Kenmore Elite Hybrid Water Softener 38520


Old 02-06-16, 05:32 PM
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Kenmore Elite Hybrid Water Softener 38520

I had this water softener for little over 2 years which worked well till 3 months ago. I use NaCl, water hardness setting set to 14 which is for my area per tests done (I am on city water). 3 months ago, I noticed softened water tasting salty and it continued for days and for week. So I decided to see what could be going on, here are my observations
- Salt level in tank is low, no standing water in salt tank except 2 inches which is usual per kenmore
- No salt bridge in salt tank
- Cleaned Venturi per info at
- Checked venturi and nozzle and they look good, diagnosed per instructions at
- Increased backwash time from default and added additional clean cycle on regeneration
I did force regenerate that night, noticed that it did regenerated next morning as salt level in tank was lower than day before, and area where drain pipe is left is wet
The problem of salty softened water continued, through next week.
Then, I thought for some reason softener is taking brine while softening water (which it should not) and removed nozzle + float assembly from talk salt (where it usually was) and left it in a empty bucket (5 gal) in same position as it used to be. Still softened water continued to be salty for all of next week. I put nozzle + float assembly back into salt tank where it was supposed to be and did a force regenerate during day time to watch regen process, softener went through fill (fills salt tank with water), brine (cleaning/regenerating resin) with slow flow of water out of drain pipe, backwash with fast flow of water out of drain pipe, clean with fast flow of water out of drain pipe. And I hear motor rotating the valve to corresponding positions through this process. So, I understood that regen process is happening as expected. But still softened water continued to be salty for weeks, and even now. 2 weeks back, I bought "Kenmore 34427 24 oz. Water Softener Cleaner", added half of it to salt tank, did force regen that night. A week back, I disassembled ultraflow valve and don't see any thing physically broken inside it.
Here are few things I am thinking
- Is it possible that the softener tank where resin lies and softens water has some minor crack and is slowly taking brine from salt tank? I think this is highly unlikely because any minor crack to softener tank will leak water into salt tank as water is under pressure while flowing through it. Also, I don't see any more water getting into salt tank if there was a crack to softener tank
- Is it possible that resin became bad (or damaged) that it is absorbing salt during regen and is not getting clean during backwash & clean cycles? And resin discharging salt during softening water?
I think above are highly unlikely based on my observations
After all of these, I could not find what could be causing salty softened water from almost 3 months.
Another thing to add is that if I use softener bypass and get city water directly into home without softening, water is not salty (as expected), but water is hard from the feel with soap lather. Want to rule out anything wrong in plumbing causing salty water
And, softened salt water is not hard and is soft which I can feel from soap lather, which is not the case when I set softener to bypass and use city water directly. Mean to say that softener is producing soft water (but salty soft water)
After trying these things couple of times for almost last 3 months, I am almost out of ideas of what could be causing the salty softened water out of softener. Thinking that it is time to replace it, but I read on internet and was told by kenmorewater service line that water softeners typically last 10+ years, and my softener is producing soft water but "salty" soft water, salty'ness is more than inconvenient and unbearable, for e.g., when I clean my mouth with this water, I can feel my tongue is salty (by which I mean to say that it is too salty)

While going through all of this, I educated myself a lot on what causes hardness to water, procedures of removing hardness (salt based vs non-salt based), and got a good understanding of how salt-based softeners work. But ran out of ideas to diagnose the problem here.

Any thoughts from experts out there on what could be causing salty'ness? Any ideas / inputs on what else I can try to diagnose the problem?
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Old 02-06-16, 05:45 PM
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Whole house is fed with softened water out of softener.
Also, I have 4-stage RO water filter under kitchen sink for drinking water, and is fed with softened (salty) water, and RO filtered water is even salty. Educating myself on RO filters, I understood that RO should filter most of stuff in water by which I was thinking it should filter salty softened water into non-salty water but is not the case. I am yet to educate if NACL salt particles are smaller than the pores in RO membrane to pass through, but first I want to fix softener which is the problem.
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