How to program a water softener timer (for regeneration)

Programming a water softener is setting up the control valve that comes with all salt-based water softener systems. How do you program a water softener for regeneration?

How to program a water softener timer

The control valve is located on top of the unit. The valve is mostly programmed to help the system regenerate effectively.

Regeneration is the most critical process in a water softener. An ion exchange water softener such as must regenerate after some period. Thanks to the new model of water softener there is a way you can program, and the system regenerates on its own when you are asleep or out of the house.

The residential water softener has two different types of control valves. This include

  • Timer

This type of control valve is set to regenerate on a specific day. When the preset day reaches the system will automatically regenerate itself regardless of the amount of water treated. It is the eldest control valve

  • Metered 

This type of control valve is set to regenerate when the specific amount of water is softened.  It counts the amount of water softened and regenerate when the preset number of gallons has been processed. Most modern water softener comes with a metered control valve because it is economical.

Both metered and timer control valve has to be programmed properly so as you will be able to get softened water all through.

When you want to program your control valve specific information is needed so as the system is appropriately set to provide softened water throughout. The information required includes:

The capacity of a water softener

This is the size of your water softener. The water softener has a size that varies from 15,000 to 100,000 GPG (gallons per grain).

The size that you require depends on the amount of water you consume. The more water you consume, the larger the water softener you need.

A standard residential water softener is 1 cubic foot of resin which is capable of softening 32,000 grains. A large home of six people and above and water hardness higher than 15 will need a water softener with a large capacity.

Hardness in your water

The hardness in your water is some calcium and magnesium in your water.

It is either measure in GPG (grains of hardness per gallon of water) or PPM (parts per million of minerals).

To know the hardness present in your water, you can test your water at home using a water hardness test kit or send it to the water department to provide a detailed report.

If you do test at home using a water hardness test kit the numbers you get should be in either GPG (grains of hardness per gallon of water) or PPM (parts per million of minerals)

For example, if you find water hardness level is 25GPM to convert to PPM multiply GPM by 17.1=PPM

1GPM=17.1 PPM.

If your water has

3 grains –slightly hard

3-7 grains- moderately hard

7-10 grains- hard

10-15 grains- very hard

Above 15 – extremely hard

The number of household consumption.

It is the amount of water each person in the house consumes. The average amount a person consumes in a day is between 70 and 110 gallons. This includes water for bathing, flushing toilets, cooking, and drinking.

So if you have five people in a household in a day, you will consume 500 gallons.

5people x100 (amount of water each person consumes in a day).

Once you know your water softener capacity, hardness in your water, and household consumption you are ready to program your water softener.

Theoretical calculation

 Let say; you have a timer water softener how will you know the specific day to regenerate.

Number of people =5

Per day water consumed =500gallons

Water softener capacity=30,000

Water hardness-25

Your water softener will treat 30000/25=1200 gallons of water

To know a specific day to regenerate divide 1200 gallon/500=2.5days (Learn how much salt you need for regeneration)

So your water softener needs to regenerate after two days in the above example. Also, the number can vary depending on the amount of salt you are using per cubic meter to regenerate.

Most people will ask why not regenerate exactly after two days and a half. Another thing you need to consider before setting the control valve is reserve capacity. You need to leave a margin so you won’t run out of softened water before regeneration takes place.

How to calculate reserve capacity in the example above we have a family of five each one consume 100 gallons so subtract 100 gallons for each person

5×100=500 gallons

Our 30,000 water softener capacity is supposed to regenerate after treating 29,500 (30,000-500= 29,500)

29500/25=1180 gallons

1180/500=2.36 days.

If you are using a water softener that has a timer control valve, you will set it to regenerate after 2 days whether you have consumed water or not.

To set up a metered control valve

The meter control valve is set to regenerate when a specific amount of water is treated. You need to put in some data in the electronic control valve. This includes:

  • Number of people in your household
  • Hardness in your water
  • Water softener capacity

In the above example the water softener capacity 30, 000, the number of people in the household is 5, and the water hardness of 25 will treat 1200 gallons of water (30000/25). When the system treats 1200 gallons it will regenerate on its own.


Remember to set the reserve capacity. Leave the margin so that you won’t run out of softened before regeneration takes place. You can decide to set reserve capacity to be 70 gallons per person


1200-350=850 gallons

So if you have set the reserve in your control valve (using the example above), the system will regenerate after it has softened 850 gallons of water.

How to regenerate the water softener

As we have said earlier generally water softener is set to regenerate on its own. The device work by monitoring the amount of water used or the number of days and decide it is time to shut down and regenerate.

But in case you forgot to put salt into the brine tank you need to regenerate your system manually.

In another case, if your water softener does not have an automatic regenerator you have to regenerate manually

How to do a manual regeneration

Make sure your brine tank is clean

Put in the required amount of salt

Go to the control valve and press or hold the regenerate button

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