If your organization or facility has a warewash process, you know you have experienced some frustrations with it!  The top four that we’ve seen are:

  1. Dishes not coming clean
  2. Spotting on silverware
  3. Lime scale build-up
  4. Increasing chemical costs

Dishes not coming clean in your dish washer:

When it comes to dirty dishes, there are four areas to check first: pre-scrape procedures, wash time, water (temperature/pressure) and chemical. If just one of these are off, you will notice poor results in the cleanliness of your dishes.

  • Be sure to properly pre-scrap all dish ware before you rack and put into the dish machine. All dish ware should be free of loose food soils and anything else left on the plate after use. Missing this step can negatively affect the remainder of the warewash process (clogging of wash/rinse jets, pump impeller, etc…)Also, remember to use the correct rack for the type of dishes being washed!
  • The proper wash time ensures that the dishes have an adequate amount of time in the machine to allow the mechanical/chemical action and water temperature/pressure to clean the dish ware.
  • Water is important for many reasons. Two areas of importance are water temperature and water pressure:
    • High temp dish machines rely on water temperature to sanitize all dish ware. The second reason is that higher water temperatures assist with breaking up food soils that are set on the dish ware.
    • Water pressure is important because that is what ultimately breaks the food soils loose from the dish ware surface. Poor water pressure will result in food soil left on the dish ware. Some things that effect water pressure are lime scale build-up, loose end caps on wash and rinse arms, and issues with the pump on the dish machine.
  • It is important to ensure you are using chemicals specifically designed for mechanical warewash machines. The proper detergent assists in lifting food soils from the dish ware surface and keeping the soils suspended in the water to be discarded down the drain. On low temp dish machines a chlorine based sanitizer is used to properly sanitize all dish ware. Rinse additive is used to create a sheeting action on the dish ware surface. This assists with the drying process and eliminating water spots.

Spotting on silverware:

Spotting on silverware is a fairly common concern. Here are process tips and things you may want to look into when you are trying to find the source of the problem:

  • Prior to washing, be sure that your ware has been properly soaked (using correct silverware pre-soak), placed into proper racks, and not overfilled.
  • Be sure you are not out of rinse additive. Check to ensure you have rinse additive in your container and it is properly pumping in to your machine.
  • Check to ensure that your rinse jets are un-obstructed and have adequate pressure to hit the surface of all dish ware in the dish machine. If there is no water pressure, make sure your incoming water line is turned on.
  • Be sure that all scrap trays inside of your machine are clear of obstruction.
  • Double check the water in your wash tank to be sure it is clean. It is always a good idea to stop your machine periodically, drain and refill with clean water.
  • In areas where you have extremely high water hardness, rinse additive alone will not work to remove spotting. You may also need to look in to a point of use water softener for your dish machine.

If you check all of these areas and your issues persist, be sure to call your chemical provider and have them provide a comprehensive review of your procedures, chemicals, etc. It’s just one more way we deliver on the Promise of I.K.E., Innovation, Knowledge and Excellence. If you’d like to learn more about the new Nichols Brand line of warewash products, check out our new Warewash Line Card or our full Nichols Brand Catalog.

Lime scale build-up inside dish machine:

  • Work with your chemical service provider to check and see what your water hardness is (your local water softener company may also be able to assist with this). In some cases a point-of-use water softener will be needed to completely solve the problem.
  • Properly descaling your dish machine on a routine basis will help eliminate lime scale build-up and keep it from reforming.
  • Using an acid based de-scaler is imperative in removing lime scale build-up from the inside of your machine. The acid attacks the hard water deposits, loosening them up and allowing the water pressure of your machine to remove them from the surfaces.

 Increasing cost of warewash chemicals:

More chemical is not always the answer to getting clean dish ware. If you are only increasing your chemical input, you are flushing money down the drain.  There are several reasons for increasing chemical costs:

  • A malfunction of your dispensing equipment. This may mean you need something simple like a calibration of your equipment, or something as drastic as completely replacing your dispensing equipment.
  • Detergent probes in your dish tank used to monitor the amount of dish machine detergent can fall victim to lime scale build up giving off false readings causing your pump to dispense too much detergent. If your water solenoid valve is not working properly and allowing fresh water to pass by, this will also cause your detergent probe to read lower levels of detergent in the water due to the fresh water diluting the detergent and in turn will cause your detergent pump to run longer.
  • Extremely hard water will negate any positive impacts of dish machine detergent, sanitizer and rinse additive. In order to counter this, some companies will steadily increase the amounts of these three chemicals being dispensed in order to get desired results (flushing money down the drain). Something as simple as purchasing or leasing a point-of-use water softener can assist in removing water hardness and allow you to operate with your dish machine chemicals at industry standard levels. It is significantly cheaper to purchase or lease a point-of-use water softener for your dish machine rather than purchasing and using excessive amounts of dish machine chemicals every week/month/year.
  • If you are not properly pre-scraping your dish ware before washing, this can lead to having to rewash certain items a second time. This not only increases the amount of dish machine chemicals that you are using, but it will also increase your properties utility costs due to the extra water and energy usage. Improper wash times, water temperature/pressure and the use of chemicals not designed for commercial use will all lead to an increase in chemical/utility costs for your property.

These are just a few factors that lead to increased costs. In order to properly diagnose and solve any issues that you may be having your first step should be to partner with an experienced warewash professional and lean on their experience to properly balance your warewash operation.

About the Author: Patrick Dermyer is HACCP and ServSAFE certified. We invite you to connect with Patrick on LinkedIN.