Water Softener For Dishwasher

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DIYorBust

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Is there a small water softener I could buy for just one appliance? I have a scaling problem in my dishwasher due to hard water. I don't really have a big problem with my other appliances. I don't feel that I need or want softened water at every fixture, particularly at outdoor hose bibs, but even at showers or sinks, I'm just not finding this a problem, and I don't really want the extra sodium in the drinking water. Some dishwashers have a built in softener, but they tend to cost much more than a modest whole house softener system.

So is there any alternative to installing a whole house water filter? I see there are some smaller and less expensive units made for RVs, would something like that be practical to install? Or do I need to just bite the bullet and install a whole house system just for the dishwasher? The dishwasher would probably never receive hot water in that case due to the size of the softener, but it does have a heating element. Thanks!

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WorthFlorida

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Long Island water is fairly soft. Hard water scaling would also happen in the washing machine, bathtubs and toilets. Have you had your water tested? It's the only way to be sure.

Water softeners are not designed for hot water. If you do get a softener, you'll need to connect the cold water line to the softener, then the DW. Most new DW have built in heaters. With a softener you'll only need to use less than half detergent, therefore, tablets would need to be cut in half or just use powder.

The DW might just need a cleaning and I've used this product, Glisten and you usually can find it in supermarkets. It'll clean either plastic or SS tubs and will look like new. There is a wax plug under the cap and when the water get hot enough the wax melts releasing the cleaner. I think it's citrus based.

 

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Thanks for your response. I tested the water hardness using a fairly accurate Taylor kit that I use to test my pool. The result was 250ppm, which I understand is fairly hard water. The dishwasher develops thick crusts over time in recesses in the racks and other locations. They are difficult to remove, but respond to vinegar or citric acid. Nevertheless it is a chore to clean the machine with vinegar and scrub out the deposits, and the glasses come out cloudy. The clothes washer seems fine, the shower heads do build up scale, but it's fairly easy to descale once a year or so if they didn't need replacing. The humidifiers and coffee also need to be descaled more often than in other places I've lived, I wouldn't mind getting soft water into those.

So are you saying it's whole house or nothing?

Thanks,

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WorthFlorida

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May I ask where on LI? City water or well? With all your issues I would go whole house. If you have a basement you'll need to replumb the outside spigots to the hard water side since soften water will stymie plants and grass. Do add a soft water line to the garage for car washing. There would be no more spotting. With my home in Illinois I replumbed the kitchen sink cold water line to the hard water. Cooking with soft water makes some foods turn to mush, like macaroni.

I'll be on LI for Fathers Day weekend. Grew up in East Meadow, married a girl from Babylon. Just celebrated 50 years married.
 
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Fitter30

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Dishwashers are design for hot water and their detergents. The install manual wants 120° water. The element can booth the water temp for particular cycles.
 

WorthFlorida

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You might consider a water conditioner system. I do not know if either one can affect a hydronic heating system and boiler.

 

DIYorBust

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May I ask where on LI? City water or well? With all your issues I would go whole house. If you have a basement you'll need to replumb the outside spigots to the hard water side since soften water will stymie plants and grass. Do add a soft water line to the garage for car washing. There would be no more spotting. With my home in Illinois I replumbed the kitchen sink cold water line to the hard water. Cooking with soft water makes some foods turn to mush, like macaroni.

I'll be on LI for Fathers Day weekend. Grew up in East Meadow, married a girl from Babylon. Just celebrated 50 years married.
Hey congratulations on going gold! You don't hear that much these days. I'd have to make to 80 or so. At any rate, we're on the north fork, and on municipal water, so we are in a different water distribution area than East Meadow and Babylon, but I'm surprised the difference would be so great. However I've seen softeners at some of the neighbors' places, so seems like it's an issue up here. I agree about plumbing the hard up to the kitchen sink, and I guess it will help keep the bathrooms cleaner and we can fill humidifiers in there.

One concern does occur to me though. My plumbing is very old threaded brass pipe from the 20s(not the 2020s). I've sometimes wondered if maybe the calcium buildup is helping keep some of those old joints from leaking. Do you think I might start seeing leaks if I run softer water through there?
 

DIYorBust

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Dishwashers are design for hot water and their detergents. The install manual wants 120° water. The element can booth the water temp for particular cycles.
In practice I had a situation once where the dishwasher was so far from the water heater that it never got any hot water. I plumbed it onto the cold line to avoid wasting hot water and to get the benefit of cleaner water in the dishwasher and it worked fine and was still fine a decade later. The heating element did got the water hot enough. However if it were not my property and I were contracted to do the install, I'd hesitate to do that, because if the heating element burned out or something, and the manual said to plumb it hot, I'd be on the hook. But from a practical standpoint here as the owner, I'd rather take that chance and get clear glassware.
 

WorthFlorida

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I'm not a plumber and have zero experience with brass. All I know is brass is very stable. With a soften water it will eventually cause scale inside pips to break away. you may find the aerators plugging up.

Two causes of clouded glassware, hardwater deposits and/or the glass is etched from the detergent. If you're using too much detergent to get things cleaned with hardwater, the glass can be etched. With a water softener you only need to use about 1/2 of a tablet. too much will make glassware permanently cloudy.
 

Fitter30

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I'm not a plumber and have zero experience with brass. All I know is brass is very stable. With a soften water it will eventually cause scale inside pips to break away. you may find the aerators plugging up.

Two causes of clouded glassware, hardwater deposits and/or the glass is etched from the detergent. If you're using too much detergent to get things cleaned with hardwater, the glass can be etched. With a water softener you only need to use about 1/2 of a tablet. too much will make glassware permanently cloudy.
Just read the last paragraph
 

WorthFlorida

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I doubt those are in the least worthwhile. There is no test that can distinguish the before and after water.
When water conditioner first came out, Pelican had a nice web site with good info. Conditioned water was still hard and left spots but were easily removed wiping down the surface. dIY bust was concerned about the sodium added with a softener.
 

Reach4

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Maybe because there is no research done in that area?
Let me propose blind research. You do it, but have a friend either unplug it or not based on a coin flip. Friend covers the plug and the indicator light. You say if things are better or not, based on any method you like.

Seriously, tho, try this Google search:
tac water "template assisted" "arizona state" 2011
It will provided sites that buy into that. My thinking is that if this was not based on a flawed Arizona State study, somebody would have replicated the results.
 
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DIYorBust

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Thank you for the advice. I replaced the dishwasher with a Bosch unit that had a water softener, and now, after a truly obnoxious installation, I no longer get grey glassware after every load!

The German engineered Bosch cares nothing for the installer, but makes use of every cubic inch of the dishwasher rough opening and even invades under-sink cabinet a bit by requiring the water inlet valve be in there on an aquastop hose, and the power supply too. Everything I remember being easy on a whirlpool/kitchenaid dishwasher fought me like crazy on the Bosch. To the delight of mice, I had to drill large holes in the cabinet wall just to fit hose terminations through, and I was lucky no plumbing blocked the equipment from passing in the small recess behind the unit. Even right at the end when I could almost taste a beer, the toe kick came in three parts that did not match the manual which was out of date.

One thing that annoyed me, was that I could not figure out a practical code compliant way to hardwire the dishwasher. The Bosch contains no junction box, but offers an accessory junction box with integral cord(for 20 bucks), however its instructions say to install it in the adjacent cabinet. The picture in the manual appears to show romex being run to the junction box exposed in the cabinet. If the junction box were behind the dishwasher, it would not be installed by the manufacturers instructions. It seemed easier to just install an outlet under the sink and use the included cord and plug.

I suspect the code engineers and the appliance manufacturers want a cord a plug connection so that appliance installers or homeowners can connect the dishwasher without the need to be a licensed electrician. While it is really not difficult to hardwire a dishwasher, I do think it makes sense that the plug eliminates the need for installers or homeowners to consider unlicensed minor electrical work which is still commonly done in this situation. Long day, thanks for the help!
 

Jeff H Young

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just soften water going to the water heater . easy to plumb, wont effect the cold for drinking water etc itll help on the clothes too some
 

DIYorBust

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just soften water going to the water heater . easy to plumb, wont effect the cold for drinking water etc itll help on the clothes too some
Thanks Jeff, I hear you. I actually strongly considered this. It would also protect the water heater from scaling. On the balance, I was concerned that I had no drain for the brine in the basement. The main drain is close to the ceiling in the basement. I was concerned that a pump for the water softener only would experience corrosion from the brine. However that may have been the better choice.
 

Reach4

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Thanks Jeff, I hear you. I actually strongly considered this. It would also protect the water heater from scaling. On the balance, I was concerned that I had no drain for the brine in the basement. The main drain is close to the ceiling in the basement. I was concerned that a pump for the water softener only would experience corrosion from the brine. However that may have been the better choice.
Softener drain line is not limited to downhill before the air gap and trap. You could probably bring the drain line up to a standpipe on the floor above. Air gap, and then standpipe.
 

DIYorBust

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Softener drain line is not limited to downhill before the air gap and trap. You could probably bring the drain line up to a standpipe on the floor above. Air gap, and then standpipe.
Thanks Reach4, I'll keep this under consideration. For now the salt softener dishwasher seems to be doing it's job. The massive buildup of minerals in the old dishwasher does make me concerned about the water heater. Is it possible to descale a water heater? Water heater is oil fired, and about 10 years old with anode rods changed at 7.
 

Reach4

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Descale a WH? Not sure. I added some phosphoric acid to try to delime some. But I have no measure of how successful that was. I did get some colors to rinse out.

I have wondered if you could put a pressure washer wand in thru an open nipple or full port valve into the bottom of the WH, and knock some stuff out mechanically.

Also, I think you could drain the WH into a tub continuously and recirculate, with a utility pump, a solution into the top-- possibly via the T&P valve hole.
 
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