Fixing a Sears Kenmore Water Softener

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Fixing a Sears Kenmore Water Softener

I have been struggling with the Water Softener for a few months now. I got it fixed by Sears for about 165$Cdn two years or so ago. A few months ago, it started having problems again. So I decided to try and fix it myself.

What is a water softener?

First a little background.

In North America city water is locally produced from underground water, not from a river like in Egypt. Deep under the ground there are aquifers, and the city taps into it, treats it and make it available to the inhabitants. If the bedrock has a lot of calcium, .e.g limestone, in it, then the water is often said to be "hard water".

Hard water causes a lot of problems: dishes would look cloudy, the tea kettle will have white residue in it, soap will not rinse from your hand (no squeaky clean feeling), your hair will clump if you use soap in the shower instead of shampoo, and the water heater efficiency will decrease as the calcium from the hot water precipitates on its walls. Soap and detergent use is also increased.

How does a water softener work?

So, there is a market for water softeners in places that have hard water.

A water softener works by having a tank that is filled with salt, and a tanks full of a special resin. The resin can remove the hardness from the water, but requires that it be regenerated by washing it with salt brine during regeneration. Water softener are either demand based (after a certain number of gallons have been processed), or time based (e.g. twice week). Regeneration happens in the early hours of the morning, depending on how you set it. It goes through several cycles, which are basically:

  • Fill: Water is passed to the salt tank
  • Brining: Water is left in the tank to form brine
  • Rinse: The brine is used to rinse the resin, remove the calcium that it has removed in the past, and make it able to remove calcium again
  • Back Wash: The resin tank is flushed for residues and iron deposit
  • Fast Rinse: The resin is rinsed from all the above
  • Service: This means that the water softener is serving soft water for the house

There are many brands of water softeners out there in the market. Many are rebranded. For example, Sears Kenmore, Ecoline and General Electric (GE) are the same. Culligan is also similar.

About my handyman's skills

Before I start, I should say that I am not at all handy with maintaining a house. Part of it is due to the fact that in Egypt most people live in concrete apartments, and not woodframe and drywall houses with lawns. Part of it is that I never got the hang of being mechanically adept, whether it is plumbing, carpentry, car maintenance, and such. So, fixing a water softener, which involves mechanical, electrical and plumbing aspects is quite a challenge.

Symptoms

Many things can go wrong with a water softener. The basic complaint is that "there is no soft water". Another is high water level in the salt tank. Yet another is salt level that does not go down as the weeks pass.

Solutions

The manual for a water softener often has some comprehensive diagnostics that can be done to see

Start with cleaning the nozzle and Venturi. This should not require any tools, and can be disassembled and assembled by hand. Take note on how things fit before you remove them. Wash the components in water. Use some vinegar. Make sure there is no deposits, salt, rust, calcium or debris.

Then check the float in the salt well in the tank. The float should be able to move up and down, and the hose should be able to inject water in the tank and suck it again.

Then shut the water supply, drain the house (open the lowest lying faucet in the house), then disassemble the cam gear and rotor from the valve head. Check all the seals and gaskets and that there is no wear on the smooth side of the rotor.

Run the diagnostics as per the manual, and make sure that the cam gear moves well. If the motor is skipping and making a clicking sound and failing to move the cam gear, then replace it.

Replacing all the gaskets, the rotor, the cam gear and the motor should solve most problems, and only cost me 74$ Cdn. That is provided that the nozzle/venturi are clean, and that there is no obstruction to the float assembly.

Check for the formation of a salt bridge, specially in humid environment. Tap the side of the tank and see if there is a hollow sound at some spot under a solid sound. Use a broom stick to break it.

Once every six months, get a water softener cleaner (basically a sulphite powder that removes iron deposit. You can buy it at Canadian Tire or other hardware stores. It is more expensive at Sears, so avoid buying it there.

Every year or 18 months, try to remove all the salt from the tank and wash it. You can use warm water, and a wet/dry vacuum to remove it.

Conclusion

Fixing a water softener is easier than you think. Save your money and do it yourself. Get the manuals online, go buy the parts, and do it.

The morale of the story is: If I could do it, anyone can do it.

Resources and Links

Here are some useful links with more information:

Sears Water Softener

We have A sears model number 625348320 water softener in the basement and we are now having problems with it leaking. The unit has A leak coming from somewhere but at this time am not able to locate it. There is a constant puddle on the floor and I mean A PUDDLE.

Do you know of anyone who may have had the same problem and what was done to solve it?

Any help on this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You,
Frank

puddle on floor from water softner.

My garage was flooded because the venturi was clogged and the tank overfill tube was emptying in a 5 gal bucket which was full and overflowing onto the garage floor.

I since put the overflow tubing in a drain and had no more flooding.

I've learned to check the venturi periodically.

Today I found water on the floor and discovered I had a different problem. The valve cover of the valve assembly was cracked and water sprayed onto the electrical parts and shorted out the face plate (timer).

I stopped the spraying by using the bypass which gives me hard water. I now have to replace the valve cover and timer.

Depending on the cost of the parts, I might choose to buy a new softner.

The brine tanks are not

The brine tanks are not equipped with a float valve to prevent overflow???

water softener

test the incoming water pressure, it should be 90 lbs or less

Sears softeners

Hello,

Stumbled across the comments on this blog regarding Sears softeners. I run a web-based business that sells water softeners and I get many calls from people looking to replace Sears units after only a few years of service.

A leaking bypass valve is most often caused by pressure being exerted on the bypass from the incoming plumbing. You want to make sure that the plumbing is well supported and not being held in place only by the bypass.

A decent professional-grade water softener should give you at least ten years of problem free service. If you are looking to replace your softener at some point look for a Clack, Autotrol, or Fleck control valve, with the Clack unit being the best of the bunch. The best news is that you do not need to spend a fortune. You can get an excellent softer delivered to your door for less than $600.

Online softener parts store

Check out this online store....it has any part you will need for your kenmore softener.

www.softenerparts.com

Their prices are very reasonable too. Jeff

I had a water leak and it

I had a water leak and it was coming from the plastic bypass valve on the back of the water softener. It wasn't obvious that the leak was from the bypass, but replacing it fixed the problem. There are many places water could be leaking from, however.

Re: Water Leak

Just fixed the same problem. Behind the timer there is a plastic block where two plastic lines are connected (on our model). One of the lines was split and a new o-ring was needed as well.

I have had two sears water

I have had two sears water softeners and both have developed a leak at the base. I gave up and changed to a different model. Watch out since Whirpool and Sears are basically the same design.

GE as well

GE also is the same design as many Sears Kenmore water softeners. 

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Khalid Baheyeldin