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What is Water Softener Regeneration

Are you confused about your Water Softener Regeneration Cycle?

Water softener regeneration or REGEN is a common term that you may have heard often but perhaps are unsure as to what it means exactly. Well, you’ve come to the right place! Gary the Water Guy is a Certified Water Specialist who loves simplifying water treatment equipment and is on the blog talking water softener regeneration right now.


In a water softener, your water is softened by ion exchange. Basically, for every hardness ion — calcium and magnesium — that is removed from your water, it needs to replaced with a sodium ion for the softening process to take place. So as water flows through the water softener, softening the water, the media beads get coated by Calcium, Magnesium, and Iron. Eventually, these media beads need to be cleaned or regenerated so they can continue to soften the water.

The term regeneration or REGEN refers to this process of replacing the sodium ion charge on the media so the water softener can continue to deliver the ion exchange.

In simple terms? During REGEN mode, your water softener is regenerating or renewing the beads inside.


There are two types of water softener valves: time clock and metered. Based on their programming, these valves decide when the regeneration is due. The water softener automatically triggers the regeneration process based on its programming and your water usage, which typically happens at night or anytime there is very little water usage in the home.


water softenerIt’s important to also note that there are two kinds of water softeners. Both water softener types have regeneration cycles that are similar but different in a couple of key ways.

Most water softeners sold at Big Box stores are pre-fill water softeners, which means that the first part of the regeneration cycle involves putting the correct amount of water in the brine tank to make brine for the regeneration cycle.

Post-fill water softeners, on the other hand, are supplied by companies like myself and those water softeners add the water for the regeneration cycle at the end of the cycle so the water can start absorbing the salt ahead of time.

There are pros and cons of each type and I’ll likely make a video in the future to share them with you… stay tuned!

To determine which type of water softener you have, look inside! If you peek inside your water softener brine tank and see water in the bottom (which could be anywhere from 3 inches to about 30 inches deep) then you have a post-fill water softener. If there is absolutely NO water in the water softener that means you have a pre-fill water softener.


  1. If you have a pre-fill water softener, the first step is to add the correct amount of water — which is calculated by the water softener valve — to regenerate the media.
    For a post-fill water softener, the water was already added as the last part of the previous regeneration.
  2. The media is backwashed to remove all of the stuff that has been filtered from the water during the softening process and from flushing the debris to the drain while fluffing up the media and raising the media bed.
  3. The salty water (or brine) from the brine tank is sucked up into the media tank. As the salty water or brine runs over the resin beads it recharges or regenerates the beads and releases the hardness so it can be flushed to drain.
  4. Depending on the type of water softener, the media is either backwashed again or rinsed.
  5. The rinse cycle flushes all of the brine solution to the drain and settles the media back down.
  6. If you have a post-fill water softener then the correct amount of water, as determined by the valve and its programming, is added at this point. If you have a pre-fill softener it jumps to step 7 instead.
  7. Water softener has been returned to service.

There you have it — Water Softener regeneration simplified by Gary the Water Guy!

Need help? At Water Store Midland, we install and maintain 
everything we sell.
Everyone knows that in order to protect your investment in your car you need to keep it maintained and in excellent repair. Well, the same is true for your water treatment equipment! Whether you are looking to maintain, improve or have your current water treatment equipment repaired, the Water Store Midland team is here to help! Reach out to us anytime here

Click here to continue to the next video about Water Softeners and I’ll see you there.