Why Should You Know How Often does a Water Softener Regenerate?
If you’ve ever heard an unusual sound coming from your water softener, or are hearing those sounds now, there’s a good chance that you didn’t or don’t know where the sound is coming from. Well, it is safe to say that you’re at the right place to learn more about this noise because it is the sound of your water softener regenerating.
Water softener regeneration is an important process that ensures your machine is working properly to provide you and your loved ones with a clean and healthy water supply. In this guide, you will explore the necessary information to clear your doubt about “how often should my water softener regenerate?”. Without any further delays, let’s jump right into it.
What is Water Softener Regeneration?
To help you clear your doubt about “how often should my water softener regenerate?” It is crucial that you first understand what water softener regeneration is. The regeneration process of your water softener is a key part to ensure it’s functioning properly. As a matter of fact, one of the most helpful ways to identify faults is to spot an unusual regeneration schedule.
The function of water softeners is to get rid of the excess minerals in the water supply to make it healthier for consumption and also safer for using in your house. Generally, water softeners work by going through a process called ion exchange.
What happens during the ion exchange process is the hard water from your home’s main water supply passes through the resin bed. Then, the resin captures the magnesium and calcium ions, which are essentially hard water minerals. The water softener will keep removing the calcium and magnesium ions from the hard water, but it will eventually become saturated, and the process will not be able to reduce the hardness of the water effectively.
At that point, water softener regeneration will come into play. The regeneration process requires you to add salt to the softener to remove the minerals that have accumulated on the resin. Salt is needed for the regeneration process also because it is able to restore the resin beads with the sodium ions they need to function properly.
The regeneration process is needed because when the water from your local municipality passes through the resin beads, the sodium in those resin beads goes through an ion swap and replaces the minerals with sodium. This water softener regeneration cycle is essential for revitalizing the water softener to ensure that it continues working efficiently.
How Often Does a Water Softener Regenerate?
How often a water softener regenerates usually depends on several factors. Generally, it is ideal for the regeneration process to take place regularly because it keeps the resin bed active and functioning in a consistent manner. Most water softeners regenerate once every week, but this will vary depending on various factors that we’re about to discuss.
Factors Affecting Regeneration Frequency
Here are several factors that affect the frequency of regeneration of water softeners.
Water Hardness Level
One of the key factors to affect the regeneration frequency is the hardness level of your water. If the hardness of your water is high, it will contain more calcium and magnesium ions. As a result, sodium ions will be quickly used up for the purpose of replacing the undesirable ions.
If sodium is used up quicker, it means more salt will be needed during the regeneration process, and the resin bed may need to be replenished more often. In some cases, your system may have to regenerate daily if you have an abnormally high level of water hardness and your unit isn’t sized correctly. By doing so, you ensure a consistent supply of soft water to your household.
It is easier to know how often a water softener regenerates if you are aware of your daily water usage. For people with a bigger family, it is expected the water usage per day to be much higher. As such, the system will need to regenerate more frequently to ensure a constant supply of soft water.
The reason behind it is that the system is treating water with high hardness more often and the resin beads become saturated at a quicker rate. Which is why your water softener will regenerate at a much shorter time gap.
Resin Tank Capacity
The next factor that affects how often your softener regenerates is the tank’s capacity. The bigger the tank, the more resin beads it can hold, which will result in a higher volume of sodium. Hence, more space to hold the unwanted calcium and magnesium ions when they are removed from the water.
This also means that the resin will take a longer time to use up, giving an effective water treatment for a longer duration. However, this may not be the exact case if there are many people living in the household because water usage will still be high and even with a larger resin tank capacity, the system still needs to regenerate regularly.
If you want to find a system that is best suited for your water usage, it would be a good idea to consult with a professional water treatment company. Professional water treatment companies are possessed the relevant knowledge and experience to provide you with a properly sized, applied and installed system.
Normally, a new softening resin is in its best condition and provides optimal performance. But throughout the years of salt and water usage along with chemical deterioration caused by oxidants and other chemicals, the resin structure will begin to deteriorate and lose its performance.
When that happens, the system might need to regenerate more often in order to consistently provide you with softened water. Most softening resins have a lifespan of 8 years and above, with some lasting for more than 15 years. Be sure to get a high-quality resin if you want your water softener to work optimally for a longer period of time.
Iron is one of the contaminants that, if left in the water, can be damaging to the system. Thankfully, most water softeners nowadays are able to remove a decent level of this mineral and is usually exchanged for sodium in the softening tank.
If iron levels in your water are unusually high, your water softener might not have the capability of removing it entirely. As such, it can be damaging to the system so be sure to test your water for this contaminant.
The regeneration settings of your system are dependent on the type of control valve utilized by your water softener. If the control valve type is one that comes with a built-in clock, it will follow a specific schedule and regenerate according to a pre-set timer. The name for this type of regeneration is known as “Time Initiated Regeneration”.
On the other hand, metered water softeners that utilize a “Demand Regeneration” are slightly different as they regenerate according to the water usage. In some instances, “Demand Regeneration” can be incredibly useful, especially if your water usage is inconsistent.
Be sure to check the user manual if you are not sure what settings the control valve of your softener uses and to identify whether your water softener regenerate with a “Time Initiated Regeneration” or a “Demand Regeneration”.
Age of the System
The next factor affecting how often should your water softener regenerate is the age of the system. The older the system is, the more frequent recharging it requires. To some extent, it might even need to regenerate daily rather than every two to three days, which is common for single-tank water softeners.
Regardless of how efficient your water softener was when you first bought it, it’s bound to lose its effectiveness over the years of service. A water softener typically lasts for 15 to 20 years if installed properly and maintenance was carried out on a regular basis. However, there will come a day when it will no longer be of great service, and you should consider replacing it with newer systems.
Clogged Brine Line
Your water softener has a brine tank and it has to be functioning properly in order for the system to carry out proper regeneration. If, in any case, the brine tank fails to empty or fill properly, the entire water softening process will be affected.
The softening takes place when salt is dissolved in the water, producing a brine solution. It is then sent into the softening tank, where the regeneration of the beads happens. If there is a blockage in the brine line, water will be prevented from entering or leaving the brine tank, which causes the system to regenerate more often than it should. It may even be stuck in a constant regeneration cycle. Thankfully, blockages can be cleared by flushing the system.
How Long Does It Take For A Water Softener To Regenerate?
In the process of regeneration, there are many things going on. For instance, the water softener’s resin beads get a flush and are reactivated with salt from the brine tank. As such, water softeners can take up to 90 minutes to regenerate.
The process also uses around 25 gallons of water, which varies based on how hard the water is in your area. Some people are concerned that the process of regeneration is being wasteful, but when the benefits of using a water softener is considered, it will outweigh the downsides. Although the systems use a great amount of water, the systems also save you water on things like laundry and washing dishes.
How Does My Water Softener Know When to Regenerate?
This is dependent on the valve type that your water softener is using, which are the demand and time-initiated regenerations. For the former type, the regeneration schedule is not fixed and is based on water usage. It is more efficient and happens at any time of the day if the unit isn’t configured or programmed properly.
The latter is a timer-controlled system, so the unit regenerates a set amount of times in a week, based on the information given by the built-in timer. As such, the softener regenerates at a specific time of day, typically overnight, when the demand for water is lowest. If you’re still thinking “how does my water softener regenerate?”, be sure to check the user manual.
How Do I Know If My Water Softener is Regenerating?
When your water softener is regenerating, it will make noises like running water and a motor hum. These are the noises of the brine washing over the water softener’s resin. Most systems are programmed to regenerate at night, so it’s unlikely that you’ve heard it happening.
You know the system is regenerating because if it isn’t the hardness level of your water will rise. It is easy to differentiate between hard and soft water since it is smoother and has a distinctive taste. If the softener hasn’t regenerated, you will be able to taste the difference and might even notice scale forming on the surfaces.
Do Water Softeners Regenerate Automatically?
Most modern systems have an automatic process, but they may need to be initially programmed where you provide information into the control panel to determine how much salt is required during regeneration and how often it should regenerate. With the average water usage information provided, it will know when to regenerate for the optimal water treatment.
What’s the Problem with Regenerating Too Often?
Most residential water softeners are required to regenerate once every two to three-day period, or weekly, depending on how much water is used daily. There are some cases where you need to regenerate the water softener more often, but it still isn’t a good idea to pre-set it to regenerate every 12 hours.
If a water softener recharges too often, it would replenish the resin with salt at a much quicker rate even when it isn’t saturated with minerals yet. This means that you would wash usable salt down the drain, and end up wasting salt. In addition, you would also waste more water and electricity than needed.
Now that you’ve come to the end of our guide, we believe that your doubt of “how often should my water softener regenerate?” is resolved. Not only will you find information on how often should a water softener regenerate, but you will also find other helpful information regarding a water softener. As such, you can enjoy soft water while making sure your softener has the best efficiency.
Can I use water while my softener regenerates?
Yes. However, this can only be done if your unit has an internal bypass that sends water directly through your pipes without having it go through the softener. If you chose to do that, you should expect that you won’t be enjoying treated water. So if you want to avoid consuming unwanted minerals, then we’d suggest you wait until the cycle is over.
One other way that you can enjoy softened water whilst the unit regenerates is to opt for a dual/twin tank water softener.
How often does a dual tank water softener regenerate?
Dual tank water softeners are different from the standard ones in most households as it is more efficient. In addition to providing softer water, dual tank softeners are able to regenerate with soft water. When one tank needs to regenerate, service automatically switches to the other tank. Not only will you have soft water all the time, but you can also reduce both salt and water usage.
What should I do if I am still uncertain about how often should a water softener regenerate?
Each water softener functions differently and uniquely from others, so it is not uncommon that you’re not sure what to do. You should note that most of them regenerate based on how much water you use, but glitches and faults within the valve or talk can affect the regeneration schedule.
For the best advice, you can talk to experts or specialists in the water treatment industry or a professional plumber to better understand your water softener’s settings or user manual. Their advice will come in handy too especially if you are experiencing unusual problems with your unit.
Why is my softener stuck in regeneration?
While this isn’t a common problem, a water softener stuck in regeneration can still happen. Most of the time, it is due to a clogged connection and the components causing this issue are usually the drain line, venturi valve, or the brine valve.
There are other potential causes too such as low water pressure in your home or somewhere else in the system is blocked up. This is one of the situations where we’ll advise you to call an expert in this field and get them to take a look to properly diagnose the problem. It might cost you some money getting someone to fix the issue, but it’s definitely less costly than trying to fix it yourself and messing up the whole thing in the process.