Image of women in shower Congratulations, you have finally installed your new Whirlpool Water Softener and now you need to program it.  It would only stand to reason that you will want to program your new water softener to operate efficiently and more economically. It's very important that you program your new Whirlpool Water Softener correctly, if you don't program your new softener correctly, you will either use too much salt and this in turn will give your water a very slippery feeling that some people don't really like and it will cost much more to operate. If you don't use enough salt your softener won't operate properly and you won't get the soft water you expected when you purchase a softener. Please  take a few minutes to study your owner's manual and truly understand how to correctly program you water softener or you can follow the 10 easy steps that I have outlined below.

How to Program a Whirlpool Water Softener

Step 1

It's important to get familiar with your water softener's console.  Let's take  a minute to get you familiar with the display and the programming features of your new Whirlpool water softener.

Standard Whirlpool Water Softener Console

Whirlpool Water Softener Video


When your Whirlpool water softener has been plugged into the electrical outlet, the “Status Light” on the control panel (shown above) will indicate the following:
If the light is flashing slowly, along with the salt level indicators in the display 
The salt monitor system indicates the salt level is low and needs to be set.  See “Set Salt Level" for more information on how to set the salt level.
If the “Light flashing slowly”, along with the words “SCHEDULED CLEAN” in the display
It has been four months since the initial start up of the unit or since your system timer was last reset. You are being reminded that it’s time to clean your water softener with “Whirlpool WHE-WSC Water Softener Cleanser”. According to the manufacturer, your water softener, should be cleaned every four months.

You can reset the timer, by pressing any button on the control panel, the flashing words will also disappear. The status light will also stop flashing, unless the system, is low on salt.

Light is flashing rapidly, and the “CURRENT TIME” is shown in the display and the clock also flashes slowly
This means that the time needs to be reset, either during initial start up or after a long power outage. See “Setting the Time of Day”, in the following paragraph.
Light flashing rapidly, with “Err” shown in the display
The electronic self-diagnostics have detected a problem. See “Troubleshooting” on page 18 of the “Whirlpool, Installation and Operations Manual
Light on steady (not flashing)
The system has power applied and does not require any attention at this time.

When the power supply is plugged into the electrical outlet, the model code (“LE31” for Model WHES30 or “LE33” for Model WHES33) and a test number (example: J3.0), are briefly shown in the display. Then the words “CURRENT TIME” appear and 12:00 PM begins to flash.


If the words “CURRENT TIME" do not show in the display, press the PROGRAM button until they appear.

Programing a Whirlpool Water Softener
Control Panel

 Press the UP arrow or DOWN arrow  buttons located to the right of the  display to set the present time. Up moves the display ahead; down sets the time back. Be sure AM or PM is correct.

How to program a whirlpool water softener
          Control Panel Up and Down Arrows
Note:  By pressing the buttons and releasing them quickly you can advance the display one digit at the time.  When you hold the button down the display will advance rapidly.  


  1. Press the PROGRAM button once, or until the display shows "HARDNESS" and a flashing number "25"
How to program a whirlpool water softener
Displaying the water hardness

Note: You will have to determine the "HARNESS" of the water in your area, in order to correctly program the "Hardness" into your water softener.

Water Hardness Map of the USA

Water Hardness Map of USA

Map of water Hardness Canada

Water Hardness Map of Canada

      2.  Now, press the Δ UP and  ∇  DOWN arrow buttons to set your local water's harness number.

How to program a whirlpool water softener
Control Panel Up and Down Arrows


If your water contains iron, you can help reduce it, by adding to the water harness number, on your water softener, when programming it.

For Example:  Let's assume that your water contains 20 gpg (grams per gallon); of  harness, and it also contains 2 ppm (parts per million) of iron per gallon as well.  You should add 5 to the hardness number for each 1 ppm of iron in your water.

Therefore, in this example, the 20 gpg of hardness combined with the 2 ppm of iron, you would multiply the 2 ppm (iron) by 5  (2 x 5 = 10), so you would add 10 to the 20 gpg (hardness) to arrive at a total of 30 for the HARDNESS NUMBER (on your water softener display window), that you would now program into your water softener.

NOTE: Potassium Chloride (KCI);   Sodium Chloride (NaCI) (salt)

If you are using Potassium Chloride instead of Sodium Chloride in your water softener, you should increase the hardness number by 25% (instead of the above formula).  For example, if you are using  KCI and your water hardness number is 20 gpg,  you should set the your softener's HARDNESS NUMBER (on your water softener's display) to 25 gpg.  E.g. (20 x  25 % = 25 gpg).

If you are finding the above information, clear as mud, I would recommend that you read it over a few times. 


  1. Press, the PROGRAM button once again and a flashing "2:00 AM" will be displayed on the monitor, along with the words "RECHARGE TIME".  You should find this a good time to have your softener start the recharge cycle, since most homes are not using water at this time.  If this is not a convenient time for your household, simply choose a more appropriate time.
How to program a Whirlpool Water Softener Water Softener Display Showing (preset) Recharge Time

2.   If you would like to change the time for the  recharge cycle to take place, simply press the Δ UP or  DOWN buttons on your softener's council, until the desired time is shown.  Please make sure that you have correctly selected  AM or PM on the display, if not you can simply reset it.  

3.   Once you are done, you can simply press the PROGRAM button to SAVE your setting and return to the normal time on the display.

Whirlpool Water Softener Recharge Button
Recharge Button

You can start the RECHARGE cycle by pressing and holding down the "RECHARGE" button for three seconds. The word "CHARGE" will begin to flash and the "RECHARGE" cycle with begging automatically.

If you have added household bleach, to your water softener, (see "SANITIZE THE WATER SOFTENER" in your installation instructions)  in order to initially sanitize the unit before usage,  this recharge, will draw the sanitizing bleach through the unit, then out into the drain.

During this time you should periodically check for leaks and repair any problem before adding salt and putting the unit into regular service.

NOTE:  Leaks may not be immediately apparent, so check the unit for leaks, a few times, after 24 hours have gone by, since the first recharge cycle, has taken place.  

Customizing The Programming Features And Options


You can initiate an immediate recharge using the "RECHARGE" button.

Simply "press" and "hold" the "RECHARGE" button until the words "SERVICE", "FILL" and "RECHARGE are flashing in the display window of the control, council.

Programming a Whirlpool Water Softener
Display During a Recharge

The water softener will begin the fill cycle immediately and in case you are wondering what the fill cycle is, here is a brief explanation.

Once the salt in your water softener's, holding tank is dissolved, the mixture is called "BRINE".  "BRINE" is what your softener uses to clean the "RESIN BEADS" and remove any hardness attached to the resin beads.  "RESIN BEADS" are what a water softener use, to remove the hardness from the water, when fresh water passes over the beads.  Salty water, "BRINE" is what is used, by the softener to clean the beads and remove any hardness particles.

During the fill cycle, water  flows into the salt tank to make "BRINE". How much water flows into the salt tank depends on how much water was used, since the last regeneration.  If it has been a long time since the last regeneration, more "BRINE" will be required to clean the hardness materials from the resin beads and therefore more water will be needed.  Read More

The word "RECHARGE" will flash in the display window, while regeneration is taking place.  Once this cycle is complete, the water softener, will be back, to full water conditioning capacity. During a recharge, you will be able to see, (on the display window) the amount of time remaining, to complete the recharge. This applies to all the cycles, except for the "FILL" cycle.

NOTE: You should avoid using "HOT" water during the recharge cycle, because your water heater, will be refilled, with by-pass untreated "HARD" water. 


Whenever you see water drops flashing on the display screen (right bottom side), this will be an indication that water if flowing through the outlet port,  of your water softener.  In order words water is being used. The water drops on the display will flash in accordance with the speed of the water flow, i.e., a fast water flow will cause the drops to flash quickly and a slow water flow means the drops will flash slowly.

how to program a Whirlpool water softener
Droplets, is an indicator that water is flowing

Sometime, you might want to schedule an extra "RECHARGE", to come on, at some future date or time. In this case, you can do this, in the following manner.

PRESS and RELEASE (don't hold down) the RECHARGE button.

How to program a Whirlpool Water Softener
Recharge Scheduled

You will then be able to see the words "RECHARGE SCHEDULED" flashing on the display window.  The words "RECHARGE SCHEDULED" will continue to flash until the recharge has been completed.  Again, once the regeneration has been completed, your water softener will be restored to full conditioning capacity.


Whirlpool water softeners have a built in memory and will keep your settings safe for several hours, in the event of a power outage. The display on your water softener will go blank during a power outage and your softener will not regenerate.

When the power returns, this is what will happen:

You will only need to reset the "TIME" and only if the display is "FLASHING".  You will never have to reset the "HARDNESS" or the "RECHARGE TIME", unless you, for any reason, would like to make a change to your previous settings.

Your Whirlpool water softener, will still operate as it should, even after a long power outage, although, the clock may indicate an incorrect time.

If the time is not "reset", you may find that your water softener, is coming on at some inappropriate time, like say, the middle of the afternoon.  Should this occur, you will need to reset the clock to the correct time. Once this has been done, your water softener will go back to its regularly scheduled operation.

NOTE: If the power outage occurred during a regeneration, your water softener will complete the cycle as soon as power is restored.

Whirlpool Water Softener Programing
Salt Level Indicator

Your Whirlpool water softener has a "SALT LEVEL" indicator light that will remind you to add salt when the salt level in the tank is low.

 NOTE: You must reset the salt level, each time, salt is added to the water softener.


To set the monitoring system
1. First, lift the salt lid and using a wooden stick or broom handle, level the salt in the storage tank.
Water Softener Brine Well
Water Softener Brine Well
2. The salt level scale, on the brine well inside the salt tank, has numbers from 0 to 8. Observe the highest number, that the salt leveled is at, or closest to.
Whirlpool Salt Level Indicator
Water Softener Salt Level Indicator
3. Press the SET SALT LEVEL button until black ovals, on the control panel display, correspond to the salt level number (1,2,3,4) (See Figure 22). 
Whirlpool Water Softener Programing

NOTE: At level 2 or below, the “Check Salt Level" LED indicator will flash.

Salt Level Indicator Turned Off rev
Salt Level Indicator Turned Off
If you would like to turn off the salt monitor, press the "SET SALT LEVEL" button until the "SALT LEVEL OFF" message appears in the display. (See Fig. # 23)

Your new Whirlpool water softener comes with a Salt Efficiency setting that is designed to give you maximum efficiency and  performance.  When this feature is turned on, your water softener will operate at a salt efficiency of 4,000 grains of hardness or higher,  for each pound of salt it uses.  Read More

This may cause the unit to perform a recharge more often, but it will use less salt and less water to do so.

NOTE: Your new Whirlpool water softener is shipped from the factory with this feature turned OFF.  You will have to program it, if you would like to have this feature turned on (recommended).

To program the Salt Efficiency setting, press and hold the PROGRAM button until the display screen looks like the diagram in  Fig. 24.

Programming a Whirlpool water softener

Now press the Δ UP or the  Down arrow buttons to set it to  ON or OFF.  As illustrated in Fig. 25.

Programming a Whirlpool Water Softener

Once you have set the SALT EFFICIENCY you can return to the regular display by pressing the PROGRAM button FIVE times. Your display will now be back to normal.

WARNING:  If you live in the sate of California, you must turn the SALT EFFICIENCY feature ON. This might cause your water softener to initiate a recharge more often, but it will operate at 4,000 grains or more of efficiency per pound of salt used and it may use less water in the process.

Your Whirlpool water softener has a built in feature, that allows you to reduce the amount of iron, in your household water supply.  Iron in your water supply comes in two oxidation states: ferrous iron has a +2 electrical charge and ferric iron has a +3 electrical charge.  The main difference is that water containing ferrous iron +2 will look nice and clear (totally normal) while water that contains ferric iron +3 will;  depending on its PH level, appear as  orange, yellow, and will leave a deposit, on your plumbing fixtures and everything else it comes in contact with. Read More

NOTE: The iron reduction setting, default is "OFF", turn this setting to "ON", if your water contains iron or sediments.

When this feature is set to "ON" your water softener will perform an extra back wash and fast rinse, before proceeding with the normal regeneration sequence. This provides an extra cleaning of the resin bed, before the regular salt brine cleaning cycle occurs. Unless your water contains iron, there is no need to turn this feature on.

To activate this feature, "PRESS" and "HOLD" the PROGRAM button until the screen shown in Fig. 24 appears in the display.

Programming a Whirlpool water softener

Now "PRESS" then   Δ UP   or   ∇  DOWN   arrow buttons to set this feature to ON or OFF. 

How to program a whirlpool water softener
Setting the Iron Reduction On or Off

Now, PRESS the PROGRAM button four times to go back to the normal run display screen.


 You can adjust the pre-rinse cleaning time period, for the iron reduction cycle, from 1 to 15 minutes in length.  The manufacturer does not make any suggestions, except to say, that the factory default time, is set at 2 minutes. I would suggest, that if you turn this feature on, that you try it on the  2 minutes setting  for a while (30 days or more), and see what results you get.  If you feel that your unit is not removing sufficient iron from the water, I would try increasing the time length  by 2 minutes, each time, until you are happy with the results. I suggest that you run the unit for at least 30 days, before trying a different setting.

To do this, PRESS and HOLD the PROGRAM button until the display screen shows "2 min., clean, time" see fig. 24.

Programming a Whirlpool water softener

Once "SERVICE 000" appears on the display, PRESS the PROGRAM button three times and it will display "2 min., clean; time, see fig. 28.

How to program a whirlpool water softener

Now, PRESS the  Δ UP  or   DOWN  arrow button to set the number of minutes you desire.

After this has been done, you can press the PROGRAM button three times and it will take you back to the normal run display.


Your new Whirlpool water softener automatically controls the regeneration frequency. Under this setting your water softener will operate at its greatest efficiency and under most conditions, this setting should be left in the automatic mode.

However, there could exist a situation, where a manual override is desired.  For instance, when your water supply contains ferrous (clear water) iron.  In this instance, you might want to your softener to regenerate every few days; in order to keep the resin bed clean. You can set the maximum number of days between regenerations as follows:

NOTE: Your water softener will regenerate automatically on its own as required, even if this is before the set number of days you have programed into the unit.

 1.   PRESS and HOLD the PROGRAM button until you see the display as in Fig. 24.

Programming a Whirlpool water softener

 2.  Once you have reached this display, PRESS  the PROGRAM button four times to display Fig. 29.

Programing a Whirlpool Water Softenr

3.  Now, PRESS the  Δ UP or    DOWN, arrow buttons, to set the desired number of days.

4.  Now, PRESS the PROGRAM button twice, to go back to the normal time of day screen.


The default settings, for all the clock displays on your softener, are shown in 12 hour time format (AM and PM). Should you wish for the clocks to be displayed in the 24 hour mode, you can set the display as follows.

 1.  PRESS  and  HOLD the PROGRAM button, until the screen displays Fig. 24.

Programming a Whirlpool water softener

 2.  Once you see this display, PRESS  the PROGRAM button five times and you should see  the 12 or 24 hours, time mode.  See Fig. 30.

Setting the clock on your Whirlpool Water Softener

3.  PRESS the  Δ  UP or  ∇  DOWN buttons to set the desired time format.

4.  Now,  PRESS  the PROGRAM  button once, to be returned to the normal time of day display screen.

Whirlpool Water Softener Manual Download

Whirlpool Water Softener Manual
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