Water Softener - 5 Recharge / Regeneration Stages
After a period of time, the resin beads in a water softener get coated with hard minerals and need to be cleaned. The cleaning process is called "recharge". Recharging consists of five stages: Fill, Brining, Brine Rinse, Backwash and Fast Rinse.
Note: The times for each of these stages during recharge are variable and change just about every time the water softener regenerates based on how much water was used and what the system forecasts for water needs going forward.
Salt dissolved in water is called brine. Brine is needed to clean the hard minerals from the resin beads. To make the brine, water flows into the salt storage area during the fill stage. The time this takes can vary from a few minutes to maybe 20 minutes.
During brining, brine travels from the salt storage area up into the resin tank. Brine is the cleaning agent needed to remove hard minerals from the resin beads. The hard minerals and brine are discharged into the drain. The time this takes can vary from 30 minutes to maybe 100 minutes.
The nozzle and venturi create a suction to move the brine, maintaining a very slow rate to get the best resin cleaning with the least amount of salt.
After a pre-measured amount of brine is used, the brine valve closes. Water then continues to flow in the same path as during brining, except without the brine. This flushes hard minerals and brine from the resin tank into the drain.
During backwash, water flows up through the resin tank at a fast flow rate. This flushes out any accumulated iron, dirt and sediment from the resin bed and into the drain. The time this takes can vary but is generally 3 to 10 minutes.
Backwash is followed by a fast flow of water down through the resin tank. The fast flow flushes brine from the bottom of the tank. It also serves to pack in the resin beads. The water softener system returns to water softening service after fast rinse. The time this takes can vary but is generally 3 to 10 minutes.