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Kenmore Water Softener Review


The Kenmore 41,000 grain water softener, an entry-level model, promises affordability and efficiency, setting the stage for an exploration of the brand and its offerings. With its starting price and ample grain capacity, it caters to medium-sized households while boasting NSF certification. But, how does it measure up in practice?

Brand Overview

Kenmore’s roots trace back to the 1920s with the advent of the “Wringer Washing” machine at Sears. Despite initial overlook, the brand found its footing and presently graces a third of American households. Its water softeners, characterized by compact design, DIY-friendly installation, and easy maintenance, continue this legacy.

Top 3 Models Review

A close inspection of Kenmore’s prominent water softener models offers insights into their features, performance, and customer reception.

1. Kenmore 38420 - 41,000 Grain Ultra High-Efficiency Water Softener

Key Features and Benefits:

IntelliSoft2 Technology:

This technology allows the system to optimize the usage of salt and water by up to 37% and 35%, respectively. It calculates the exact amount of resources needed for each regeneration cycle, reducing wastage and operating costs.

Ultra Cleansing Feature:

It ensures that the resin bed is always free from sediment build-up, which can affect the efficiency of ion-exchange processes. This maintains the softener's performance and extends its lifespan.

Ultra-Flow Valve:

Enhances the water flow by 41%, ensuring that you always have a sufficient supply of softened water even during peak usage times.

Smart Water Monitoring System:

Tracks daily water usage patterns and adjusts the system's operation accordingly. This ensures efficient softening without unnecessary regenerations.

LED Salt Tank Light:

An intuitive feature that indicates when the salt level is low, preventing the hassle of frequent checks and ensuring the system is always ready to perform.

2. Kenmore 300 Series Water Softener – High Efficiency Model 38300

Key Features and Benefits:


Though similar to the 38420 model, in this case, it is calibrated to optimize performance for smaller households, resulting in up to 20% less water and 32% less salt usage.

Standard High-Flow Valve:

Guarantees a steady and consistent flow of softened water, catering to the specific needs of a smaller household.

LED Salt Tank Light and Large LCD Screen:

They work in tandem to ensure easy operation, timely salt replenishment, and visibility in various lighting conditions.

Certification by NSF:

A testament to its quality and safety in softening water, reducing scale build-up, and optimizing soap usage.

3. Kenmore Water Softener 38350 – 31,000 Grain Elite Hybrid Series

Key Features and Benefits:

Easy Installation:

One of the key selling points; it's a plug-and-play unit. Fill it with salt, and it's ready to go, no complex setups or professional installation required.

Maintenance-Free Operation:

This model doesn’t require a filter change, thanks to its advanced design, reducing ongoing maintenance efforts and costs.

Chlorine Reduction:

Beyond softening, it improves the taste and smell of the water by reducing chlorine levels, an added advantage for those sensitive to chlorine in their water.

Ultra-Flow Valve:

Though it’s a common feature in Kenmore models, in the 38350 model, it’s optimized to ensure that even with its compact design and easy operation, there’s no compromise on the flow rate of softened water.

Kenmore Ultra High Efficiency Model 3842 Kenmore 300 Series High Efficiency Model 38300 Kenmore Elite Smart Hybrid Water Softener 38520
TheKenmoreUltraHighEfficiencyModel jpgKenmore 300 Series High EfficiencyModel jpgKenmoreEliteHybridSeries Model jpg
- Low salt indicator.
- LCD screen.
- Ultra flow valve.
- On demand generation.
- IntelliSoft2, which reduces water and salt consumption.
- Low salt indicator.
- LCD screen.
- High flow valve.
- On demand generation.
- IntelliSoft2, which reduces water and salt consumption.
- Low salt indicator.
- LCD screen.
- No filter required.
- Includes carbon that removes odor in water and any chlorine taste.
Medium to hard hardness.Medium to hard hardness.Medium to hard hardness.
NSF CertifiedNSF CertifiedNSF Certified
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2 Kenmore Water Softener Problems & How to Solve Them

Problem 1: Salt Issues

Kenmore water softeners are particularly prone to problems related to salt due to their design where the salt and resin tanks are housed in a single container. The structure can lead to “salt bridging” where salt builds up, preventing the system from properly softening the water and potentially damaging the machine over time.


Regular maintenance is essential. Owners should routinely inspect the salt tank, identifying and removing any salt buildup. Breaking down solidified salt regularly and ensuring the tank is clean can prevent larger issues and maintain the system’s efficiency. Utilizing pure or high-quality salt can also mitigate this issue.

Problem 2: Salt Bridging

The moisture absorption from both tanks can lead to salt solidifying, leading to an interruption in the ion exchange process essential for water softening. This can affect water quality and the efficiency of the machine.


A preventative approach is advised, checking the softening tank regularly for any signs of salt formations and removing them promptly. Keeping the salt level appropriate, not overfilling, and using the right type of salt can also mitigate this problem. In cases where salt bridging occurs, gently breaking the salt bridge, usually visible above the water line, can restore the system’s functionality.

Kenmore vs. GE Water Softening Systems

Both Kenmore and GE are renowned brands, sharing numerous similarities in design, performance, and pricing. Their close comparison is rooted in their parallel offerings, each boasting efficiency, reliability, and customer satisfaction. The choice between the two often boils down to brand preference, specific features, or customer service experience.

Kenmore Water Softener Repair

Kenmore’s user-friendly design is a boon for DIY enthusiasts capable of handling minor repairs and maintenance. Online resources, including videos and manuals, can be invaluable for troubleshooting and resolving issues. For more complex problems or users less inclined towards DIY, Sears offers professional repair services, ensuring your system is handled by experts familiar with the brand.

Getting Kenmore Water Softener Parts

Procuring replacement parts is straightforward with Kenmore, offering direct purchases from their website, ensuring you receive genuine, high-quality components tailored to your specific model. Local Sears stores also stock these parts for immediate needs.

Kenmore Water Softener Manual

Lost manuals are not a problem; Kenmore’s website provides downloadable PDF versions once you input your model number. This accessibility ensures you always have access to essential operational and maintenance information specific to your model.

Is Kenmore Water Softener Worth It?

Kenmore’s stellar customer service underscores their product offerings, elevating them in a market where after-sales support is often lacking. The brand’s consistent positive feedback and average 4.5-star ratings highlight customer satisfaction, rooted not just in the product’s efficiency but also in the responsive and helpful customer service. Their systems, backed by a supportive brand, are a reliable and cost-effective solution for hard water issues.

Where to Buy Kenmore Water Softener

Purchasing options are varied, including direct purchases from Kenmore’s website, local Sears or Kmart stores, and online platforms like Amazon. This accessibility ensures customers can easily acquire, install, and maintain their systems with minimal hassle.

Aquasana Rhino: Kenmore Water Softener Alternative


The requirement for ongoing maintenance and the continual cost of purchasing salt are two of the chief grievances associated with Kenmore water softeners. Furthermore, while these softeners are efficient in softening water, they don’t offer filtration for contaminants, necessitating an additional filtration system to make the water potable. This is where the Aquasana Rhino steps in as a robust alternative, providing both water softening and filtration in a comprehensive package, eliminating the need for salt.

Features & Benefits

Here’s a detailed look at what makes Aquasana Rhino a preferable option:

1. Salt-Free Water Conditioning:

The Rhino stands out with its salt-free water conditioning. It’s adept at treating water hardness up to 25 ppm, making it a sustainable and maintenance-free alternative to traditional salt-based softeners.

2. Comprehensive Filtration:

Unlike Kenmore, the Aquasana Rhino incorporates a powerful filter capable of eliminating a range of contaminants including bacteria, viruses, chlorine, VOCs, and pesticides. It ensures that the softened water is also clean and safe for consumption.

3. Cost-Effective:

Although Kenmore softeners are reasonably priced, the added expenses of maintenance and the need for a separate filtration system can add up. The Rhino, offering both conditioning and filtration, proves to be a cost-effective solution in the long run.

4. Capacity:

Designed to cater to the needs of an average home with 1-3 bathrooms, the Rhino ensures a consistent supply of treated water, balancing both quality and quantity.

5. Self-Maintenance:

The “set it and forget it” nature of the Rhino underscores its ease of use. With minimal maintenance requirements, it’s a hassle-free alternative to Kenmore systems that demand regular salt replenishment and maintenance.

6. Ease of Installation:

The professional installation kit offered with the Rhino ensures that setting up the system is straightforward and hassle-free, eliminating complex installation processes associated with having separate softeners and filters.

In a Nutshell

For those seeking to escape the perpetual cycle of maintenance and salt replenishment associated with traditional water softeners, and yet yearn for an all-encompassing solution that caters to both softening and filtration, the Aquasana Rhino emerges as a compelling alternative. It amalgamates efficiency, convenience, and cost-effectiveness, promising not just softened but also purified water, marking a significant upgrade from conventional softening systems like Kenmore.

Aquasana SimplySoft Water Conditioner and 10-Year, 1,000,000 Gallon Whole House FilterAquasana SimplySoft Conditioner and OptimH20 Whole House Filter
Rhino ® with Salt-Free Water Conditioner, UV Filter and Pro-Grade Bypass KitScreenshot 2023 11 24 at 11.58.10 AM
Softens and filtersSimplySoft is a salt free"softener" only.
But you can choose OptimH2O + Salt Free Softener
- 97% chlorine.
- Cysts.
- UV upgrade removes 99% bacteria, e.coli, giardia and cryptosporidium
- Over 90% chlorine and chloramines.
- 99% of lead and cysts.
- 99% of lead.
- 98% of PFOA/PFOS
- 10 year warranty.
- 90 day guarantee.
- 6 year warranty.
- 90 day guarantee.
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