What Is Water Softener Regeneration? (4 Comprehensive regeneration Steps)

In this article, I will dissect the question What Is Water Softener Regeneration? You probably want to understand the different functioning of your new water softener. Hence, we’ll cover all the important regeneration details.

Water softener regeneration is the process whereby the water softener drains out unwanted dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium that cause water hardness. When hard water goes through the water softener, it passes over the resin bed where the ion exchange process happens. That is, sodium ions replace the calcium and magnesium ions to give you soft water.

Details: What Is Water Softener Regeneration?

The water softener tank contains resin beads that help to collect the hardness minerals (calcium and magnesium) from the water.

You’ll be required to fill the softener’s brine tank with sodium or potassium pellets. Water will enter through the top of the softener and trickle down to the resin beads. The ion exchange process will occur. As a result, mineral deposits attach to the resin allowing softened water from the softener tank flow through the tap.

However, after some time, the hardness minerals cover the beads completely. As a result, these resin beads reach their maximum capacity. Hence, the beads become unable to attract any hard minerals.

At that point, the water softener must regenerate or recharge, or cleaned up to restore normal functioning of the system.

So, let’s go through the actual regeneration process.

Water Softener Regeneration Steps

Step 1 Fill

During this stage, Salt mixes with water to form brine. Brine aids in cleaning up the hardness minerals from the resin bed.

Step 2 Brining

In this step, brine flows through the resin tank. Facilitating resin cleaning with less amount of salt. Then, the softener discharges the brine and the hard minerals into the drain.

Step 4 Backwash

In this step, the softener pumps water to the bottom of the tank through the resin bed removing suspended solids and dirt. This process takes approximately 10 minutes.

Step 2 Actual Regeneration

In this step, the softener chemically cleans the resin bed by replacing the hard minerals with sodium ions. This step takes approximately 50 to 60 minutes.

Step 3 Brine Rinse

Closure of the brine valve.  Hence, water flows without the brine. The water flushes out the remaining traces of brine and the hard minerals through the softener tank into the drain. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.

Step 4 Salt Tank Refilling

Refiling of the salt tank with more water to make additional brine for the subsequent regeneration cycle.  This stage will take 10 minutes.

Importance of Water Softener Regeneration

Water softener regeneration has many benefits. The regeneration process removes water pollutants. It also, prevents the accumulation of rust and dirt in water pipes.

The regeneration process also results in cleaner dishes without stains. The process also contributes to improved appliance efficiency.

Furthermore, the final water from the process is healthier and gentle on the skin.

During regeneration, the Water softener cleans the resin bed by removing all the hard minerals. With the hard minerals removed, the clean resin bed will attract more minerals to give you a continuous flow of soft water.

It’s important for the softener to continuously clean the resin bed to eliminate the dissolved minerals. This way, normal operations of the whole system continues uninterrupted.

How Often Should A Water Softener Regenerate?

The softener’s control valve regulates the water softener regeneration. The control valve is the brain of the system. As such, the valve decides when and how often the unit regenerates.

However, the market is flooded with many models of softeners units each with a different valve type. The two major types of regeneration on most softener systems are:

  1. Time-Initiated Regeneration
  2. Demand Regeneration

Let’s discuss these two regeneration cycles in more detail.

Time-Initiated Regeneration

I believe this is the easiest regeneration cycle. You simply set up the system to regenerate at a particular day and time. You can set the unit to regenerate at night while everyone is asleep.

The user’s manual will direct you on the suitable valve setting based on the household water usage, resin tank size, and quality of the water. However, if you’re unsure, consult a specialist for help.

Generally speaking, most specialist advice that the softener should regenerate at least once per week. That means fresh regeneration process will begin each week at the same time.

 Demand Regeneration Settings

The demand setting is dependent on the volume of water used in your household. The control valve monitors water usage and drives the system into regeneration mode. This is after the softener has treated a predetermined amount of water. That means, the unit will regenerate more often if water usage in your home increases.

Bottom Line

Both of these regeneration cycles are ideal and have been in use for a long time. However, the demand regeneration is more efficient. As we’ve mentioned above, This system regenerates only after a predetermined amount of water is used up. It doesn’t simply regenerate on a scheduled day or time, even when regeneration is not required, but when water is used up.

What Happens During The Regeneration Process?

A number of things happen during the regeneration process. First, the softener releases brine water into the resin bed to trigger cleansing of the dissolved minerals from the resin bed into the drain.

The cleaned resin becomes ready again to soften more water. The rate of the regeneration cycle will depend on household water usage, water quality, and resin tank size.

How Do I Know If My Water Softener Is Regenerating?

The best way to know if the softener is regenerating properly is to check the quality and hardness of your water.

If regeneration is not happening as required, you’ll notice the performance of your system has drastically reduced. Also while taking your bath, you’ll immediately tell that the water is hard. Lime scale build up is also a sign that things are not going on well with your system.

In addition, You’ll tell your softener isn’t regenerating properly when you notice the following signs.

Hard Water Spots.

If your softener is not working as it should you’ll notice water spots on your shower door. You’ll also notice scale build up on your water appliances. Have the unit checked by a professional to fix the issue.

Change in Water Quality or Pressure

Has the quality of your water changed? Has the water pressure reduced? Do you notice stains on your clothes? All these will tell you whether your softener is regenerating.

Can You Use Softener during Regeneration?

Using water during water softener regeneration is not advisable. During the regeneration process, the softener goes on bypass. That means the water has not passed through the softener, thus, not softened.

Normally, the softener is set to regenerate at midnight or 2am, when water usage is unlikely to happen.

If you use water during the regeneration process, the plumbing system will get hard water. This means you’ll need to flush the plumbing system with water after the completion of the regeneration cycle. To avoid all these, don’t use water during regeneration.

How Long Does Water Softener Regeneration Take?

Water Softener Regeneration may take approximately 90 minutes to complete the regeneration cycle.

The fill step 5 minutes, brining 5 minutes, Backwash step 5, Actual Regeneration 60 minutes, Brine Rinse 5 minutes, Salt Tank Refilling 10 minutes.

Is Water Softener Regeneration Loud?

Unfortunately, yes. Water Softener Regeneration is loud. You will hear your unit making some considerable amount of noise especially during regeneration. That’s why its advisable to set regeneration at night, when everyone is asleep.

You’ll notice sounds of flowing water or a running motor.

Furthermore, you’ll also hear brine solution washing the resin bed. Another sound you’re likely to hear is the draining sound and it signifies end of the regeneration process.

Nevertheless, the Water Softener Regeneration Noise will not be loud on the entire process. The only time you except noise is at the start of the cycle, during the flushing stage, and at the end of the process (draining stage).


Water softener regeneration entails patience and learning your system. With time, you’ll understand the entire system.

I hope that we’ve made the regeneration process a bit easier and understandable for you. If you have any questions or concerns, engage me on the comment section below and I’ll get back to you.

Recent Content