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:

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Comments

There is a white kind of chalky substance from water softener

The water softener is in the basement so I didn't really see the white stuff before. It is all over the back of the softener and on the floor. It is a chalky like substance. I have no money to have someone come out and take a look? Can you tell me what it is or what is wrong?

white stuff on floor

I have the same problem around the softener on the floor. Did anyone respond with ideas on what is causing this? I have looked for leaks but can't find any

Unfortunately, I am having

Unfortunately, I am having the same problem and am hoping that someone can provide a clue. Mine left a layer of crusty white solution on the floor around the tank. I would scrape it up and it would form again in a couple weeks.

My Kenmore water softener

My Kenmore water softener 625.348590 display does not indicate any water flow and the "service" is not displayed. following the trouble shooting guide says the sensor is defective. Has anyone experienced this before and is this accurate? Thank.s

water softener

I have had this problem in the past and the fix is as follows: The turbine is either jammed or the metal piece that is located in the turbine is corroded and will not trip the sensor. Most likely you will need to replace the turbine. The Sears manual is second to none in helping a person to repair a water softener. Just follow the instructions. One note of caution. If the clamps on the bypass are more than 3 yrs old, order them two. They will be brittle. speaking from experience,

discharge hose

your site was helpful to me for obtaining parts and repairing my water softener...the motor was clicking but the cam was not advancing..I changeged the motor and the rotor and gaskets at a cost of about 150.00 for parts....it's set for regeneration at 2:am. The discharge hose runs under the deck downhill all the way. the machine has been down since our warm spell. if by chance there is an ice blockage in the discharge hose...which I doubt, since I use it all year in all weather, will the water back up into the head and gush onto the floor or will it drain back into the tank?

MIodel 625.348491

This unit has had leakage problems. It is installed within a metal storage shed outside adjacent the supply and subject to temps from 30 degrees to 115. I've replaced the bypass valve and valve body and that solved the problem for awhile but the problem is back. Clearly a o-ring problem. Replacements from the local Home Depot failed to seal completely. Are o-ring leakage problems that common in these units? The leak is on the input side and I wonder about size change with temp. Any repair suggestions?

Sears Kenmore Water Softner Model # 625.38826

We just purchased our home that has a Kenmore Extra Soft 250 Water Softner already installed in it. In order to change settings in the display window, you have to push REALLY hard on the screen inorder to get the items to change (ie: changing the level of salt in the softner). Is something wrong with the sceen?

Kenmore water softener (Genius) super capacity Model #625.348550

I need some help. About every two days my salt tank is just about up to the tank drain with water. I have replaced the venturi, and i check it every time i go througt the process of geting the water out, and it is clean and nothing pluged up. Just wounding if anyone else has had this problem, and if the know what the fix is?

Thanks for any info. i can get. Fred

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