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Filtering and Softening our Water with Culligan...

Softened Water and Me – a love story.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softner Benefits 12

When we bought this house last year, we (ahem … I)  chose live brass finish faucets because I was desperate for that beautiful 100-year-old perfect patina. When I asked a salesperson at a high-end plumbing showroom here in LA how he felt about my choice, he said ‘I love them…. because you’ll be back here in 7 years to replace them’. Cool. The order had been placed for weeks and there was no going back. Besides, we had a 100-year-old house and I wanted that patina!! So I asked him what I needed to do to save them and he said very quickly and clearly ‘soften your water’.

I mentioned it to you guys and many of you recommended Culligan. I hopped online, scheduled an appointment and basically forbade anyone from bathing until I had set up a meeting. I learned the benefits of their softened and filtered water and wrote the check thinking it was another way homeowners have to spend money without any visual ROI. I ended up going for the Culligan Whole Home system which was around 3k but they do have quite a few different systems that can work for any need or budget. And, after a year living with that water and knowing what the benefits have been, I can honestly say that we are SO HAPPY that we did.

So when they reached out about working together a few months ago I was like ‘I already have you!!’. It’s a weird brand alignment, I realize, but at the same time not at all. I know I’m not the only homeowner who is wondering if treating the water everywhere in your home is actually worth it. I happily said yes because I knew it was something that you as a reader might not consider at first but is something that can make a long-term difference in your home. Also when I was debating it there weren’t a lot of resources that talk about process, benefits, cost and why ‘water’ is something you should spend money on, so I felt I could give valuable information.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softner Benefits 11

To begin, the benefits of soft and filtered water reach far beyond just the water that you and your family drink every day.

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You might think ‘wait, I already have filtered water’ but having soft water is different than the ‘filtered’ water you are drinking.  Without getting too technical or scientific, water softener systems are designed to remove minerals that can leave deposits on dishes and plumbing fixtures from all your faucets while water filtration systems are designed to remove contaminants and foul odors that might be in your drinking water. So although filtered water is great and delicious and something your family should enjoy the benefits of, soft water goes beyond just what you drink every day and contributes to the longevity of your plumbing, faucets, fixtures and just about anything else that water touches in your house (including your body and skin).

To be clear Culligan does both – softens for all the pipes and filters for any drinking water.

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Culligan’s High-Efficiency Water Softening System (which is what we have installed in our home) is a unit that typically is installed in your garage, basement or utility space. It’s not huge – about half the size of old hot water tanks. It basically softens all the water at the direct source and then distributes it to your house once it has gone through the system. Ours goes off at around 3am (if I’m up I can hear a slight hum and I’m like – that water softener is doing its job) and a service person comes and refills the tank (based on the level of the hardness of your water) with salt which is needed to soften the water… They know where it is and they have the code to the garage so I don’t have to make an appointment or anything.

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For drinking water there is another system under your sink that filters the water and let me tell you, the filtered water that comes out of both the fridge and the water faucet is the cleanest most delicious water I’ve ever drank. I’m that person who gives glasses of filtered water to my guests with a ‘eh?, eh?’ look on my face, just waiting for them to say ‘My God, woman, your water is delicious‘. And I think to myself… I know. It really is.

Yes, the water you drink is important not just in the way it tastes, but also to make sure it is free of any contaminants that might be in your water. I don’t want to dive into any fear marketing here and tell you what might be in your water, but when we tested it at our own home I wasn’t psyched. Normal fridge filtration systems don’t filter out harmful contaminants that might be in your water.

Our filtered water comes out of that small faucet and comes through the fridge. Even the ice is clear not white, which is at first so beautiful and strange, then you get used to it and when I see really white ice it’s jarring.

On to the reason that my housekeeper knows that I’m insane. Not only did I choose real marble, but yes, live brass faucets, as aforementioned. No brasso on these suckers. We have to use a special cleaner and a wax imported from Belgium…

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softner Benefits 15

Now live brass faucets aren’t for anyone nor would I put them in every one of my houses, (we aren’t in the mountain house) but goodness gracious if you can keep them up they are gorgeous, but the catch, hard water will absolutely ruin them. If you want to see an example go to George’s plumbing in Pasadena where you can see everything in person and they have examples of what live finishes could erode to if you don’t take care of them (I’m assuming that there were enough complaints so they are super upfront about the risks, with even visual props).

Typically, “hard water” means minerals, such as calcium and magnesium in your water that can add to tarnish build-up on your faucets, which can then create rust in your pipes, and a green residue on your faucets among other things. It’s definitely not a “patina” you want. The beauty of a live finish is that it will wear and age with time and gain a patina on it, which is why you will see little spots here and there and imperfections that make it look like it has been there for years, vs something that will always be a bright and polished brass. But there is a fine line between that 100-year-old English look, and disgusting dark green rust. It can work in a super old house, but it is high maintenance, folks.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softner Benefits 16

The soft water also means less hard water spots on our dishes, glasses, silverware or countertops, which if you’ve lived in a house with hard water before you know how annoying those spots can be when they show up on everything.

It also helps to prolong the life of your appliances by 30% (according to the American Water Works Foundation) filtering out the minerals that cause excessive wear and tear, which means your dishwashers won’t get a film or backup in them which can cause them to break down and need repair more frequently.

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Soft water also means softer clothes for you and yours. Hard water can eat away at clothing fibers so once your water is softened your clothes will feel softer and last longer (plus it’s better for your washer).

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In our bathrooms, the benefits of soft water are visible as well. It’s really the gift that keeps on … flowing. The soft water helps prevent hard water spots on our shower which means less cleaning and scrubbing to keep them looking good, and also better when we shower, bathe or wash our hands.

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Any time saved in scrubbing this shower of hard water spots and minerals on the tiles and floors from the water is well worth the investment to me.

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Soft water keeps your hair and skin so much softer as well, by helping to remove all the minerals that can dry it out or irritate it. Ever switch from facewash to facewash wondering why your skin is constantly feeling dry and rough? Well, it may not be the facewash and instead might be the water that you are splashing on your mug. All of this is said not to scare you from your current water situation but to only enlighten and educate you on the benefits that softer and filtered water can bring to you, your kiddos and your home (pipes and appliances).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softner Benefits 10

I’ve never had treated water before and while it wasn’t something that I thought we needed when we bought our home, having filtered drinking water and softened water going through all our pipes, faucets and appliances has been a very good thing.

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Culligan handles everything from start to finish with the first consultation as well as the final install and they are there to help answer any questions, worries or concerns you have. The costs will differ from home to home, but as I said above, Culligan Water can design the right system to fit any household budget. If hard water is damaging your appliances and faucets then replacing them can be very expensive. Besides, they also offer a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee within thirty days of purchase. If you decide the system isn’t right for you they will come out and uninstall it and refund you completely. They handle everything from start to finish and Culligan offers salt delivery programs to ensure your softener never runs out of salt and keeps everything functioning at peak performance.

So that’s my ‘water’ love story. I’m happy to answer any questions or ask them if I don’t know it all (which I don’t). Where you live will dictate the right solution for your home and if you are renting and can’t have an installed water treatment system they do have a bottled water delivery service (which is what we did for drinking water prior to this house). But if you are investing in your house, with say special faucets, all new plumbing and new appliances then the benefits are worth it.

Besides, for some of us who LOVE fresh, filtered drinking water and want to brag to our friends that we have the most delicious water in the world, it’s worth it. Here’s a little video we put together about the process and our very own Culligan system. 

***Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD

  1. Very good brief and this post helped me a lot. Say thank you I searching for your facts. Continuous it..
    Muslim Maulana

  2. thanks for post!!
    Spotify Customer-Suppor GREAT POST!!

  3. Hmmmmm everyone I know just buys/adds salt to the system themselves (and I live in one of the most affluent/no one does anything themself areas of the country). For anyone considering I would look into the costs/options of maintenance.

    1. We have one and have loved it so much, our guy comes out and handles it and the maintenance is so low and easy. Maybe you have a different system from a different company? Thanks for the info Em

      1. It is easy! You buy a bag of salt at Walmart/Home Deport whatever and pour it in! Everyone does it – the only hassle is carrying the heavy salt (if you can have it delivered its a plus). Everyone does it and everyone has different systems from different companies. Its all the same – pour a bag of salt in. Just because you have Culligan (or whoever) install doesn’t mean you also need to sign up for maintenance – I think that’s helpful for people to know.

  4. Is this a sponsored post/advertisement? It’s unclear but seems like it.

    1. Yep, she addresses this in the post and tells us why she chose to partner with them:)

  5. I feel dumb but what is the short thing to the left of the sprayer?

    1. Probably a soap dispenser?

    2. Lol, I was wondering the same thing.

    3. It is an air break device which prevents back flow from an installed dishwasher.

      1. Yep! It is to prevent any overflow from the dishwasher and is required by code here in CA. xx

  6. Speaking from experience here…I was told hard water is tough on pipes, but I was like ‘yeah, so what? who cares?’ Until pinhole pipes caused a small flood in the basement, right after the pipe into my shower head corroded and caused my living room ceiling to collapse. Good times! I am now the proud owner of a water softening system.

  7. Haha, your comment about wanting people to say “My God, woman, your water is delicious” made me laugh out loud!

  8. I love this post so much, it feels so authentic while still being informative. I am definitely going to look into your system now and see if it might be a good fit for our house.

  9. When we moved into our house my husband wanted a water softener and I didn’t want to spend on that so we didn’t get one. Our water tasted good and was pretty clear so I didn’t think it was a problem. Fast forward to a year of brassy hair instead of blonde and my stylist asking if we have hard water. She explained that it ruins the blonde treatment and turns it brassy. So I went home and we had a water softener installed that week. Ha! My husband thought it was so funny how quickly I changed my mind when my hair was at stake…

    1. Softened water is not just great for blonde hair, but dry, curly hair. Whenever I travel to places with soft water my curls look soft and amazing and don’t need the styling products to make them look great. I barely need conditioner. Now to finish tacking other higher priority home projects so I can get a water softening system!

      1. So good to know! This just gave me one more reason to be grateful for the system now now 🙂

  10. Forwarding this to my husband right now, we have talked about getting a system and I think this just sealed the deal. Thanks for all the info.

  11. I think a filtered water system is absolutely necessary these days. We also have one running through the whole house and then for the kitchen an extra reverse osmosis system. We love it! My husband changes the filters himself, it’s much more economical. We opted out of softened water. I personally hate what it does to my hair. But when you have a really good filtration system it should somewhat soften your water since it is taking out impurities. Great healthful post!

  12. Now here is an awesome example of sponsorship that doesn’t feel forced. I was actually intrigued to read about water softener. Your comment about “My God, woman, your water is delicious” had me laughing out loud. I just bought a house and had no idea. Thanks for the info.

  13. Interesting and informative post. Definitely seems worth it for those who can afford it, especially if it reduces cleaning and scrubbing time.

    Every time I see this bathroom, I wonder about that mirror. It seems slightly too small and in need of a frame. I wonder if I am the only person that thinks this.

  14. Emily, thank you for such a helpful post. I’m currently looking for inspiration for my family bathroom and yours is gorgeous. I would have never of thought that wallpaper would hold up in a shower room with all the steam. Can I ask how yours is holding up?

    1. It has held up great! I think if you have a high quality paper and adhesive then it should be fine as long as it doesn’t get wet or there is too much steam in the bathroom. We have a window or a fan that can stay open while showering so I am sure that helps minimize any excessive moisture. xx

  15. Can you please share the name of the imported cleaner and wax that you otherwise use to care for the brass?

  16. No doubt this is a good idea, BUT incase anyone out there is super worried about living brass without softened water, I just installed it later summer, and I can say that the more exaggerated patina is still beautiful. Yes, the water leaves water droplet marks, but those even out over time, and if you live in an older home (mine is 1928) and love the patina and imperfection, you can still have living brass. I bought the cleaner and wax that Emily suggested in one of her first posts about her shower trim and faucets and after using it once, I stopped as it took the tarnish off and didn’t completely remove the water spots. For me, who I’m sure has hard water, just letting the water do its thing over time is giving me the look I want, but you have to find beauty in the imperfect because the patina when water is involved looks very different than when just air and fingers touch living brass, at least with hard water!

  17. We live in Iowa. Our water is very “hard” – lots of minerals and iron in the water. I don’t think we would even consider it an option to not soften our water. We actually rent our water softening system from Culligan and it is very reasonable. My husband loads the salt in about once a month and we are good to go. Culligan has awesome customer service also. Love soft water!!

  18. We are in a rental with very hard water (and glass shower doors, ugh to all the build-up), so cheers to one day owning a house and a water softener.

    Question: I thought I read once that plants shouldn’t be given softened water. Is that true? With one of these systems, can you just go to the utility room and get regular water? Thanks!

    1. I was also wondering if you have to water plants with some other water source? Salt water will definitely kill plants, so unless you’re using a potassium based softener, you wouldn’t want to water your house plants with it. But then potassium is a common fertilizer component, so if you’re using that instead of a sodium softener could it make your plants grow all wonky?

    2. I have heard this too, and that is a good question. I have a lot of plants!

    3. Softened water will kill your house plants and any fresh flowers. They cannot process the salt and it builds up in their soil. I found out the hard way when every fresh flower bouquet I picked was looking SAD in just 2 days, when they normally last a week or more. I fortunately have a rain barrel during the summer months and save gallon jugs for the winter when I empty it. When that runs out I go to someone’s house who is on city water(my mother, we are on well) and refill them. I’m just about out for this winter. I am also going to ask my plumber if we could have one outside faucet that bypasses the water softner system.

    4. So I have had a whole house Culligan softened water system for 3 years in my house and I water my many plants every week with water straight out of the tap…they all look great and none have died in three years. Not sure if this is really an issue? I certainly haven’t had any problems with it and we have salt dumped in the softener on a regular basis.

    5. I dump leftover drinking water into a watering can, and water my plants with that. Our drinking water comes from a reverse osmosis system. Figure it’s better than dumping it down the drain!

    6. The system filters out the salt. It does not come out of the tap. You and your plants are not drinking the salt.

  19. Thank you! I’m in the process of choosing one for my house, so super helpful. Also, will you share what cleaner and wax you use on your brass fixtures? I’ve got live finish brass faucets, a copper sink and soapstone in my kitchen and I’m not loving the polish and wax solution I’m using right now. Apparently I love high maintenance surfaces 🙂

  20. LA water is one of the worst. Ugh. We only drink bottle water when we visit my brother in LA.

  21. We moved houses last year to one that had a water softener and I can’t believe the difference it’s made for my skin and hair! I have long hair that I typically cut once every 3 months. But with the water softener, I find my style stays and I don’t get split ends for much longer – at least 6 months. I’m also using less shampoo and conditioner as well as less moisturizer and my skin looks clearer and less red. When this water softener dies, we will definitely replace it — the money saved in beauty products and haircuts alone will pay for it!

  22. Softened water does wonders for my skin- when we had hard water, my skin was a dry, itchy mess and always slathering lotion on. Now that we have softened water, my skin is MUCH happier.

    It’s a bonus that it keeps the plumbing in better shape, but it’s worth every cent to not have ridiculously dry, itchy skin.

  23. Do you also have reverse osmosis?

    1. I know you didn’t ask me, but we have a whole house filtration system AND in the kitchen an additional reverse osmosis system. You never have to buy bottled water again!! Best investment we ever made. My husband is handy so he did it for us and he replaces the filters himself but there are plenty of companies out there. We did not do softened water because when you filter your water to the extent that we do (charcoal filters + others) you do not have to do the additional salt component as your water is naturally softened because of all the impurities that are removed. It may not be quite as soft as having it but I like it so much more. We’ve converted so many of our friends! Either way, safer drinking and bathing water is essential these days.

      1. Thanks so much! That sounds exactly like what I’m looking for! I appreciate the reply and input.

  24. This is a very well written, thoughtful, informative post, thank you. Looking up Culligan water systems in Canada now.

  25. I’m in to it! This is something I hadn’t thought of before, but makes a lot of sense.
    Sorry if I’m too demanding, but I was really looking forward to a coupon code at the bottom. Wah wah wah.

    I’m still going to call for a consult. I will consider it. If I was getting a sale, I’m certain I would do it tho.

  26. Some municipalities are banning the use of Salt-based (ion exchange) water systems. They Have a detrimental effect on the environment. Something else to think about when choosing design elements for your home. Here’s some basic info. https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/a-hard-look-at-water-softeners-could-your-water-softener-be-harming-the-planet/

    1. The house we bought 2 yrs ago has a water softener, but we never turned it on. We have a reverse osmosis system for drinking water, but our regular has been getting worse, so I was thinking of giving the softener a try. But then I started looking into it, and now think we should opt for the whole house filtration instead. It’s kind of a bummer bc it’s already installed.

  27. This is an interesting collaboration given that many counties in California and Texas have actually banned the new installation of salt-based water softeners to help counter the excessive salts that are accumulating from their discharge, and in some, are offering rebates for their removal. Culligan has been fighting this ban as it obviously threatens their livelihood. Not sure if this is widely known but I recent found out about it when I tried to look for a new water softener and couldn’t find one for sale (I am a Midwest transplant living in soCal). Here is what the LA county sanitation district has to say about it: http://www.lacsd.org/wastewater/automatic_water_softeners/default.asp. Just wanted to let you know.

    1. Interseting

    2. I believe whole house filtration systems are the better way to go. You still have to change filters but they do not use salt.

  28. I love the plant and planter on your kitchen counter and I love, love, love the seascape in your bathroom! I want it so bad!

  29. “Softened” water puts a lot of salt into our water supply and is not good for the environment. The water softener industry has convinced people that they need softened water in order to sell their product. I hope you will look into the negative consequences of routinely treating water.

  30. Came to the blog for my daily hit which has been just getting better and better lately and then saw this sponsored post. I was really disappointed but read it anyway and somehow you then totally convinced me! 🤗

  31. I love the tiles on your backsplash (kitchen) where are they from!

    1. Thank you! They are from Cle Tile. xx

  32. What a great write-up! This is something on my wish list for a while. I LOVE those live brass fixtures, but curious if you considered possible lead contamination? It’s my understanding that most brass is made of lead, so has your water tested clean coming through the fixtures?

  33. No brass faucets here, but wouldn’t be without a water softener in Indiana, where the water is so hard rocks practically come out the faucet. I also love my filtered drinking water and clear ice cubes too. Your pipes, toilets and sinks stay cleaner, as well as your hair, skin and clothes. People who say they don’t like it just aren’t used to it. Only exception I can think of is when I was growing up in upstate NY and visiting there since. The geologic differences make the water naturally soft. And that’s even better.

  34. We are looking to install a whole house water softening system this year before we renovate our bathrooms and kitchen in the next few years. This was really helpful, so thank you. I’m going to reach out to Culligan to set up a consultation.

  35. Another great article … again .. again and again. I would like to ask about the cupboards in one of the photos. Where I can get the grid used in the cupboards. I am thinking of remodelling a cottage kitchen.

  36. You may have managed this already, but it’s worth considering having a valve that diverts non-softened water to the outside. Water with salt is not good for plants and vegetation.

  37. If you have a “hot water on demand” system, having a water softener will lengthen its lifetime as well. Hard water is very hard on everything. We had to replace our ice maker twice in the span of a year or two before we figured it out. Love our system. The only thing I would be careful of, and I’m not sure if your drinking filtration system does this (a reverse osmosis system does) — if it removes the trace minerals in your water, you will want to find a way to replace them in your diet. These minerals, which naturally occur in your tap water, are very very important and you’ll want to make sure you aren’t missing out.

  38. Will you please share the source for the art above the washer and dryer?

  39. Thank you for sharing your experience. We’re going to replumb our whole house as a part of our bathroom remodeling project and I’m even holding off buying a new washer and dryer set for new / clean pipes! Given we spent a small fortune on Rejuvenation fixtures (due to your inspiring work of course!) this may be worth consideration. BTW – Love to see you’ve kept the antique mirror in the master bathroom. Swoon.
    My best.

  40. I didn’t even know that having your salt refilled by a service was a thing! My husband lugs those 80lb bags to the basement all by his lonesome!

  41. I LOVE that you did this post. It was incredibly informative. I think the water in Los Angeles county tastes disgusting. If it god your tap water to taste good, it must work. I remember when you originally posted about soft water. I think I responded that my parents in Arcadia, always had it and wouldn’t live without it. But–they didn’t have the faucet filtration system that you have. We always had arrowhead spring water to drink growing up. But now that you mention it, I don’t have soft water in my current house. The water is very hard and does a number on my fixtures that are simply chrome, but still. Whenever I go home to stay at my parents house, I always have very good hair days. I always think that it’s the dry desert heat relaxing the frizz out of my bay area hair, but alas–it just may be the soft water!

    Do you think you get better hair days from your Culligan system?

    Jane Ford of Benefit once told me that women worry about two things (appearance-wise): “How’s my hair and am I at my goal weight.” I think if Culligan could deliver better hair days, they have a whole new way to market…

  42. Emily, your post today is completely detailed and thanks for enlightening us with the water softener system. So kind of you:) And, I love those brass faucets.

    LuxuryVillas

  43. I am waiting your More Updated Post…Keep update fastly.
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  44. I read your blog really its informative and unique blog which provide awesome information.!@
    Black Magic for Love Solution Expert

  45. Thanks you for doing this post. When you originally were talking about doing a water softener system last year, I had commented that I was definitely interested in hearing what you chose because we had wanted to put one in our home. I kept getting concerned though about the reported environmental effects from the salt runoff of these systems. Did Culligan providen any information on this? Am I being overly concerned?

  46. Can you share the Wax and cleaner for your faucet? And where to buy it? I would love a post or story in that! Thank you

  47. We are in the process of building our house and I was thinking about water softener and filters and if they were worthy. Thanks to you now I decided that I need them. I’m going to look up the options here, because I live in another country, but thank you so much for all the information you gave me! It was a really nice read and very understandable

  48. Thank you for his post, it is both informative and honest.

    I have always wanted a water softener and a water filter, but, as it turns out, the city of Fontana, CA doesn’t allow salt water softners☹️. Apparently, It claims that the city spends a lot of money with filtering the salt and that it’s bad for the environment. I’m not sure how true that is, but many Cali residents have been left wanting these systems, but unable to purchase them. Unfortunately, they also fine the resident if they find out they have the system installed. I can live vicariously through you! Great post, as always, Emily!

    1. Hi Vanessa. I was concerned about the salt as well. We had to use salt with our well water because it was extremely hard. Salt is allowed in my area. However, you can still get the water filtration system through Culligan to get that wonderful drinking water.

  49. What is the cleaner and wax from Belgium that you use on unlaquered brass? Thanks, Joan

  50. Thanks so much for posting about this, we’ve been considering getting our water softened, and I think this helps me prove my case to my husband! Great post!

  51. They are impressive statistics. A very interesting article. Thank you. http://www.gmaillogin.help/

  52. I read your blog really its informative and unique blog which provide awesome information.!@
    Dua E Manzil

  53. I love your “love story”! We moved to the mountains and now have water from a well. It was so full of iron that it stained the concrete driveway and smelled of heavy metal coming from all the faucets in the house. I did my research and decided on Culligan Full Water filtration and softening system. It is unbelievable what a difference this has made. Other companies claim to get the contaminants out of the water with a softening system, but that is not true. You need both softening and filtration.
    The only thing we use water straight out of the well for now is to water our yard. We also buy bags of water softener salt at the hardware store and just fill the tank as needed. It’s worked out perfectly!

  54. Hi Emily,
    I am wondering if your system is osmotic, which removes all the minerals, including fluoride?
    If so, you may wish consider fluoride supplementation for the children, to protect their teeth.

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