What Is Water Softener Regeneration? (Factors That Trigger)

Water softener regeneration is a process through which brine enters the resin tank and regenerates the resin beads inside the water softening tank. Water softener regeneration is also known as “Regen.”

Water softener regeneration process

A water softener uses the ion exchange process to soften water. The resin beads look like small honeycomb structures that attract calcium and magnesium ions. Regen is a process that regenerates the resin beads inside the resin tank.  

The resin bed in your water-softening tank becomes saturated due to the ion exchange process. Regen resolves this problem of resin bed saturation and makes resin good for usage.

What Is Water Softener Regeneration

Key Takeaways

  • Water softener regeneration regenerates the resin bed.
  • Water softeners become ready for another softening cycle due to regen.
  • The ion exchange process completes due to regen.
  • Regen depends on water usage, water hardness, and capacity of the system.
  • Regen takes place according to the type and kind of water softener.
  • Metered water softeners initiate the regen cycles according to water usage.
  • Regen cycles take around two hours.
  • Time-clocked water softeners initiate regen according to the set time.

When Does Water Softener Regeneration Occur?

It depends on the kind and type of water softener. There is a difference between the kinds and types of water softeners.

Kinds of water softeners

There are two kinds of water softeners commonly available on the market:

  • Metered Water Softeners
  • Time-Clocked Water Softeners

Generally, people use metered water softeners. Metered water softeners initiate the regen process when your water usage is at its lowest. Time-clocked water softeners are timed by water specialists or a plumber who calculate the suitable time for regeneration according to factors like water usage and hardness.   

Type of water softeners

Water regeneration cycles depend on the type of water softeners:

  • Pre-filled Water Softeners
  • Post-filled Water Softeners

A pre-filled water softener carries water with salt in its brine tank, and a post-filled water softener moves water inside the brine tank at a later stage. Generally, people use pre-filled water softeners, but higher-end water softeners are post-filled water softeners.

Factors that trigger water softener regeneration

  • Hardness of water
  • Water usage
  • Water need
  • Size of the water softener system

Role of the control valve in water softener regeneration

Metered water softeners can initiate water regeneration through a control valve. A control valve tracks the regen process. It does so by monitoring the level of water that enters the water softener.

Although it may seem fine to initiate water regeneration at a set time, your water usage can increase or decrease unexpectedly. Metered water softeners take your water usage into account while initiating a water regeneration process.

In a time-set water softener, the control valve is connected to a clock or a timer. It allows the water treatment specialist or a plumber to set the time for the water regeneration cycle.

It has some drawbacks. A time-set water softener can initiate a water regeneration cycle whenever it is not needed. The control valve follows the directions of a timer more than your water usage.

Your plumber or water specialist can calculate the suitable number of days to initiate the water regen process while taking into consideration your water usage and system settings.

Water treatment specialists or plumbers set the timer in a way that the control valve starts the regeneration cycle when your water usage is at its lowest. Water treatment specialists or plumbers know that the regen process takes around two hours, so it is important to time it correctly.       

Frequency of water softener regeneration

The frequency of water softener regeneration depends on several factors. It involves the hardness of your water, water usage, water needs, and size of your water softener system.

Typically, water regeneration takes place after every 7-14 days. However, it is important to note that the water regeneration cycles of your water softener depend on its specific model.

One way to determine the optimal regeneration frequency for your water softener is to perform the water hardness test. You can get local water testing kits from your hardware store or online.

Your local water authority can also provide a detailed water analysis. You need detailed information about your water quality because it gives you a clear idea about your local water’s hardness and quality.

Water quality professionals or plumbers use the information about water hardness to time the frequency of water softener regeneration. The appropriate regeneration frequency also depends on the capacity of your water softener.

There can be a difference between the regeneration frequency of a metered water softener and a time-clocked water softener. However, you should keep in mind that “on-demand” water regeneration is deemed more efficient than time-clocked water regeneration.          

Conclusion | What Is Water Softener Regeneration?

Water softener regeneration resolves the resin bead saturation problem. Resin beads become saturated when hard water passes through the water-softening tank. It is only through the process of regeneration that a water softener completes the ion exchange process.

Water softeners replace calcium and magnesium with sodium ions in water. Regeneration can be scheduled, but high-end water softeners regenerate according to your water usage. Regeneration should occur when your water usage is at its lowest.


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