The frequency of regenerating a water softener depends on the capacity of the water softener, the hardness of the water and the water usage. On average, water softeners regenerate every three to six days.
Controlling when the water softener regenerates depends on the type and age of the water softener. Older water softeners use timers, while newer models have special meters that base regeneration on actual water usage. Other water softeners contain special sensors that test the resin beads in the tank to determine when regeneration is necessary.
Water softeners work when hard water flows through the water softener's tank, which contains resin beads that have a negative charge. These resin beads attract the positively charged calcium and magnesium ions in the water, making it soft. Over time, the resin beads become covered with calcium and magnesium ions, making regeneration necessary. During regeneration, the resin beads are flooded with a saltwater solution. The high amount of sodium causes the resin beads to release the calcium and magnesium ions, making them ready to soften water again. The water containing the extra calcium and magnesium is flushed out of the tank as waste. After the tank is rinsed with water, the regeneration process, which takes approximately two hours, is complete.