How long does water softener regeneration take?

Water softener vector illustration

If you have a handy dandy water softener in your home, then regeneration is a normal and necessary function that helps to maintain operational magic. Basically, this process ensures that the water softener does not get clogged or dirty (Read: you have clean, softened water flowing into your tap).

If you’re arriving on this page and thinking “how long does it take for my water softener to regenerate?” then it’s likely because you have noticed some hiccups in your system. And if this isn’t the case, this is still useful information for any water softener owner. Read on to learn more about the regeneration process and why it’s so important.

What is regeneration?

As you may know, a water softener is built to trap hard water coming in through a bed of softening material called resin. Once the hard calcium minerals are trapped and an ion swap replaces them with sodium, the water becomes soft.

But for most mechanical processes to work efficiently, some version of cleaning needs to occur; and water softeners are no different. Naturally, if the resin is attracting hard water minerals, then it will become covered and clogged with these over time.

Regeneration is a water softener’s way of flushing minerals from the resin with brine water, making it clean and creating a fresh slate for water to be softened again!

How often should my water softener regenerate?

In general, water softeners should regenerate every two to three days, especially if you live in an area where the water is very hard. Water softeners for well water, where water is often even harder, might need even less time before regenerating. Some might regenerate every day and others can regenerate once a week. It all depends on the type of control valve your water softener has.

One valve type has a clock and this works on a timed schedule. For example, if you set it to regenerate once a week on a Tuesday morning, it will flush the resin at that time. Alternatively, a ‘metered’ valve works off of water usage and regeneration only takes place once the pre-set limit is reached and the meter is triggered. The last valve type is ‘true demand’, and this operates based on how much water is used and as a result, needed. This option is one of the best ways to save on salt and wastewater.

You can also trigger a regeneration cycle manually but with a system that is fully functioning, you shouldn’t have to.

85-90 Min.

How long does water softener regeneration take?

An average cycle of water regeneration should take around 85-90 minutes.

The steps of regeneration

  • 1. Backwash: The first 10 minutes involves water flowing to the bottom of the tank, up through the resin bed and out through the drain.
  • 2. Brine Draw: 8-12% brine solution from the brine tank is directed to the top and eventually through the resin bed. The hardness ions stuck on the resin are swapped for sodium (soft) ions. This part takes about 50 – 60 minutes.

  • 3. Slow Rinse: This is when the softener uses fresh water to slowly flush the salt brine through the resin bed and down the drain. This takes around 10 minutes.

  • 4. Fast Rinse: The last step involves a fast rinse to flush any remaining hard minerals and brine from the resin bed, setting it up for the next cycle. This takes another 10 minutes.

My water softener isn’t regenerating – what should I do?

Is this the real reason you might have clicked on this page? Well if it is, let’s break down why this might be happening. Because once you have your water softener installed, you’ll quickly get a feel for the regeneration schedule and be able to notice if it’s regenerating less or more often.

Here’s what may have happened:


Besides the reasons mentioned above, it could just be that your system needs replacing. It might be the perfect time to just get a new water softener, especially if you have a single tank water softener.

Single tanks have to work a lot harder and that means a shorter lifespan. Dual or twin tank water softeners are growing in popularity and use. They have two resin tanks and one brine tank, allowing the tank to regenerate with soft water. If you want to have a regeneration process that is even more efficient, requires less maintenance and is less wasteful overall, then consider a softener switch. Otherwise, just keep your water softener healthy by cleaning the brine tank and resin bed, in addition to adding more salt pellets when necessary.