Water Softener Regeneration Steps: The Only Guide You Need

Water softener regeneration is the most crucial step towards softening the water.

Actually, this is the step where your water softener gets prepared for the next softening process.

If your water softener stops regenerating, that means loses its efficiency.

Although the water softener regeneration’s actual steps might differ from product to product, general steps are always the same.

You top up the brine tank with the salt, the sodium ions are flushed through the resin tank, the beads which were negatively charged attracts the positive sodium ions, now they are positively charged.

Now, when new hard water passes through the resin beads, the dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium get attracted by the sodium ions, and you get softened water.

But the regeneration process is not that simple. It requires careful monitoring and every step should rightly be done to get things rolled smoothly.

In this post, we shall be discussing regeneration steps, cycles, and how often you should regenerate your water softener.

water softener regeneration steps

What is the purpose of water softener regeneration?

If you have an ion exchange water softener, potassium or sodium-based, it requires regeneration as with time, the sodium ions get captured by the water particles and minerals by resin beads.

These beads have to be removed from the minerals, flushed off, to make the resin beads get ready all over again to do the same job.

Let’s have a detailed insight into what makes the water softener ready to soften water

The water softener consists of two tanks; a brine tank that holds the salt or bine solution and a resin tank that has tiny resin beads with negatively charged ions.

Brine solution flushed through the resin beads. Here, the sodium ions which are positively charged get attracted by the resin beads negatively charged.

Now, resin beads are positively charged with sodium, when we pass through the hard water through the resin beads, the positive sodium ions are attracted by the water, and minerals by resin beads.

Now, the resin beads are holding minerals such as magnesium, and calcium. With time, the sodium ions are all mixed with water, and no sodium particles are there to replace with water.

Here, the efficiency of a water softener is lost, to make the water softener works all over again, we have to regenerate them.

In regeneration what we do is, flush the sodium ions towards the water softener’s resin tank, and backwash all the hard particles from the water softener, so that resin beads could capture the dissolved hard particles in the water.

Water Softener Regeneration Steps

As you have learned that regeneration is the vital aspect or key aspect in the softening water process by a water softener. But how does that regeneration happen?

How someone can regenerate its water softener to make it work for removing hard mineral particles from the water?

Let’s learn the steps.

Step #1: Clean the resin bead

The first step is to clean the resin beads, in the process, this process is also called backwash.

These are the resin beads that make the water softener, soften the water, the key element in the whole softening process.

They collect all the impurities, leftovers of the water softening and filtration process.

It is not just the minerals, dirt, grimes, broken beads, debris, and many other substances ae there.

Some stuck in the beads, clog them, if not backwashed over a long period of time, or required span of time.

So, in the first step, all these accumulated impurities must be flushed out. To make this happen, water is sent towards the bottom of the resin tank.

It goes upward through the beads and removes or flushes all the contaminations or suspended solids.

This contaminated water leaves the resin tank through the top, it has all the impurities, debris, or contaminations that resin beads have been capturing throughout the time. This contaminated water is then washed, drained.

The first step can take 10 minutes or more in case you have a bigger-sized water softener.

You may require water running at 4 to 8 GPM, don’t get too high a flow rate here, or it may lose the resin beads.

Step #2: Brine Draw

In the second step of water regeneration, the brine is drawn from the water softener.

As I mentioned, the water softener contains two tanks; a brine tank and resin beads tank.

The water flows from the container and passes through the resin bead, where the positively charged sodium ions are replaced with calcium and magnesium, both negatively charged.

The brine is drawn from the brine tank, a special tank also called a salt tank.

These two substances along with the iron are the reason for hard water. If these three substances are removed, you get hard water easily.

Well, the brine flow is dependent on your model, but in most soft, the model is an upward motion to make heavy substance stay at the bottom.

Once the water is softened, it easily flows towards an upward direction, without any big trouble.

Step #3: Rinsing process:

There comes the slow rinsing processes of the resin beads tank. In this step, slow water is poured through the resin beads tank so that all the remaining substances or particles could easily be rinsed off.

Keep in mind, the rinsing process with the water should be slow, at lower pressure, so that ion exchange could happen slowly.

All the brine is drawn from the system in the rinsing process, remained. Now, the drained water is sent to the draining system where it can easily be disposed of.

The discharging of the backwash is also important, you must not backwash it in the open, in your lawn, or outdoor where animals or vegetation ecosystem gets disturbed.

The rinsing process can be of 20-30 minutes, with water flowing from 0.5 gallons per minute to 1.0 gallons per minute.

Step #4: Faster rinsing:

Faster rinsing through many skips, but I consider it very important.

Here, all the impurities or substances stuck in the layers or in the corners can easily be removed by flushing water at a faster speed through the rinsing bead.

Here water is dispensed at 1.5 to 2.0 GPM, and the process may take 20-30 minutes.

Step #5: Refill the tank:

Now the final stage, in this stage the water is again filled in the brine tank, along with the required amount of salt.

Keep in mind, it requires a sufficient amount of salt topped on the top of the brine tank, if the brine tank runs short of the salt, the whole process of regeneration will stop and your water softener would no longer be producing soft water, and you may not know that until your faucets are full of limescale.

How long does the regeneration process last in a water softener?

You know that the regeneration process actually is for cleaning the water softening mediums.

The parts which take parts in water softening are getting cleaned and rinsed after a particular span of time.

The chemical process here reverses, the beads remove the trapped minerals released from the water, it is directed to go in the drain tank.

Well on average, the regeneration process can take from 50-90 minutes.

But, mostly it depends on more than one factor, such as the size of the tank you used, the hardness level of the water.

Because if water hardness in your area is more than average, more minerals would be trapped by the beads, and longer it takes to rinse them off.

And in that case, it is possible that you may have to repeat the slow and faster-rinsing process more than once or twice.

How would I know if my water softener is regenerating?

Modern water softeners come with automatic water regeneration. You need to know if you have a water softener that activates water softening automatically or not.

Moderate the automated process and confirm if the regeneration process is started or not.

The system starts or initiates the water softer at specific intervals. On average, in more than one water softener, the water softener regeneration process starts once a week.

Also, check if the water softener regeneration is activated or not if it is a new water softener.

About the time, when the regeneration starts, it is probably in most of the water softener, in the morning.

In most cases, the water softener initiates the regeneration where there is almost no requirement of the water for households.

Some water softener comes with demand-initiated water softening regeneration and some come with automatic. It records the number of units softened or cleaned through the softener.

It tracks the unit and knows about your usage. When the set limit is reached, the regeneration starts again.

If your area has not that high water hardness and the minerals removed from the water are not that much, the time between the two regeneration extends.

As there will be a few minerals in the tank and not many minerals to be removed in the water tank.

You need to read the user manual, to check the limit or frequency of the regeneration.

If you have checked that there is regular regeneration of your water softener, and you see that it is not regenerating for a long time, you should check the system, and see if any of the section is not working or functioning properly.

How many times you should regenerate a water softener?

The regeneration process in a water softener depends on the use and frequency.

You set a frequency for water filtration, when you buy a water softener and after checking the hardness level.

If the hardness level in your water is high, it requires more filtration to light it, and it has to regenerate at least once in one day, or in some cases once in a week.

How many gallons of water requires for the regeneration process?

For regeneration, the water requirement depends on the size of the water softener.

It requires at least 20-25-percent of the water reserve capacity to initiate the regeneration process.

An average water softener requires around 30-60 gallons of water during the regeneration process.

How to manually regenerate water softener?

Water softener manual regeneration depends on the type and model. In some models, you will see an easy turn on a hand knob.

You just turn on that knob, it will be an indicator for the water softener to initiate the water softening process.

On the other hand, in some, you might require tools. You require tools to turn the screw to a specific degree to instruct it to begin the regeneration process.

The better would be for you is to read the user manual and learn how your one gets operated.


Regeneration is one of the key processes in a water softener. Without proper regeneration, you would not be able to get your water softener functioning right.

You need to follow the mentioned step, if the hardness level in your area is more than average, you might have to rinse off the minerals or other substances for more time than regular.

Emily Davis

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