If you’ve taken the leap and installed a water softener, you’re likely enjoying the benefits. From easier cleaning to softer hair to longer-lasting appliances, the benefits of installing a water softener are numerous.1
Now that you’ve made the switch and are relishing in your new life of aquatic luxury, you might be wondering: how often does a water softener regenerate?
There are a wide variety of factors that affect the frequency of water regeneration.2 To help you decide whether to manually or automatically regenerate—and how often—we’ll take a deep dive into the world of water softeners and regeneration.
What Is a Water Softener?
You have a water softener—but do you understand what it actually does?
The first step on your journey to calculating your regeneration needs is to understand what makes water hard and how softeners correct the issue.
- The hardness or softness of water reflects its mineral continent. Softened water has low concentrations of minerals like calcium and magnesium, while hard water has high concentrations.
- Water becomes hard as it passes through soil and stone and picks up positively charged mineral ions.
- The water hardness scale quantifies hardness based on the number of mineral grains-per-gallon (GPG) of dissolved calcium carbonate. This unit is important to understand the factors that affect water regeneration frequency.
How hard is the water in your geographic area?
Here’s a simple breakdown of the water hardness scale:
- 1 GPG is soft water
- 1-7 GPC is moderately hard water
- 7-10 GPC is hard water
- Over 10 GPC is very hard water
Hard water can have numerous unwanted qualities. Yours might taste chalky, make your laundry stiff, ruin your coffee, or even take a toll on your plumbing. Luckily, a water softener can help.
The Science Behind Water Softening
Through the process of ion exchange, water softeners emit the mineral ions in hard water, softening the water before it ever flows from your faucet33.
- The superheroes of this entire process are tiny resin beads inside the water tank. These beads have negatively charged ions to contrast with the positively charged mineral ions.
- If you’ve played with magnets, you know that positive and negative charges attract. The resin beads draw the mineral particles towards them, discarding their sodium ions in exchange for calcium and magnesium ions.3
As a result, the unwanted minerals are removed.
What Is Water Regeneration?
Now that you understand water softening, you’re ready to take the leap into the world of regeneration.
As water flows from your taps, the process of ion exchange repeats, and, eventually, the resin beads become inundated with these hard minerals.
Simply put, water regeneration is the process by which these beads are cleaned so they can continue their mission of softening your water.
There are three main options for the water regeneration process:
- Manual – Manually initiate the water regeneration process whenever you deem that it’s time.
- Automatic (timed) – Select how often you want the water to regenerate, optimally every 5 to 6 days
- Automatic (on-demand) – Let your softener calculate the amount of water you use and complete the regeneration process as often as your water consumption necessitates.
How Does a Water Softener Regenerate?
Generally, the water regeneration process takes about 85 to 90 minutes and involves four main steps:4
- In the backwash cycle, which takes about 10 minutes, the water reverses its flow to clean the tank.
- Next, salt brine solution flushes out unwanted hardness minerals, which takes 50 to 60 minutes.
- This salt brine and the unwanted minerals are then sent down the drain, which adds another 10-15 minutes.
- Finally, new water refills the tank to make more brine for the next service cycle, taking 10 more minutes.5
What Factors Affect Water Regeneration Frequency?
As we noted, the average family’s water softener should regenerate every other day. But some families might need daily regeneration, while others need it only once per week.
This begs the question once again—How often should my water softener regenerate?
To calculate the answer, you’ll want to pay attention to two main factors:
- Water usage
- Water hardness
In addition to your water usage and water hardness, you’ll also need to know:
- The capacity of your water softener in grains-per-cubic-foot – Your water softener has a specific mineral capacity. 30,000 grains-per-cubic-foot is typical, but check with your manufacturer to confirm your exact specifications. This capacity is the number of mineral grains your water softener can exchange before the quality of the softening degrades.
- The number of cubic feet in your water softener – Most residential water softeners are one cubic foot. Larger homes or commercial buildings will be 1.5 to 2 or more cubic feet.
Once you’ve determined these two numbers, you can input your water usage and water hardness to determine how often your water softener needs to regenerate.
The Math for an Average Family
A typical family of four might use 75 gallons each, or 300 gallons total per day. This water usage encompasses standard activities like:
- Flushing toilets
- Watering the lawn
If that family has 25-grain water, they’ll divide 30,000—the capacity of their softener in grains-per-cubic-foot—by 25—the hardness of their water—to find that they can soften about 1,200 gallons between each regeneration cycle.
If this family of four has a 1-cubic-foot softener and 25-grain hard water, their water softener will regenerate every other day. On the other hand, with 12-grain water, the regeneration cycle would occur every four days. With 50-grain water, it would need to regenerate every day.2
How to Complete A Household Water Audit
Many homeowners are unaware of how much water they actually use. Think about it—were you surprised to learn a typical family of four might use 500 gallons of water per day?
If you need to know how much water your family uses, you can complete a household water audit. Here are three easy ways to conduct this audit:
- Calculate Your Water Use from Your Water Bill. Your water company will likely indicate how much water you use on your bill. If your average daily consumption is not listed, divide the total amount of water you used by the number of days in your billing period.
- Calculate Your Water Use from Your Meter. Your water meter measures the total amount of water you use. Repeat this process multiple times to calculate an average. For two days, check it at the same time to determine your water usage over a 24 hour period.
- Calculate Your Water Use by Yourself. To approximate your water usage without a meter or bill, start by calculating the water flow from each of your fixtures (faucets, toilets, appliances).
For faucets, collect water for 10 seconds and multiply the water quantity by six to calculate gallons per minute. For toilets, turn off the water supply, mark the water line, flush, fill the tank with tap water, and measure the volume of water required to reach the water line mark. For appliances, the manufacturer should specify the flow rate.
Measure how many times per day you use each fixture. Multiply water flow per fixture by minutes per day and water flow per appliance by the number of times it’s used per week.6
How Do I Know If My Water Softener Is Regenerating?
If you’ve gone through the process of installing a water softener, you will want to ensure that it’s working correctly, so you receive its full benefits.
Two majors factors indicate your water softener isn’t regenerating properly:
- Changes in water pressure
- Observed water hardness
Cheaply made or poorly taken care of water softeners can result in these issues.7 That’s why you should ensure you buy a high-quality water softener from a trusted retailer like Rayne Water.
Your H2O Superhero: Rayne Water
You might have asked yourself the question: Do I need a water softener? Once you’ve experienced the benefits of a water softener, you’ll never want to go back. Who doesn’t want softer hair, cleaner dishes, and more efficient appliances?
Rayne Water can also help you get the most out of your water softener. We serve California and Arizona, offering a wide variety of products and solutions, including water filtration, drinking water systems, and, of course, water softeners.
Contact Rayne Water for all of your water treatment needs. We’ll never leave you high and dry.
- Rayne Water. Benefits of Soft Water and Having a Water Softener. https://www.raynewater.com/blog/benefits-of-soft-water-and-having-a-water-softener/
- Driller. Steps for Regeneration for a Residential Water Softener. https://www.thedriller.com/articles/91297-steps-for-regeneration-for-a-residential-water-softener
- Consumer Affairs. How Does a Water Softener Work? https://www.consumeraffairs.com/homeowners/how-water-softeners-work.html#water-softener-regeneration
- SF Gate. When Manually Regenerating a Water Softener, How Long for Each Cycle? https://homeguides.sfgate.com/manually-regenerating-water-softener-long-cycle-106038.html
- Maryland Department of the Environment. Conducting a Household Water Audit. https://mde.state.md.us/programs/water/waterconservation/Documents/www.mde.state.md.us/assets/document/ResAudit.pdf
- Best Spy. How Do I Know My Water Softener Is Working? https://www.bestspy.org/how-do-i-know-my-water-softener-is-working/
- Rayne Water. How Does a Water Softener Work? https://www.raynewater.com/blog/how-does-a-water-softener-work/