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26 Jul 2017

Water Softener Recharge 101: How often should my water softener regenerate?

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Ever been awake in the middle of the night and heard your water softener regenerating and wonder, “How often should my water softener regenerate, is it going too often or maybe not enough?”

How often a water softener regenerates or recharges is controlled by the control valve of a water softener system. The “control valve” is the ‘brain’ of the softener unit, since it gives the commands as to when the softener regeneration process should occur.

Why does a water softener regenerate? In ion exchange water softeners, hard water is passed through a bed of softening material called resin. As the hardness minerals in water come in contact with the resin, the hardness minerals are attracted to the resin and the resin holds onto them so they don’t end up in the water you shower or wash your dishes with.

With the hardness minerals trapped in the resin and removed from the water, the water becomes “soft”. Over time, as the hardness minerals are trapped in the resin, the resin fills up and the system will regenerate or recharge to remove the trapped hardness minerals so it can start the softening process again. Demand regeneration is often considered more efficient in both salt and water usage because the system only regenerates when it has used up its softening capacity instead of simply regenerating on a given day, whether it needs regeneration or not.

There are a wide variety of softeners on the market with a number of different valve types. A water softener regenerates when the control valve tells it to start the regeneration process. There are two different types of regeneration used in water softening, depending on the type of valve you have.

Time-initiated regeneration is controlled by the clock on the control valve. This is typically set to have the system regenerate after a certain number of days and at a time of day with low water usage, usually in the middle of the night. This process might occur once a week, as an example. Our expert water specialists at McGowan Water can help determine the valve’s settings based on the quality of your water, the size of your resin tank, household water usage, number of people living there, etc. If there is a demand for water while the system is regenerating, untreated water is available through an automatic internal bypass feature.

Demand regeneration is a setting where the valve keeps track of water usage and sends the softener into “regeneration mode” after a pre-determined amount of water has been processed through the softener. The more water you’re using, the more often it will need to regenerate. For example, if you have guests staying at your home and are using more water than normal, your unit will need to regenerate more often.

Still have a few questions; or would you like a more in-depth explanation? Give McGowan Water a call with questions regarding your water softener or to schedule an annual service checkup today.

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