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Culligan Water Softener Featured on Home Improvement Show 'Ask This Old House'

by Heath Racela, Associate Producer for Ask This Old House

On "Ask This Old House," we travel around the country helping homeowners tackle everyday problems. For Pam and Dave, purchasing their first home in Morris Plains, New Jersey was exciting but they sent an email to us with one concern. They noticed little white flakes floating in their water and white spots appearing on newly replaced faucets. Despite their best efforts to scrub rings out from the toilet bowls, they could not get her toilets clean and ended up replacing them. Pam and Dave worried that they may have met a challenge too big to solve on their own and had no idea how to pursue a solution.

Fortunately, our plumbing and heating expert, Richard Trethewey had seen this problem before- hard water. Calcium and magnesium in the local tap water were creating the problem and it went beyond mere aesthetics. Hard water requires more soap and detergent to clean hands, dishes, and laundry, but it can also cause scaling that will shorten the life of water heaters, boilers, and other appliances.

We reached out to the local Culligan office, which sent a technician to Pam and Dave's house to test the water. The results came back at 17 grains hard- a house with mildly hard water would test at 1-4 grains hard. Installing a water softener would solve this problem, so we packed up our tools and cameras and headed to New Jersey.

Any project that we tackle has its challenges and this one was no different. It's not enough to simply install a water softener- we had to explain to our audience in simple terms what the problem was and how a water softener solved that problem. Patrick Smith, the local installer, ended up being a tremendous help with this. Although he had never been in front of a camera before, he was used to explaining to homeowners how softeners work and he did great.

Richard and Patrick worked together to get the softener installed, all the while being slowed down by our production crew. When we pulled away from Morris Plains that afternoon, we not only left Pam and Dave with a brand-new, working water softener. We also left with a television segment that may help thousands of other homeowners identify a similar situation in their own homes and know how to remedy it. Another problem solved.

You can view this episode, and all of our new season's episodes at: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/ask-toh/video/0,,20658259,00.html.

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