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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 guide, we are going to cover the good, the bad, and the ugly. Let’s start with the good. What are the reason to opt for a Culligan water softener?
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 as far as we can tell.
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.
Stats (Downflow Regeneration Systems Only)
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.
Personally, we wouldn’t invest our money in a Culligan water softener. Here’s why:
To Be Fair
Online ratings should always be taken with a grain of salt. Naturally, only those customers that are most passionate about their opinion tend to share their thoughts. And in this case, these are mostly very unhappy customers. At the same time, such a high percentage of negative feedback is hard to come by – even in the world wide web. Only about 20 to 25 percent of the ratings are positive.
The sheer 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 was a startling 2.2 stars last time we checked. This was based on 273 individual ratings. The vast majority of them were 1-star ratings. Then there were a handful of 2, 3, and 4-star ratings. And about 35 reviewers rated the company with 5 stars.
Most customers were very disappointed with the products & services Culligan had provided and said they won’t purchase from the company in future and don’t recommend anyone to do so either.
Culligan refuses to provide any prices for their softening systems upfront. What we mean by that is a local Culligan water expert 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 dealt with up to this point have a different price policy. They simply provide you with a fixed price on a per model basis.
Having said that, we’ve digested some pricing information from the ConsumerAffairs page:
As you can see, comparatively high purchase prices and installation cost are another reason why you’re probably better off with a water 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 yourself – and then come back here!
Culligan’s customer service also leaves a lot to be desired. According to users, some company representatives refused to resolve issues with malfunctioning systems that they had caused themselves. Others wanted to charge for work they’ve 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 – fair enough. This does not mean, however, that you couldn’t service or repair a Culligan softener yourself. At least replacement parts are available online.
If we don’t recommend Culligan, which water softener brands or models would we recommend instead?
Our favorite water softener is the SS by SpringWell. It will eliminate any scaling in your plumbing system and home appliances for increased efficiency and lifespan, lower maintenance, and fewer repairs.
Our #1 Water Softener: SpringWell SS
You’re thinking about going salt-free? In this case make sure to check out the FutureSoft! It’s by far the best system you can get.
Side note: FutureSoft water conditioners apply TAC (Template Assisted Crystallization), a process based on catalytic bead media that crystallizes hard water minerals. Once crystallized, the hardness minerals remain suspended in the water and will leave your plumbing without causing any damage.
Nothing will be added or removed from your water; 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. On top of that, no wastewater will go down the drain.
Our #1 Salt-Free Alternative: FutureSoft
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.