Culligan Blog

Why Does Tap Water Have Different Tastes and Smells in Different Locations?

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Ever wonder why tap water has a different taste depending on your location - even a short distance from a city to its suburbs? WBEZ 95.1 FM's show "Curious City" has and they recently did research on why the smell and taste of water can vary from city to town. 

According to "Curious City," tap water's original source, treatment and delivery are all factors in the taste and smell of your water. Most water comes from ground water, such as private wells, or surface water, such as lakes and rivers (1). Source is a large indicator of taste and smell in your tap water. Many municipalities will also reduce contaminants in water in order to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (USEPA) guidelines for safe water which will likely alter its taste and odor (1). Delivery of water through pipes can also take part in the make-up of your water (1).

If you are curious to know what is giving your water a different taste or smell, you should have your water tested. That way you will know what the source of the bad taste and odor is and what options you have to reduce it. You can get more information on drinking water filters at or give your local water expert the Culligan Man a call!

Check out the full article from "Curious City," complete with a tap water taste test, to learn more about Chicago city vs. Chicago suburb water.

How does your water taste? Let us know. Drop us a comment below or share with us on Facebook or Google +. We’d like to know, and if you don’t like your water, we’d like to help! 



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

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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:,,20658259,00.html.

Go Green In 2013: Seven Tips for a Water Smart Year

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This year, resolve to take a few simple steps to be kinder to the environment and conserve the earth's most precious natural resource - water.

  1. Buy a reusable water bottle. This helps keep plastic single-use water bottles out of landfills and saves you money on drinking water. If you drank exclusively from water in bottles, you could end up spending around $1,400 per year (1).
  2. Turn off the water while brushing your teeth. Each year, those few minutes of daily wasted tap water add up. Did you know that the average bathroom sink faucet flows at a rate of two gallons per minute (2)?
  3. Fill it up. Whether it's your dishwasher or your washing machine, be sure it's full before you run it. Less than one percent of the earth's water supply is available for human consumption and use (3).
  4. Check for leaks. Fixing small leaks in faucets and pipes is usually easy and inexpensive. Grab a wrench-you may be able to do it yourself! Dripping at one drop per second, a leaky faucet can waste 3,000 gallons of potable water per year (1)!
  5. Avoid high noon when watering the lawn. Minimize evaporation by watering your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler.
  6. Monitor your water bill. Use your bill and water meter to help you discover where you can be more water efficient. The average American household spends as much as $500 per year on water and sewer costs (3).
  7. Consider Culligan's  Bottled Water Delivery or a Bottle-Free® water cooler for your home or office or a Culligan Aqua-Cleer home drinking water system. Get great tasting drinking water without the disposal of single-use bottles.

Share these tips with your family, friends and co-workers. Set up a household, neighborhood or workplace challenge with a fun reward or incentive. Who can save the most water? Who can "kick the disposable bottle" the fastest? Who can save the most on their water bill? Small changes made by lots of people are a great way to achieve a sustainable approach to water conservation.

If you have a new idea, or want to share your success, visit our Facebook page and let us know what it is. We'll be sure to share it with all of our friends.




Problem Water Series: Volatile Organic Compounds

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Volatile Organic Compounds, such as benzene, toluene, methylene chloride, and methyl chloroform(4), are carbon containing compounds that can evaporate into the air and sometimes end up in groundwater (1)*. VOCs can occur naturally or as a result of human activities. VOCs are also common additives in commercial and household products such as gasoline, varnishes and cleaners (2) and can make their way from these products into groundwater supplies.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (3) and the Minnesota Department of Health, the following factors may contribute to VOC's in private well water:

  • Location - Industrial and commercial areas, gas stations, landfills, and dry-cleaning operations can all be sources of contamination.
  • Well depth - Shallower wells may become contaminated quicker and more easily than deeper wells.
  • Geology - If the groundwater is covered in sand or porous soil, it is more vulnerable than thick soil which can reduce the intrusion from contaminants.
  • Time - It could be months or years before a spill is discovered or has contaminated groundwater because of the water's slow-moving nature.

If you are concerned about the possible presence of VOCs in your private well water, a sure way to ease your mind is a simple call to your local Culligan Man. He will work to provide you with a well water testing service recommendation, and then discuss what your treatment options may be. Culligan has a range of products and services which can assist in alleviating the impact of VOCs in your water, including the Culligan Aqua-Cleer® drinking water filtration system.

Contact your Culligan dealer today for more information.

*Volatile organic compounds and other contaminants and impurities are not necessarily in your water.