How Much Water Does a Water Softener Discharge?

Water softeners help you save money by improving the efficiency of your appliances and preventing costly hard water damage. But there are still some setbacks to be aware of – including that the water softener regeneration process wastes water.

In this guide, we’ve shared what we know about how much water a water softener discharges during regeneration.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • The average water softening system discharges between 25 and 65 gallons of water per regeneration cycle.
  • Factors affecting the amount of water discharged during softener regeneration are the softener size, the water hardness level, your water usage, and the water softener age.

🚰 How Much Water Does A Water Softener Waste During Regeneration?

💡 Water softeners use anything from 25 to 65 gallons of water, potentially even more, during the regeneration process.

Exactly how much water is used depends on factors including the system size and the hardness of the water.

Water softener backwash

📖 Factors Affecting How Much Water Is Used In Softener Regeneration

Wondering, “How frequently will my water softener regenerate?”

Below, we’ve shared some factors that affect softener regeneration frequency, and the amount of water used per year on regeneration.

Water Softener Size

The size of your softener affects how many gallons of water that are used in the resin cleaning process.

The bigger the softener and the more resin in the resin tank, the more water is needed to flush the hard minerals out of the resin beads.

Therefore, large softeners will use more water than small softeners during regeneration.

Water Hardness Level

Your water hardness level affects regeneration frequency, which affects how much water is wasted per year on water softener regeneration.

In a modern softener, you’ll input the hardness level of your water supply into the softener’s control valve. The softener works out how often it should regenerate based on how quickly the resin beads will be depleted of sodium.

The harder your water, the more frequently the resin will need to be flushed by the brine solution, and the more water will be used per year for the water softener to regenerate.

Water hardness scale

Water Use

Your household water usage is another factor that affects how frequently your softener will regenerate, and the amount of water used per year.

The more water required in your house water plumbing and appliances, the faster the resin will become depleted of salt, and the more frequently it’ll need to be replenished.

More frequent regenerations = more water wasted in the discontinued brine flow during backwashing.

Water Softener Age

Finally, the water softener’s age also determines its regeneration efficiency, and how much water is used per regeneration cycle.

OId softeners are also more likely to have issues that lead to excess water use, especially if they haven’t received proper maintenance throughout their lifespan.

If you have an old softener that cycles continuously or uses too much water in regeneration mode, it’s time for a new one.

💦 Why Do Water Softeners Waste Water?

A water softener has to regenerate to replenish the resin with sodium ions – and the regeneration process causes some water to be wasted.

During regeneration, very salty water (called brine water) is sent from the salt storage area in the brine tank into the resin tank. There are a few processes involved, including brine draw, brine rinse, brine flush, and fast rinse.

During these processes, brine is backwashed through the resin bed. The fast flow flushes brine through the tank, flushing accumulated iron and hardness minerals out of the resin. These minerals are unwanted and need to be removed from the system, and they’re discharged as water flows down a drain pipe attached to the unit.

The amount of water used during regeneration is controlled by the brine valve, which is programmed based on the softener size and the water hardness.

👨‍🔧 A softening system simply can’t operate without some water waste. The only way to flush the hard minerals from the resin bed is with water. This water can’t be used in your home, so it has to be discharged.

Water softener waste water

🤔 How Can You Reduce Water Softener Discharge?

There are a few things you can do to reduce the discharge from your water softener during regeneration:

  • Buy a new softener – If you have an old water softener system, it’s probably wasting more water than necessary. Buying a new softener should help you reduce your water consumption per regeneration.
  • Use less water – Take faster showers, don’t leave the water running when you wash dishes, and only use water-using appliances when necessary. If you have a demand-initiated water softener that regenerates based on the volume of water flowing through the system, it should regenerate less frequently – and waste less water – if you use less water in your home. Plus, it’s good for the environment and will reduce your water bill.
  • Change the regeneration timer – You can reduce the frequency of regeneration cycles, and reduce the amount of water discharged during regeneration cycles per year, by amending your water softener’s regeneration schedule (only on timer-based water softener systems). Change the timer to allow more days between each regen.

📖 Final Word

All water softener systems need to regenerate to replenish the resin with calcium and magnesium ions. So, while it is possible to reduce water softener discharge, your goal shouldn’t be to minimize regeneration as much as possible.

This might result in the resin becoming depleted of sodium before the softener regenerates, meaning that in the days leading up to the next regen cycle, soft water can’t be produced.

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