I think you should go back to Culligan. Try to get a different Culligan rep to give you a second estimate. Culligan will evaluate the amount of water you use, check and adjust the pressure that water is delivered to your home and bypass plumb the job right. You don't want to soften the water you cook or drink. Salt is no hassle, it costs about 2 or 3 dollars a month. In case you did not know, the salt washes off the resin particals in the tank. Culligan's units are automatic, as are the Sear's Best units.