Hard water is an extremely common problem in the US. It’s also frustrating for homeowners and apartment dwellers alike because it causes so many issues. You can see everything from slow drains and dry skin to residue in your shower.

While some people simply live with it as the price of doing business, others invest in water softener systems. These systems often reduce or eliminate the common problems associated with hard water. Of course, once you have the system, you may wonder how often does a water softener regenerate?

Keep reading for a quick overview that will clear up the mystery of water regeneration timing.

What Is Regeneration in a Water Softening System?

The presence of minerals like calcium is what makes normal water into hard water. The water softener uses a process called ion exchange that lets a bed of resin beads capture the minerals. Of course, the resin can only capture so much before it won’t work anymore.

That’s when the system uses salts to leach away the minerals in the resin. Regeneration happens when those minerals leave the resin. Essentially, it lets the resin take in more minerals that it otherwise couldn’t remove from the water.

Factors Affecting Regeneration Timing

The most common difference between systems in terms of regeneration is the valve. Any given system will typically use one of three kinds of valves:

  • Clock valve
  • Metered
  • Demand-based

A clock valve operates as you might expect. You set it on a schedule, such as every three days or every week. Metered valves trigger regeneration based on a pre-determined volume of water used. So, it might trigger daily or weekly depending on your water usage.

Demand-based valves trigger regeneration based on when you actually need the cycle, rather than based on time or a volume.

How Often Does a Water Softener Regenerate?

Your system setup will determine exactly how often it regenerates. A general rule of thumb, if you don’t use a metered or demand-based valve, is that your system should regenerate on a two-day or three-day cycle.

For a family of four, for example, every three days may prove often enough. For a family of five or six that puts heavier demands on the water system, you may want a two-day regeneration cycle to be safe or transition to a demand-based valve.

Otherwise, you may end up using hard water instead of soft water every few days. You can learn more about water softener maintenance here.

What’s the Right Schedule for My Home?

The issue of how often does a water softener regenerate is less critical than how often it should regenerate for your home. If you get a new system, you should consult with the installation company about your water usage and get recommendations from them.

If your home already has a system, look for recommendations on the manufacturer’s website. Then, consider your family size. Smaller families usually use less water and can get by with less frequent regeneration. Big families need it more often.

Looking for some more home and lifestyle tips? Check out our Lifestyle section.


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