June 1, 2015

How to check water hardness and water softener tips video

By Sears PartsDirect staff
How to check water hardness and water softener tips.

This video from Sears PartsDirect shows how to check whether your tap water is hard or soft. If your water seems too hard even though you have a water softener installed, you can try this simple test to see if your water softener has a problem. We’ll also walk you through a few troubleshooting tips to get your water softener working correctly.

For additional water softener repair help, check out our DIY water softener repair section for repair guides, articles, videos, answers to the most frequently asked questions and troubleshooting tips.

Supplies you'll need

  • 2 clear plastic containers with lids

  • Measuring cup

  • Felt-tip marker

  • Liquid dishwashing soap

  • Water softener salt (if necessary)

Conduct a water hardness test

Hi, this is Wayne with Sears PartsDirect with a tip on how to check your water softener. Maybe you've noticed that the dishes aren't coming out as clean as they used to. Well, before you condemn that dishwasher, let's run a little test.

Take two containers with lids. Pour two cups of water into each container, and draw a line at the water level. Be sure to label which is which. Now, pour that water out and let's get started.

Fill one container up to the mark with cold, softened water from your kitchen sink tap. Now, let's go outside for some hard water. Fill your second container to the mark with water from the hose or any other outside faucet that doesn't supply soft water.

Add a couple of drops of liquid dishwashing soap to each container. Put the lids on the containers, tight. Now shake these babies up real good. Now, take a look at your containers.

The soft water container should have more suds than the hard water container. Somewhere around an inch or so is normal for soft water.

Troubleshooting for no soft water

If you’re not seeing any suds in your soft water sample, here are a few simple things to check.

First, make sure that your water softener is plugged in and powered up. This may seem pretty obvious, but if you’re like me, you’ve tripped a circuit breaker a time or two….or three…or four.

Second, make sure your water softener has a good supply of salt. Salt doesn’t last forever.

And third, make sure the bypass valve is not set to bypass the water softener.

If none of those simple fixes work for you, the most common problem is a plugged venturi. You can clean the venturi, do a manual recharge and recheck your water hardness. This video will show you how to access that part and replace it if necessary.

How to determine exact water hardness

Now, if you need to know the exact grains of hardness in your water, you can take a sample into most local Sears stores and they will test it for you right there.

Check out our other videos and be sure and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

Symptoms for water softeners

Choose a symptom to see related water softener repairs.

Main causes: broken resin tank screen, bad resin tank seals, cracked upper distributor in resin tank
Main causes: faulty brine valve assembly, bad rotor valve
Main causes: clogged drain hose, faulty rotor valve, leaky rotor valve seals
Main causes: lack of electrical power, bad power transformer, faulty timer
Main causes: loose water line connections, cracked water-carrying components, bad rotor valve seals
Main causes: empty salt tank, salt bridge, depleted resin, clogged or damaged venturi, broken rotor position switch, failed timer
Main causes: salt bridge inside the salt tank, bad timer, valve motor failure, faulty rotor valve, clogged venturi
Main causes: broken water flow meter, faulty timer, water flow to softener is bypassed
Repair guides for water softeners

These step-by-step repair guides will help you safely fix what’s broken on your water softener.

How to replace a water softener rotor position switch

The rotor position switch detects the position of the valve rotor. If the rotor position switch fails, follow these steps to replace it in about half an hour.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener venturi

The venturi draws brine water from the salt tank to the resin tank for regeneration. Follow these steps to replace a damaged venturi.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less
January 1, 2015
By Lyle Weischwill
How to replace a water softener valve motor

The valve motor rotates the valve rotor to operate the water softener. If the valve motor fails, follow these steps to replace the valve motor.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 30 minutes or less
Articles and videos for water softeners

Use the advice and tips in these articles and videos to get the most out of your water softener.

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How to read a wiring schematic video
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Learn how to decipher symbols so you can buy the right part for your problem.

January 20, 2015
Water softener common questions
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about water softener repairs.

January 20, 2015
How a water softener works
By Sears PartsDirect staff

Learn how a water softener works to provide your home with soft water.