What is a Water Softener Regeneration Cycle and Why is it Needed?

5147189442_9047b860e1_mWater softeners remove hardness minerals from tap water all day long, and they reach a point where they need to do something with all of the minerals that they have collected. The process of draining out those minerals is known as a regeneration cycle. Today we’re going to talk about the purpose of a water softener’s regeneration cycle, how it works and the differences between regeneration cycles in different models of softeners!

Why do water softeners go through a regeneration cycle?

Inside of a water softener’s tank, there are thousands of resin beads that collect hardness minerals from tap water. After a fresh regeneration cycle, all of these beads have sodium ions attached to them. As the water softener does its job, those sodium ions are knocked off of the beads and replaced by calcium and magnesium ions (hardness minerals).

After a certain amount of time, all of the resin beads inside of a water softener will be covered in calcium and magnesium. When this happens, they will no longer be able to collect hardness minerals from tap water. A regeneration cycle fixes this problem.

How does a water softener regeneration cycle work?

When a water softener detects that it’s time for a regeneration cycle, it flushes its tank with a mixture of salt and water known as brine. Normally, calcium and magnesium have a stronger hold on the resin beads inside of the tank, which is why they are able to replace the sodium ions during the softening process. However, the brine used during a regeneration cycle has such a high concentration of sodium that it overwhelms the calcium and magnesium ions, and those hardness ions are knocked off of the beads and replaced by the sodium ions in the brine. The calcium and magnesium ions are then flushed out of the tank with the remaining water from the brine, and the softener is ready to perform again.

Different kinds of water softener regeneration cycles

There are two different types of water softener regeneration cycles: timed cycles and on-demand cycles. With timed cycles, the softener is programmed to go through a regeneration cycle after a certain number of days, usually late at night when water is rarely used. With on-demand cycles, the intake valve on the softener keeps track of the amount of water that enters the tank, and it sets off a regeneration cycle after a specific amount of water has been softened. This can help conserve water and salt because the system only goes through regeneration cycles when they are needed.

If you have any questions about a water softener’s regeneration cycle, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact McBride’s Water Advantage, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Epsom, NH. We provide service all over New Hampshire, including towns like Lee, Pittsfield and Barnstead, NH.

photo credit: markmorgantrinidad via photopin (license)

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