Kenmore 38420 Water Softener Not Softening...


Old 03-25-20, 01:47 PM
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Kenmore 38420 Water Softener Not Softening...

With everything going on in the world, it seems like my wife has fixated on all the things around the house that aren't working...and our water softener has become her main focus. I'm desperate to get this fixed. The last time I had a problem the guy that came out told me I need a new softener and I listened. Now I've had this new one for about a year and it stopped working.

This is the model / manual:

The Problem
My water is very hard - about 700ppm / 40 grains.

Some obvious things...
  • I'm measuring at the kitchen sink, using cold water.
  • Using my test device, bottled water reads 0-3 ppm or so and seem accurate. Our original water test when we bought the house was 38 grains, so again, I think the water is hard.
  • The softener by-pass value is not enabled.
  • There is no other shut-off/by-pass in the system.
  • The softener accurately shows the flow rate - when I turn on the sink, the softener knows.
  • There is salt in the tank / no salt bridge (I shoveled out a lot of salt so I can see it clearly now)
  • It's scheduled to recharge at 2am and has been running / I can do a manual recharge (takes about two hours)...but no soft water.
  • The hardness setting on the device is set correctly.
Everything seems to work, from what I can tell....I just don't get any soft water. During the recharge cycle it makes all the same noises and I can see water filling the brine tank and water rushing out the drain pipe. I took out the 'float' part and I verified that it was, in fact, floating and not not blocked. I was able to blow air through all of it too.

I took apart the nozzle and venturi and cleaned it all out. Honestly, it was pretty clean, and I put it back exactly as described - numbers up on the plastic pieces and all that jazz, then I re-ran a regeneration cycle...but still no soft water.

The timer seems to work, it does start making noise at 2am and I think the rotor motor is working correctly - I'm not 100% sure, but the stuff I found online says that the machine will display an error code if it doesn't.

Can anyone help me? Let me know if I can provide more information, if it helps I'll take pictures or film a video or whatever.

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Old 03-27-20, 11:47 PM
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As an update - I've completely disconnected the tank and have taken apart everything except that motor/valve assembly but that all seems to be working. Couldn't find anything blocked up - but I did see this redish-sandy stuff all over the inside:

It seems to be all over everything - and I don't quite know what it is.

I also wasn't able to get to the resin stuff, I saw some videos on it but they were all slightly different models. I thought I could pull out this whole center piece here:

I siphoned out some of the water from the center and it is just as hard as the water at my tap...but I still don't understand why. The thing is only a year old so the resin can't be bad yet, can it? And it probably hasn't been working right for a few months.

Any help would really be appreciated.
Old 03-28-20, 03:34 AM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: upstate NY
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Resin life depends on a lot of factors, but I would think it would last more than a year. 2-10 is the average. This page has a lot of good info on it. Resin info

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