Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Culligan Water Service


802 4th N 4th St, Virginia • 218-741-2997

How’s your water?

If, like many residents of the North-land, you rely on a well or a small town municipal system for your home’s water needs, you know how important that question can be. It’s the lucky few who can claim truly excellent water in northern St. Louis County, where the presence of high quantities of iron and tannins can affect usability and create unsightly staining of fixtures.

John Hiivala, the longtime owner of the Culligan service on the Iron Range, knows such problems very well. Hiivala got his start with Culligan in 1975 in Hibbing. A year later, he, along with his father and brother, bought the Grand Rapids Culligan service and added Virginia’s in 1983, making it the largest water treatment service in the region, now serving about 9,000 customers. And it isn’t just Hiivala’s 30-plus years of experience that makes a difference. “We have one employee with 30 years experience and another with 26 years,” he said. With nine employees, Hiivala said Culligan is well-positioned to service its market area, which runs from Deer River to Ely. “We’ve really come to understand the water problems in the region.”

Iron in the water continues to be the most common complaint from residents of the area, according to Hiivala. While excess iron in water isn’t necessarily harmful, it often creates rusty staining. It can also promote the growth of iron bacteria, which can build up in pipes and create unpleasant odors.

Fortunately, says Hiivala, Culligan’s standard treatment process, which filters water through a special hardness resin, not only softens water but also removes iron, manganese and other metals commonly found in area water.

It also removes tannins, another issue which Hiivala says has become more prominent in the area in recent years. While tannins aren’t harmful (they’re the same chemicals that color area lakes and streams, as well as your morning cup of tea), they do reduce water clarity and can cause staining of clothes and fixtures, just as with iron.

While the standard technology usually works well, Culligan also offers other treatment methods, such as oxidation technology, which doesn’t utilize resins. While such technologies usually entail a higher up-front cost, the operational costs tend to be less. “We use both types, depending on the situation and what the customer prefers,” said Hiivala.

In most cases, determining what might work best for your situation requires a site visit, said Hiivala. “It’s usually a question of getting in the house and sizing it up right the first time. The more information we can get, the better the outcome.”

In most cases, customers are seeking to treat their entire home system. In other cases, they are just looking to improve taste, something Hiivala said can usually be address with just a small carbon filter.

Whatever the solution, Hiivala said servicing the system to keep it operating effectively is the key to long-term success. And that’s where Culligan stands out, he said. The demands of servicing systems has driven more than one water treatment company out of the area, but Culligan has a long track record of reliability. “A good service department really is the key,” said Hiivala. “We have a maximum 48 hour response time to any service problem.”

Want more information?

Contact Hiivala at 1-800-322-7635 or visit the company website at

Culligan, water


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