Why You Should NOT Invest in a Culligan Water Softener

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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.


Reasons to Buy Culligan

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?

  • Regenerate Only When Needed – Culligan softeners measure your water usage and only regenerate when necessary. This saves you money, water and salt.
  • Proportional Brining – Some systems allow for proportional resin regeneration, so that only the part of the resin bed that has been exhausted regenerates which further reduces salt consumption.
  • Soften + Filter – Some Culligan softeners will also filter your water in case you want to drink it. The HE Softener-Cleer even reduces sulfur, iron and water odor. The HE Municipal Water Conditioner shines in chlorine removal and helps to eliminate other tap water contaminants such as pesticides.
  • Convenience – If you purchase a smart brine tank, it will automatically monitor the salt level and lets you know how many days of salt are remaining. Convenient, isn’t it?
  • Tested & Certified – As far as we know, all Culligan softeners are tested and certified by the WQA against NSF Standards 44 + 372 and CSA Standard B483.1 that guarantee effective reduction of hardness (calcium and magnesium), barium, and radium 226/228. Some models also come with additional certifications.
  • Done-for-You Solution – Like we said, purchasing a Culligan softener also includes hooking up the system, initial programming, the maintenance part and potential repairs. Some systems will even send automatic service notifications directly to your Culligan expert.
  • Different Payment Plans – You can purchase, you can rent, you can finance. Culligan offers payment options for everyone.
  • Satisfaction Guarantee – It’s not much, but at least you get a 30-day money-back guarantee. Culligan will remove your softener and refund the purchase price if you are not satisfied with the product.

Reviews of Culligan Water Softeners

Culligan offers way too many different water softener models for us to check them all out. There is:

  1. The High Efficiency (HE) Series
  2. The HE 1.25 Series
  3. The HE Municipal Water Conditioner
  4. The HE Softener-Cleer
  5. The HE Twin and Progressive Flow
  6. The Medallist Series
  7. The Gold Series

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).

1. Culligan HE High Efficiency Water Softener 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)

  • 4 different sizes
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 9 to 10.6 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 30,000 to 90,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 1.0 to 3.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 600 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 120 psi


  • Culligan’s most advanced softener series
  • Applies salt and water-saving technology
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • Brine tank monitors salt level and detects bridges, eductor line plugging and tank overfilling
  • Wireless remote allows remote control and displays softener’s current status
  • Allows scheduled salt delivery
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered

2. Culligan Medallist Series

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.


  • 4 different sizes (Medallist and Medallist Plus)
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 5.9 to 10.2 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 25,000 to 60,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 0.7 to 2.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 375 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 125 psi


  • Most affordable
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered (only optional?)

3. Culligan Gold Series

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.


  • 4 different sizes
  • For small to larger families and homes
  • Maximum hardness level: 75 – 99 gpg
  • Total ferrous iron capacity: 5 ppm
  • Rated service flow rate: 9 to 10.6 gpm
  • Total softening capacity: Approx. 30,000 to 90,000 grains
  • Softening resin: 1.0 to 3.0 cu. ft.
  • Salt storage capacity: 250 lb to 600 lb
  • Operating pressure: 20 – 125 psi


  • Applies salt and water-saving technology
  • Different operating modes to choose from
  • NSF certified
  • Can handle small amounts of clear-water iron
  • Warranty covered (only optional?)

Why NOT to Buy Culligan

Personally, we wouldn’t invest our money in a Culligan water softener. Here’s why:

Bad Customer Feedback

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.

Culligan Consumer Affairs

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.

Pricing Structure

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.

Exorbitant Cost

Having said that, we’ve digested some pricing information from the ConsumerAffairs page:

  • A customer from Ohio pays $115 per month for a rental softener system and bimonthly salt delivery. Considering that a regular softener costs anywhere between $400 and $2,000 online, it would have paid itself off after less than 2 years.
  • Another family signed a 3-year contract with Culligan to rent their basic softener and RO filtration system including service, which does not cover filters, salt, and salt delivery. Total costs: $5,770.
  • One lady got a quote for a water softener, reverse osmosis system, and a sulfur clear system for approximately $8,500. Without knowing more about the circumstances, this seems rather expensive.
  • Another person paid $3,000 for a Culligan softener (probably including installation) with a smart sensor.

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.

Costly Maintenance & Repairs

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.

water softener installation

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!

Poor Customer Service

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…

Systems Not User Friendly?

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.

We recommend: Culligan Water Softener Alternatives

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

  • Our Favorite Water Softener for Tap Water + Well Water
  • 3 System Sizes to Fit Your Home
  • Highest Water and Salt Efficiency
  • Simple Programming and Monitoring Thanks to Bluetooth Compatibility – Maximum Convenience!
  • 6-Month Trial Period (Return for Full Refund if You’re Unhappy) + Lifetime Warranty
  • → Full SpringWell SS Review

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

  • Our Go-to Alternative to Salt-Based Water Softeners
  • 99.6% Scale Prevention According to Study Conducted by Arizona State (+ Cleans Existing Scale Deposits)
  • Can Handle Extremely Hard Water
  • 3 Sizes to Choose From
  • Media Lasts Indefinitely. No Need to Regenerate.
  • 6-Month Satisfaction Guarantee & Lifetime Warranty

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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.

About the Author Gene Fitzgerald

Gene Fitzgerald has been with BOS since the very beginning. She is head of content creation and has fully immersed herself into the home water treatment industry only to become an expert herself. Outside of BOS, Gene loves reading books on philosophy & social issues, making music, and hiking.
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Leave a Comment:

Mike Young says January 2, 2021

Found your water softener article very interesting. It mirrored exactly what I was seeing from hours of online research from many sites. But, your analysis was far more concise.

Steve Back says March 29, 2021

High cost, must also pay for annual maintenance, the back wash runs for hours and hours using more water than I use in a month. That problem has not been taken care of. The maintenance doesn’t solve any thing. I can install a water softener myself for under $500

Tony Ciero says May 13, 2021

It looks like these Consumer Affairs snapshots are old — both links show a 4-star rating from Culligan pretty soon after this article was posted. I’m not sure when the screenshots were taken.

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