What’s that noise in the middle of the night?

By August 18, 2014 February 26th, 2021 No Comments

It’s 2 a.m. and you just heard something making noise in the laundry room…

Should you call the cops?

Nope, that noise is actually just that rowdy night owl: your water softener.

But what is it doing up at this hour?


Most residential water softeners are pre-programmed to regenerate at 2 a.m., but why is that? Does it really matter what time of day it is when your softener is triggered to cycle? Yes, it does matter.

While a water softener is in the process of regenerating, it is in “bypass” mode. This means that while your softener is going through its series of cycles (about a one-and-a-half to two-hour process), the water in your home is routed around your softener. In other words, your water is “bypassed” around the softener while it is cycling.

If your water softener were to regenerate while you were using water, then your hot water heater will start to fill up with hard water, followed by a series of unfortunate hard water events, like white scaling on your dishes.

However, just because your softener waits to cycle until 2 a.m. does not mean that you will get hard water once you have “run out” of soft water. Most softeners have a reserve capacity setting to prevent this from happening.

For example, if your water softener is capable of producing 1,000 gallons of soft water, it may be programmed to have 200 of those gallons in reserve. So, when your water softener has produced 800 gallons, it will be triggered to regenerate that night. I say night because most of us are still sleeping at 2 a.m.

This means that if you reach your maximum capacity of 800 gallons and you have just taken your morning shower at 6 a.m., you will still have a whole day’s worth of soft water (200 gallons) in reserve so that you don’t get hard water while your softener waits to regenerate.

As always, if you feel that your water softener is not functioning properly, it’s important to call a qualified local water treatment professional to take a look.

This article was originally published through the Angie’s List Experts program. To see the original, click here.