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10 Questions For When a Water Softener Regenerates.

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Many homeowners don’t understand why their water softener regenerates – let alone how. But if you want to effectively combat the hard water in Phoenix, you need to know how to make sure the regeneration cycle is working properly. When it isn’t, your softener serves no purpose.

With that being said, we compiled a list of common questions that surround this process. Whether you want to know the basics, or your system just isn’t functioning properly, you’ve come to the right place. But before we can help you better understand your system, you need to know why a water softener regenerates in the first place.

Why Do Water Softeners Regenerate?

In short, regeneration has to routinely occur in order to replenish the resin beads, flush the brine tank and reset the resin bed. The softener’s cleaning cycle performs 5 steps to essentially keep hard water minerals from saturating these areas. 

When your softening system isn’t regenerating properly, even for a short period of time, it hinders the flow of soft water into your home. If you don’t take the time to inspect the equipment, the resin bed will eventually become loaded with contaminants. In turn, there’s no way for your water to remain soft. 

Water Softener Regeneration Q&A:

Now that you know why a water softener regenerates, proper maintenance ought to be a priority. At the end of the day, systems that aren’t taken care of usually cause problems. So if you want to avoid mistakes, here are 10 questions worth answering.

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1. How Long Does Regeneration Take?

Whether your equipment is new or old, there are several things that can alter the amount of time it takes a water softener to regenerate (age, settings and hardness of water to name a few). But for the most part, the process normally lasts about 80-90 minutes. 

Filling and brining, the first two steps, take up the most time. They can last anywhere from 35-80 minutes. Brine rinsing, backwashing and fast rinsing can take up to 25 minutes.

2. How Often Should Regeneration Occur?

If you want to do your best to extend the life of your system, then make sure the water softener regenerates at least once every 3-7 days. Doing so will make sure your equipment isn’t overworked or being wasteful while the resin bed stays active.

3. What Type of System Should I Install?

In order to determine this, you have to know how many gallons of water you use, what your ideal system capacity is and how often you want it to flush. If the water softener regenerates every week, a house with 7 grains per gallon that uses 350 gallons of water per day will need a system with the capacity of at least 17,150 grains. 

In this case, a water softener with a 24,000-grain capacity would be ideal. If it’s scheduled to regenerate for every 2,200 gallons of water used, the cycle would effectively process about every 6-7 days.

boy playing in bath with soft water and bubbles thanks to canyon state plumbing division expert service in west phoenix arizona original photo by danielle jacqueline photography

4. Can I Bathe When a Softener Regenerates?

Using water while your water softener regenerates won’t break anything. But there are some disadvantages worth noting. If you own a single tank system then you’re not going to be able to fill up the tub with soft water. Those of you that shower during the regeneration cycle can also expect low water pressure. This is because two major plumbing systems are running at the same time. 

Whether either of these outcomes inconvenience you or not, bathing or showering while a water softener regenerates usually causes the process to take longer. There is less water available. So if you really want soft water and you can wait for it, then do so. Otherwise, do your best to anticipate and plan for high usage.

5. How Should I Schedule the Regeneration?

Well, first and foremost, you’re going to want to identify the times of day when water usage is low. If your single tank water softener regenerates when everyone is home then you’re probably going to be frustrated. This is why most people set the process to begin around 2-4am. 

In fact, a majority of softening and filtration systems have default settings that automatically run the regeneration process at 2am. But if this doesn’t work for you, all you have to do is find the timer dial. Manual controls allow you to change this whenever you see fit.

6. How Do I Set Up Softener Regeneration?

The best time to figure out your water softener settings is during the installation. Any certified plumber should be able to help you determine the amount of salt you’re going to use and how often your water softener regenerates. If you’re on your own, you can always read the manual or do some research. But the best approach is to speak to a professional.

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7. How Can I Troubleshoot Regeneration?

When your system isn’t functioning properly, there are a few things you’ll want to check out before engaging in any type of troubleshooting. First, make sure the system is plugged in and the brine tank has enough salt. From here, inspect the position of the bypass valve and make sure all valves are recording water flow.

Lastly, double check the internal clock to see if it’s the right time. If everything looks good, see if you can initiate a manual regeneration cycle. 

8. Why Isn’t My Water Softener Regenerating?

If none of the aforementioned errors are present, then a number of things could be wrong. In some cases, the problem could be as simple as a broken timer, a salt bridge or the wrong amount of water in the brine tank. Others can be more serious. If you have a blocked drain hose, broken motor or contaminated resin bed then you may need to call a plumber. Sometimes, a replacement will be more effective than a repair

9. Why Is the Tank Rusty After Regeneration?

If there is rusty water in the tank after your water softener regenerates then you’re more than likely experiencing iron saturation in your resin bed. Even though this could be the result of bad pipes or dirty water, it’s usually a sign that there is a lack of salt in your tank. When this happens, the brine isn’t able to work properly. 

new water softener tank next to old system in basement of peoria arizona house where canyon state plumbers are replacing equipment and answering customer questions

10. Where Should Water Levels Be Afterwards?

Once regeneration is complete, water levels depend on the type of system you have. Wet softeners need to have water inside the brine tank at all times. The amount tends to vary between 3 to 6 gallons (or water levels of about 6 and 10 inches).

Dry systems should only have present water when the equipment is regenerating. After the water softener regenerates, there should not be any water in the tank. All liquids should automatically drain once all cycles are completed. If they do not then something is wrong.

Maintain Your Plumbing Systems.

Since the water is extremely hard here in Phoenix, taking care of your water softener is important. At Canyon State, we take pride in going above and beyond to educate our customers. At the end of the day, your convenience and comfort matters to us. 

So if you’re dealing with faulty equipment or struggling to understand a plumbing device, we’d be more than happy to help. Our team of certified plumbers has been serving the Valley of the Sun for more than 31 years. Feel free to give us a call or stop by our showroom in Sun City West, Arizona to learn more.

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