Who can you trust? It’s hard to know who to confide in these days, isn’t it?
This is especially true when it comes to a big decision for your home like getting a water softener.
A water softener is a big investment. So, the last thing you want to do is give your money to a company that produces a low-quality softener—or even worse, that’s actively trying to scam you!
Instead, you want to be sure you’re getting the best water softener possible for your home. But where in all Chicagoland can you find such a softener?
The good news is that there are companies out there worth buying from. We know because we’ve been in this industry for over 50 years and know a great water softener supplier when we see one.
In this post, we’ll show you what the best water softener companies will do for you. Then we’ll evaluate some of the most popular water softener suppliers in Chicago, including The Home Depot, Culligan and Costco. By the end, you’ll be ready to find the softener of your dreams!
Ready to shop for water softeners right away? You can check out the water softener services we provide at the link below.
Why is a Water Softener Necessary in Chicago?
Before we get into where to buy a softener, let’s go over why you should get a water softener.
A softener is a worthwhile investment for your home and health because hard water is a major problem in Chicago.
The Entire Chicago Region Has Hard Water
The Chicago region gets its water from Lake Michigan. The water in Lake Michigan contains an average of 137 milligrams/Liter of dissolved calcium and magnesium minerals. The U.S. Geological Survey classifies water with that amount of minerals as hard water.
Of course, not all residents of the Chicago region get their water from Lake Michigan. Some receive water from private wells instead.
This well water is usually also hard because the rock surrounding those wells consists of calcium and magnesium. So, those minerals often very easily contaminate the wells.
So, it’s safe to say virtually every home in the Chicago region has hard water since both city water and well water are equally vulnerable to contamination. And this water creates a lot of frustrating problems for homeowners.
Hard Water Causes Many Problems
You’ve likely experienced at least a couple of hard water problems in your home. You may have multiple issues and not even know hard water’s causing them!
For example, do you feel itchy after you shower, and is your hair brittle and hard to maintain? That’s hard water!
Or do your dishes come out of the dishwasher cloudy and clothes come out of the laundry machine faded or discolored? Hard water causes those problems too!
And that’s not all. Hard water will also clog up your plumbing, damage your water heater, stain your toilet bowl and more!
A water softener is a godsend for homeowners who want problems like these to go away. It uses a process called ion exchange to remove the harmful calcium and magnesium from the water.
But beyond this, water softeners can also filter out other harmful pollutants, such as radium 226/228, barium and iron.
So, if you had any doubt about your decision to get a softener, hopefully, that helped increase your confidence.
Now, let’s find the best place for you to get a water softener, shall we?
What Services Do the Best Water Softener Companies Provide?
Here’s an interesting question. What do you want from a water softener company? And don’t just say an affordable water softener. That’s thinking too small.
Instead, close your eyes and envision your dream water softener company. What services would they provide for you?
We’re guessing you’d probably like a company that offers expert guidance to help you find the best water softener for your needs. After all, that knowledgeable assistance would take a lot of stress out of the buying process.
What about product selection? A company that sells many industry-leading brands sounds good, doesn’t it? It always helps to see all the best options in one spot.
And wouldn’t it be great if the company would also professionally install and regularly service your system for you? It would take a lot of pressure off your shoulders.
Good, now open your eyes. If you enjoyed imagining the company we just described, then pursue it! Look for a business that can give you your dream water softener experience.
How can you find such a company? Here’s a checklist of services the business should provide:
- Free water testing to help you find the ideal system for your home
- Knowledgeable guidance from an experienced team of professionals
- A wide selection of quality systems to choose from, including NSF/ANSI 44 certified brands
- Installation provided by licensed plumbing professionals
- Ongoing regular service to maintain your system’s warranty coverage
- Salt delivery to your home so that you can keep your softener running
A company that excels at all these services is one that can get you the best water softener for your home. But does such a company exist?
Let’s examine some of the water softener providers in Chicago and see if they meet these criteria.
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How Do the Water Softener Companies in Chicago Stack Up?
There are many different companies that sell water softeners in Chicagoland. But we don’t have the space to review them all here. So, instead, we’ll examine three of the most popular options for purchasing a system in this region: The Home Depot, Culligan and Costco.
The Home Depot Water Softeners
The Home Depot is one of the many big-box stores you could buy a water softener from. Other big-box stores include Lowe’s, Menards and Ace Hardware.
While these stores vary slightly in the brands they sell and the services they provide, they’re all very similar in value. So, the qualities we discuss below for the Home Depot can also be generally applied to the other big-box stores.
Pros of Shopping at The Home Depot
The biggest draws of shopping for a water softener at the Home Depot are cost and convenience. You can browse a decent selection of softeners on the lower end of the price range right in the store. The Home Depot also offers pickup and delivery options to get the unit you choose to your home.
So, at first glance, it seems like the Home Depot meets the third criterion we listed above: a wide selection of quality systems. However, the softeners it sells fall short when it comes to quality.
Cons of Shopping at The Home Depot
The Home Depot sells softeners from brands like Aquasure, Rheem and Waterboss. These brands make small, all-in-one units that are notorious for reducing water pressure in homes and not lasting very long. These softeners also only come with a one-year warranty.
So, while these lower-priced systems seem appealing, there’s a reason they’re lower priced. They aren’t big enough to effectively soften water for a whole family. And they’ll likely only last you 2-3 years at most.
They may be ideal for single people looking to soften their water for a short time. But beyond that, families looking for long-term coverage will want to look elsewhere.
What about the other criteria we listed for the best water softener company? The only other one The Home Depot kind of meets is providing help with installation. But we wouldn’t call it trustworthy installation. It will be from third-party contractors, and we can’t vouch for the quality of those companies.
The Home Depot also doesn’t provide free water tests, a regular maintenance program or salt delivery. And you won’t get much helpful guidance on making your purchase from them. The team members you can talk to at the stores aren’t water treatment experts.
In short, purchasing from Home Depot or other box stores is risky. Only do it if you’ve done a lot of research, are okay with a lower quality system and feel comfortable handling maintenance on your own. If that’s you, then you’ll benefit from saving money on the less expensive system.
Culligan Water Softeners
Culligan has provided water softener services for homes in Chicagoland for over 80 years. In that time, it’s become one of the most well-known providers in the region. But how does it measure up to the standards for the best water softener company?
The Pros of Shopping at Culligan
When we look for the six criteria we listed above, it’s clear that Culligan is a big step up from big-box stores like The Home Depot. Unlike those stores, Culligan provides all the following:
- Free water tests
- A selection of NSF/ANSI 44 certified softeners
- Licensed installation
- Regular maintenance services
- Salt delivery
That second point about NSF/ANSI certification is particularly important. It means the National Sanitation Foundation has tested Culligan’s softeners and certified that they effectively soften water and remove other pollutants like radium 226/228. Models without NSF/ANSI 44 certification, such as the softeners you find at big-box stores, aren’t nearly as trustworthy.
NSF/ANSI certification also indicates that a softener will last longer than non-certified systems. These higher-quality softeners tend to last more than 10 years.
Cons of Shopping at Culligan
While all of this is great there are also a couple of issues to watch out for with Culligan. They are 1) the quality of service, and 2) the limited product selection.
Culligan has had many complaints from customers about its service over the years. So, we can’t vouch for the quality of the support and guidance you’ll receive from the company. Instead, we recommend doing your homework by looking at recent customer reviews before going with Culligan.
We also should point out that Culligan only sells Culligan branded products. So, the selection of water softeners you can choose from is somewhat limited. If you’re looking to compare different brands on the market to find the best one for you, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
Costco Water Softeners
Costco used to be like other big-box stores when it came to the water softeners it provided. It sold smaller systems that lacked the durability and longevity most families need for their homes.
But Costco upped its water softener game in recent years so that it’s now one of the best places to shop for a system. What changed? Costco started exclusively selling high-quality softeners made by EcoWater. The company also partnered with our team at Angel Water to offer their customers the services they need for success.
Pros of Shopping at Costco
What’s so great about EcoWater systems? Where do we begin? First, EcoWater softeners are NSF/ANSI 44 certified for effective water softening and removing other contaminants like radium 226/228. The systems are also 100% made in America, which means you won’t have to worry about any subpar foreign-made parts as you do with lower quality softeners.
Beyond this, EcoWater designs its water softeners with some of the most advanced and convenient features in the industry. For example, you can connect an EcoWater softener to your smartphone and keep tabs on its status. It will also alert you on your phone when it needs salt refills.
Best of all, EcoWater systems are much more durable and long-lasting than the softeners you find in big-box stores. They are built to last 10+ years and can easily handle softening water for a large family home. So, while they may cost more than those lesser softeners, the investment is worth it for the peace of mind they provide.
But Costco doesn’t just provide a higher quality softener. It also employs our team at Angel Water to handle the other important services, including free water tests and consultations, licensed installation, maintenance and more.
Cons of Shopping at Costco
You’ll pretty much have all your bases covered when you shop for a softener at Costco. The only drawbacks are you can’t shop at Costco unless you’re a Costco member and they only sell EcoWater products. While EcoWater is an excellent brand, if you’re looking for a place to compare multiple brands, then you’ll want to look for a company with a wider selection.
Angel Water Can Help You Find the Best Water Softeners
We hope this guide has helped you understand what to expect from different Chicago water softener companies. But before we go, we should also mention that our company, Angel Water, also sells water softeners in Chicago!
You can get all the services you need from us, including a free water test and knowledgeable guidance from our experienced team. We also have a massive selection of water softeners, which includes everything from big-box softeners to NSF/ANSI 44 certified EcoWater models.
Our team would be happy to help you compare these models to find the right one for your budget and situation. All of our softeners come with a 10-year warranty so that you can enjoy peace of mind with your softer, healthier water.
Once you find the right softener, we employ licensed plumbers who can install and service your system for you to keep it running right. Plus, we provide salt delivery right to your home. Or you could swing by our drive-thru in Barrington, IL, to get some brought out to your car.
Interested in getting started? Please call 847-382-7800 to talk to an expert and schedule a free consultation. You can also stop into one of our locations in Barrington, IL, or St. Charles, IL, to browse our softeners.