Culligan water softener- repair or replace?

kspicklerApril 27, 2012

We have a Culligan water softener on our house that has recently started acting up. The water pressure in the house has dropped significantly over the last few months, but bypassing the softener restores the water pressure. As far as I can tell, this would indicate the resin has gone bad.

I had a Culligan tech here the other day, and he concurred, saying the resin usually needs to be replaced every 7 or so years (the unit is about 8 years old). Checking the manual for the unit, the resin should be covered by the lifetime warranty. However, the tech claims its not covered because 1) we don't pay Culligan to maintain the system every 2 years, and 2) the water supply in our city is treated with chlorine. Instead, they want me to pay $300+ to replace the resin, and another $150 for a service call (I already gave them $150 just to tell me this).

So, should I give Culligan that $450+ for the repair, or should I just replace the unit with something from Lowes or Home Depot? The cost of a GE or Whirlpool unit isn't much more than the repair (and it's new), so I wonder if this unit is worth repairing. Or, should I fight Culligan about this warranty issue?

Much thanks.


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You'll be better off with your Culligan than any box store softener.

Call the Service manager at Culligan and tell him/her that you'll have your softener rebedded at the quoted cost of $300 plus $150 for the service call if they will apply a credit for the $150 you've already paid and ask what the warranty on the new resin will be.

Another option is to look in the Yellow Pages for independent water treatment companies. They will be the ads with no brand name. They can re-bed your Culligan with generic (industry standard resin). They may be less expensive or they may not.

Another option is DIY. Depending on the size of your resin tank new resin will cost more than $100 and less than $200 for 10% cross-linked resin. Replacing resin can be a PITA, messy job if you're not experienced and/or careful. Spilled resin spreads quickly (like spilled gasoline) and is tough to pick up. If you're not mechanically inclined don't do it.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 5:21PM
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Thanks for the info. Yellow Pages? What's that? ;)

I'll give Culligan a call next week, and hopefully they'll agree to waive/credit the new service charge.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 7:58PM
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Just for comparison, what size is your Culligan? If there's a # like 948 or 1054 in the model # or what is the height and diameter of the resin tank?

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:07PM
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Tank diameter is 10" and height is 55". I have no idea what the model number is. The manual only says "gold series", and the original order and subsequent paperwork has even less info.

FWIW, the system is outside the house, protected only by a vinyl cover over the controls (which was added well after the system was installed, and after the sun did its damage to the plastic, thanks to the original Culligan installer who failed to even mention this need. The cover was added by a friendly technician who fixed the system a couple of years ago after high input pressure blew a seal. Can you tell I'm somewhat disenchanted by our local Culligan dealer?)

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 10:39PM
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No business bats 1000 and techs come and go. You say you got 8 years of reliable service from the Culligan and chlorine does degrade resin so a re-bed is normal and $300 if they credit you for the $150 you already paid isn't a bad deal.

As I said, one option is to find a local INDEPENDENT water treatment company for repair or replacement.

Just for the purpose of discussion... your Culligan is a 1.5 cu ft softener. IF it was sized correctly for your water conditions and usage a replacement industry standard softener from an online seller would run you under $600 delivered plus the cost of an environmental cover for the control valve. You'd have to assemble the softener, plumb it in, and program the control valve. You can get a plumber to do the hook up and we can help you do the programming. If you're not willing to learn how it works and service it yourself (some people are and some people aren't) then you'd still have to find an independent pro to service it for you.

If you go this route you need to get your water tested and provide some additional info and details to properly size the softener.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2012 at 11:40PM
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Very good point about the 8 years of service, and I really should focus on that and not some of the relatively small issues I've had. I think what got me was their comment about chlorine effectively voiding the warranty, when nearly every municipal water system I've experienced uses chlorine for treatment. Makes me wonder why they'd even put a warranty on the resin in the first place. The 3rd party repair option will definitely be considered, as well.

That's good info about a possible replacement, and the caveats about going that route. Ordinarily I'd be willing to do much of the work myself, but in recent years that available time has become more and more limited. Most weekends I'm "lucky" if the lawn gets mowed!

Your comments here are appreciated, as are those I've been reading on other threads.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 12:24AM
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Don't confuse the ethics of the marketing department with the competency of the engineering or production departments... they live in different universes.

AFAIK no softener company offers a lifetime warranty on the resin. Some do offer a lifetime or 10 year warranty on the resin TANK.

Think of the chlorine deteriorating the resin the same as the highway wearing down your tires. Both the resin and the tires are consumables and have a finite life and must be replaced when worn out.

Frankly, I would have expected the service tech that was there to offer you a re-bed at that time for $300 plus the $150 he was gonna charge you for the service call and made you a happy customer. That is what you have to discuss with the Culligan service manager or better yet the owner.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2012 at 12:43AM
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The problem may be as simple as a plugged outlet manifold. This can be pulled and cleaned. I really can,t see the resin degrading to the point of pressure loss in eight years. Unless there is abnormally high chlorine residual in the water supply. Adding a carbon tank before the softener to remove the chlorine will certainly extend the life of the resin and give your family much higher quality water.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 12:27PM
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"The problem may be as simple as a plugged outlet manifold"

In THIS instance the Culligan service tech was on-site and diagnosed the problem as a resin problem and priced the repair which was replacing the resin. If the OP agrees to the repair (regardless of price negotiations) and that is NOT the problem then the OP should refuse to pay.

"Adding a carbon tank before the softener to remove the chlorine will certainly extend the life of the resin..."

It will, but at the risk of removing the anti-bacterials from ALL the water in the house. A subject of great debate among water treatment and (public) health professionals. Re-bedding a softener at 8, 10, or 15 years is a maintenance cost far offset by the reduced cost of premature plumbing, fixture, appliance repair or replacement, and the money saved by using far less detergent and clothes lasting longer afforded by a water softener.

"... and give your family much higher quality water"

A completely subjective opinion and also a subject of great debate.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2012 at 1:01PM
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Closing the loop...

Culligan did return to pickup the softener to rebed it. No service charge, and they added a 10% discount. The tank was only gone for a few days and was returned by the end of the same week. Water pressure has returned! That, and we again have wonderful, glorious soft water.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 12:51AM
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All things being equal the simplest solution is usually the correct one.

You've found a water treatment company that apparently values its customers and treats them fairly.

And thanks for letting us know how it turned out.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2012 at 1:12AM
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Or an even simpler and maintenance free solution is electronic water softeners, a new technology where you don�t have to deal with salt or maintenance, units are affordable, and have a 10 year warranty. And they WORK. Pretty cool, we have been happy with our Scalewatcher 3 star. Try they have a lowest price guarantee for the Scalewatcher, there�s also EasyWater, it�s a lot more expensive though but they also wirk. Best of luck.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2012 at 3:26PM
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I charge roughly $800.00 Per 1.5cu foot unit to rebed.

Units should be re-beded once every 7-10 years.

Charge break down.
Labor $300
Tax $21
Materials $200+/-
Removal and disposal fees $100
Complete Servicing of well tank and well controls $200+/-

We Put air in the tank, check setting/controls replace if needed, clean any serviceable parts.

Somerville Well Drilling, New Jersey.

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Ad

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:06PM
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electronic water softeners

Are a Joke, Don't let anyone fool you. A regular water softener that uses salt admits in total amount of salt as a slice of white bread. so with that said and scientifically proven. On to my points about this quote great innovative system called a electronic salt free softener.

They don't remove iron or iron molecules, they simply change or manipulate the shape of its molecule to not be the shape of a Astrix but the shape of a Sphere.
To try and allow the iron to not cling and build up.

So that said To me anyone paying for a electronic one is just masking the issue. Rather than remove the issue.

My Expert Opinion

This post was edited by h20wellman on Tue, Mar 19, 13 at 23:19

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:15PM
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So, you joined this forum to post an ad for your company. Are you incapable of reading the site TOU which expressly prohibits what you just did, or did you just choose to ignore the rule and attempt to steal advertising space?

Regardless, your "expert" opinion about softening is worth exactly nothing as you have quite handily demonstrated a marked lack of understanding of the process. Further, $800 to rebed a softener is highway robbery. For your customers' sake, I certainly hope your well drilling knowledge is greater than your softener knowledge.

Have a nice day!

    Bookmark   March 19, 2013 at 11:31PM
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