How to Regenerate a Water Softener

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Many homes have hard water, which contains higher concentrations of calcium and magnesium than soft water. Though hard water is safe to drink, it can cause a number of problems in your home, including making it difficult to get your clothes clean and your dishes sparkling.

Hard water can also cause buildup on your fixtures and appliances over time. A water softener helps to remove these minerals from your water, giving you softer water for all of your needs. Here is a simple guide to water softener regeneration, how long does a water softener take to regenerate or how often does water softener regenerate and how to clean water softner to keep your unit working properly.

How Water Softener Systems Work

There are a few different types of water softeners available. You can connect these water softeners to your home's water supply line, in your basement or garage. The units have brine tanks that hold a saltwater solution. As water flows through the system, the minerals are pulled from the water and into the brine solution.

How Water Softener Systems Work
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The water softener tank has resin beads sealed inside, while the brine tank has a removable lid. These need to be filled with potassium chloride pellets or salt pellets. That’s how a water softener works.

The regeneration process is important to keep your water softener working properly. This is when the unit flushes the collected minerals out of the system and replaces them with fresh salt. The salty water inside the system enters the fill tube and flows into the softener tank.

Then, a rinse cycle begins, and this water cleans out the deposits from the beads. Everything gets drained out through the discharge hose. After that, the system returns to its original water softening process. The regeneration process is designed to clean the beads periodically to ensure that the water softener continues to work smoothly.

While the regeneration process is ongoing, the resin beads in the water softener are flooded with salt water, ensuring that hardness minerals are taken off the resin beads and sent down a nearby drain. After cleaning the resin beads, the water softener can function without any issue. The regeneration cycle tends to occur on weekly basis.

The Water Softening Regeneration Process

The Water Softening Regeneration Process
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The water softening regeneration process occurs over five primary stages, during which salt brine gets sent onto the resin beads to remove all of the accumulated hardness minerals. These stages include:


Water softeners need to be filled with salt before the regeneration process can start. Water will flow directly into the storage container, after which the salt will become dissolved in the water and form a brine solution. A brine solution is necessary if you want the water to be able to get rid of the hardness minerals that have accumulated on the resin beads.


The next stage is known as brining, and it's when the concentrated salt water solution (brine) is slowly added to the resin tank. The high concentration of salt will help to break down the hardness minerals that are stuck to the beads, making them easier to remove.

Brine Rinse

Once the brine solution has been added, a process known as a brine rinse will take place. This is where water is flushed through the resin beads to remove any salt residue. From there, water will continue to flow down the same path but without the brine solution. The minerals and brine are properly discharged to a nearby drain from the resin tank.


The next regeneration process is known as the backwash. During this step, water flows in the opposite direction and at a much higher velocity than usual. This helps to remove any dirt or debris that may be present on the resin beads.

Fast Rinse

After the backwash process, a fast rinse takes place. This helps to remove any traces of the brine solution that might still be present on the resin beads. Only when this stage has been completed can the water softener begin its standard softening process.

During regeneration, 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 softener is recharged, water is again directed through the resin bed to be conditioned. When done properly, the regeneration process takes around two hours to be completed.

How Does the Water Softener Know to Generate?

Are you wondering how a water softener knows when to regenerate? Well, this depends on the type of regeneration that the system uses. In most situations, a water softener will start regenerating once the control valve indicates that it's time to do so. The two forms of regeneration include:

Demand Regeneration

This is the most common type of regeneration. It takes place when the water softener reaches its maximum capacity and can no longer condition any more water. While hard water can contain different levels of contaminants, using demand regeneration ensures that the regeneration process always occurs at a set time.

Time Initiated Regeneration

This type of regeneration occurs at a specific time, regardless of how much water has been used. This is generally done in the middle of the night when water usage is low. This allows for less disruption to your home and also saves on water waste.

How Long Does a Water Softener Take to Regenerate?

A water softener control manual can help you determine how long a regeneration cycle should take. As a general rule, the process should last for about an hour. Depending on the size and type of your water softener, this time may be shorter or longer. The cycle's timing, duration, and frequency vary depending on the home's water hardness and water usage.

If you also invest in some of the best water softener parts such as the best water softener shower head, then expect the regeneration process to be smooth and according to the manual’s instructions.

The amount of water used during the regeneration process depends mainly on how large the water softener is. If your softener is designed to accommodate a family of four, then expect the regeneration to use anywhere from 35-70 gallons of water. The number of hardness minerals in the water also determines how much water is used during regeneration.

Manually Resetting the Regeneration

Not all water softening systems work the same, so you would want to check your instruction manual before attempting to manually reset the regeneration process. You may need to locate a small lever or knob on the top or side of your water softening system. This is usually easy to find and is sometimes labeled regeneration, “regen,” or brine draw.

To start a regeneration cycle on a Kinetico water softener, get a no. Phillips screwdriver and insert it into the small hole on the top of the unit. Turn it to the right until you feel it click. The unit will now enter a self-cleaning mode and regenerate itself.

If your water softening system does not have an easily accessible manual reset button, you may still be able to find a way to manually initiate regeneration. Check your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for instructions.

FAQs on How to Regenerate Your Water Softener

How to manually regenerate water softener?

Not all water softening systems work the same way, so you'll need to check your owner's manual or contact the manufacturer for specific instructions on how to manually regenerate your water softener. In general, though, you should be able to initiate regeneration by finding and pressing a manual reset button on the unit.

How to regenerate a water softener?

There are a few different ways that you can regenerate your water softener, but the most common method is to simply press the “regenerate” button on the unit. This will cause the unit to begin flushing out the old, hard water and replacing it with fresh, soft water.

Final Thought on How to Regenerate Your Water Softener

The regeneration process is an important part of a water softener because it helps to remove all of the built-up hardness in the unit. By regularly regenerating your water softener, you can help extend its lifespan and keep it working properly for many years. Installing a water softener in your home ensures that the water never leaves mineral deposits behind, making it feel softer and more refreshing every time you shower or wash your hands.



Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is an expert DIY home remodeler and mom to three. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her working on new home improvement projects or writing about her favorite kitchen appliances or DIY projects on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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