt.

I have a water filter before the softener. The cartridge is replaced once a year. I have to scrape an accumulation of what looks like clay from the bottom of the filter.

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Gotcha.... On city water here which is actually pretty good.

I never run out, but I only check semi-randomly ... this is just a way to remind me! :wink:


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I'm pretty sure I killed large hemlock when I did that.

Interesting. I've had a number of softeners over the last 20 years or so, and have only encountered a salt shelf once. The only advice on salt I've been previously given, is to use crystals, not pellets, and that was by the Kinetico guys.

I'll bear in mind the loading suggestion. It seems logical, and since the one instance of a salt shelf, I've kept an eye on salt consumption for sure.

I too am on a well, but I'm fortunate that it has no iron, and only middlin hardness. The softener is primarily to keep the Rinnai water heater safe!

The Kinetico has a big filter in-line, and relative to what you describe it comes out sparkling clean! Lol


That's why you dump it in your neighbors yard

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I want to add that I had a bad experience with bridging with pellets, as opposed to crystals. Also, I don't load up on it. Also, I regen when the water starts feeling hard. I go around 6 weeks, but our water isn't that hard, there are only 2 of us, and I don't remember what the settings are.

That's about it.

I found an old aluminum beer keg in the trash that had some beer left. I was going to scrap it but knew they wouldn’t take it with liquid inside. Sooooo I drilled some holes in it and let it drain. Came back an hour later and there must have been 10000 ants getting drunk.


I like the simple approach. Nice.

FWIW I have a couple of Zooz tilt sensors and a few of their contact sensors, all in that same waterproof enclosure. Recently I was surprised to find one attached to an exterior gate half full of rain water. You might consider a heavy coat of silicone grease on the O-ring in the enclosure. That fixed my problem.


Thanks @Stan1 .

I'll keep an eye on it. Between the salt and the fact that there's really no water in there, I expect it will be fine, but you've got me thinking that I should check the humidity in the tank, it may be much higher than I had considered!


Nice/creative job. :slight_smile:

I'm using the simple leak sensor sitting on the salt approach as I keep one or two bags of salt around and can wait until the water just starts showing...I only add a single bag at a time to get the salt back above the water level. Has worked well for the past several years - that was the recommended approach of the water softener company who installed our system.

My one "brilliant" moment w/my setup was I put my salt resevoir on wheels so I can move it even when it's full. That allowed me to put it out of the way in a corner of my garage blocking access to my water heater - I can carefully roll it out enough to allow access when I need to change batteries on my leak sensors below the water heater.

Hadn't heard about salt shelfs before, good to know.


Garage? Water heater? Water softener?
I have firewood piled along the wall in my garage.
Then again, you don't have the fun of dragging the bags of salt down the basement stairs, which I just did.
I have a Post-It note on my laptop cover to hit the "Regen" tonight, lol.

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Mine is in the basement too!

I am bit confused though. Why do you not let the softener do automatic regen? My whirlpool did that, and my Kinetico does too. Are you trying to minimize salt usage?


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It's a Culligan and does have a water meter in it, but recovery after power outages is not graceful, and it goes into regen. Depending on which generator is running, the well pump may not be on, who wants to regen after every little power outage, etc, etc.

We had real salty water once...yuch...after some sequence of events where regen started and then the water got shut off.

I feel more in control, and that I use less salt...which is a good thing...if I just run a regen when it needs to.

I have the test strips, and an untreated faucet to compare strips with, (since I'm partially colorblind), but I can feel when the water is starting to lose its softness in the shower. It's been working out to 6 weeks.

As I said, I'm not sure what the settings are, but they haven't changed in forever. I should look into that. Our water is from a well but not terribly hard.

Years ago I replaced all the gaskets and seals in the water softener control. Got it finished in time to make a big jug of tea for a party. My MIL was the first one to try the tea. If she could have spit it out, she would have. Almost pure salt.
I called in the softener company to fix my problem. He was nice and didn’t laugh when he found that I didn’t know what I was doing.


You and I, twins separated at birth.

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