What happens when the resin beads start to run out of sodium or potassium?

A water conditioner will automatically regenerate the system by initiating a demand meter.  This demand meter counts the gallons of water your household uses and tells the control valve when the capacity of the unit is getting low.  Most newer softeners have the metered regeneration feature which is designed to save salt.  If the unit is not equipped with a meter, it either has a clock which can be set to regenerate the unit on a set schedule of days automatically or the unit is simply a manual unit.  A manual conditioner is one that the homeowner must physically cycle through each individual step.


When a water conditioner regenerates, it will typically behave in the following order at 2 AM.

  1. The backwash cycle will start and run for about 10 minutes.  The softener will pump water down the center distributor tube.  This is designed to expand the resin bed and allow foreign debris to escape out the drain of the unit.
  2. The brine and rinse cycle begins when the unit draws the brine solution from the salt tank.  The brine works its way down through the resin and up the distributor.  At this time the sodium or potassium exchanges with the iron and hardness which was attached to the resin beads.  The iron and hardness are now forced out the drain of the unit.  The chloride from the brine is not needed and is also forced out the drain.  The brine portion of the brine and rinse cycle lasts about 15 minutes.  The water condition will rinse out any traces of iron, harness, and chloride for the next 45 minutes.
  3. The rapid rinse cycle sends water down from the top through the resin and up the distributor for about 8 minutes.  This procedure packs the resin down tightly in the tank.
  4. The brine refill cycle sends water to the salt tank to make brine for the next time the water conditioner goes into regeneration.
  5. The service cycle is when the water conditioner sets the valve to service which means it is now ready to deliver soft water to be used throughout the home.

The Avantapure and selected Quicksilver systems have upflow brining.  This means that when the unit brings in brine for regeneration, it will enter the resin bed from the bottom instead of the top.  This is a more efficient way to introduce brine to the resin bed in most cases.  This will result in about a third less salt used per regeneration.

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