Kenmore water softener problem; repair or replace?

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Tiger Mom, Feb 5, 2013.

  1. Tiger Mom

    Tiger Mom New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Los Altos, CA
    We have a Kenmore water softener in the garage that we inherited when we bought the house. It was installed in 1999. We have recently experienced a significant decrease in water pressure. Water company has come out and confirmed pressure is good and no leaks. When we bypass the water softener, water pressure problems go away. We have filled the tank with salt but the tank has water sitting in it that is over the bottom of the salt, which doesn't seem normal. We have already cleaned the valve.

    Given the age of the unit, does it make any sense to try to repair it or should we just replace it?

    We know that our area has very hard water but we have not had it tested; given that we already know about the hard water, and the fact that many neighbors also have water softeners, is there any benefit to having the water tested?

    if we go ahead and replace the unit, recommendations on good, reliable, low/no maintenance units? Fleck, LifeSource, something else?

    What is a reasonable cost for installing a new unit?

    Can water softeners be installed outside the garage (I'd love to have the extra room in the garage if possible).

    Thanks in advance.
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    According to your utility's water quality report (available at https://www.calwater.com/wq/ccr/2011/show_ccr.php?reportDistrict=las) your hardness is about 328.42ppm, or 19.2gpg. If you also know the amount of water your household uses, the experts here can tell you what size water softener you might need, as well as other conditioning which might be desirable. I'm no expert, but I would dump the 13-year-old Kenmore for something more modern. I think California has some requirements for softeners that you'll need to watch out for as well, but again, there are some experts here who know about things like that. If you're at all handy, you could probably install and maintain your own system. If not, find a local dealer you're comfortable with. As for in our out of the garage, that may be a local homeowners' beautification issue, but I don't think there's a technical reason, unless you're in a microclimate that has to contend with freeze events.

    Here's a link to a basic softener sizing tool (http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com/softeners/sizingchart.htm), but you're better off giving all your basic data (water quality and water use) to an expert who can take everything into account.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2013
  3. Tiger Mom

    Tiger Mom New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Los Altos, CA
    Thanks. Pipes are 3/4", 2 adults and 2 kids, 2.5 bathrooms and we do a lot of laundry (because of the kids).

    Any thoughts on the standard resin or vortech resin tanks that come with the fleck units?

    Sorry for the basic question but what are the differences between the different fleck valves?
  4. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,734
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Check out this thread: http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?50362-Can-someone-help-me-determine-my-needs. There's a chart there that suggests you need a 1.5 cu ft softener, but your water usage may be higher than average for 4 people, and your WQR shows a hardness range of up to 29gpg, so you might be better off with a larger unit. The WQR doesn't even mention iron or manganese, two common problems that might require more treatment. The only other consideration might be a bad taste from chlorination, which is easily removed with a carbon filter, but I've heard that those are illegal in some jurisdictions. A good compromise might be a 2.0 cu ft softener with a Fleck 7000XST controller, well thought of by most of the pros here. A ready-to-install unit can be had online for under $900 (my vendor of choice: http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/WS004480-p-softeners-fleck-7000-well.html). Smaller or larger systems would provide you with soft water, but would raise issues of water and salt efficiency that are best addressed by the pros.

    Other options are big-brand names like Culligan and Kinetico, which offer complete solutions with no obligation on your part to maintain them, although you pay significantly for your leisure. Talk with some of your neighbors to see what they've done and whether they're happy with them.
  5. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,911
    Location:
    Ontario California
    For your application, any electronic metered Fleck valve will do just fine. I tend to slightly oversize units to gain better efficiency. I would recommend a 2 Cu. Ft. system with a Fleck valve. Culligan, Kinetico, etc all offer exceptional products, but you will pay a premium. The Vortech tank is unique, but has its own potential problems. I prefer a standard tank with a garnet or gravel underbed. My valve of choice is the 7000SXT, it is very reliable, simple, and provides the highest flow rate.

    The different Fleck valves all work similarly. Fleck introduce a new valve this year that looks like it will be a solid platform for a whole new product line. I can only guess that the new platform will allow Fleck to get rid of several of the older designs. If I had to guess, the 5000 and the 6700 will be the first to go. The 2510, 5600SXT would be next, and (GASP!) the old 5600 may be updated in the next few years.
  6. Tiger Mom

    Tiger Mom New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Los Altos, CA
    Will the 7000sxt work given that the existing pipes are 3/4"? Should i o with 5600, 5600sxt or 2510sxt instead? I was also looking at clack ws1 but looks like those are hard to come by online. Any thoughts on ordering from Ohio pure water co?

    When ordering do I order the normal or stainless valve, just the yoke or bypass with yoke?

    Standard resin or one of the optional resins?

    What are the res up feeder and can pro media guards?
  7. mialynette2003

    mialynette2003 Member

    Messages:
    742
    Location:
    Ocala, Florida
    Any of the valves you mentioned will work. It is better to if the valve size is bigger than the house plumbing size vs the other way around. So no worries that your plumbing is 3/4". I would not recommend the "extras" when ordering. Some of the bypasses have to have a yoke in order to hook up to your plumbing and some already have threaded connections. Standard resin will be fine. Res up feeders are used if the is iron in the water. You should not have iron as you stated the water company came out. That would indicate to me you or not on a well. I sent you a private message.
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