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:

Contents: 

Comments

Very salty water after a regeneration occurred.

Our Kenmore water softener is about 2 years old. From the day it was installed we realizes water was very salty some days in the morning. This will last for about half an hour (base on usage) and go away. When I took the water sample to the sears they said water was bad and send a service technician. He didn't do a full regeneration and said machine does not have problem. Water did not taste salty. We did a full regeneration after he went and found water became very salty after five minutes of use. We call the sears technician and this time also they did a partial regeneration and said the same thing. Machine has no problem. They said this is the first time they hear this issue and indirectly saying what I am saying is not true. I have my extended warranty also. Please advice me how to get sears attention to get this resolved.

Kenmore Salty Water

I have the same problem, but have not called Sears for repair. Did they fix the problem? If so, can you share with me the cause and resolution? Thanks

water softener part

I am looking for the transformer (24V-25VA), part # 7070373 for a Kenmore water softener model 625.342802. Or a substitute.

water softner parts

I have a used transformer 10.00 plus usps shipping.

water in saltstorage

I have a Kenmore 350 series
I have water in my salt tank, I vaccum it out its returns within a couple of
days I cleaned the venturi, what else should I try, also the water in house taste salty
likes its the backwash or something and has an odor, has been going for a couple of weeks.
thanks

look to see if the resin

look to see if the resin tank is ruptured or leaking.

ater in storage

Get it fixed quick, I just had that and now the resin has turned to mush and has plugged all the water lines in my house, 02-26-08. Sears said it was my fault??? NOW I have called my ins. people waiting on them, I think I will have to fight Sears about this, I have water in my shower only,

water softner parts

I install new softners. I have used parts for most kenmore softners. If anyone needs parts email me at; rsnow33@yahoo.com for prices.

water softener kenmore model 625.75780-4 em

I require the digital timer . I don't know if it is part of the face plate part # 7122374. If you can help it would be appreciated.

thanks dave

Sears water softener timer fix and related problems/solutions

I spent a lot of time looking for a timer board for 625.3484400 because Sears Parts model entry box did recognize the model number with the last "0". After fixing my circuit board with a 53 cent 100 microfarad 50 v capacitor from my local electronics store, I now see typing in 625.348440 shows Sears DOES still have the part I needed. A new board is $159, which might have been worth it considering the time spent on this. I notified Sears webmaster of the problem.

Pages