Something that is going to play a critical role in how well your water softener works for you is going to be how long the regeneration cycle takes. This is especially critical if you only have a single tank system since you are not supposed to use water during the regeneration cycle if you only have a single tank.

The simple answer to how long it takes is going to be about 80-90 minutes for the system to finish the entire regeneration cycle.

What is Water Softener Regeneration?

Water softener regeneration is when your water softener flushes the system of all the minerals that have been accumulated from the hard water that goes into the water softener and sends out softer water.


This process is vital for the system because without regeneration you would only be able to have so many minerals be taken out. Before you know it your water softener would no longer do its job.
Something to keep in mind about regeneration is that if something is off with your regeneration cycle. This may indicate that something is wrong with your water softener and it is worth looking into if water quality has gone down or changed.

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What Happens During the Regeneration Process

During the roughly 80-90 minute regeneration process of a water softener, there are 5 parts to the process. These are filling, brining, brine rinse, backwash, and fast rinse. Here is what happens during each part of the process and roughly how much time each part will take.

Filling

(5-20 minutes) This is when water fills into the brine tank to dissolve salt with water to create a brine that will end up flushing the resin bead of the minerals they have collected.

Brining

(30 minutes to 60 minutes. Depends on the softener and age of softener) This is where the brine that has been created during the filling process is starting to fill the resin tank in waves and cycles in order to flush and process out all of the mineral deposits in the resin beads. This will take the longest to completely renew the resin beads.

Brine Rinse

(5 minutes max) This is when during the cycle the resin tank is flushed one more time with a smaller amount of brine to clean up leftover residue and minerals to ensure the resin tank is cleaned out.

Backwash

(10 minutes max) This is when the resin tank is quickly filled with water and flushed multiple times in order to remove any remaining minerals or brine left in the tank.

Fast Rinse

(10 minutes max) This is the final rinse and flush of water through the resin tank to ensure all brine is removed and the resin bed is reset.

How often regeneration happens will be caused because of what type of valve your water softener has. It can have a clock, be metered, or based on the true demand for water.
On top of this you also have a water softener setting that you can change how many pounds of salt is used during the regeneration cycle.

To check and make sure that your water softener is regenerating, get a water hardness test kit at home improvement stores to make sure the water is within the range that you set the water softener for.

You can also check the settings and figure out the time interval when it is supposed to be regenerating to watch and see if it does it during the scheduled time or does a manual regeneration to make sure it is working properly.

Using Water During Water Softener Regeneration

If you have a single tank system, then you will not be able to have soft water during the regeneration cycle. This is because the system will be in bypass mode and let hard water into your house so the water softener can have scheduled maintenance to be done.

If you have a dual tank system, then you will always be able to have soft water, and your tanks will be cleaned better and your water softener will potentially last longer because of having less stress on the system from switching between tanks for creating soft water.

Water Softener Regeneration Troubleshooting

Water Softener not regenerating

Check these items before going into troubleshooting. Is the water softener plugged in, is it installed correctly, does the brine tank has enough salt, is the bypass valve positioned correctly, are valves recording water flow, is the correct time of day displayed on the softener head, and can you start a manual regeneration cycle.

– If none of that works you may have a: damaged timer, issue with brine injector, blockage in the drain hose, salt bridging, incorrect water amount in brine tank, contaminated resin bed, motor failure.

Culligan water softener regeneration troubleshooting

Repeat all system checks from any water softener not regenerating. If that fails to diagnose the problem, you may need to call a professional or look at this chart for more detailed information regarding all different types of water softener problems.

Water Softener rusty after regeneration

If there is rusty water that means you are getting iron saturation in your resin bed which may be a sign that you do not have enough salt in your tank for the brine to work properly.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Answered

Why Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

Water softeners must regenerate due to resin beds absorbing all the minerals from the hard water so soft water can flow out of the softener. If the water softener did not regenerate you would eventually after a short period of time, depending on water usage (between a week or a month), no longer have soft water.

Without regeneration, the resin bed would be saturated to where it was useless, and the water softener would just become an expensive wall decoration. And no one wants an expensive wall decoration when it could just regenerate while you sleep (most defaults are set for 2 AM and last until 4 AM) and not affect your water usage at all.

How Many Gallons Should I Set My Water Softener to Regenerate?

This depends on how many gallons of water are used and how often you want your water softener to regenerate. You will also factor in the capacity of the softener system that you have.

Ideally, for a longer lifespan, you will want it to regenerate around every 3-7 days. This is so you keep the resin bed active without overusing the system and being wasteful. Say you are a family of 4 that uses 280 gallons of water a day and have 7 grains per gallon and want to regenerate once a week.

You will need a softener that has the capacity for 15,000 grains and schedule it to regenerate every 2000 gallons used. This means you need a softener with a 24,000-grain capacity. This is because a softener with a 24,000-grain capacity will need to regenerate after every 2150 gallons used because of the original hardness of water at 7 grains per gallon (15,000/7=2142).
For more details on the math click here.

How to Set Regeneration Time on Water Softener?

Water Softeners by default for a lot of companies will be set to regenerate automatically at 2 am when they need to regenerate. However, if this time does not work for you, you are able to manually change the time for a time that works better.

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If everything else is already set to your preference in regard to the amount of salt and amount of days between regenerations, all you need to do is find the timer dial. This will be a 24-hour clock of some sort and change it to the preferred time of the day that you would like it to regenerate at. When setting the time, you will want it to be when you and your family are the least likely to need it, especially if you have a single tank water softener.

Can I Use Water During Softener Regeneration?

You can use water during the water softener regeneration, but there are some details to be mindful of.

  • First, if you have a single tank system you will be using hard water instead of soft water during the regeneration time of the water softener.
  • Second, you may notice a loss of water pressure. This is because you will be trying to use water in two big systems at the same time, which has the capability of maxing out your water pressure.
  • Lastly, by using water during the regeneration, the regeneration may take longer. This happens because you are trying to pull high water demand in two parts of the house causing less water to be available for the water softener.

How Much Water Should Be in the Brine Tank After Regeneration?

It depends on if you have a wet or dry system for your water softener. If you have a wet system you will always have some water inside of your brine tank. This amount varies between 6 and 10 inches of water, or 3 to 6 gallons worth of water.

If you have a dry system you should not see water in the tank after regeneration. You should only have water in the brine tank when it is regenerating and in the cycle. When the regeneration cycle is over the brine tank should be drained automatically of any liquid that it had.

Takeaways

When looking to understand how long water softeners take to regenerate you have to factor in the 5 different aspects of the regeneration cycle to understand that it will take between 80-90 minutes.

By understanding this it makes sense why most water softeners have defaults set to regenerate at 2 am instead of in the middle of the day since most people are asleep at 2 am and do not have a need for water at that time.

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