Dirt, sand and muck in Dishwasher

nanmeadeJuly 24, 2013

We have hard water and use lemi shine in our dishwasher to get the glass products clean. I'm not sure if that is causing black muck to accumulate all over the dishwasher and now our dishes but I have no idea what to do. We are looking at new dishwashers but why should we buy a new one and the whole mess starts again. The last cycle had sand all over the dishes and that was the last straw. Has anyone dealt with this before?

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justalurker

Before you buy anything you want to identify the problem and resolve it.

Are you on a well or a municipal water system?

How long have you lived in the house?

Do you have any water treatment hardware installed?

Take a look inside one of your toilet tanks for the same black muck you have in your dishwasher.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:09PM
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Sophie Wheeler

Do you have a high loop in your drain hose? I have a suspicion that you do not and someone washed something in the sink that would have better been left outside, like shoes. With no back flow preventative, it flowed straight into the DW. And, you're having yucky kitchen water flow into it and breed more yuck.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 1:42PM
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nanmeade

Justalurker, we have well water. We have lived in the house for 26 years, 1987. We do not have any water treatment hardware installed. I looked in the toilet tanks and did see a little bit of black muck.

Hollysprings, we have a garbage disposal and I am thinking it is the culprit here but I don't know how to be sure.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 2:00PM
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justalurker

Hollysprings may be right on the money... or muck. Look under the sink and see if the drain hose from the DW goes high up under the counter and then loops down to the disposal. Even better take a picture so we can see.

Does the black muck in the toilet tank feel slimy between your fingers?

Well water conditions can change dramatically and quickly causing a multitude of problems. You should be annually testing your well water for at least bacteria and nitrates cause nice water is one thing, but SAFE water is an absolute necessity.

If you haven't had a comprehensive water test in a while now's a good time to find a certified lab and get it done.

Test for hardness, iron, manganese, pH, TDS, copper, arsenic, sodium, nitrates and bacteria and whatever else the lab recommends. With those results we can speak intelligently about your water conditions.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 2:14PM
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nanmeade

justalurker, there's a little bit of black stuff on one of the tubes in the toilet tank. It is not slimy feeling and doesn't look like anything that is in the dishwasher.

Thanks for the advice about the well water. I will definitely do the testing. Here are the photos of the dishwasher connection.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 4:14PM
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justalurker

OK, the loop is high so that eliminates one possibility.

We have to figure out if the problem is local at the DW or that is just where it's showing up first.

The black stuff might be something in the plumbing like a hose that is deteriorating.

The sand is another question... is it really sand? Take a little sand and put it in a dish or bottle cap. Add a little vinegar. If it dissolves or the vinegar sizzles then it isn't sand it is hardness broken free in the plumbing.

When you have hard water and treat it only in the DW (only treating the symptom and not the disease) the entire plumbing system is still exposed to hardness and calcium deposits. From time to time that hardness breaks free and can show up anywhere in the system in any appliance or fixture.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 4:42PM
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nanmeade

I put the "sand" in a plastic cup with white vinegar. It didn't sizzle nor did it dissolve but it isn't sand. I had to scrape it off the inside of the door and it wasn't gritty like sand.

Should I hire a plumber to see if it's a hose? Should we install a water softener?

Justalurker, thank you so much for your help! Nancy

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 6:57PM
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justalurker

You can give some "sand" to the lab and have them tell you what it is.

Black muck could be a deteriorating hose or gasket or seal. Could be you water is acidic (low pH) but you don't know since your haven't tested your water so let's try to cure the disease.

You can't just buy any softener and expect it to be correctly sized or appropriate for your needs as you have no idea of your water conditions. Go back to my first post...

"f you haven't had a comprehensive water test in a while now's a good time to find a certified lab and get it done.

Test for hardness, iron, manganese, pH, TDS, copper, arsenic, sodium, nitrates and bacteria and whatever else the lab recommends. With those results we can speak intelligently about your water conditions".

You local Environmental Heath Department can usually point you to certified independent labs. With that information we will know what the water conditions are and what needs/should be treated and whether the water might be responsible for your current problems.

If a softener is called for then we need to know # of bathrooms, # of people, SFR of the plumbing,

This post was edited by justalurker on Wed, Jul 24, 13 at 19:28

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:23PM
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nanmeade

Okay will do. I will contact a lab and get this water tested!

Thanks,
Nancy

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:35PM
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nanmeade

I found this list online. Is this what you are talking about?

Here is a link that might be useful: Connecticut Department of Health

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:40PM
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nanmeade

This is the lab that is closest to me.

Here is a link that might be useful: Premier Laboratory

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 7:44PM
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nanmeade

Got our Basic Lab Test back for our water, if anyone is interested.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:26PM
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justalurker

Gonna post the results or should we guess?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 6:49PM
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nanmeade

Here you go.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 7:21PM
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justalurker

Well (no pun intended), your water is not nice... hardness, iron, low pH.

And your water is not safe.

This is serious and you have no idea how long your water has had a bacteriological problem.

This is a prime example of why people with wells should have their water tested annually for at least bacteria and nitrates.

What are you going to do?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 7:30PM
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nanmeade

As far as the bacteria is concerned this is the email I received from the lab:

"IâÂÂve attached info on CT Well Water, which has the disinfection instructions on page 3.

Please add the following in as Step 1a ��" When pouring the water into the well make sure to wet the casing walls completely. In order to thoroughly distribute the disinfectant, the well should be pumped, recirculating the pumped water back into the well with garden hose from outside faucet until chlorine is present in the water coming out of the hose.

Once all the chlorine is out of the water, give us a call to schedule a retest to make sure all the bacteria is gone. If there is still chlorine when we go to retest, we cannot take the sample and there is also a $50.00 fee. If you have access to a pool testing kit you can test the chlorine level before we come out to make sure it is all gone. The cost of the retest for bacteria is $110.00. If this result is for your personal use and not for regulatory compliance (mortgage, certificate of occupancy, etc) then you can collect the sample yourself and bring it to the lab for $35.00."

So we will be chlorinating the water. They called me to warn me about the bacteria this morning. I just got the test results emailed to me. What are your suggestions for the rest?

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 7:38PM
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justalurker

They are telling you to shock the well. That treats the symptom but does not necessarily cure the disease.Labs should keep to what they know and not be recommending water treatment.

When it doesn't work or the bacteria comes back people tend to try it again and again and the result is often damage to the well pump and then you're gonna spend real money.

You might want to consider getting a water treatment professional in there for a free estimate.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 8:14PM
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nanmeade

Thanks! Will do.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 8:16PM
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