How to Stop Water Softener Regeneration (5 Tips)

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If you spot a leak or hear an unusual noise while your water softener is regenerating, you might need to stop the regeneration process mid-way through.

But how exactly do you stop a water softener regeneration cycle? Is it safe, or will it damage your softener? And what happens when you continue the regeneration process?

We’ve shared all the answers to these questions in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways

  • You can stop a water softener from regenerating by unplugging the water softener, bypassing the softening unit, not using your home’s water, and skipping regeneration to the end of the cycle.
  • Unplugging a water softener WON’T stop the regeneration altogether; it’ll just force the water softener to stay in the same regeneration cycle.
  • To prevent a water softener from regenerating when you go on vacation, shut off the water or divert water around the unit.

🚱 How To Stop A Water Softener System From Regenerating: 5 Methods

The following methods can all be used to stop water softener regeneration cycles.

1) Skip Regeneration to the End of the Cycle

Most basic water softeners allow you to program the water softener settings to skip through the regeneration cycles and stop the unit from regenerating.

Different softeners have different programming. Check your user manual if you’re not sure which applies to you.

To advance the regeneration process in a conventional water softener with a mechanical dial:

  1. Locate the large dial on the water softener control valve.
  2. Turn the dial clockwise to advance the softener through various regeneration cycles until you reach the end.
  3. This will tell the water softener to prevent water flow through the control valve, putting a stop to the regeneration process.
Setting water softener timer

To advance the regeneration process on an electric water softener:

  1. Locate the digital control head on top of the resin tank.
  2. Find the “regeneration” or “regen” button.
  3. Press this button to skip to the next regeneration cycle.
  4. Continue to press the button until all the regeneration cycles have been skipped and you can no longer hear water flowing through the tanks.
  5. The control head screen should now indicate that your water softener is back in “service” mode.

To advance the regeneration process on a non-electric water softener:

  1. Locate the control valve on the top of the resin tank.
  2. Insert a number 2 screwdriver into the X-shaped slot in the control valve and press and turn the screwdriver clockwise.
  3. Continue to turn the screwdriver until it can’t be turned anymore and the flow of water through the water softener completely stops.

2) Unplug The Water Softener

If you’re dealing with an emergency (like a leak) and you need to stop water flowing through the water softener tank as soon as possible, the fastest solution is to unplug the water softener and divert the water away.

Unplugging the water softener AND diverting the water will stop the system from drawing more water into the tank during the regeneration process. (Note that simply unplugging the softener won’t stop water from flowing into the system.)

If water is overflowing from the tank due to a clog or a faulty part, unplugging the softener and diverting the water should prevent any more water from leaking out.

We’ve shared more on how to divert or stop the flow of water in the below methods.

3) Bypass The Softening Unit

To make sure that water can’t get into your water softener in the case of an emergency, bypass the softening unit at the same time as unplugging the system.

Putting the water softener into bypass mode will send water straight through your plumbing, rather than diverting it through the water softener.

A water softener is unable to regenerate without water to fill the brine tank, so bypassing the unit will stop the regeneration cycle.

Adjusting a water softener bypass valve

4) Switch Off Your Water

If your water softener doesn’t have a bypass or you can’t find it, you can achieve the same result by shutting off your home’s water supply.

Find the valve that controls the water flowing into your home through the main water pipe. Twist the valve to shut off your water, which will stop the flow of water into the softener.

📌 Note that shutting off your water will mean that you don’t have access to any water in your home, so this is only a short-term solution while you deal with the problem at hand.

5) Don’t Use Your Water

If you have a water softener that uses demand-initiated regeneration, you’ll be able to prevent the regeneration process by simply not using your water.

For instance, if you’ll be away on vacation, it’s not essential for you to switch off your water supply or divert water around the softener. Your water softener is programmed to regenerate after so much water has flowed into the tanks, so it won’t regenerate if you’re using no water at all.*

Some people prefer to switch off their water when they go on vacation, however, to eliminate the risk of leaks while they’re away.

The exception is some of the more modern water softeners that regenerate after so many days of no use to reduce the risk of bacteria accumulation in the water softener resin.

Demand initiated water softener regeneration setup

❔ How To Stop A Water Softener From Regenerating: FAQ

Is it safe to stop a water softener’s regeneration process mid-way through?

Yes, stopping a water softener’s regeneration process mid-way through is safe, but it may impact the quality of your drinking water. For instance, if you stop the regen cycle as brine is flowing from the salt tank to the water softener resin inside the mineral tank, the resin won’t be fully replenished with sodium. As a result, you might end up with water that still contains water hardness minerals because the resin is unable to completely remove them.

Will unplugging a water softener stop the regeneration process?

If you have an electric water softener, unplugging the system will force the system to stay in the same regeneration cycle. It WON’T stop the system from regenerating altogether. The only way to stop regeneration is to divert or shut off the incoming water supply.

Why is my water softener stuck regenerating?

Your water softener might be stuck regenerating due to a broken circuit switch, control head failure, a clog in the water lines or brine tank valve assembly, improper programming, or low water pressure. This article contains more information about issues caused by a softener stuck in regeneration and how to fix them.

How do I stop my water softener from regenerating too frequently?

Water softeners may regenerate too frequently if their programming is wrong. For instance, if you input a water hardness that’s higher than your actual hardness, the softener will work harder than it needs to and will regenerate more frequently. Look back through your owner’s manual and repeat the initial programming if you think you went wrong the first time.

How can I prevent a water softener from regenerating while I’m on vacation?

The best way to prevent a water softener from regenerating while you’re on vacation is to shut off your water and/or engage the bypass valve to divert water around the system. Since nobody will need access to soft water while your home is empty, shutting off your water is a sensible option since it eliminates the risk of leaks. However, some water softeners will still regenerate after a set time to prevent bacteria growth in the resin, so you may also need to switch off or unplug the softener.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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