Softened Water and Me – a love story.
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 . 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.
To begin, the benefits of soft and filtered water reach far beyond just the water that you and your family drink every day.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 ( it’s better for your washer).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 system.
***Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD