Ask the Contractor: Problems with hard water, mechanic’s liens

Dishwasher film and spots likely due to hard water, not mechanical issue

Man pours salt into a water softener. (Adobe Stock file)

Man pours salt into a water softener. (Adobe Stock file)

We recently closed on a home and I cannot figure out what is going on with my dishwasher. The stainless steel dishwasher door and tub is cloudy and is taking on a dull appearance, my utensils are spotting and the glassware has a white film after a wash. Can you shed some clear thoughts as to what is happening?

— Margaret, Cottonwood

More than likely this is not a dishwasher issue. We have hard water in the region, which has a high mineral content, specifically magnesium and calcium. Hard water causes scaling, which are those mineral deposits you see around faucet rims and inside toilet bowls. Hard water is also the leader of creating film — on glass shower doors, sinks and tubs — and more than likely is part of the cause of your dishwasher woes.

A water filtration system will definitely help with this issue as hard water can affect how well your dishwasher cleans. Another piece of the puzzle is possibly due to not using phosphate-free detergents.

More and more detergent manufacturers are reformulating their products, for national markets and removing phosphates. Detergents with phosphates may possibly leave the white film that you see on dishes or cause the inside of the dishwasher to take on a dull look, and causing blame to fall on the unsuspecting dishwasher.

PHOSPHATE-FREE (P-FREE) DETERGENTS

As of July 1, 2010, 17 states passed laws limiting the amount of phosphorous (phosphates) in household dishwasher detergents to no more than 0.5 percent. (Previous detergents contained up to 8.7 percent.) Phosphates are difficult to remove in wastewater at sewage treatment plants and they are then discharged into rivers, lakes, streams and drinking water reservoirs, where they cause environmental harm. Keep in mind that tablets and detergent packets perform better than powder, liquid or gel detergents. Always use a rinse aid.

The Plumbing Store in Prescott sells Citra Charge-Pro. This is a tough, hard-water spot and film eliminator. I use this product and it leaves my dishes shining, my glasses spotless, my pots and pans clean and the inside of my dishwasher looks like new.

Citra Charge-Pro can also be used to clean washing machines, toilets, shower doors, windows, shower heads and much more. Kim Gagnon, owner of The Plumbing Store and the wonderful team there can give you all of the pointers on this wonderful “easy breezy” product.

We started a remodeling project and last week received a lien notice in the mail. How can someone file a lien on our property when we do not owe anything? How serious is this and what do we do to have it removed?

— Alice and Mark, Prescott

This information is not intended to be all-inclusive of the law of mechanic liens in Arizona, but does contain some basic information. First of all, do not panic. You received a “Preliminary 20-Day Notice” in the mail and this is not a lien; it is a notice that a subcontractor or supplier that your general contractor is using had provided or will be providing goods and services to improve your property and could file a lien if they are not ultimately paid. This lien is called a “mechanic’s lien.”

Mechanic’s lien law is at best complicated and confusing and there are real risks involved for homeowners. You can take steps to avoid these problems by preparing for the possibility of a lien and employing safeguards to protect you. A mechanic’s lien is a “hold” or claim against your property that, if unpaid, allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of your home to satisfy any project debts. A mechanic’s lien is a “cloud” on the property that can affect the homeowner’s ability to borrow against, or sell the property as well.

Receipt of a 20-Day Notice allow you to track who has a potential claim against your property. Subcontractors and suppliers must provide you with this notice in order to maintain their right to file a lien. If they do not provide you with the notice, they lose the right to file a lien. A subcontractor or supplier can give you the 20-Day Notice before delivering supplies or starting work and up to 20 days after delivering supplies or starting work.

Keep track of any 20-Day Notices and make sure you are aware of who can file a lien against your property. Use Lien Releases, both Conditional and Unconditional Waiver & Releases on progress payments and final payments. If you have questions or would like copies of the Releases, we will be happy to assist.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s Hammer Time every Saturday and Sunday morning at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130 AM, 99.9 FM, 95.5 FM or on the web at kqna.com. Listen to Sandy and Mike talk about the construction industry; meet local community partners and contractors and considerably more. It is a great way to start your weekend.