How to Determine the Length of Operation of Water Softeners? 

A water softener is a device designed to remove hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) from your household water. It uses a chemically-sticky surface called resin to allow salt or sodium ions to exchange places with calcium and magnesium in water. 

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The process involves two cycles: an ion exchange cycle and a regeneration cycle, also called backwashing. Both cycles work by flushing the resin’s collected hardness minerals down the drain with brine water. 

Ion exchange occurs when the resin beads are swept over by hard water and they bond with salt ions. Those sodium ions are then released into the softener tank. The hardness minerals – calcium and magnesium – are repelled from the resin beads and sent down the drain. 

Regeneration happens after the ion exchange phase is complete and the water has been reconditioned to its original softness level. This cycle can last anywhere from 10-20 minutes and is controlled manually by the homeowner or maybe automatically run through a timer in some water softeners. 

A properly sized water softener should regenerate no more often than every three days, or no longer than 14 days between regenerations. This helps keep the resin bed free of sediment and iron and keeps your water softener running efficiently. 

When you’re considering a water softener, it’s important to calculate your “daily softening requirement.” This is the number of grains or GPG of hardness per gallon you want your water softener to remove from your home’s water supply. This is the industry standard and can be calculated using your home’s water hardness info and your family’s daily water consumption. 

If you have a large family or your water is particularly hard, you’ll probably need a larger capacity softener to meet your daily softening requirements. In most cases, this means a unit with a capacity of 28,000 grains or more. 

Regeneration cycles should occur as needed or once a week, which will keep the resin bed clean and reduce wear on the softener’s motor. However, the frequency of these cycles can be tricky to determine. 

A metered softener counts the gallons of water that pass through the softener and then initiates regeneration after a pre-set number of gallons have been processed. This is a more economical and environmentally friendly option than a timer model, but the metered system still requires careful programming. 

Control valves on some systems are demand-initiated, which means the system will only run if you request it to do so. This is an extremely efficient type of controller and can make water softeners as efficient as possible, but it’s important to set the controls correctly to ensure the system is operating at its full capacity. 

In contrast, control valves that are based on an actual count of gallons of water used in the household are known as timer models and typically require more frequent regeneration. In fact, a timer model that is programmed to regenerate more frequently than necessary can cause excessive wear on the resin.