What Does Regeneration Mean in Water Softeners?

A water softener regenerates to remove hardness minerals and salt that have collected in the resin beads. This process is done to keep the system working at its best and to ensure that your home has consistently soft water. 

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During regeneration, the water softener floods the resin tank with a brine solution to “clean” the hard minerals off of the beads and send them down the drain. The regeneration cycle is repeated approximately weekly, based on household water use. 

How Much Water Does It Take To Regenerate A Water Softener?

The amount of water used during a water softener’s regeneration process is dependent on several factors, including the type and size of the softener. Some softeners can use anywhere from 35-70 gallons of water during this time, while other systems may only require 20-25 gallons of water depending on the hardness level of the water and household usage. 

How Does the Water Softener Know When to Regenerate? 

Typically, a water softener’s control valve will tell the system when it is ready to start the regeneration cycle. The valve will then run a series of steps to initiate the regeneration process, which includes backwashing, rinsing, and fast rinsing. 

When a water softener’s control valve decides that it is time to regenerate, the valve will run its water flow to the resin tank. The brine solution will then enter the resin tank and begin to flush the beads with new sodium. This helps the resin beads to re-fill with hardness minerals that are ready to collect again. 

Once the backwashing, rinsing, or fast rinse is complete, the water softener will be ready to start its standard softening cycle again. The regenerated water will then be sent to the pipes in your home. 

What Can I Do to Help My Water Softener Regenerate? 

The most common reason that a water softener will not regenerate is that it isn’t getting enough salt in the brine tank. This can be caused by a number of things, including the age of your water softener or if you have a municipal water supply that has a high level of oxidants such as chlorine. 

Sometimes a clogged connection can also prevent the water softener from regenerating. Adding salt to the brine tank will help to resolve this issue, but if the problem persists, you may need to replace the entire water softener. 

If a salt bridge is blocking the brine from flowing through the water softener, it is necessary to break the barrier by gently poking a broom handle or similar tool into the brine. The salt bridge will then fall to the bottom of the tank and can be broken up. 

In the rare case that you have no salt in your water softener’s brine tank, the system will still regenerate when you add enough salt. You should try to refill the salt tank before the next time the softener needs to regenerate so that you don’t have a hard time with this process.