Natural water is hard, and it needs to be softened. Means what? The hard water contains minerals like magnesium and calcium that needs to be removed with a process called water softening. After removing these minerals, we can call the water “soft water.” It is done through recharging the water, it is also called regeneration cycles of water softener.
There might be a risk to your home appliances if you use hard water. It may damage your appliances, and bathrooms and kitchens may hold the filmy soap dirt for days. If you are using hard water for a bath, it may leave out your hair and skin to go dry.
Regular usage of hard water may risk corroding your water heaters, faucets, boilers, etc., and you might waste time cleaning up the soap residue for hours.
Regeneration cycles of water softener
Regeneration of water is also called recharging the water. It can be done with the help of using ion-exchange resins or lime softening. In modern times it is achieved mainly by ion exchange or reverse osmosis process.
It consists of 5 stages: Filling the brine tank, backwashing (Flushing the tank), Drawing the brine into the resin tank, Brine Rinse, and Fast Rinse.
💧Filling the brine tank
In this stage, water is filled into the brine tank. The brink tank already contains salt, and the water level should be just below the salt level. This ensures that the water can absorb the salt and generate the perfect brine concentration. Brine is simply the blend of salt dissolved in water.
For the system to replenish the resin (the common ion-exchange media used for water softening), you need to ensure the brine tank has enough salt. The sodium from salt is required to soften the water, and if there is no salt in the brine tank, hard water will flow through your plumbing system, and you might be risking your appliances.
💧Backwash (Flushing the tank)
Backwashing is simply the process of flushing the brine tank. After this, the resins can be replenished. To enable the water softener to run efficiently, removing all the dirt, impurities, and debris accumulated in the resin bed is important.
In this step, water is flowed to the bottom of the resin tank and then again flows upwards through resin beads. This enables washing away the dispersed solids and other contaminants.
The water carrying all these unwanted materials is set to leave the tank and is directed to wash down the drain. This is called regeneration and lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes. The flow rate must be maintained between 4 GPM to 8 GPM (gallons per minute). Ensure the ideal flow rate, as it can result in resin loss.
This enables having up to 50% extra space for the water softener resin, making it ready for the next stage.
💧Drawing brine into the resin tank
In this stage, the brine from the tank is pulled into the resin bed. A reverse ion exchange process is triggered as soon as the brine solution interacts with the resin beads, and sodium ions get exchanged with the hard minerals.
Ideally, the flow rate is around .05 to 1 GPM. The brine flow varies according to the brand and the available model. It may be flowing upwards or downwards. The upward flow is considered to be a more efficient cycle. But having a downward flow gives you the same results, so the direction of the flow can be ignored.
The process runs for about half an hour, resulting in sodium ions replacing the hard water mineral ions in the resin tank. The water softener system is ready to give out treatment for soft water and gets ready for the next stage.
Immediately after the above step, water is directed to the resin tank to wash away the resins. The process is slow, and the flow rate is to be maintained at 0.5 to 1.0 GPM so that the reverse ion exchange can be processed perfectly.
During the 20 minutes of this process and at the ideal rate, any remaining brine is eliminated from the resin bed and then directed down a drain.
This step is the last step and the longest one. It takes around 50 minutes to complete the entire cycle. The water is gushed through the resin bed, usually from the top to the bottom of the resin. This is to remove any remaining brine or hard minerals in the system.
The ideal flow rate is maintained at 1.5 to 2 GPM to rinse the resin. At this step, the resin bed is set to be compressed, which helps to give out softened water.
Maintaining your water softener for long life and good results
- Salt levels are to be checked every month.
- Understand the kind of salt to be added to your softener. Always use high-quality salt.
- Salt bridges to be broken.
- Frequently clean the mush created due to salt at the bottom of the tank. Use a broom handle for that if required
- Schedule a calendar for cleaning the tank.
- Pour soap water into the tank and scrub it with the help of a brush Then rinse it with clean water.
- Use bleaching powder to sanitize your tank. Then rinse with clean water and fill the tank with salt and water in the ideal proportions.
- It’s also advisable to call in professional help for maintenance of the machine parts periodically.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How often should a water softener system regenerate?
It may vary depending on your water requirements and the hard water you have in your area. To avoid problems with water usage in the daytime, it’s best to regenerate after every two to three days, say about 3 am to 4 am.
What are the cycles of a water softener?
The cycles of a water softener are the steps with which the hard water is treated to convert it into soft water. The steps are Fill, Backwash, Brining, Brine Rinse, and Fast Rinse.
Do water softeners regenerate every night?
Not necessarily; you can set the system to regenerate after every two or three days. However, if you are using water softeners of high power, you can set it to generate daily or multiple times in a given day.
How long is a water softener regeneration cycle?
The water softener regeneration cycle is for about 2 hours.
How long is a typical water softener cycle?
Ideally, it should run for about 85 to 90 minutes.
Natural water is hard, and it has, and using them has been proved to damage most home appliances, pipelines, and boilers, getting corroded, leaving us no alternative to replace them early.
Also, it requires more soap as compared to soft water and doesn’t clean out the clothes in a proper way. It may leave out deposits of the hard minerals it carries and tastes awful while drinking. Bathing with hard water results in dry skin and hair.