View Full Version : Kenmore water softener
03-27-2006, 09:49 PM
Looking for some ideas/ information. I've got a Kenmore water softener that I've had for 14 years. A few months ago the water started feeling a little hard, so I had it tested. Hard water was 7 grains, softened was 4 grains. I've worked on it through the years replacing seals here and there cleaning out the venturi as needed, so I know how to work on it. It puts water in the brine well OK, and sucks it back out OK, but I only get partially softened water. After inquiring on this and other forums, it seemed that after 14 years that the resin had just wore out. I purchased the correct resin and put the correct amount in after removing the old. Seemingly no change in hardness.
It's as if some of the hard water is bypassing the resin bed or something. Any one out there real familiar with what might be wrong with it?
master plumber mark
03-28-2006, 05:32 AM
for one thing its a Kenmore and its a miracle
you have never had to repiar it at least two or three
and its 14 years old.....the mineral bed is probably exausted too....
you are lucky it lasted that long without troubles.
try another brand this time
jsut go go get a new Fleck or Autotrol......
03-28-2006, 05:43 AM
I think it's time to replace.
Get something better next time, you will see the difference.
03-28-2006, 07:20 AM
Do some on-line shopping. Clack is another brand name that gets remarks about being easy for a homeowner to service.
03-28-2006, 08:17 AM
Thanks all the same, but that was not the advice I asked for. I'm not in the market for a new softener. I want to know what else to trouble shoot to repair this one!
03-28-2006, 08:50 AM
Go to this site and look up the troubleshooting charts:
This information will help you with your situation. Kenmore also has
tech service to help you with your situation.
master plumber mark
03-28-2006, 10:14 AM
It might not be the advice you asked for,
but you are in the market for a new water softener
wether you like it or not....
and that is the best advice you are gonnna get.....
anyone that is willing to come out and try to repair that
14 yr old piece of junk is simply just cheating you ,
and will eventually
((after you are through getting nickled and dimed to death))_
sell you a new one.............
but you will have to find that out for yourself....
good luck with the repairs...
03-28-2006, 10:31 AM
If you would have read my first post, you would know that I've already replaced the resin.
I've seen the parts list, pricing for my unit, and spending $300 -600 on a new softener doesn't make sense to me. Whatever is letting the water bypass the resin bed is what needs repaired. Probably a seal or the rotor are my guesses.
I was looking for someone that might have repaired these "junk" softeners. I guess that excludes you.
03-28-2006, 10:38 AM
Thanks for the link, but I'm way past that. As I stated before, the unit obviously works as it's removing 3 grains of hardness. My guess is that something is allowing some of the hard water to bypass the resin bed. When I find that, it'll work fine.
I've replaced the resin and there's plenty of salt in the tank and I can see it draw the brine into the resin tank, so that only seems to leave a leak of hard water going to the resin tank.
03-28-2006, 10:53 AM
Every softener has a bypass condition that lets you use water when the softener is treating the resin. You maybe getting bypassing in the controller or somewhere in the tank.
You might want to consider a new controller that would fit on your existing tank. My experience with Sears suggests that you will not be able to get parts for your 14 year old controller.
I talked to Craig at http://www.qualitywatertreatment.com/water_softeners.htm and he said that a Fleck 5600 Econominder Metered Valve would be available for your tank for $295. You would need to modify the outer shell to make it fit but the apperance of a 14 year old water softener would probably not be degraded much by that.
The Fleck uses a larger distributor tube but a bushing is available.
You're on your own from here.
03-28-2006, 11:33 AM
I also received excellent service and advice from www.ohiopurewaterco.com. Bought an entire system (softener, UV tube and filter system) for less than what a "fuller brush" water softenser salesman wanted to charge for his bottom of the line model.
03-28-2006, 02:54 PM
You sound pretty handy. Have you replaced the rotor? In my experience with my 10-year-old Kenmore softener, the face of the rotor will get very shallow concentric scores on it after about 2 years. Any scoring is considered grounds for replacement of the rotor.
Some have said, on this forum, that those scores will prevent proper brining but won't affect overall performance of the softener if brine is being produced and sucked out of the well. I'm not completely sure of that -- if you are dedicated to holding onto the unit, and if you haven't replaced the rotor, start there. Do a seal kit while you have it apart.
Don't discount the Kenmore troubleshooting site -- seems elementary at first, but it does get into pretty good detail as you dig into it.
03-28-2006, 03:57 PM
Thanks for the info. You know, on the Kenmore trouble shooting site, where it says you need a trained service technician? I just need the information, not a service man. I can take the entire softener apart down to the last screw. They're not hard to work on at all, no need for special tools. So I just need to know what to fix, replace.
I'm gonna take a good look at the rotor tonight, that was my thought too ,SteveW. I think either the rotor or it's seal is letting hard water go down the distributer tube instead of out the top distributer thus only some hard water goes thru the resin bed. The distributer was OK when I checked it while putting in new resin. I also put new o rings on the tube and valve assembly. I will find what's wrong.
04-04-2006, 05:52 PM
Well, it's fixed. When I took the valve cover off to check the rotor and seals, I found that the drain seal plug had fallen over and the o-ring that was supposed to be on top of it was missing. Put the drain seal plug in place and replaced the o-ring, and all is well. Total cost : $.47. Time spent dis/ assembling: 5 minutes.
Even counting the resin at $89.95 delivered, I've got less than $100 and an hour of my spare time invested in this "junk" softener. Sure looks better than the $500 for a new one.
04-04-2006, 10:51 PM
dt196 I need you in my area to field all the service calls dealing with water softeners I get here and there. For some reason I just don't want to find time to learn about the ins and outs of these things. I'm down to 3% brain power......gotta conserve when I can.
master plumber mark
04-05-2006, 05:25 AM
It just wonderful that this fellow repaired
his water softerner himself......
changed the resin in the unit too, I guess....
fixed the rotor......47c....
probably no one working at SEARS would be competent enough
to actually come out and do this same feat.......and GUARANTEE IT
for a decent price --that is... I doubt anyone would guarantee it...
I wonder what a normal price would have been for
someone that hasnet got a clue what to do to have one 14 years
I simply tell them that I would be cheating them to even touch it.
So I dont touch them and they think I am cheating them anyway!!!
That is the best approach for someone in business THROW THEM OUT
--its simply not cost effective.
I dont paly with them becuase no one is going to pay me $85
per hour for me to fool around with something all day that old....
If it takes me all day, then what do you charge??
No matter what I do ---you are gonna SQUEAL LIKE A PIG
when you see the bill.
this guy should go into business repairing these things
for a nominal fee
or do charitywork for people in his area....
untill he gets the idea about what a
small business mans time is worth.
Sounds like a problem you created while working on the unit.
That problem is very hard to see from here.
I am glad that you found the problem.
I hope your unit lasts for another 14 years.
04-05-2006, 04:45 PM
I see that you're in the Cinn. area. I'm in Columbus, so just tell me when you have one to repair in the Columbus area. I have the tech sheet on this softener. It tells exactly how it works as far as the different cycles, so it was just a matter of time before I narrowed down what was wrong. Like I said, I can walk up to the unit, take it apart as far as needed to replace the rotor and seal kit,and clean the venturi and put it back together in 10 minutes. Not exactly rocket science.
Yes, I did replace the resin with 3/4 cu ft of Purolite C100E. Took just under an hour. I didn't need to replace the rotor, I just give it a thin coat of lube every time I happen to have it apart. I only had to replace a common o- ring that can be purchased at any hardware. I actually lied about the $.47 for the o- ring. They only came in a package of 10 for $1.35, so really it was only $.14.
I guess if you couldn't tear one of these "junk" softeners down, put a rotor and seal kit in less than an hour, I see why you don't want to work on them! I own a one man Corvette Body Shop, been restoring them for 29 years now. I'm pretty handy when it comes to repairing things. I originally was looking for someone that might have had experience working on Kenmore type softeners and would share their knowledge. I was going to do the work myself. I'll take all the "junk" softener customers that you can send me for $60/ hr.
Yea, you're probably right. I can't see how that drain plug could have fallen over by itself while it has spring tension on it. When it's not in place with the o-ring, then it partially bypasses the resin bed. The thing that gets me is, that the first symptom was water that was not quite as soft as it should be. I checked all the obvious causes (enough salt, salt bridge, venturi) and found everything working as it should. At this point I hadn't taken the valve cover of for nearly a year. That being said, I don't see how it could have worked all that time if the o-ring was missing. But whatever, it's working fine.
04-06-2006, 06:53 AM
Congratulations on your troubleshooting and fix! It inspired me to take another look at mine, since lately it's been putting out hard water. I ran through the diagnostics in the manual and discovered it wasn't filling the brine well. I cleaned the flow plug under the venturi, and now it's working great again. Took about 10 minutes total, and no parts cost.
Over the last couple years I've wrestled with the decision to keep fixing vs. replace the unit with one with a Fleck controller. I can understand why the pros would recommend replacement. Like you, however, I feel comfortable tearing one of these down, so it's not a big deal for me to spend a little time troubleshooting and fixing. It might very well not be worth a pro's time to do that.
master plumber mark
04-06-2006, 07:55 AM
its like re-building a gas motor with 550k on it......
it has to be a hobby or a labor of love.....
or nothing else better to do,
or just a personal best kind of thing....
all I am saying is if I did this job , most likely in a few weeks
their would probably be other issues that could arise that I would
be expected to warranty ....for free.....
04-06-2006, 09:50 AM
For the 18 years I did local water treatment, I made a LOT of money repairing and/or upgrading softeners/filters. Upgrading is replacing the control valve with new or rebuilt. I always built/assembled my new stuff so I knew what and how to do it. I also learned how to rebuild all types of control valves. Anyone with enough gray matter can if they have the desire.
I have the tank adapters to upgrade Sears, GE, North Star, Whirlpool and Morton softeners to any Autotrol, Clack, Erie or Fleck control valve but.. by the time that is done, the person will spend 2/3rds or more of the price of new if they buy over the internet and install it themselves. Today I only do internet sales but I always go over what their present softener is or isn't doing and talk about the 'cures' and if they don't want to do it or to call for service, they usually buy new from me. I've helped many guys fix their softener etc. and the next time it fails, they call and buy new from me. In my opinion, it's the only way to do business.
If they are going to hire the install done, then it's a bit different.
Because I offered to repair or rebuild when it made sense as compared to a new piece of equipment, I also sold more new equipment. But to not offer the repair or rebuild and only suggest replacement.... you're losing sales of both types because most everyone will want repair rather than new, even if they aren't prone to being a DIYer.
And if you don't do it right, you should go back free of charge and make it right. That will cause you to learn how to repair the new stuff you sell and also provide you more sales and if you look at your cost to acquire a new sale, you'll see you'll probably save money. And then learn how to do it right the first time. As someone said, this isn't rocket science.
08-20-2007, 11:26 AM
I have a different problem with Kenmore water softener. I purchased new Kenmore water softener in 2000 and it added some metal/plastic smell to water. Call to Sears fixed the problem by replacing the unit, but I still have old unit that technically is fine and working. I just moved to another house and decided to give it another chance and installed it.
Result is the same as first time and I have odor back in my water. Can you think of anything that can correct this problem like replacing resin?
08-20-2007, 10:12 PM
Yes the odor can be from the resin.
09-01-2007, 09:52 AM
resin replacement didn't work.:(
master plumber mark
09-01-2007, 10:02 AM
just out of curousity ...
how much did the resin cost you
and how much time did it take
to do this??
I am curious to know if the original poster's problem was the resin itself.
(I realize that he found a faulty 0-ring) but this appeared to be caused by a mistake in the re-assembly)
I, too have a 1/2 working Kenmore softener unit that is about 15 years old.
The valve motor is OK, is moving through the cycle properly.
I am experiencing hard water than normal, with a high level of iron.
I have NEVER had this thing apart.
The venturi is clean, and the brining process appears to be functioning properly.
I am on a city water line, and I fear that the 15 years of chlorination has deteriorated my resin bed, to the point of failure.
I am considering attempting a resin-replacement, rather than purchasing a new unit, due to my poor financial status.
Any advice, OTHER THAN BUY A NEW ONE!!!
All of the mechanical/electrical seems to be OK.
03-25-2009, 10:10 AM
Replacing resin is fairly easy with a two tank type softener but not so with your cabinet model. You need to get the resin out without removing the resin tank from the salt tank (wet shop vac) or remove the tank from the salt tank and then dump the resin. You'll need a funnel to put the new resin in.
Thanks for your input Gary.
My luck, I just recently filled up the tank with salt.
I will have to empty it out, I assume in order to make removing the resin easier.
I found a local supplier that will provide the resin 1 ft3 for $90.
I figure, there is not much to this thing. I will try it, and if unsuccessful, the only other thing can be the control valve assembly.
Would my unit have gravel in the base, or is it just resin?
Any other input?
03-25-2009, 06:06 PM
No gravel in any big box store brand softeners...
You should fully troubleshoot your softener before buying new resin.
Click on Animations at the link below to learn how your softener works, then troubleshooting to find out what is wrong with it.
Gary, thank you very much for the excellent website link.
That is about the best information I have seen, for any tutorial on technical information.
I am an electrician, and I have lots of training....but that is amazing what they are doing with the 3d animation.
I will take a closer look at everything this weekend, and let you know my findings.
01-14-2011, 02:49 PM
Well, I know I'm a little late on the responce, but, I have been diagnosing and repairing Kenmore water softeners for friends, neighbors, parents and aunts and uncles for a few years now. The water in Ventura is extremely hard. It is municiply treated well water that tests at 45 grains of hardness, Yikes! I had a few cases where the softener is only softening the water half as much as it should. I knew this because I have a water hardness test kit and the water would test at 24 grains of hardness no matter how many times you ran the softener through a regeneration cycle.
The common problem I've found on these units after about 5 to 7 years is the distribution tube O-ring either splits apart or the distribution tube slips down and then the O-ring falls off. My parents had unregulated water pressure(about 100 psi) and their distribution tube pushed down into the lower distribution screen assembly. I pulled out the tube and lower distibutor assembly and pulled the tube up until it snapped back into its correct position. Then I reinstalled the assembly and installed 2 new O-rings instead of 1 on the tube above the upper distribution screen below the valve head assembly. Yes, the Kenmore parts diagram calls for 1 O-ring, but there is enough room for 2. This splits the load of each O-ring and gives twice the sealing surface area. After this repair, I installed a new water pressure regulator on my parent's house and the softener has been working trouble free for 5 years now.
I had another Kenmore softener that the same O-ring split and fell into the upper distribution screen assembly. I also installed 2 of these O-rings to fix the problem.(Kenmore part #7170254) or obtained locally; O-ring size: 13/16" x 1-1/16". This particular softener had regulated water pressure at about 65 psi, so the distribution tube was still intact. These proceedures require separation of the valve head from the resin tank.
I hope this will help those die-hard Kenmore water softener customers. I personally like the simplicity, service and value the Kenmore softeners provide. Good Luck.
07-19-2011, 01:32 AM
I have installed a softener (40,000 grains) at tha mains of a nightclub. Although the water softens without problem (I use a HANNA KIT with drops and the hardness falls from 300 ppm to 40 ppm) my client gets a bitter taste at his drinking water. This did not happen for the first month after installation. Taste became bitter after this month of function.
Please note that I have set as follows my softener: 20 mins backwash, 30 mins brine, 20 mins refill). My device is Water Softener (CSIII H 1035) from Shanghai Canature Environmental Products Co.,Ltd. (http://www.ecvv.com/product/1793575.html). Unfortunately I do not get any answers from them... I have also installed a sediment big blue 20" filter before water enters the softener and a CTO big blue 20" filter after the softening of the water.
PLEASE ADVICE AND THANK YOU VERY MUCH IN ADVANCE.