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APS TechNotes See all articles

When do you regenerate a carbon bed

Setting up and operating an automatic backwashing carbon system is actually quite easy. After the basic installation all you need to worry about are three things.

1. Outlet Chlorine Levels
2. Particulate Loading
3. Bacteria Levels

Here is more info on carbon

The proper ways to operate a automatic backwashing operated backwashing carbon bed are :

1. Set backwash timer to regenerate once every 7 days.

2. Measure the pre and post chlorine levels everyday for 7 days. If you see any chlorine, decrease the number of days and repeat the test unit it does not have chlorine between cycles. You would not want to go much longer than 7 days because excessive bacteria may grown in the carbon bed.

Optional :Install a pre and post water pressure gauge and keep a log off the difference in pressure between the two garages. This reading is known as the differential pressure.

Open one faucet all the way open and while the water is running, look at the difference in the gauges. If this number is 10 psi higher than it was when it was new you should manually regenerate the system to clear particulates that may have accumulated.


  • Have faucet running full
  • Inlet Gauge = 50 p.s.i.
  • Outet Gauge = 45 p.s.i

    This would be 5 p.s.i differential pressure. The static pressure (no water running) will always be the same.

    It is important that you flow roughly the same amount water flow each time before comparing the pressure gauges. As flow rate changes so will the differential pressure. Usually the tub faucet flows the highest of any fixture in your house. It should simulate peak flow rate well. You can not measure differential pressure without having water running because still water does not create friction and therefore it will not create differential pressure loss.

    When the pressure increases 10 p.s.i. higher then the clean differential pressure was when it was installed new, you should backwash the carbon bed. It is best to keep a log and record what the pressure and differential pressure is so you can watch a trend over time. You can put a piece of paper on the wall by the softener to make it easy.

    3. A bacteria test can tell you if the bacteria levels get too high.

    There is an easier alternate method :

    If we look at what will happen the soonest, we know from experience that Bacteria will grow fairly quickly in the bed once chlorine is removed. We find that backwashing once a week should keep the bed fairly clean and keep the bacteria levels inside the bed, under control.

    For particulates and chlorine, you could test that at one week intervals for a little while to make sure you are not getting chlorine breakthrough before it regenerates. It would be very rare if you saw chlorine that soon.

    Usually setting a regeneration once per week will take care of all the issues you might see.
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