How Often Should My Water Softener Regenerate?

Last Updated on December 12, 2022 by Mattias

This article will answer the question, “How long does a water softener take to regenerate?”

We will also go into more depth about potential causes for your water softener not regenerating as it should and how to stop a water softener from regenerating.

Consider this your go-to guide for understanding the basics of water softener regeneration.

What is Water Softener Regeneration?

Water softener regeneration is when the water softener flushes out the minerals it grabs from the hard water; as it does, it continues to soften the new water that passes through. In this process, salt is used to clean the resin beads, so the hardness of the water is removed.

How Often Should a Water Softener Regenerate?

A water softener should regenerate every two to three days.

Hence a water softener should regularly regenerate to keep the resin bed active. Some water softeners may generate every day or even multiple times a day in some cases.

Modern water softeners have the luxury of having a function that adjusts the interval using a control module. 

Why Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

In the softening cycle, sodium on the resin beads is exchanged for hard water minerals in the water.

After a while, the resin beads become full. Then they must be rinsed and recharged from all the minerals like calcium and magnesium ions. So they can continue to soften the water, collecting and attracting hard water minerals in the water that passes through the system.

A brine solution is used during the regeneration process to flush the hardness ions out of bed and replace them with new ones. After the regeneration cycle, the hardness minerals are gone, and your hard water becomes soft.

The regeneration time takes between 80-90 minutes.

How Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

Water softener regeneration cycle diagram
Image source:

As we stated above, the regen cycle takes between 80-90 minutes, and it’s a 5-step process that looks like this:

1. Filling

The brine tank fills with water then the salt inside the tank dissolves. This process creates a strong salt-water solution (brine)

Time: 2-5 minutes

2. Brining Stage

The brine water flows into the mineral tank, displacing the collected hard minerals with new sodium. This process is also known as the water softener’s backwash cycle.

Time: 30-60 minutes, depending on what kind of water softener system you got.

3. Brine Rinse

To ensure that the tank is clean of minerals and residue, the brine is rinsed one more time.

Time: 5 minutes

4. Backwash Stage

Resin beads are cleaned from hard water minerals. Water flows in the reverse direction -> flushing the beads -> pushing the minerals out from the tank.

Time: 10 minutes

5. Fast Rinse

A fast flow of water goes through the resin tank, slushes brine from the bottom of the tank, and packs from the resin bed. The water softener returns to “soft water service” after the last rinse.

Time: 30 minutes

After this, your water softener is automatically recharged and put in bypass mode. This makes your home vulnerable to hard water, and you should not use any water during this time.

Read also: Will Water Softener Water Kill Plants?

10 Causes That Can Affect The Regeneration Process

1. Water Softener Size

Your water softener’s size also determines how long it will take to regenerate. A larger unit also got more resin beads, meaning it will take longer during the regeneration due to cleansing.

2. Your Household Water Consumption

Answering the question, “How often should my water softener regenerate?” would be easy if you knew how much water you and your family consume.

Your household water usage greatly affects the regeneration process. It’s pretty simple, the more people you are, the longer it takes due to the demand on your system. So if you use a large amount of water, your water softener must regenerate more often. Large water use = long regeneration time.

3. Resin Damage

Resin damage can appear when you’ve used too much salt or the wrong type of salt for your system. It can impact the regeneration time negatively,

The resin can lose its capacity due to contaminants like chlorine, speeding up your water softener’s regeneration because there’s too less resin to replenish and flush the minerals out.

But does a water softener remove chlorine from your water?

4. Increased Iron Levels in the water

Iron in your water can damage the water since your water softener may not be able to remove it completely.

5. Resin Tank Capacity

Your resin tank’s capacity also affects how often your softener will regenerate.

If you got a larger brine tank, it could hold more resin beads, which means you got more volume for sodium.

Since the salt tank holds more sodium, it can have magnesium and calcium ions after removal. Allowing the resin to be more stable and making the water treatment process more effective over several days rather than doing a regeneration daily.

6. Clogged Line

The softening process will be affected if your salt storage tank doesn’t empty or fill correctly. To create the brine, the water softener salt must be dissolved.

This is required for the ion exchange. The brine goes to your mineral tank and regenerates the resin beads.

Due to a salt bridge, your system could need to be regenerated more often if there is a blockage or slow rinse in its brine line.

Read also: 9 Reasons Why Your Softened Water Tastes Salty

7. Resin Deterioration

Even the best softening resin will become less resilient due to salt level and water usage since fewer sodium ions are available for ion exchange. This forces the system to restart more frequently.

8. Control Valve

Regeneration settings will depend on your softener’s type of control valve. 

If your water softener got a clock, it will follow a regeneration schedule it will follow its default setting and regenerate to the predetermined time settings.

If you got a metered water softener, it works a bit differently since it regenerates according to your water supply.

9. Your Water Hardness

Your water’s hardness number can also affect how often your water softener regenerates. If you have hard water, your system needs to work harder than if your water is relatively soft. 

If you got very hard water, your system might need to regenerate daily to work properly. The hardness might not affect the regeneration time, but your system will need to regenerate more frequently.

10. System Age

An older water softener will take longer to regenerate than a new one. If you use a water softener for a long time, it loses its effectiveness.

What Determines How Often To Regenerate Water Softener?

Depending on the valve on your water softener, there are two types of regeneration: demand regeneration and time-initiated.

Demand Regeneration

A demand-initiated water softener starts its regeneration when the capacity is depleted and puts it in regeneration mode. This can occur at any time.

Have you ever had many apps open simultaneously on your smartphone and noticed that your phone needs to be charged more often?

The same goes for demand regeneration. How often your unit needs washing depends on how much water you use.

If you use a lot of water, it requires regenerating more often.

An integral meter for the control valve measures all the water that passes through the system and is adjusted according to the water hardness level. So when the resin reaches the end of its functionality, it regenerates.

A signal is triggered by the meter, which begins the regeneration and typically includes drawing the brine, rinsing, and a backwash. Once completed, the tank is back to resuming softening water.

Time-initiated Regeneration

A water softener that uses time-initiated regeneration, its control valve opens a path from the untreated water straight to the tap. The control valve clock does this and trigger the system to regenerate.

Mostly the process is in the middle of the night to spare the amount of untreated water going to the water heater or the faucets.

Read also: How To Add Salt To Water Softener

Using Water During Water Softener Regeneration

It’s possible to use water during the regeneration process but not recommended since it can cause negative effects, especially on single tank systems.

This is because you may let hard water slip into your home. You can best set the regeneration during the night or early mornings when you don’t use water. By doing this, you will avoid consuming any hard water.

But this doesn’t affect those with a dual tank system because you’ll always have soft water and a much cleaner tank.

FAQs – How Long Does a Water Softener Take to Regenerate

Does a water softener regenerate every day?

Some softeners regenerate daily, others might regenerate two to three times a week, and some might regenerate just one time in two weeks.

How long does a water softener regeneration take?

It takes about 85-90 minutes, while certain models take up to 2 hours.

How can I tell if my water softener has regenerated?

The best way is to check the softness of your water. You can also check the salt levels from week to week to see if it’s going down or not.

How much water does it take to regenerate the water softener?

On average, it takes 35 to 65 gallons of water. But it all comes down to the size of your water softener, a large water softener will use around 35-70 gallons, and a small one will use around 20-25 gallons.

The number of hard minerals in your water will also play a huge role in how much water is used.

How to stop water softener regeneration?

You can stop it from regenerating by pressing and holding down the regen button on your water softener.

It’s also possible to just unplug it or turn off the power.

Is it possible to regenerate your water softener more often if needed?

To keep the resin bed active, it’s best that your water softener regenerates frequently, and if your water hardness is hard, it should regenerate daily. You can always do a manual regeneration. Use the owner’s manual to learn how to do it on your water softener.

What type of water softener you have is also something to keep in mind. Some regenerate more often than others.

How Often Should a Water Softener Regenerate

We hope this guide will be useful if you have questions about your water softener generation.

As you discovered, your water softener regeneration process is essential to get softened water and how often to regenerate the water softeners comes down to serval things. Not only will it make your water better, but it will also protect your appliances and pipes from any damage due to hard water.

Ensure that your water softener is regenerating according to the manual to keep it working correctly.

If you, for some reason, have followed our guide and still have some kind of problems with your softener, make contact with a water treatment professional or contact us before buying a new water softener.