How Long Does a Water Softener Take to Regenerate

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How long should your water softener regenerate? A water softener is an important element to have at home, especially if you live in areas with a high level of hard water. A water softener helps to remove calcium and magnesium minerals from your water so that you can enjoy softened water at all times.

However, it's important to understand how often should a water softener regenerate so that you can ensure that your home has softened water at all times. The regeneration process is important for removing these minerals and ensuring that your home has softened water.

What is Water Softener Regeneration?

What is Water Softener Regeneration?
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Water softener regeneration is the process of flushing the resin bed and replenishing it with fresh sodium ions. The regeneration process relies on the salt you add to your water softener to restore the resin beads with the sodium they need to do their job properly.

Why Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

In ion exchange water softeners, hard water is passed through a bed of resin beads. As the hardness minerals in the water, such as calcium and magnesium, come in contact with the resin. As hard water passes through the bed, the beads attract and bind to the hardness minerals, leaving the water softened.

Over time, the beads become full of calcium and magnesium ions and can no longer soften the water. This is when regeneration is necessary. During regeneration, a brine solution is used to flush the old hardness ions from the resin bed and replace them with new ones.

When a water softener regenerates, water is sent through the resin tank, where it lifts the hardness minerals out of the resin bed and flushes them down a drain. The entire process usually takes place automatically and takes anywhere from 80 minutes to 90 minutes, depending on the size and type of water softener.

How Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

There are five parts to the process during the roughly 80 to 90 minutes of the regeneration process of a water softener. These include filling, brining, brine rinse, backwash, and fast rinse. Here are those five stages that make up the regeneration cycle:


In the first stage of the regeneration cycle, the brine tank fills with water. The salt in the brine dissolves in this water, creating a brine solution that you'll use in the next stage. It takes five to twenty minutes.

Brining Stage

The second stage of the regeneration process is when the brine solution from the previous stage flows into the mineral tank. This happens through a process called brining. The water and salt enter the mineral tank, displacing the hard water minerals that have collected on the resin beads. These hard water minerals are then flushed out of the tank and down the drain. This stage takes around thirty to sixty minutes, depending on the type of water softener you own.

Brine Rinse

After the main brining process, the brine is rinsed once more in a five-minute brine rinse. This ensures that the tank is completely clean of leftover residue and minerals.

Backwash Stage

The backwash stage is where the resin beads are cleaned of any hard water minerals that might have been left behind. In this stage, water flows in the reverse direction, flushing the beads and pushing the remaining minerals out of the tank. This stage takes around ten minutes to complete.

Fast Rinse

The backwash is followed by a fast flow of water down through the resin tank. The fast flow flushes brine from the bottom of the tank and packs the resin bed. After the last rinse, the water softening system returns to soft water service.

During recharge, the softener is automatically put in bypass mode, allowing hard water to be available to the home during this process. This is why it's best not to use water when your water softener is regenerating. Once the water softener is regenerated, water is again directed through the resin bed to be softened.

How Long is the Regeneration Process?

How Long is the Regeneration Process?
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Here are the factors that affect how long a water softener takes to regenerate:

Water Softener Age

Generally, the older your water softener gets, the less efficient it becomes. As a result, an older water softener will take longer to regenerate than a newer model.

Functioning Issues

If your water softening system has started taking twice as long to regenerate, you may be facing an issue with the components in the system itself. For example, if your brine draw line is clogged, the softener can't get salt brine into the resin bed, it may stall during regeneration. Replace your system with the best water softener shower head to improve the regeneration cycle.

Water Softener Size

The size of your water softener is also a factor in how long it will take to regenerate. A larger unit has more resin beads and, as such, will take longer to cleanse during regeneration. The size will affect the length of the water softener regeneration. Large resin tanks have larger surface areas for the resin beads, which means there is a bigger area to treat during brine flush and brine rinse.

Your Household Water Usage

Your household water usage also plays a role in how long it will take your water softener to regenerate. If you have a lot of people in your home using water, the system will need to regenerate more often. The more people using water, the greater the demand on the system and the longer it will take to regenerate.

Water Hardness

Water hardness is also another factor that impacts water softener regeneration. Very hard water requires more work from a softening system than relatively soft water. Also, the hardness of your water supply is unlikely to affect regeneration time, but it will result in more frequent system regenerations.

Resin Damage

If the resin in your water softening system is damaged, it can negatively impact regeneration time. Resin damage is often caused by using too much salt or using the wrong type of salt. Contaminants such as chlorine can cause the resin to lose its capacity over time, which can speed up a water softener regeneration because there is less resin to flush and replenish. If you notice that your system isn't regenerating as quickly as it used to, check the resin for damage.

Using Water During Water Softener Regeneration

Using water during regeneration is possible but may cause some adverse effects, especially if you have a single tank system. This is because while the softener is regenerating, you may be letting hard water into your home. Best practices are to set your water softener regeneration to midnight or early hours of the morning to avoid using water while the softener is regenerating.

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

FAQs on How Long a Water Softener Takes to Regenerate

Can you use water when the softener is regenerating?

Yes, you can use the softener while it's regenerating, depending on the system. Most softeners have a soft water reserve, which means you still have access to a limited amount of soft water during regeneration.

How long does a water softener regeneration take?

It takes roughly 80 to 90 minutes for a water softener to regenerate. This can vary depending on the size and type of softener you have.

What is the best time to regenerate your water softener?

The best time to regenerate your water softener is typically at night when water usage is lower. This allows the softener to finish regenerating before morning when you need soft water for showers, dishes, and laundry.

How often should I regenerate my water softener?

Most water softeners need to be regenerated once a week. However, this can vary depending on the hardness of your water and the amount of water you use.

How to stop water softener regeneration?

If you want to stop your water softener from regenerating, you can simply unplug it or turn off the power. However, this means that your water will no longer be softened, so it's not recommended unless you're planning to be away for an extended period of time.

Final Thought on How Long a Water Softener Takes to Regenerate

A water softener is an important element to have that you wouldn't want to miss in your home. Not only does it make your water taste better, but it also protects your pipes and appliances from hard water damage. So, make sure that your softener regenerates according to your softener's manual to keep it working properly.


Heather Hardy

Heather Hardy

Heather is a professional writer with a background in real estate and home renovation. She enjoys research and contributing to DIY publications and loves to review home products and appliances.

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