Kenmore water softener

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by dt196, Mar 27, 2006.

  1. dt196

    dt196 New Member

    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?
    Tanks, Dan
  2. its 14 years old

    for one thing its a Kenmore and its a miracle
    you have never had to repiar it at least two or three
    times already.....

    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......
  3. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber


    I think it's time to replace.

    Get something better next time, you will see the difference.
  4. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    Do some on-line shopping. Clack is another brand name that gets remarks about being easy for a homeowner to service.
  5. dt196

    dt196 New Member

    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!
  6. advice --take it or leave it....

    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...
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2006
  7. dt196

    dt196 New Member

    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.

    Thanks anyway
  8. dt196

    dt196 New Member


    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.

    Thanks anyway
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    New Hampshire
    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 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.
  10. rdtompki

    rdtompki New Member

    I also received excellent service and advice from 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.
  11. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Omaha, NE
    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.
  12. dt196

    dt196 New Member


    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.
  13. dt196

    dt196 New Member

    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.
    Thanks all
  14. 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.
  15. Rugged --waht would you have charged?

    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
    old repiared.....???

    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.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2006
  16. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    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.
  17. dt196

    dt196 New Member

    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.
  18. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Omaha, NE
    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.
  19. it all depends

    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.....
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2006
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