What Is Water Softener Regeneration?
A water softener works to provide you with softened water through a process referred to as ion exchange.
The softener removes the hard water minerals by trapping them inside a resin bed. Sodium ions are then released into the water in their place.
The water softener resin bed can wear out with time, and after a while, it stops trapping any hardness minerals. This is the time for water softener regeneration to take place.
Consider this regeneration as a part of the water softener maintenance.
The regeneration process is like a clean-up during which any remnants of hard minerals are removed from the resin bed to make it as good as new to start trapping these minerals once again.
How Long Is the Water Softener Regeneration Process?
The first step for the regeneration of your water softener is the preparation of a brine solution.
Then clean all the containers of the softener one by one by adding block salt into them. The water softener then needs to be flushed for ten minutes.
Then pass the brine solution through the machine (along with water) before flushing it again.
For the preparation of this salt brine water, almost 300 grams of salt are diluted with 0.8 liters of water.
More water gets added to the brine solution as it moves along the softener; this dilutes it and pulls it into the injector, creating a vacuum effect.
You will need almost 3.5 liters of water and roughly 90 minutes to ensure that all the mineral deposits have been flushed from the resin bed.
What Is the Process of Regeneration?
The water softener regenerates through a five-step process. Most of these steps take place in the tank. This part will take a detailed look at each of these components of the regeneration cycle.
This part can take anywhere between 5 to 20 minutes. This is the part where the brine is solution is prepared.
The brine tank starts filling with water, after which enough salt is dissolved into it to form the brine solution.
The solution that is created is eventually going to flush all the minerals out of the resin beads; hence, this is one of the most important components of the whole regeneration cycle.
This can take any time from a range of 30 to 60 minutes; it depends on factors such as the type and the age of the water softener.
This is where the brine solution created during the previous phase starts filling the resin tank to renew the resin beads eventually. The brine will then be flushed out, along with the minerals.
This takes more time because filling the resin tank with enough solution that can flush all the minerals out and make it as good as new is required.
This is another flush of the resin tank, this time with a lesser amount of brine, to ensure that no residue is leftover that might cause problems later.
This rinse will only take about 5 minutes; it is just done for an absolute guarantee.
This is a 10-minute step during which the resin tank is flushed with water multiple times to ensure that no brine might be left in it.
This might sound unnecessary, but the reason behind so many rinses is just to make sure that we are not leaving anything behind that will affect the working of the water softener.
All of this just adds up to a smooth regeneration schedule.
This is another 10-minute but final rinse of the resin tank. This is done very thoroughly to make sure everything is cleaned up.
After you have given almost 90 minutes to your water softener to regenerate through this process, it will work smoothly for quite a while.
This might seem like a lengthy process, but it is absolutely crucial for your water softening system because, without this entire process, your water softener might just get useless after a while.
How Often Should a Water Softener Regenerate?
Now that you know the details of the water softener regeneration process, the next question people ask is how often the regeneration should take place.
For most water softeners, the frequency for the water softener to regenerate depends on the following factors:
- The age of your water softener
- The capacity of the tank (the resin one)
- The accumulated iron quantity
- The hardness level of your water supply
- The water consumption level
Ideally, you should not go a very long period between the regenerations. It will be best to do it once every 3 to 5 days.
You can increase this period to a week if the hardness level is a little low in your home.
But the longer you have your water softener, the lesser you should wait between cycles. As your water softeners get old, it starts oxidizing from the inside because of chlorine from the water.
If you have a newer model, it will most likely have an automatic process that automatically offers a timed schedule for the regeneration to happen once every few days.
This removes the hassle of always initiating the regeneration cycle manually.
What to Do if Your Water Softener Is Not Regenerating?
It is easy to recognize if your water softener is not regenerating. You will start feeling a change in the soft water it supplies because if water softeners stop regenerating, they will eventually stop providing soft water.
Because the resin will not be able to trap the hard particles anymore, your water systems will only provide hard water.
Let us take a look at four reasons why water softeners may stop regenerating:
If your water pressure is too high – or too low – it could impact the regeneration of your water softener.
The pressure needs to match the requirement of the softener, and that is when the softener regenerates.
The problems with pressure could be due to two main reasons: either a problem from the supply at the backend or mineral buildup within your pipes that leads to clogging.
We just discussed that this was a factor that determined the time between two regenerations for a water softener.
If your usage drops because you are away from home or spending less time here (or just trying to save water bills), the frequency of how often the softener is regenerating will also drop.
It might stop altogether if the consumption has decreased very massively and the softener senses no need to regenerate anymore.
If your water softener is automatic and is already preset with a time to regenerate, you might accidentally change it sometime.
Let’s say you were a little out of the zone while adding the salt pellets and accidentally pressed a few buttons, and now your settings are changed. (Trust me, it can happen to anyone)
Make sure to check and reset them.
To clear beforehand, an empty brine tank never refers to water. No brine tank is supposed to have water inside it; that would actually be a problem.
Since the brine tank is the salt storage area, the emptiness refers to the salt pellets. These pellets are essential for the ion swap process that takes place in hard water.
A salt bridge may also form at the bottom of the brine tank, which will also stop the regeneration.
You also have the opposite end of the problem, excessive water softener regeneration. This may happen due to clogging in the brine valve, drain line, or venturi valve.
You will need a professional plumber to look at this problem.
To keep your top-rated water softener working perfectly, the regeneration process is of utmost importance.
You should always keep a check on this process to ensure that your water softener is regenerating timely and adequately.
If you feel any doubts, reach out to a professional on first priority because delays might seriously impact the working of your water softener.