How to Reset Your Water Softener

Written by Adam Morris
6 Min read
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Have you recently experienced a power outage, or does your water feel “strange” on your skin when you’re washing? 

If so it may be time to reset your water softener.

First off, don’t panic; resetting your water softener is another one of those appliance jobs that sounds like it’s going to be super complex. But it really isn’t.

In this blog, we’ll take you through the process of running a standard reset on your machine to get it singing again. We’ll also look at how to do this on a couple of different models and what to do when the power returns after an outage.

But before all that, let’s tell you a little bit more about the humble water softener and why we need them.

What is a water softener and what do they do?

illustration of a water softener system

It may seem a little redundant to say a water softener softens water, but that is its sole purpose. Some areas of the US have harder water than others. This is mainly down to the chemical makeup of the liquid, harder water contains more minerals than soft. But more than just tasting and feeling a bit different, hard water minerals can collect in pipework and cause costly blockages.

Your water softener prevents that build-up from happening by adding salt to the water. The salt exchanges the Calcium and Magnesium ions in hard water for sodium ions making the water softer. This soft water is not only better for your skin and hair, but it also breaks down soap better too for washing.

When your machine runs out of water softener salt, it will need to be topped up and restarted. But how do you do this?

A step-by-step guide to performing a reset on your water softener when it runs out of salt

Replacing the salt in your machine and restarting is a relatively simple process, just follow our steps:

  1. Turn off the machine
  2. Remove the salt container or keeper from your machine and refill it
  3. Pour 3 gallons of water through the salt in the container to help dissolve it
  4. Turn the softener back on

It’s best to wait for your salt container to be almost empty before you run a refill and restart.

Water Softener Cleaning & Restore it Like New - Don't skip this EASY maintenance

So, that was pretty simple. But your water softener is often a forgotten appliance when it comes to returning the house to normal after a power outage.

What do you need to do when the lights come back on?

How to reset a water softener after a power outage

Before we get into the steps for resetting your water softener after an outage, it’s probably best if you locate your user manual. While most appliances are the same, if there are any quirks about your unit or manufacturer when it comes to performing a reset, then this is where you’ll find them.

Other than that, let’s get into it.

1. Reset the regeneration timings

The first step in this process is to update your machine’s regeneration cycle. This cycle is super important for the health of the machine, but it’s also worth setting for a time when people aren’t typically going to be needing tap water – around 2 am is probably the optimum time.

Just click “settings” and find the option for regeneration time, set the AM or PM times and you can then push the up or down arrows to set the time. Once you’ve done that you can save your changes.

2. Reset the time

It’s important to ensure your water softener is set to the correct time because you don’t want it running a regen cycle a 1 pm when it thinks it’s 2 am because its clock’s out of sync.

To set the time you need to find the “set time” option on the customer mode control panel (it should say on the interface if you’re in customer mode or not). Ensure that you’re selecting to change the display time rather than the regeneration time and use the up and down button to shift to the correct time.

What happens if you lose power during your machine’s regen cycle?

Well, this is some tough luck, but it may happen. Most machines, after an outage, will try to continue the regen cycle they were on when the power went out. But it’s best to select the “bypass” or “rinse override” option on your control panel and reset the system to perform a manual regeneration again at the normal time.

However, to do this you are going to need some valve work. Open the bypass valve on your machine as soon as you can after losing power, this will drain the tanks while everything’s dark. When the power returns, the system should perform its recharge cycle.

That’s pretty much all you should need to know when it comes to resetting your water softener after an outage. But the other important thing to understand is that you can still use your water while the power is down. Most modern machines feature a setting that allows them to remember your preferences for 24 hours. However, anything over this time and you’ll probably find that you will need to perform a reset on your unit.  

But what about different models?

How to reset a Culligan Water Softener

Resetting your Culligan water softener is also a reasonably simple job. All you need to do is follow the below steps and she should be humming again in no time:

  1. Press and hold the “REGEN” button on your unit until it beeps
  2. Now you can manually change the date and time of the regeneration cycle and set the preferred amount of days between cycles
  3. Reset your water softness preferences and save your changes

The “check” button on your Culligan appliance should lock in those system changes and you’ll be good to go again.

Culligan Water System Reset Video

What are the signs that you need a new softener?

There are a few signs that a simple reset may not be the end of your water softener issues. But, luckily, the signs of a finished machine aren’t too subtle either. If you notice a change in your water’s taste, feel, or pressure that could be a sign that it’s time for a replacement.

When we talk about the water’s feel and taste, you will be able to tell the difference between hard and soft water. Plus, because hard water doesn’t interact with soap in the same way that soft does, you may find that your skin gets covered in soap scum after a wash. This is because it takes longer for the soap to dissolve in harder water.

The other tell-tale signs of hard water in your pipes are scale and hard water spots. You may start noticing these hard chalky-looking build-ups around your sink, shower, and other fittings.

Signs You Need a New Softener

Summing up

When your water softener needs to be reset it doesn’t have to feel like a mammoth operation. There are simple steps to resetting most machines.

But, whether you’re trying to bring yours back online after an outage or you’ve noticed a change in your water quality, when attempting to reset any tech, from your Samsung refrigerator to your Culligan water softener, it’s always important to check the user manual first.

And remember, today’s machines are clever, if your water softener has been offline for less than 24 hours, you may not even need to go rummaging around in the basement.

Frequently asked questions about resetting your water softener

How long does it take for a water softener to reset?

Typically a water softener reset can take anyway between 90-120 minutes. Which is another reasons why it’s super important to set this to happen at less busy times – like when you’re all asleep.

What happens if I unplug my water softener?

Unplugging your water softener should make no difference to the quality of your water. Your machine only needs power to run a regeneration cycle. Plus, most modern machines can even remember your settings for 24 hours in the event of a power outage.

How often should my water softener regenerate?

You should have your water softener’s regeneration cycle set to occur at least every three days. This ensures your water quality remains where you want it and your pipes are safe from mineral build-ups and blockages.

Can I run water while my water softener is regenerating?

You can use the water while your system is regenerating. Most systems carry a reserve tank which holds around a day’s worth of soft water.

Appliances made simple. 

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