Softener appears to be working, but no soft water

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by rkhanso, Aug 20, 2014.

  1. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    We just moved to a house that has a Kenmore Water Softener - on City Water. I know they are not very high quality. We did have one a number of years ago that I was able to put a kit in to get that softener working again. I'm struggling to find the cause of no soft water on this softener, however.

    First off, I'm using a free softener test strip that comes in a Morton softener brochure from a local hardware store to do my testing. I'm testing only on the COLD water because I know the water heater is filled with the hard water from before the softener started drawing brine. The test strip says Hach SofChek on the package.

    After we moved in, I noticed the water level in the brine tank was high. I watched it during the brine cycle and saw that it wasn't drawing any brine in - the level was not going down at all.

    I replaced the venturi gasket first, since I heard that was the most common thing that caused no brine draw. I also replaced the 2 smallish o-rings that go between the nozzle venturi assembly and the rotor/disc assembly. None of that helped. There was still very little suction where the hose connected to the venturi.

    Next, I put a rotor disc seal kit in. It still didn't draw brine. I took apart the brine valve assembly and put it back together. It looked clean and the screen was not clogged. I figured that wasn't it anyway, because I could blow and suck air through the brine/fill tube. After some more screwing around with stuff, it started drawing brine. I'm not sure what I did to get it to start working......but - still no soft water, using that Hach water test strip. It hasn't changed from around 200-250ppm (15gpg) on the test strip when using the cold water to test with.

    I've only really watched the fill and brine cycles to make sure they were working. I'm not sure if it's possible to visibly check to see if any of the other cycles are working. It stops at each position on the dial and ends up in the Service position just fine.

    Any other ideas before I replace the softener? I'd like to fix it if possible - to save some $$.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2014
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,626
    Location:
    IL
    You could make sure water is flowing out of the drain line at the appropriate times.

    You said "suck air through the brine/fill tube." You should be able to suck brine and not air. I presume that you can suck brine now since your brine level drops.

    Is this a cabinet unit?
  3. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    Yes, I did say suck air...that was with the float/brine part out of the softener. I could also suck brine (not very tasty).
    It's a model 625.348491
    Not sure what a cabinet unit is, but it has the resin tank inside the brine tank.

    Not mine, but mine is like this one:
    upload_2014-8-20_21-32-13.jpeg
  4. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,265
    Location:
    Maine
    The solution lies in taking that POS to the dump and installing something of quality. Fleck or clack.
  5. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I agree.

    Sears and the Kenmore brand has gone down hill over the years. You can get better stuff from Walmart now. No Kmarts to be found here.

    Most people get sucked in to that junk, when they give you a credit card with 20% + interest.


    Good Luck.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,897
    Location:
    Ontario California
  7. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    well, I was trying to save some immediate money by seeing if I can fix this thing first. I don't have the $$ to spend on a new softener right now.

    I did some more testing. I ran it through a fill and brine cycle, then closed the bypass and cycled the head back to service. I ran some cold water at a faucet and the water was a little salty. I expected saltier, but it definitely had a salty taste. I checked the drain hose output while it was drawing brine and that drain water was clear.
    I shined a flashlight behind the resin tank and the level was over 3/4 full, but I think the top part was water. As it came to the end of the brine cycle, the level inside the resin tank went down to a little over 1/2 way full with media - so that was not blown out.

    Running one more regen and will see if there's any improvement. If not, I guess I'll be saving for a new softener.
  8. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    You ran it thru manual Rejuvenate while it was in bypass ?
  9. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    I ran it through a fill and brine cycle, then closed the bypass and cycled the head back to service.
  10. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    Still no soft water. Giving up on this one.
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    I am no Resin Expert, But the chlorine in city water may have affected your resin, and can even throw a test off.


    Never Give up, Just pause for the cause.
  12. Bannerman

    Bannerman Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Why are you closing/opening the bypass valve while running a regeneration? Allow the unit to perform a complete regeneration with the bypass closed thereby allowing the water through the softener. Without water pressure (ie: open bypass), the unit will not regenerate. The bypass does not normally need to be touched and should be left closed in order to obtain softened water throughout your house.

    As you state you were stopping the regen cycle directly after the brine stage, the resin tank then contained brine which is why you had a strong salty taste in the water. When the softener is operating properly, the salt is fully rinsed from the resin prior to the softener going back into service.

    Since you've experienced issues and have made repairs, it is advisable to regenerate at least once while you are present to observe the process to confirm each regeneration stage is flowing properly.

    As your softener was not drawing brine for a time, the capacity of the resin would have been completely consumed. To re-establish full resin capacity, you will need to regenerate 2 times back-to-back with no water consumed in-between. Each regen will require 15 lbs of salt per cu/ft of resin. To make a brine solution containing 15 lbs of salt, 5 gals of water will need to be in the brine tank for at least 3 hours prior to each regeneration. Of course, it is assumed that the brine tank also contains more than 15 lbs of salt.

    It is totally normal for the resin tank to contain 3/4 of resin height. The upper area is to allow space for the resin to expand into during each back flush. If there wasn't room for the resin to expand, some of it would be flushed down the drain during the back-flush stage of the regeneration cycle.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    I wondered the same thing.

    Nice Post.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,133
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Well... there are bypasses and then there are bypasses. I'm not familiar with that model to know what kind of bypass it has. Some softeners don't have a complete bypass but they have an internal bypass that connects the inlet to the outlet without isolating either. When regenerating, that internal bypass lets raw water by untreated.
  15. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    I could be wrong, But.

    That unit has a TRUE bypass.

    It is on the Manifold.

    That unit will use NO water if the manifold is in bypass.

    The only reason you would hear it sucking air, is because its water is Gone. Maybe a O ring leaking.

    The OP left and gave up anyway.

    I am no expert, but I like playing with things.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  16. Bannerman

    Bannerman Member

    Messages:
    43
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    LLigetfa said:
    So, is that internal controlled manually or is it something that occurs automatically if someone flushes a toilet or opens a faucet during the night while the unit is regenerating?

    My Fleck style valve automatically allows untreated water through as needed during each regen cycle. There is no allowance to choose whether that occurs or not and there is nothing for me to reset as it is integral to the control valve .

    In any event, with regard to the OP's thread, even IF he is referring to this 'internal bypass', is there any reason for him to need to operate that or any bypass while running a regeneration cycle?
  17. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Messages:
    4,133
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    Then I don't know what the OP was doing with the bypass and what he means by closed. As was mentioned, when the unit is put into bypass mode it should be completely isolated and no water can get in or out of the resin tank.
  18. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    I liked the post where the OP said, they thought the water should taste more salty after rejuvenation. I had a old one like that.

    I hope the OP comes back.
  19. rkhanso

    rkhanso Member

    Messages:
    33
    Location:
    MN
    I think there's a misunderstanding here. I originally saw a brine draw problem. I replaced the venturi diaphragm and then put in a rotor disc seal kit. I was trying to fix the brine drawing problem, expecting that would give me soft water after a regen or two.

    After I saw the brine level drop, I was still not getting soft water. I wondered if the brine was going down the drain instead of the resin tank. I ran a fill and brine cycle WITH THE BYPASS VALVE IN THE SERVICE POSITION - because obviously nothing would happen otherwise. I'm an network guy and even I know that. After the brine was drawn, I THEN PUSHED THE BYPASS VALVE so no water would flow - while I pressed the button to get the softener back to service mode. I wanted to see if the brine was actually in the resin tank. Maybe that's not the 'professional' way to check - but it's what I thought of at the time.

    I'm old enough to know that the water never tastes salty after a softener regeration - or at least, it shouldn't. I wanted to see if it was salty during the brine cycle to see if the softener is doing what it should (again, I'm not a water softener guy).

    I've done a complete regeneration at least 5 times and still don't have soft water. The last thing I can think of is to take the bypass valve apart and see if the center o-rings are gone or hosed up - thinking that maybe when in service position that no water is even going through the softener....but then, I suppose it would probably not even regenerate properly.

    So - I'm not sure what to do except replace it.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2014
  20. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,435
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    So you looked in the resin tank, And seen water in it ?
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