Kenmore Water Softener - Ultimate Guide - Troubleshooting, Servicing & Maintenance

We've put together a Kenmore Water Softener Ultimate Guide to help you troubleshoot any problems you might be having with your softener.

At WaterSmart, have over 25 years experience in the water softener industry, and we would love to share our knowledge with you.

This guide will give you solutions to some of the most common problems you might encounter, as well as maintenance and service tips. So, let's get started!

Image Source:  Sears Parts Direct

Image Source: Sears Parts Direct

Find help with DIY repairs on your Kenmore water softener or contact WaterSmart for expert help!


Chapter 1: How to Fix Salty Water Problem

There are a number of reasons why your water may start to taste salty. These include:

  • Water Softener Tank Is Flooded

  • Your Entry Valve Is Damaged

  • Your Float Levels May Be Too High


Water Softener Tank Is Flooded:

If your water starts to taste salty and there is brine coming through your lines and plugging up your faucets, your water softener tank may be flooded and not draining properly. This could be happening if your safety float is sticking.


Step 1: Remove the lid of your water softener

Step 2: Remove the lid off of your salt level indicator tube; your safety float is located inside of this cylinder.

Step 3: Pull out your safety float mechanism that is inside of the cylinder.


Step 4: Take your safety float apart with a small screwdriver.

Step 5: Run the pieces of your safety float under some hot water for a few minutes to remove any clogs or debris. While it is being run under the water, gently move the float up and down to make sure that it is moving freely.

Step 6: Check to see if the small ball in the bottom of the float is able to move freely as well.

Note: Only attempt to remove and clean your safety float when your water softener is not in a regeneration mode.

The following video will show you in greater detail how to do these steps.


Your Entry Valve Is Damaged:

You may also be getting salty water if your entry valve is damaged, clogged or broken. The entry valve, which is usually located at the back of your unit, controls the water coming into your softener.


If your entry valve is broken or damaged, you will need to contact a professional to replace it.


Your Float Levels May Be Too High:

Another reason why you may be getting salty water is that your float levels may be too high. If this happens, then too much water will be filling up your brine tank.


Check your float levels and see if they are set too high. If they are, adjust them to a lower level.


Chapter 2: How to Fix Water Leaking from Your Water Softener

There are several reasons why water may be leaking from your water softener. These include:

  • You have a loose water line connection

  • You have a cracked water-carrying component

  • You have a worn rotor valve seal



Before your begin, turn off the water supply to your water softener. It will often look like an outdoor faucet. Turn it completely to the right to shut off the flow of water.


Turn off your water supply at the back of your softener before you begin


Loose water line connection:

The water line connects your water softener to your water source. If the line has become loose, you may get water dripping from it. Tighten the connection with a wrench to see if that fixes your problem.


Cracked water-carrying component:

If you notice any cracks in any of the components that carry water to and from your softener such as the bypass valve, then that part will need to be replaced. You should contact a professional to do this for you.


Worn rotor valve seal:

Rotor Valve: Source -  Sears Parts Direct

Rotor Valve: Source - Sears Parts Direct

The rotor valve directs water through your water softener. The rotor valve seal is located on the bottom of the rotor valve.

It stops water from leaking out of the valve and lets the water flow through the opening at the bottom of your rotor valve.

The seal may wear out over time and it will start to leak. If this happens, then it will need to be replaced.

Your rotor valve itself may eventually become defective and begin to leak water. It too may need to be replaced. Contact a professional to do this for you.


Chapter 3: How to Clear Error Codes

Usually it is quite simple to clear the error codes from your Kenmore water softener.

Step 1: Look up the displayed error code in your owner's manual to find the trouble shooting steps. If you no longer have your owner's manual, you can download one online.

Step 2: Unplug your water softener

Step 3: Follow the steps outlined in your owner's manual for the particular error code.

Step 4: Plug your water softener back in.

Step 5: Wait 6 minutes after you have restored power. If the error code returns, the problem wasn't resolved.

If you can't clear an error code by following the steps in your owner's manual, contact a local professional to help fix your unit.


If you have lost your owner’s manual, you can download one online - Source: Sears Parts Direct


Chapter 4: How to Clear Kenmore Error Code #1

Error code #1, meaning a valve motor failure, is one of the more common codes you will have displayed. If your Kenmore water softener display is showing Error Code #1, you can try the following:

Step 1: Unplug your softener and then plug it back in.

Step 2: Your softener will go through a test mode; it usually takes about 8 minutes to go through this. This may solve your problem.

Step 3: If you still have Error 1 after the test mode is complete, remove the top of your water softener and clean the valves, screens, and drains.

Step 4: Unplug and plug your softener back in to run the test mode again. If cleaning your softener has worked, then the Error Code #1 will be gone.

Step 5: If the error code is still there, then check the switch inside to see if it is working. Disconnect the switch and test it with a digital multi meter to see if it is operating. If it isn't, then the switch will need to be replaced.

Step 6: If you are still getting an error code, contact a professional who services Kenmore water softeners to repair it for you.

The following video will take you through these steps in greater detail.


If you are getting Error Code #1, first try unplugging and plugging in your softener


Chapter 5: What to Do if Your Kenmore Water Softener Has No Display

There are three main reasons why you may not have any display showing up on your Kenmore Water Softener. These include:

  • No power

  • A failed power transformer

  • A faulty timer



No Power:

Step 1: Check that your water softener is fully plugged into the outlet and that it hasn't come loose.

Step 2: If you still don't have a display, unplug your water softener and plug in another small appliance into the same outlet to see if it works.

If the lamp doesn't light up, then your issue is with the outlet itself and not your water softener. Check to see if a breaker needs to be flipped back on. If this doesn't work, you may need to contact an electrician.

Step 3: If your outlet is working, then there must be something else wrong with the softener.


A Failed Power Transformer:

Step 1: Unplug your transformer from the electrical outlet.

Step 2: Check the wiring connections from the transformer to the timer.

Step 3: Reconnect any wires that may have come loose.

Step 4: If your wiring connections are all okay, then check all of the wires for any damage. If your wires are damaged, replace the transformer.


If your timer is faulty, it will need to be replaced - Source: Sears Parts Direct


A Faulty Timer:

If your power and transformer are both okay, then your timer may be faulty.

The timer is an electronic control board that allows you to program your water softener and lights up the display.

It also controls the water softening and resin filter flushing processes. If it isn't working, it will need to be replaced.

Step 1: Put on work gloves and unplug your water softener from its power source.

Step 2: Open the lid and release the two front clips on the cover. Lift the front of the cover up and back to release the rear tabs and fully remove the cover.

Step 3: Release the locking tabs on the sides of the control panel and pull the control panel off.

Step 4: Pull the light for the salt storage tank up and out of the tank.

Step 5: Disconnect and remove the timer and pull it out of the control panel.

Step 6: Install a new timer and connect it to the control panel.

Step 7: Replace the cover and plug your water softener back in.

Step 8: Program your new timer by following the instructions in your owner's manual.

The following video will step you through the process of replacing a Kenmore Water Softener timer.


If your display isn’t lighting up, your timer may need to
be replaced


Chapter 6: Proper Maintenance - How to Clean Your Kenmore Water Softener

Your water softener will need to be cleaned from time to time to keep it running properly and well maintained.

You can take the following steps to clean your softener yourself:

Step 1: Unplug your water softener.

Step 2: Push in your bypass valve to re-direct the water so that it doesn't go into your softener.

Step 3: Remove the lid of your softener.

Step 4: Remove the nozzle and take it apart to clean all of the pieces in warm, soapy water. You can remove and replace the 2 flow plugs with a toothpick to clean them as well.

Step 5: Put all of the pieces of your nozzle back together again, replace the lid and plug in your softener.

Tip: as you are taking the components apart, lay them out in the order that you took them out so that you can easily remember the order to put them back together.

Tip: The flow plugs only go in one way; make sure you place them back in with the letter side facing up.

The following video will show in detail how to do the above steps.


Your water softener will need to be cleaned from time to time


Chapter 7: Servicing Your Kenmore Water Softener

Like most home appliances, your water softener may need servicing or repairs at some point.

There are a number of issues other than the ones listed above that can occur with your Kenmore water softener over time including:

  • Salt bridges and blockages

  • Seal kit needing replacing

  • Faulty power supply

  • Motor issues

  • Resin problems and leaks

Unfortunately, your Kenmore water softener can no longer be serviced or returned in stores as Sears has closed down.

Don't worry, however, you can still contact a local professional who is capable of working with Kenmore water softeners.

If you live in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, contact WaterSmart. WaterSmart has been servicing Kenmore water softeners for more than 25 years.

If you are having a problem with your softener, contact us and we can take a look at it and do any necessary repairs at a reasonable rate.


WaterSmart: For Kenmore Water Softener Repairs and Service

If you own a Kenmore water softener, you can trust WaterSmart for all of your repairs and maintenance.

WaterSmart has been servicing all brands of water softeners for more than 25 years. We are your local water softener and plumbing experts in the Kitchener-Waterloo region.

We're proudly celebrating 25 year of professional service and we would love to put our knowledge and expertise to work for you. If you are looking for a new water softener, or you require servicing for your existing unit, contact us today!


WaterSmart also offers a full range of plumbing services that include, but are not limited, to:

  • Kitchens and Bathrooms

  • Leaks

  • Toilets and Taps

  • Clogged or Slow Drains

  • Countertop Pre and Post Installation

  • Dishwasher Installations

  • Sump Pumps

  • Tankless Hot Water Heaters

  • New Plumbing and Renovations

  • Master Plumber and Gas Fitter

  • Backflow Testing or Device Installation


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