WHAT is WATER SOFTENER REGENERATION?
Are you confused about your Water Softener Regeneration Cycle?
Water is softened through a water softener by ion exchange. Basically for every hardness ion, that is calcium and magnesium, that is removed from your water it needs to replaced with a sodium ion for the softening process to take place. So as water flows through through the water softener, softening the water, the media beads get coated by Calcium, Magnesium and iron. Eventually, these media beads need to be cleaned or regenerated, so they can continue to soften the water. The term regeneration refers to this process of replacing the sodium ion charge on the media so the water softener can continue to deliver the ion exchange.
There are two types of water softener valves, time clock and metered that based on their programming will decide when the regeneration is due. The water softener automatically triggers the regeneration process based on it’s programming and your water usage, which typically happens at night, or anytime there is very little water usage in the home. I should also mention that there are two kinds of water softeners whose regeneration cycles are similar but different in a couple of key ways.
Most water softeners sold at Big Box stores are pre fill water softeners which mean that the first part of the regeneration cycle involves putting the correct amount of water in the brine tank to make brine for the regeneration cycle. Post fill water softeners, are supplied by companies like myself and those water softeners add the water for the regeneration cycle at the end of the cycle so the water can start absorbing the salt ahead of time. There are pros and cons of each type and I’ll likely make a video in the future to share them with you. If you look inside your water softener brine tank and see water in the bottom which could be anywhere from 3 to about 30 inches deep you have a post fill water softener, if there is absolutely no water in the water softener you have a prefill water softener. The Regeneration Cycle consists of:
1) If it’s a pre fill water softener the first step is to add the correct amount of water , which is calculated by the water softener valve, to regenerate the media, for a post fill water softener the water was already added as the last part of the previous regeneration.
2) The media is backwashed to remove all of the stuff that has been filtered from the water during the softening process and flushing the debris to the drain while fluffing up the media and raising the media bed.
3) The salty water (or brine) from the brine tank is sucked up into the media tank. As the salty water or brine runs over the resin beads it recharges or regenerates the beads and releases the hardness so it can be flushed to drain.
4) Then depending on the type of water softener the media is either backwashed again or rinsed.
5) The rinse cycle flushes all of the brine solution to the drain and settles the media back down.
6) If you have a post fill water softener the correct amount of water, as determined by the valve and it’s programming, is added at this point. If you have a pre fill softener it goes to step 7 instead.
7) Water softener has been returned to service.
- Gary Beutler