Here are our Kenmore Water Softener reviews. In this article, we’ll review the Kenmore 300 Series Water Softener (model #38300) and the Kenmore 350 Series Water Softener (model #38350). They’re both pretty popular models that used to be found at Sears and KMart back in the days before they declared bankruptcy. They’re recovering, but now they’re down to about 200 stores or so.
Regardless, Kenmore is one of the biggest names in the appliance and water softening industry, so their systems are still incredibly popular. Both the 300 and 350 series are part of their “high-efficiency” models.
Wondering which one to buy? Wondering if they’re worth buying at all? What are other buyers saying about Kenmore water softeners? Are they generally satisfied or unsatisfied?
In this article, we’ll answer all of your questions and more.
The Kenmore Brand: Affiliation with Sears (Is Warranty Legit?)
Kenmore is an appliance brand that was sold to Transform Holdco a few years ago; it was formerly owned by Sears. Kenmore’s first product was a sewing machine in 1913, and it has since grown into one of the biggest and most recognizable appliance brands in the United States.
Today, Kenmore has roughly 50 appliances listed as top performers on Consumer Reports.
Sears declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy back in 2018, so how will your Kenmore warranty hold up? Is Kenmore even worth buying anymore if the products (and therefore parts) are in short -- and dwindling -- supply?
Luckily, Kenmore water softeners are still sold on Amazon and Sears still upholds warranties on products purchased at their remaining stores. The future of the brand isn’t 100% certain, but that doesn’t necessarily take away from the products themselves.
Kenmore 300 Series Water Softener, High Efficiency Model #38300
The Kenmore 300 Series Water Softener is a salt-based ion-exchange water softener. It has a 24,000 grain capacity and, according to their website, is built for families up to 4 people and hardness up to 35 grains per gallon.
It’s built using their Intellisoft2 technology that apparently uses 20% less salt and 32% less water. It holds up to 200lbs of salt, which means you won’t have to think about refilling the mineral tank very often.
What’s good about the Kenmore 300 Series Water Softener?
Well, first off, Kenmore water softeners are DIY friendly, which means you don’t need to pay for an expensive installation from a specialized representative, or even a local plumber. That means the price -- which is about $500-$600 -- is very accessible.
In addition to being incredibly affordable, the Kenmore 300 Series is an effective water softener that stands up to its claims. It uses a metered regeneration system so that it only regenerates when you need it.
It’s not often that you’ll find a water softener built for up to 4 people with such a great price point.
Cons: Salt Problems
Salt bridging is one of the most common problems associated with Kenmore water softeners.
If you look at pictures of either the Kenmore 300 Series or Kenmore 350 Series, you can see that they both look a little different than a lot of water softeners: they have a single tank.
This makes them more prone to salt bridging.
According toone reviewer on Amazon, this has a pretty simple fix that might void the warranty:
“The close proximity of salt in any single free-standing unit causes the corrosion of the controller that you read about. Some consumers spray the inside surfaces of the top controlling assembly and internal metal and plastic parts with clear acrylic protectant. To maintain a valid warranty, I think it would be better to fit a clear, heavy gauge, flexible plastic liner between the salt storage and the top assembly that houses the controller.”
So, if you buy the Kenmore system, keep in mind that it’s easy to install, but it’s also prone to salt bridging. There’s a give and take for everything.
Kenmore 350 Series Water Softener, High Efficiency Model #38350
The Kenmore 350 Series Water Softener is extremely similar to the Kenmore 300 Series.
What’s the difference and why might you buy the 300 Series over the 350? Or vice versa?
As we said, the 350 Series largely has the same pros as the 300:
Easy, DIY installation.
Accessible price point.
Effective water softening.
A metered regeneration cycle that only runs when you need it.
The 350 Series has one advantage over the 300 (although you could also consider it to be a disadvantage): it’s a 31,000 grain capacity system.
That means it’s built for households with anywhere from 4-6 people, maybe even more.
Unfortunately, the same salt bridging problems stand with the 350 series.
Since the unit is all combined into one tank, you’re more likely to run into salt problems. If you don’t find salt bridges soon and get them taken care of, you might end up replacing the system.
Which brings us to the final question:
Conclusion: Are Kenmore Water Softeners Worth It?
Knowing that you might end up having to replace Kenmore water softeners with either additional parts or new units because of the salt bridge issues, are you willing to bet that Kenmore will still be around in the next few years after being reorganized?
It’s a risk you might be willing to take, and if you do, you’ll be buying a reasonably priced, effective unit.
However, maybe it’s best to check out the competition, as well.
With that said, we here at FilterSmart offer template assisted crystallization systems for around the same price as the Kenmore models. That means no salt, no maintenance, no discharge, and no electricity -- all for the same price (and sometimes less, depending on when the product goes on sale). Checkit out here.