Kenmore water softener Slow brine draw, high salt use

Ok, I know a some of this has been covered in other post, but I wanted to combine some issues in hopes of refining my problem solving and educate myself. I'll try to be brief.
Culprit: Kenmore 625.348490 demand softener 1997 model.
Issues: High salt usage, static water level in brine tank is increasing, final blow out...brine tank overflowed.
I noticed, within the last few months, the water level in the brine tank had been getting higher and higher while at rest. Meaning, when I would add salt or just check it, it seemed as if the brine tank was holding more water than normal. (24-30" vs. 6-10" from the bottom)
In combination with this, it seemed as if I needed to add salt more and more often. I could hardly keep up. Seemed like every time I checked it, it needed more.
I thought the above two issues may have been attributed to a change in water usage around the house as we had sporatic guests through the holidays, did more laundry, and now have a new baby so I'm sure we're using more water in other ways. Despite all that, I still thought the salt usage and water level seemed odd, but I have nothing to compare it to so I figured it must be doing its job.
Anyway, this weekend the brine tank actually overflowed. I walked through the book, cleaned the valves and venturri which all looked great! No junk or debris in the screens. I put the seals back with a little silicone and ran manual regens. twice and finally got the brine draw cycle to draw the water level down some, though it took 2x to get the water level down by 2/3rds and it took forever.
One note in the manual said to make sure the drain line did not have any substantial lifts or rises in it as it may cause slow brine draw. I admit, my line is long and did have a 6" rise over a bump at one point on the floor (though it is not clogged). I thought this might be the problem so I elevated the rest of the drain line leading up to the bump. This helped lower the water level in the tank, but I have two issues with this. 1. It's been draining over this bump for almost 10 years without incident til now. 2. I still think it's drawing the brine solution in very slow and using way too much salt.
Ok, this is getting long. 1. Why has my salt usage gone up so dramatically? 2. Are my seals going bad and did my silicone on the seals just give me a temporary fix? 3. Is my problem bad seals, a worn out softener, or something else?
Thanks for any help.
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njnovak wrote:

When I had that same problem(almost flooded), There was a internal leak inside the control valve. Also make sure your water usage sensor wheel is not stuck. I got rebuild kit from Sears.
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Water usage sensor wheel? Do you mean the Rotor and Disc? or the water hardness sensor on the OUT side of the valve? The rotor and cam seem to move smoothly through all cycles.
Thanks
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nj,
On some Kenmore softeners there is a small wheel which carries 2 magnets. It is on the input side of the softener and helps to measure your water usage and thus the time to regenerate. I can't see this causing your problem. The rotor, rotor seal, and all of the rubber parts can wear out. So disassemble and look at these parts. If you've been using this since 1997 then any or all of them could need replacing. I'd bet on the rotor or the rotor seal.
Dave M.
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