Your Place: In cold weather, mice get into the dishwasher

Posted: February 10, 2012

Question: I live in a mature residential area not too far from a neighborhood park. For the last few years, when the weather reaches the low 20 degrees, field mice come in the house. Then they find their way into the dishwasher, of all places.

I have plugged up every hole in the house I could with every technique I have read or heard about, but they still get in. We do scrape and rinse the dishes, and in the morning I still find mouse feces in the bottom of the dishwasher. The plumber told us he not seen this in his 30 years in the business and thought it was so funny, he did not charge us. He suggested a new dishwasher.

Any suggestions?

Answer: In warm, rainy spring weather, many readers have reported ants in their dishwashers, but never mice. They are pretty flexible and if there is a way to change shape to get into a place they like, they'll come right in.

You'd be surprised at the number of people on the Internet who report having mice in their dishwashers. Most cite the Maytag Quiet Series models because of a plastic vent cover that the rodents repeatedly chewed through. Some have replaced the plastic cover with wire mesh and that has worked.

You have a GE Triton XL, and I could find no mention of a mouse problem for that brand and model anywhere.

You say your plumber suggested buying a new dishwasher and you are against it, because the one you have isn't broken. The way I see it, if your dishwasher has a mice problem that doesn't seem to want to go away, it is broken in a sense.

That's not saying that a newer model will keep the mice away, although you could look into ones that might be a bit more impenetrable.

Consider a professional exterminator to find exactly where the mice are coming in and see if he or she can stop them in their tracks.

Dishwasher tips. Not sure if this applies to the reader in a recent column who said the dishes were cloudy coming out of the dishwasher. I too wondered if I needed a new dishwasher, even though mine seems to work as well as ever. My glasses came out with a white film baked onto them, even without the dryer cycle turned on.

Recently I read an article in which many people wrote that they are noticing that their dishes, particularly clear glasswear, are coming out of the dishwasher coated with a white film, which doesn't rinse off.

According to the article, it is due to the dishwasher detergents, and not the dishwasher. The formula for the detergents has been changed to lower pollutants in our water.

Unfortunately, we get left with this film on the glasses. The article named one or two detergents that don't leave the film. One is Cascade Complete but I don't remember the name of the other one.

Thanks to Pat for the information. If anyone knows the name of the other detergent, let me know.

Q: A few years ago I had the tiles in my bathroom painted (covering a truly ugly color). Now the paint is chipping off in places. Is it possible to repaint tile that has already been painted once? And can anything be done to prevent the chipping? Can anything be done to fix the small number of chips?

A: I've seen lots of efforts on design shows to change tile color with paint.

I've never done it. When we exchanged our 50-year-old porcelain bathroom sink for a vanity recently, I removed the broken toothbrush holder and soap dish above it, cleaned out the holes remaining, and my wife found appropriate replacement tile.

If the tiles are glossy, they need to be deglossed or scuffed up to get the paint to adhere to the surface. Floor tiles would be more difficult to keep painted than the ones on the wall because you walk on them.

I guess you can give the paint another try. Chipping probably will remain a problem no matter how well and carefully you prep the surface of the tile.

I recommend starting with a commercial tile cleaner, then a high-adhesion primer and an epoxy-based high-gloss paint. Keep the area well-ventilated, wear a mask and gloves.


Questions? E-mail Alan J. Heavens at aheavens@phillynews.com or write him at The Inquirer, Box 8263, Philadelphia 19101. Volume prohibits individual replies. He is the author of "Remodeling on the Money" (Kaplan Publishing).

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