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How Long Does Water Softener Regeneration Take?

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how long does water softener regeneration take

Water softeners are arguably the best mineral neutralizers used by many people for sufficient access to a clean and adequate soft water supply. But how long does water softener regeneration take? Well, for starters, it doesn’t take forever.

It usually takes approximately 2 hours to finish a whole water softener regeneration cycle. Typically, it depends on the type of unit you are using (e.g. style and size).

Generally, older water softeners tend to regenerate faster because they only require minimal and basic regeneration steps. Scroll down and find out more insightful facts about water softener regeneration time!

Table of Contents

What Is Water Softener Regeneration and Why Do You Need It?

A water softener regeneration is a process where hard minerals are flushed from the media beads. These beads are reinvigorated with sodium from the brine tank that will remove hardness ions from your water supply.

Without regeneration, these resin beads will be saturated with hardness ions, minimizing their softening capacity. Hence, hard water will enter the plumbing system and cause premature damage to the pipes and water-using appliances.

Can I Use Water While My Softener Is Regenerating

The short answer is no. You can’t. It isn’t advisable to use water while your softener regenerates because it will pull the water away from the water softener.

Additionally, during regeneration, water softeners are automatically set to bypass mode. It means that hard water will circulate throughout your home if the tap water is open. Therefore, it can run through your fixtures, causing heavy mineral build-ups in domestic appliances.

Water Softener Regeneration Steps


Generally, water softeners regenerate every two to three days. The water-softening process occurs in 5 main stages:

Step 1: Brine Tank Fill (5-20 minutes)

The first stage of regeneration is where the water fills the salt storage container (brine tank) to dissolve salts & make up a brine solution, which is used to recharge the resin beads.

For first-time water softener owners, you have to be cautious in this part because it is crucial to maintain the optimum water level inside the brine tank.

The water level should always be slightly lower than the salt level. If there’s a high water level in the brine tank, the salt can’t be absorbed properly. The water that is sitting above the salt won’t get the accurate brine concentration.

Step 2: Brine Draw (30-60 minutes)

Brining duration depends on the age and types of your water softener. That’s why some units can finish it in less than an hour while others can take an hour or so.

During brining, the brine solution that has been created from the brine tank will travel through the resin tank. At this stage, the salt will replenish the resins (ion exchange) that are fouled with calcium, magnesium, and iron (if they’re present in your home water supply).

Step 3: Brine Rinse (5 minutes max)

After using an adequate amount of the brine solution, the brine valve will shut off. Water then continues to flow in the same direction but without a brine solution. In this stage, water is used to remove the remaining hard minerals from the resin.

Step 4: Backwash (10 minutes default)

During the backwash cycle, the resins are backwashed with water at a rapid rate to remove any accumulated solids and flush them from the treatment tank. In this step, the resin bed expands up to 50%.

Note that this cycle’s flow rate must be regulated to avoid resin loss.

As for duration, the factory default is usually 10 minutes, but it can be adjustable to a 5-30 minute timeframe as needed.

Step 5: Fast Rinse (10 minutes max)

Fast rinse is the final stage of the regeneration process, and it utilizes an increased water flow rate to remove the last of the brine and hardness compounds.

After the successful regeneration of your water softener, you may now refill the brine tank with sodium.

Regeneration Frequency


Above, we’ve discussed how long it take for a water softener to regenerate, but what about the regeneration frequency? Typically, it depends on two types of regeneration cycles:

Time Regeneration

The setting that encompasses a water softener system is critical for the water softening process. Time-initiated regeneration is commonly preferred because it is convenient.

This type features a control valve with a motorized/digital clock where you can set up the time you want your softener to be cleaned. Generally, a water softener regenerates every two to three days, but most water softeners are programmed to regenerate weekly.

It is vitally important to be precise with the predetermined time. You would need to input the timespan between each regeneration cycle.

The general rule of thumb is to recharge the water softener when no one is using it, which is probably late at night when everyone is asleep. It is usually around 2 am to 4 am by default in the time settings.

Demand Regeneration

This cycle type monitors how much water is being used before the regeneration process. It is done by metering the amount of water passing through the system. In other words, water softener regenerates on an as-needed basis.

The good thing about demand-initiated settings is that you can regenerate your water softener not too soon and not too late. The regeneration commences once the softening capacity of the resin beads depletes.

An on-demand system is a good alternative if you want to save water. It prevents excessive or insufficient regeneration even if water usage fluctuates. For instance,

if you use a higher amount of water than usual in a week, the regeneration process may most likely occur earlier.

Water Softener Regeneration Water Usage

The amount of water used for regeneration is affected by your water hardness level. Typically, this amount ranges from 20-65 gallons.

Tips To Prolong the Lifespan of Your Water Softener

Check the Salt Periodically

Generally, the brine tank must be recharged with salt every two months, but it isn’t bad to check its level from time to time to ensure that the softener doesn’t run out of salt. If you have dry salt & a low water level, it’s about time to refill the brine tank.

You should clean the brine tank once a year

Over time, a layer of dirt and grime can build up inside the brine tank, and you’ll notice a salt bridge formation that looks like sludge. If it’s stuck at the bottom of the tank, you can break it apart with light prodding using a stick or a broom handle.

Once you have removed the buildup, you may now clean it with detergent and water. You can also use a mold and mildew cleaner to ensure that these types of fungus don’t reach your water supply.

After cleaning, all you have to do is refill the tank with salt, and it should work perfectly well for the next regeneration.

Don’t forget to clean the resin tank too!

The resin tank is as important as the brine tank, and you should also clean it once in a while. If your water has iron, you may use iron-cleaning products to replenish the beads and restore their softening efficiency.

If you’re a handy DIYer, cleaning the resin tank should be easy and manageable. But please take note that most resin beads will deteriorate after a 10-year lifespan. Hence, the best available option after that time length is to call for a professional plumber to replace these beads.

Know the tell-tale signs that your water softener isn’t working properly

The most prominent signs that something is wrong with your water softener are decreased soap lather and a crusty buildup around your home fixtures and pipe system.


Today, you’ve learned to answer the question, “how long does water softener regeneration take?” Most water softeners have a 2-hour maximum regeneration time.

While cleaning a water softener doesn’t sound like a fun weekend activity, we should not defer its maintenance. Hard water does more damage than good, so it is better to be safe than sorry. If you have any topic suggestions, feel free to write your thoughts below!

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