Turning hard water into soft water used to be something only specialists could do, but now you can do it in the comfort of your home. With today’s domestic water softeners, you can get your water softened with just a push of a button – or even remotely through your smartphone.
Top-of-the-line water softeners regularly regenerate when their built-in sensors detect too many minerals – saving you the time and energy of having to check your softener for yourself. So, you might be wondering now – How often should my water softener regenerate?
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How Does a Water Softener System Work?
Softening water is made possible through ion exchange. The minerals that are usually found in water are ionic, and this makes them electrically charged. Calcium and magnesium crystals in your tap water – which at this point is still considered hard water – are positively charged.
Looking back at your old science lessons, you’ll remember that positive and negative charges attract. Water softeners capture these positively-charged hard water minerals by employing the use of a lot of negatively-charged beads. These beads are spread across a resin bed inside the water softener, awaiting the arrival of the mineral-rich hard water.
However, these negatively-charged beads can’t work on their own and will need the help of another mineral. For ion exchange to take place, the softener will need a lot of sodium. Sodium, or salt, has a weak positive charge. Because of this, salt can easily be displaced by minerals with a more substantial positive charge.
So here’s what happens inside your water softener; once the salt is added, it instantly latches onto the resin bed of negative beads. When the hard water flows in, the magnesium and calcium minerals go straight to the negative beads.
The weaker-charged salt ions are evicted from the resin bed, and the calcium and magnesium ions take their place – settling in with the negatively-charged beads. The salt dissolves into the water, and this is why soft water tends to be a little bit saltier than hard water.
The amount of salt in your soft water depends on the number of hard ions removed. It’s safe to say that the harder the water is, the more salt will be exchanged to soften the water.
Having soft water means not having to deal with hard water messing up appliances in your home. You will no longer see any chalky limescale stains on your kitchen sink, showering won’t leave you with dry skin, and your clothes won’t fade out after every wash.
Why Does My Water Softener Need to regenerate?
After some time, your water softener’s resin bed will accumulate with the minerals it’s been keeping out of your water – making it saturated and unable to function properly.
Regenerating essentially means flushing out the minerals with a brine solution, which is made up of equal parts of salt and water.
The brine solution washes over the resin bed and kicks out the magnesium and calcium ions – replacing them with salt’s sodium ions. Regeneration ends with the brine and the hard ions being flushed out of the system, leaving you with a refreshed water softener that’s ready to take on another batch of hard water.
How Does My Water Softener Regenerate?
Technology continues to make household chores easy, and that’s why the many functions and features of a water softener are automatic or set beforehand.
Today’s water softeners have been programmed to tell when it’s time to regenerate in two ways; time-initiated regeneration and demand-initiated regeneration.
As its name says, time-initiated regeneration sets a certain schedule for regenerating your water softener. The intervals are usually once a week, but you can also set the time gaps according to your convenience.
For water softeners that operate on demand-initiated regeneration, regeneration will depend on how much water is being used. These types are comparably more challenging to keep track of, especially since various units are built differently. Some will regenerate on a daily basis, while others will regenerate twice a week.
There’s no need to open up your water softener and rinse out the saturated resin beads manually with these features in place. But like any household appliance, your water softener could need some troubleshooting now and then. To prepare yourself, be sure to read up on your water softener’s manual.
Is My Water Softener Regenerating Too Often?
How often your water softener regenerates will depend on multiple factors, such as; how much water you use, your tap water’s hardness, your tank’s capacity, and the age of your water softener.
The number of hard minerals in your tap water will mean that more salt will be used to soften it, so having too many hard ions in the water will test the limits of your water softener. It could take up to 90 minutes for a water softener to fully regenerate, and maybe even longer if you have a mineral-rich water supply.
Some water softeners are built bigger than others. Read up on the size and capacity of your water softener so that you avoid overloading or underloading it. Not putting the proper proportions of salt will compromise your brine solution, which may lead to damaging your tank.
Older water softeners’ efficiency will lessen over time, which means they won’t regenerate as often. In this case, you’ll have to keep track of regeneration schedules manually. Pay close attention to possible motor failures, which are more common in older units.
How Often Should Water Softener Regenerate?
Regular regenerations every two to three days are ideal because it ensures you an active resin bed. At their peak performance, efficient water softeners are set to regenerate every day or multiple times a day.
Having your water softener regenerate regularly ensures you that your water is adequately softened. In one liter, soft water should contain only about 0-17 milligrams of minerals. You can also test the softness of your water by using it to lather soap. This will be easier to determine since soft water produces more bubbles than hard water.
If you notice any changes in the regenerating schedules of your water softener – like if it’s regenerating far too frequently or not regenerating at all – then you’ll have to see what’s up. The issues could be a broken timer, leaks within your tank, a grimy resin bed, or clogged valves. Read your water softener’s manual and call a professional if any of these issues worsen.
Is the Water from My Water Softener Safe For Drinking?
While soft water is friendlier to your household appliances, it’s not the ideal drinking water. The magnesium and calcium minerals that hard water comes with are good for you. Not only that, these minerals contribute significantly to how water tastes. Soft water is comparably saltier, and drinking it definitely won’t be pleasant.
While water softeners can remove some contaminants, it is not their primary function. If you are thinking about getting drinking water from your water softener, you should pair it with a reverse osmosis (RO) filter. An RO system is one of the most effective water purifiers in the market and will be able to remove excess sodium from your soft water, along with a long list of other contaminants.
Regenerate, Regenerate, Regenerate
Have you found the answer to “How often should my water softener regenerate?” Ensuring your water softener regenerates consistently is the key to having high-quality soft water for your home. Since a lot of the technology takes care of regeneration for you, maintenance and upkeep are a breeze – so make sure to check on your system regularly.
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