Please note: This page may contain affiliate links. If you buy a product or service through such a link we earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more about our product review process or check our FTC affiliate disclosure.
Culligan provides water treatment systems – mainly softeners & filters – and water solutions for homes and offices as well as commercial and industrial applications. This includes the company’s delivery service where you can order filtered bottled water on a monthly basis.
Culligan was established in Northbrook, IL in 1936 and offered nothing but water softening solutions for residential use back then. Today, the headquarter is based in Rosemont, IL and the product range is much wider.
Since the beginning, Culligan has focused on building a network of franchises with local experts that act as company representatives. These experts help potential new customers to have their water tested and come up with the supposedly best treatment solution. Their service also always includes system installation & setup, and maintenance and repairs as needed.
In this review, we are going to cover the good, the bad and the ugly. Let’s start with the good. What are the reason for you to opt for a Culligan water softener?
Fleck 5600SXT – Best Culligan Water Softener Alternative
Culligan offers way too many different water softener models for us to check them all out. There is:
This is why we decided to give you an overview of the High Efficiency Series, the Medallist and the Gold Series, which are the most sought after Culligan softeners.
But first, the following video presentation by Culligan quickly covers each of the models (except for the Gold Series).
As the name suggests, the High Efficiency Series offers you the highest efficiency of all Culligan softeners in terms of salt and water usage. The goal: Reduce running costs to a bare minimum. Therefore, you have the option to choose between different tank sizes as well as regular downflow or upflow regeneration.
Compared to the HE Series, the Culligan Medallist is more affordable since it does not feature all the bells and whistles that the former comes with. For example, the remote display + modem are optional. Also, warranties are available separately.
And lastly, Culligan’s Gold Series. There is not much new to be said here, to be honest. The manufacturer advertises the system as “customizable” which we think refers to the option of choosing different tank sizes. Just like the HE Series, the Gold Series makes use of demand-initiated regeneration which only triggers when necessary to minimize salt use and wastewater production which in turn saves you money.
In our opinion, there are many reasons why NOT to invest in a Culligan water softener…
To Be Fair
Online reviews should always be taken with a grain of salt. Naturally, only those customers that are most passionate about their opinion will share their thoughts. And in this case, these are mostly very unhappy customers. At the same time, such a large percentage of negative feedback is hard to come by – even in the world wide web. Only about 10 percent of the ratings are positive.
The amount of negative customer feedback that Culligan has received over the years and the low overall satisfaction rating are the biggest reasons why we would not opt for a softener sold by this franchise.
First of all, Culligan’s overall rating on consumeraffairs.com is a startling 1.5 stars at the time of writing this article. This is based on 142 reviews. The vast majority of them are 1-star ratings. Then there are a handful of 2 and 3-star ratings, none with 4 stars, and less than 10 reviewers rated the company with 5 stars.
Most customers are very disappointed with the products & services that Culligan provides and will not purchase from them in future and do not recommend anyone to do so either.
Culligan refuses to provide any prices for their softening systems upfront. What we mean by this is that a local Culligan water expert always has to visit your place first to assess your individual water situation and then you will be given a cost estimate.
This is why on the Culligan website it says: “Because your specific water goals will depend largely on your home’s water, actual pricing can vary. And it’s really hard to say what solution will suit your water best without starting with an in-home evaluation from your local Culligan Man.”
Interestingly enough, most other softener companies and brands that we have reviewed up to this point do not follow the same policy. Instead, they will simply provide you with a fixed price on a per model basis.
Having said that, we’ve digested some pricing information from the ConsumerAffairs reviews:
As you can see, extremely high purchase prices and installation cost are another reason why you are better off with a softener from one of the competitors.
For more pricing information, check our Culligan water softener pricing guide.
And it doesn’t end there. We read many reports about costly maintenance works and repairs, such as $350 for a flow meter replacement (including the meter itself), more than $500 for changing a resin bed, and expensive fees charged for “free” inspections among other things.
We don’t want to just repeat everything that’s already been said on ConsumerAffairs, so definitely go over to the site and read through some of the negative but also positive feedback – and then come back here!
Culligan’s customer service also leaves a lot to be desired. According to reviewers, some company representatives refused to resolve issues with malfunctioning systems that they had caused themselves. Others wanted to charge for work that they never performed.
We also read comments from customers that tried to get in touch with the company or one of its divisions, but never heard back. Or they were put on hold on the phone for so long that they gave up – stuff like that. You get the idea…
Okay, so we are not 100 percent sure about this one. What we do know is that Culligan prefers to install their softeners themselves, obviously to earn more money this way. This does not mean, however, that you could not service or repair a Culligan softener yourself. At least replacement parts are available online.
Now that you know what softeners not to go for, which are the ones we can recommend to you instead?
The Fleck 5600 SXT is our most favorite. It’s also among the best selling water softeners on Amazon and comes at a relatively affordable price. 48,000 grains and a service flow rate of 12 gallons per minute provide you with enough water, even if you are a larger family of up to 6 people. The metered system regenerates as needed, which will save you money.
Other than that, the Fleck 5600 SXT can handle clear-water iron of up to 2 parts per million, is easy to DIY-install and even easier to set up. Lots of happy customer and 5 stars from us!
Genesis offers salt-based water softeners in the higher price segment. The Genesis Premier, for example, is available with 5 different resin tank sizes (24,000 to 96,000 grains) and uses metered upflow regeneration for maximum salt and water efficiency.
The systems also comes with high-durability resin which is more resistant to chlorine and chloramines making it a great choice for municipal water supplies. NSF certified – check. Ready for DIY install and quick setup – check. 4 stars.
A real alternative to salt-based water softeners are saltless conditioners, such as the Eddy Electronic Water Descaler. Instead of sodium, the descaler uses electromagnetic waves to reduce the scaling effects of hardness minerals.
Nothing will be added or removed from your water. So while you won’t see a drop in TDS, all healthy minerals will be retained. No salt use is also the most environmentally-friendly “softening” solution. Plus not having to buy salt bags saves you time and money.
What’s more, no wastewater will go down the drain and the descaler is available at a fraction of the cost of what you have to pay for a traditional salt-based system. The only downside: As with most conditioners, the Eddy Electronic does not work for all users. Some reported that it did nothing for them in terms of hardness reduction.
Find more water softener reviews here.
If you have any questions about Culligan softeners, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below!
And remember to revisit from time to time, as we are going to add new information to this page occasionally.
Sign up to join 1,000+ subscribers and get notified about new BOS guides & checklists as well as exclusive product sales and discount codes.