Water Softener Regeneration | Regeneration cycle and Guide

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Every electronic appliance that is continuously being used needs deep cleaning in a couple of months. After which they perform well. The same goes for the water softener system. They require deep cleaning which is known as REGENERATION or RECHARGE.

Water softener regeneration is a simple cleaning process in which resin bead is properly cleaned and this way they become free of any hard water mineral.

This article will give you all relevant information about water softener regeneration which will be quite helpful in solving your ambiguity related to the water softener regen process.

Water Softener Regeneration Process:

A water softener works on an ion-exchange principle where resin beads which are full of negatively charged ion attract hard water ions (positively charged ions). This way it holds the hard mineral and supplies pure and soft water

After some time, these resin beads become fully saturated with positively charged hard water minerals such as calcium and magnesium. This is the time when the water softener requires deep cleaning call regeneration.

Like the water softening process, the regeneration process also works on ion-exchange.

At this time, resin beads are full of positively charged ions. So in order to clean the resin beads from calcium and magnesium ions, we need to flush a regenerant over the resin beads.

Regenerate here is a super-concentrated water softener salt solution which is brine solution. It will help to restore the negative charge of resin beads.

The brine flows from the brine tank to the mineral tank where resin beads are present. The brine solution has positively charged sodium ions. Whereas, resin beads have positively charged calcium and magnesium ions. Remember the rule of chemistry like charges repel and unlike charges attract. So all the like charges (sodium of brine solution, calcium, and magnesium of resin) will repel each other. this way resin bead will become free of any hard water element. Calcium and magnesium will suspend in the brine solution and will drain out along with the remaining salty water.

At this stage resin beads are now cleaned, they have got their negative charge again. They are ready to capture hard water culprits now!

This was the rough sketch of how the regenerating water softener process works.

Water Softener Regeneration Steps:

The regeneration process is one of the most technical steps that increase the optimal performance of water softeners. Generally speaking, the regeneration process has got 5 steps that are more or less the same in all water softeners.

Here are the 4 stages of the water softener regeneration cycle:


The backwash is the first stage of the regeneration cycle in which the freshwater will clean the resin beads from dust, dirt, rust, and other contaminants. In other words, the backwash will prepare the resin beads for the recharge process. Fresh and clean water is directed first towards the bottom of resin beads and then directed upwards towards the resin beads to remove different impurities. This step will expand the resin beads up to 50%. Once the resin bed is free from all impurities, water then exits from the tank.

 This cycle requires 10 minutes at a flow rate of 4-8 GPM 

Brine Draw:

Brine draw is the main step of the regeneration process. Concentrated salt water (brine) is directed into the resin bed from the brine tank. The brine flows through the resin bead and here the actual ion exchange process occurs which we have discussed earlier above. Once the process is finished, the brine solution then exits the resin tank via a drain pipe.

 This cycle requires about 30 minutes at a flow rate of 0.05 to 1GPM 

Slow Rinse:

The third step is the rinsing of the resin bead. After brine draw, freshwater is then directed into the resin tank in order to rinse the resin bead. The water flows slowly through the resin beads, allowing the ion exchange process to complete. After which, water along with the remaining brine solution exits towards the drain.

 Here the cycles take approximately 20 minutes at a flow rate of 0.5 to 1.0GPM 

Fast Rinse:

After the slow rinse, comes the next stage which is the fast rinse. In this stage, freshwater flows quickly through the resin bed from top to bottom. The basic aim to do so is to remove any remaining brine and hard minerals. This is the last step of the regeneration process, in which resin beads are actually being prepared for its service cycle.

 Fast rinse cycle requires around 20 to 50 minutes, at a flow rate of 1.5 to 2.0 GPM

The total water softener regeneration process requires 80 to 90 minutes. 

Water Softener Regeneration Frequency:

Water softener regeneration how often, is the question that hits the mind of every water softener user. So frankly speaking, you need to regenerate it after every 3 to 6 days. Let me tell you, this is not a rock-solid statement. You can decide on your own. Several factors will determine either your water softener needs to be recharged or not, which are:

  • The hardness of water-
  • High iron content in water
  • How much water you use
  • The capacity of the mineral tank

Water Softener Regeneration Settings:

In order to control the frequency of the water softener regeneration process, there are certain control valves that will take the responsibility for regeneration. You can call these control valves the brain of the water softener. You might have a question about how to set water softener regeneration.

There are three types of control valves that you can attach with your water softeners, lets meet!

The first type has a clock. In the control valve with the clock, you can set the regeneration process for a specific time period let’s say after every 4th day it will automatically regenerate irrespective of the fact that the resin tank is saturated or not. This means it will regenerate the tank at the specified time at any cost.

The second valve type is the “metered valve” which is totally based on water usage. This valve is equipped with a meter to observe your water usage. Once the meter reached the pre-set threshold, it will automatically trigger the regeneration process. This way it will save salt and water. It is more efficient than the clock type control valve.

The last type is the “true Demand control valve” or “demand-initiated valve”, which regenerates resin beads on actual water use. It does not require any timer or computer. It works strictly on demand. This is the most efficient type.

Some Important Considerations:

  • It is advisable not to use water during the regeneration process especially if you have a single tank water softener, as it will allow hard water to enter the water heater and leads to limescale build-up in the equipment.
  • We would recommend initiating the regeneration process at night when water usage is low. Though you will be disturbed by the water softener regeneration noises, just ignore them and sleep
  • Demand initiated or true demand control valve is the most efficient type of regeneration, which will trigger only when there is a true need. It will save water and salt.
  • Water softener regeneration water usage totally depends upon the family size. For a family of 4, a typical water softener will use 35 to 65 gallons of water. Again, it depends on the water softener size as well.

What Causes the Need for Regeneration?

The water softener needs to be regenerated periodically in order to maintain its effectiveness. When the water softener needs regeneration, it releases the old mineral buildup into the water. This helps the water softener to clean itself.

There are three common causes of needing to regenerate the water softener.

One is that the water softener has been left for more than 90 days without being cleaned.

Another is that the water softener was never properly installed.

The third is that the water softener is damaged.

How to manually regenerate water softener

Regeneration of a water softener is a simple task and takes only minutes. As the water passes through the water softener it gets rid of all the minerals that have built up in the system. The regeneration process removes these minerals and makes sure that the system is in tip top condition for the next load of water.

The process of regeneration is done automatically by the water softener once a certain amount of water has passed through the system. However, if the regeneration process is not properly done, then there is a chance that the water will have a hard time passing through the water softener.

If you find that the regeneration is not happening as expected, then you should call a professional plumber to come and look at the problem.

How often should you regen your water softener?

The average water treatment plant requires water softeners to be regenerated every six to 12 months, depending on the hardness of the water.

If you are in search of a water softener, check out the 9 best water softeners of 2022.

How long does water softener regeneration take?

Water Softener Takes up to 90 minutes to regenerate.

How much water is discharged from a water softener during regeneration?

The amount of water used in the regeneration process varies with the hardness of the water. Some softeners may use between 20 to 25 gallons of water during regeneration, some may use anywhere from 35 – 65.

How to set regeneration time on water softener?

Pull out the timer knob and set the current time on the water softener’s timer dial. Then set the time on the 24-hour regeneration dial when water is least used in your household.

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