A Homeowner’s Guide to Mold Removal

As a homeowner, you’re bound to deal with troublesome maintenance troubles. However, spotting problems early can help minimize the severity of the issues and protect your wallet from the burden of significant home repairs.

To catch and help avoid mold-related issues, here’s what you need to know about removing this common fungus from your home:

What is mold?

While it can be a nuisance inside your home, this fungus is a natural part of the environment. Mold can grow almost anywhere – on plants, food, wood, paper, carpet and tile grout – as long as there is moisture in the area. You’ve probably seen it darken the grout lines in your shower or build up on damp outdoor decks. The most common type of mold is mildew, which starts as little black spots and grows into a larger infestation. Black mold can be furry and possibly toxic, so homeowners should take extra precautions when trying to remove it. There’s also hidden mold, which you can usually smell even if you can’t see it.

Mold can occur at any time throughout the year, so, unfortunately, you and your home are always vulnerable. The fungus can cause health issues for you and your family, including allergic reactions, asthma and skin irritations, so it’s important to remove mold before it gets to be severe.

Can you clean mold?

With the right tools and precautionary measures, you can usually clean the surfaces where mold develops. Always wear a mask, goggles and gloves while cleaning to limit your exposure to the mold.

The first step for DIY mold removal is to dry the surface and vacuum any dust or debris. Then, scrub the mold off the surface with a bristle brush and mold cleaner, rinse and dry the area completely. For light surfaces, such as tile grout, you can use diluted chlorine bleach to remove the mold. According to The Maids, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda are effective natural, non-toxic cleaners. However, if there is black mold, you may need to purchase a specific cleaner to disinfect the area. While these methods work for hard surfaces, keep in mind that absorbent materials with mold, such as ceiling tiles or outdoor seating cushions, should ideally be discarded and replaced.

How can you avoid mold?

Your cleaning efforts will go to waste if you don’t control the moisture in the area. To prevent mold from growing, start by identifying the source of the moisture, which could be leaks, condensation, humidity or poor ventilation. Once you know where the water is coming from, the key is to act quickly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should fix plumbing leaks as soon as possible, and dry materials within a day or two of leaks or spills.

The EPA further recommends reducing the humidity levels in your home by 30 to 60 percent in order to decrease mold growth. To do so, make sure there is proper ventilation in all bathrooms, and take action by completing small steps like running the fan during and after your shower. Adding insulation to windows, doors, piping and floors can reduce condensation and improve the airflow inside your home. Dust also causes mold to grow, so make sure to clean your home regularly, focusing on baseboards, floorboards and air vents where dust is prone to build up quickly.

When should you call a professional?

When it’s ignored, mold can become excessive and cause health risks, so it’s never a bad idea to have your home inspected by a trained professional. Plus, while cleaning can be an effective temporary home mold removal solution, the mold may persist or you may experience plumbing or HVAC problems that only a professional can completely and safely repair.

Preparing for the future is the best line of defense when dealing with issues in and around your home. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

8 Ways To Conserve Water At Home

Long showers feel great, but with every minute you spend pampering yourself, your wallet and the environment struggle. Along with saving money on your monthly bills, water conservation is critical for your community. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s likely that at least 40 states will experience water shortages by 2024.

Follow these tips for how to save water at home:

1. Be mindful of running water.

Don’t keep the faucet running the entire time you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hands. You may have heard this one before, but it’s easy to lazily run the faucet instead of turning it off while scrubbing and then turning the tap back on when you’re ready to rinse. Similarly, avoid luxuriously long showers. Try to limit shower time to 10 to 15 minutes maximum to prevent wasting excess gallons of water.

2. Fix leaks as soon as possible.

Look out for leaky faucets, dripping water from shower heads, rusting pipes and signs of water damage.Locate the source of the leak, and fix it immediately to avoid wasting more water.

3. Don’t let the toilet run.

If you notice that your toilet is constantly running, try replacing the flapper. Simply shut off the water to the toilet, and flush to drain the tank. Unhook the old flapper from the base of the tank and chain, and then replace it with the new one. Turn the water back on, and you’re all set. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to buy a new toilet. Look for an energy-efficient model, and follow these steps to remove the old unit and install the new one.

4. Wash full loads only.

Make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before you run them. If you have a unit with energy-saving settings for light washes and smaller loads, take advantage of them. When it’s time to invest in a new machine, look for water-saving models with the settings that allow you to adjust to load size.

5. Use a compost bin.

An in-sink garbage disposal needs a lot of water to work efficiently, so opt for a compost bin instead. It’s healthier for the environment while reducing water waste and increasing the energy efficiency of your home.

6. Insulate pipes.

Be sure to insulate exposed pipes around the house, especially in the attic and basement. When they’re not insulated, it takes longer for water to heat up, meaning it’s running for longer periods of time. You can also cover the water heater with insulating blanket to further speed up the process.

7. Run the sprinklers in the morning.

The optimal time to water your lawn is early morning. This strategy prevents rapid evaporation from midday heat, which means less water is required to sufficiently cover the grass. Avoid rogue sprinklers wasting water by spraying the sidewalk or side of the house, instead positioning them to face the grass and landscaping appropriately.

8. Perform routine appliance maintenance.

Proper appliance care and upkeep can prevent potential leaks and wasted energy. This preventative maintenance includes regular cleaning and seeking professional advice when necessary. Plus, if it’s time for an upgrade, buy energy-saving products and appliances. According to the EPA, the average household can use about 20 percent less water with water-efficient fixtures and appliances.

Complement your water conservation at home with these ways to increase energy efficiency. With mindful changes, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money each month.

If you notice spikes in your water bill, serious leaks or other maintenance issues during your water conservation efforts, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

How to Fix a Screen Door

I grew up in a house with an outside deck. So I have many fond memories of sitting outside on warm, sunny days, reading and enjoying the view of my neighborhood. I would often open the sliding deck door to the adjacent living room while keeping the screen door shut so I could hear music from the living-room stereo without worrying about insects sneaking to the indoors.

So when that screen door started showing signs of wear and tear, my mom would complain how my brother and I were to blame (“too much rough housing” she would say) and “how in the world am I going to fix it?” What mom didn’t know is that while trying to patch a ripped screen door can seem difficult, it’s actually not so hard to fix.

We’ve compiled a list of common issues and helpful DIY remedies to make screen-door repairs a breeze:

Screen replacement 101

Because the screens in most screen doors consist of lightweight fiberglass, tears in the material are hardly unheard of, according to Popular Mechanics. Fortunately, they’re also easy and fairly inexpensive to replace. Your local hardware store will almost definitely have a replacement screen that fits your door. They’ll also have the specialized tool for dealing with spline – the rubber tubing that surrounds the perimeter of a screen and keeps it affixed to the door frame.

Let’s go step by step:

  1. Remove the old screen by lifting it away from the track-mounted rollers. Pull the bottom of the material out and then lower the door until the screen clears the top edge of the frame.
  2. From there, you can cut your own portion of screen material from a large roll, as HGTV noted, or purchase an a la carte pre-cut screen from your local hardware store.
  3. Next, unscrew the door’s handle, then remove the segments of spline surrounding the door frame with an awl. (Don’t get rid of your spline if it doesn’t show signs of damage, as intact spline can be reused.
  4. Use a screwdriver to remove the rollers and reattach either new or existing spline.
  5. Align the replacement screen with the frame, using the spline tool’s convex and concave rollers to press the rubber tubing into the frame grooves.
  6. Fit the screen snugly into the splined frame.
  7. Finally, trim any excess fiberglass and reattach any parts of the door (latch, rollers, panel and so on) you might’ve removed.

Learn More About Home Repair Plans Near You

Dragging wheels and other irritations

If opening your sliding screen door is a chore – it moves slowly, creaks or doesn’t close all the way – it’s time to remedy that situation. (Especially if you want to avoid insect intruders.)

The culprit behind the dragging screen is frequently worn-down or broken wheels along either the top or bottom edge of the door’s frame, according to The Family Handyman. But just like a torn screen, this problem isn’t too hard to remedy – and neither are some other issues that may be at play.

  • Make sure the wheel track is clean and unobstructed.
  • Addressing a jammed track is even easier than a wheel replacement: just clear any debris or dirt from it. If the track is bent, straighten it with a pair of pliers.
  • Check the screws holding the wheels in place – if they’re too loose or too tight, adjust as necessary.
  • Don’t forget to check the sliding screen’s top row of wheels. Because of their location, they don’t experience as much wear and tear, but better to be safe than sorry.

If these steps don’t address the issue, you probably need to change the wheels. As with replacement screens, you can easily find spare screen-door wheels at most hardware stores. To start, remove the screen door from its tracks. From there, you can unscrew the old wheels, affix your replacements to the door and put the adjusted door back in place. Ideally, it should move smoothly from then on.

Worst-case scenario

A screen door that is damaged beyond repair will need to be completely replaced. You can call your local hardware store, handyman, or big box retailer to find a new screen door that works for you.

Being prepared for home repairs before they arise is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Lines of America can help with the costs of covered repairs.

Ever Wonder What A Dishwasher Air Gap Is?

I’ll admit it, I never thought about the inner workings of my dishwasher until it started giving me issues, and I had to figure out why the dishes weren’t coming out clean. When someone asked me if I’d checked the “dishwasher air gap”, I had no idea what they were talking about. So, that prompted me to Google how dishwashers work. (I’m somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert now.)

What I learned is: Your dishwasher is connected to the same plumbing infrastructure as the rest of your kitchen, meaning it’s eerily close to the dirty drain water that flows down your sink. If there’s a clog in your drains, that dirty water could flow back up into your dishwasher, contaminating your kitchen’s sanitation haven. Lucky for you, the dishwasher air gap is there to prevent such an unfortunate event from plaguing your appliance.

So what is a dishwasher air gap anyway?

Usually fitted to an existing hole on the sink or countertop and covered with a decorative cap, a dishwasher air gap connects to hoses below the sink or countertop. One is the dishwasher drain hose and the other typically connects to the sink’s drain pipe or garbage disposal.

As the unit runs, the dishwasher pump pushes wastewater to the air gap so it can exit through the drain hoses. If there is a backup or build up in pressure, the air gap also pushes fresh air into the hoses to prevent dirty water to flow back into the dishwasher. The process is essential for preventing cross-contamination between pipes and backflow into the dishwasher.

Does your dishwasher have an air gap?

I know, after all this talk about dirty sink water, why wouldn’t you want to have a dishwasher air gap? Well, some building codes only require minimal ventilation systems, so if you can’t find an air gap in your kitchen, odds are your area doesn’t consider it a compulsory component. However, if you’re planning on installing a new dishwasher any time soon, be sure to check local building and plumbing codes to determine if you should be including an air gap.

Do you need to do anything with the air gap?

Your dishwasher air gap will generally get on with its business with little necessary maintenance. However, cleaning it regularly can prevent blockage issues. To do so, simply remove the cover and unscrew the plastic cap. DoItYourself.com recommended removing the air gap entirely so you can flush it with water and wipe away debris. While you have visibility to the hoses, check it for clogs. If you see any signs of trouble, you can remove them to rinse and dry. Once you get everything back in place, be sure to check for leaks during the next dishwasher cycle.

If you want to install an air gap for your existing dishwasher, you can purchase a kit and follow this step-by-step guide from SFGate Home Guides. Alternatively, a licensed plumber can easily handle the project.

Maintaining the air gap goes hand in hand with overall dishwasher upkeep. For instance, loading your dishwasher correctly and cutting down on excessive water use can boost the appliance’s efficiency. And while it may feel a tad counterintuitive, you should clean your entire dishwasher about once a month.

Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of water sewer line repairs and replacements.

Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On? Here’s How To Troubleshoot Common Issues

Behold the underrated luxury of a modern kitchen: the garbage disposal. It gets rid of your food waste in seconds with the simple flip of a wall switch, saving your kitchen from the smell of rotting food scraps. Of course, they’re not quite invincible, considering they don’t do well with items like coffee grounds, eggshells and paper products. Still, it’s easy to overlook how precious this little machine is until it stops working.

The good news is that most garbage disposal repair is easy enough to perform on your own. Whether it won’t turn on or it’s acting strange when it does, there are several ways to repair a broken garbage disposal.

Safety first

As with any do-it-yourself project, safety always comes first. No matter the source of the issue, your prep should always be the same: Turn off the garbage disposal, unplug the unit and maybe even shut off power to the machine entirely from your main circuit breaker before beginning repair work. The less likely you are to encounter an electric shock, the better.

Another important safety consideration is to never, under any circumstances, put your hand down the drain or blindly run your fingers inside the disposal where the blades can do damage. Finally, brief yourself on these important tips for DIY plumbing repairs.

With safety in mind, you’re officially ready to tackle your broken garbage disposal.

If the disposal refuses to turn on at all…

When you flip the switch and nothing happens, there could be something wrong with the power source. For instance, the garbage disposal’s overload circuit may have automatically shut off due to a power surge or malfunction, or the electrical circuit connected to the machine may be off.

The fix: Think back to your safety prep for a moment. Was the plug loose when you pulled it from the socket? Maybe the circuit breaker switch was already in the “off” position? If so, the simple fix may just be plugging in the unit properly or flipping the circuit switch back on. However, just to be safe, press the reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal. DoItYourself.com noted that the red button will already be sticking out if it tripped, which means pressing it should solve the problem. Head back to the circuit breaker and manually flip the switch back to the “on” position. Now try to turn on the disposal again.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to do some detective work to find the source of the power malfunction. It could be the wall switch, outlet, power cord, wiring or another electrical element. If you find a faulty component, you may need to call a professional to inspect the issue, as the repair may be beyond your electrical and plumbing knowledge. However, if you can’t find any signs of trouble, your best option may be to replace the unit.

If there’s a humming sound…

If the garbage disposal won’t turn on or fails to grind food waste, but the motor still ekes out a humming sound when you flip the switch, the problem is probably a jam. It’s common for food or other debris to block the impeller and other components inside of the disposal.

The fix: Turn off the disposal immediately, as humming without any grinding action can burn out the motor, according to HomeTips. To fix the jam, insert a hex wrench or short wooden broom into the hole on the underside of the disposal. Turn your tool clockwise to dislodge the flywheel, continuing until you feel the blades turn freely. If you can see the blockage in the disposal, use tongs or pliers (not your hands!) to dislodge the item from the unit. Cleaning it out may require removing the unit entirely and reattaching it once the obstruction is gone.

From there, turn the power back on and press the reset button on the bottom of the unit. Then, run water from the faucet and quickly flip the disposal switch on and off a few times to wash away residual obstruction that could still be blocking the flywheel. If all goes well, you should be back in business at this point.

If you notice leaking…

The vibration of the garbage disposal can loosen connections over time, often leading to a leak. When there’s water dripping from the garbage disposal into the base of the cabinet, you’ll need to determine the source of the leak to fix the problem. It’s usually one of three culprits: the flange that connects the disposal to the bottom of the sink, the hose that leads to the dishwasher or the drain pipe that connects to the sewage system.

The fix:Inspect the drainage pipe first, looking for loose screws. Use a screwdriver to tighten them, and then run the water to see if the leaking continues. If the leak appears to be coming from the sink flange, tighten the mounting bolts. The Spruce also noted that worn down plumber’s putty could be the reason for the leak. If that’s the case, loosen the bolts and push the sink flange up into the drain opening. Remove the old putty and apply a fresh amount around the flange. Next, re-tighten the mounting bolts and put the flange back in place. Wipe away excess putty. Test your work with the water running so you can ensure the leak is fixed.

Note that if there are cracks in the unit or water is dripping from the garbage disposal reset button, your best bet is to replace the machine.

If draining happens painfully slowly…

In the event that the garbage disposal turns on but fails to drain the water or disposal water comes back up into the sink, the drainage issue likely stems from a clogged disposal or sink.

The fix:Start by running boiling water down the drain to free up blockages. If the clog is too stubborn for that simple fix, you can use a plunger to unclog your kitchen sink. Some clogs will require removing the discharge pipe that connects to the disposal so you can clear the debris with a sink auger or coat hanger. If the clog is in the disposal, try one of these three methods to remedy the issue.

If you smell an unfortunate odor…

When bits of food get stuck in the garbage disposal blades or drain pipes, the result is generally a less-than-ideal smell coming from your sink.

The fix: Run a big cup of ice and about half a cup of salt through the disposal to scrub away the debris. You can also throw in some lemons for a much more pleasant citrus scent. Another way to banish bad odors is with an equal mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Simply pour the solution down the drain and cover the opening with a stopper, letting the ingredients sit in the drain for about 10 to 15 minutes. Flush with hot water to complete the process.

Once you solve the smelly garbage disposal problem, routine maintenance can keep the bad odors away for good. For example, the Spruce suggested grinding up pieces of lemon peels and ice cubes on a regular basis to maintain proper disposal performance.

If these DIY solutions fail to fix the problem, it may be time to call in a professional plumber. When the garbage disposal continues to perform poorly despite your handy efforts, there could be more complex plumbing system problems at play.

Preventing future problems

Avoiding future malfunctions requires some dedicated rule following. While disposals are durable shredding machines, they’re serious about their do’s and don’ts when it comes to what you can send down the drain for grinding. Some of the big no-nos, for instance, include fats, coffee grounds, bones, shells, metal, rubber, paper and glass.

When it gets to the point that you can’t get your disposal to turn on or perform with the same efficiency, you may be better off replacing the unit. Keep in mind that even normal wear and tear limits garbage disposals to about 10 to 15 years of use. A new one usually costs between $80 and $200, according to estimates from Thumbtack. The Home Depot sells residential disposals that range from about $50 to $500, although most homeowners will be fine sticking with a unit that falls within Thumbtack’s average range. And with your savvy preventative maintenance skills, you can extend the life of your new disposal, avoiding premature issues or replacements.

See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

You use your bathroom multiple times a day, so it’s only fair that you should give it some frequent cleaning attention. A quick wipe down is one thing, but it’s the deep clean that really gets into all the nooks and crannies.

Grab your gloves and safe cleaning products, play some upbeat tunes and get cleaning.

The sink

Start by wiping down the sink with a dry cloth or paper towel to remove dust, hair and other debris. Spray an all-purpose bathroom cleaner or homemade solution on the sink and wipe it down with a cloth or disinfecting wipe. Real Simple advises pouring white vinegar or baking soda down the drain and then flushing it with hot water to eliminate buildup.

The tub and shower

DIY Network advises spraying cleaner on the tub and shower before you do any other cleaning, letting it sit while you work elsewhere. After ample standing time, simply scrub the surfaces and rinse with water. Real Simple offered a trick for the shower head: Pour white vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and tie it so the nozzle is fully submerged. Leave it to soak overnight and then wipe the shower head down with a wet cloth after you remove the bag in the morning.

The toilet

Pour baking soda or toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet and let it sit for at least five minutes. Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl before flushing. If a stubborn ring remains around the bowl, you can use a pumice stone to remove the deposit. Wipe down the toilet seat and tank area with a paper towel before using a cleaner on the surface.

The tiles

Don’t forget to clean bathroom walls and floors, using a brush to scrub tile grout. Bleach can clean bathroom mold that’s stuck in the grout, but if it persists, schedule a professional inspection in case it requires a more intense mold removal method.

How often should you clean your bathroom?

Your cleaning schedule will depend on how frequently you use your bathroom but aim to deep clean it every month or two. CNET recommends the more frequent cleaning tasks that will prevent your bathroom from getting too grimy in between deep cleans, including:

  • Wipe down the sink daily with an antibacterial cleaner or cleansing wipe.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the mirror when you get out of the shower.
  • Clean the toilet once a week.
  • Launder the bathroom rug weekly.

Regular cleaning is a great way to keep your bathroom in tip-top shape. And keeping your home in tip-top shape is important too. That’s why being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of repairs and replacements.

What Usually Causes a Sewer Backup

What Usually Causes a Sewer Backup

Tech inserting pipe into the ground.

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare: smelly water and chunks of grimy debris making their way up rather than down the pipes. A sewer backup is never a good situation, which is why it’s important to understand the causes and prevention methods.

Here’s what homeowners should know about sewer backups:

Common causes of sewer backups

1. Clogs

Water going down a drain

Residential sewer lines are roughly 6 inches or more in diameter, which means a significant amount of solid waste and debris has to accumulate for the pipes to clog, as noted by SF Gate Home Guides. Items such as hair, cooking grease and other solid materials can create the clog. The result is that waste enters the pipes and can’t pass through the clog, so it travels back up the pipes and into your home through overflowing toilets and drains.

2. Blockages

Among the most typical reasons for a sewer backup are tree roots and shrubs that grow into the pipes, creating cracks and holes. Once inside, the roots can catch debris and form a blockage that prevents proper water flow. If the trees causing the issue are owned by the city, you shouldn’t be responsible for the cleanup and repair costs. However, if private trees caused the issue, the homeowner will likely have to cover the payments.

3. Old or damaged pipes

While pipe materials are durable, they aren’t made to last forever. Over time, sewer pipes begin to crack and deteriorate, which can often cause them to collapse. In the event of this kind of damage, you’ll need to repair or replace the pipes as soon as possible.

4. Main municipal line problems

When clogs, blockages, punctures, cracks or other issues occur to the main city lines, the sewage backup can begin to affect residential homes in nearby areas. According to Plumbing Supply Group, municipalities that have combined sewage and storm water systems are also more vulnerable to backups caused by severe rainfall and other extreme weather. In these cases, you’ll want to contact a city operator to investigate the problem.

You’ll know your sewer line is compromised when your drains are running slowly despite your best efforts to clear them. Additionally, gurgling sounds and foul smells coming from drains can indicate that clogs, blockages, cracks or other problems are affecting your system’s performance.

Ways to tackle and prevent sewer backup problems

If you notice the signs of these common sewer backup problems, don’t hesitate to schedule a professional inspection to troubleshoot the issue. A licensed professional can better identify the problem, clean out your pipes to clear away clogs and blockages as well as spearhead necessary pipe repairs. Many experts also recommend replacing your line with plastic pipes to prevent tree-root blockages and other damages.

As far as the day-to-day goes, you can prevent sewer backups by being mindful of what you’re flushing down toilets and putting down sink drains. For instance, so-called flushable wipes are actually a common clogged sewer line culprit, so trash them instead of flushing. Paper towels and feminine products can also cause issues, as they don’t break down as quickly as toilet paper. Cooking oil, grease, coffee grounds and eggshells should also never make their way down your drains.

Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of water sewer line repairs and replacements.

How to Hire a Qualified Plumber

bathroom-plumberHesitant to hire a plumber out of fear that they won’t have proper qualifications or charge you fair prices? With the right preparations, have no fear: you may discover that hiring a plumber is easier than you thought.

Simply follow these tips:

Determine the type of plumber

The extent of the plumbing repair or replacement can determine the kind of plumber you should hire. Plumbers often advertise a specialized skill set, most commonly focusing on building and remodeling projects or existing system repair. They further refine their skill level by trade credentials:

  • Apprentice plumbers are still in training, often working alongside more experienced tradesman.
  • Journeyman plumbers graduated from their apprenticeships and now have licenses. They can do most plumbing work, but typically don’t run plumbing companies.
  • Master plumbers are the most qualified option, complete with years of plumbing experience and additional vocational education certifications. These are the plumbers who run their own businesses.

For basic plumbing services, you can rely on a journeyman plumber to complete the job. For more complex issues, you may want to request the help of a master plumber.

Verify current licenses

While the specifications differ, most states require plumbers to at least obtain a license. Reference your state government website to search online databases and find plumbers listed as professional license holders. The National Contractor License Service is also a good resource for researching your state’s licensing requirements.

Lean on other opinions

When you’re in need of plumbing services, start your search by asking neighbors, friends and family members for recommendations. Online reviews and testimonials can also be helpful resources for determining a plumber’s reliability and qualifications.

Ask the right questions

While the cost of a plumber may be among your first inquiries, your search should extend well beyond “the cheapest plumber near me.” Ask plumbers about cost estimates and expected payment schedules before they perform any work. It’s also acceptable to inquire about references, plumbing experience and proof of license, registration and insurance before hiring a plumber or contractor service.

Prepare with home repair plans

Being prepared before a plumbing or home repair issue arises is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

5 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipes

As frigid temperatures settle in, your first instinct is to turn up the heat, grab a blanket and cozy up with hot drinks. Don’t forget that your pipes are vulnerable to freezing at this time of year.

When temperatures are low during winter months, your pipes may have a higher chance of freezing or bursting. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety reported that burst pipes are an especially common cause of property and water damage, costing homeowners upwards of $5,000 to repair.

The good news is that there are preventative measures you can take to help avoid hefty repair bills and keep your water running smoothly. For example:

  1. Set the thermostat

Be sure to keep your thermostat set to the same temperature during the day and night. While you may be used to turning the heat down when you sleep, this should be avoided as the outdoor temperatures decrease during these hours.

  1. Open the kitchen and bathroom cabinets

This step allows the warm air from inside your home to reach the pipes under sinks and appliances, especially overnight. An important reminder from Consumer Reports: Remove harmful cleaners or chemicals from these cabinets if you have small children at home.

  1. Let cold water run

When it’s especially chilly outside, let the cold water drip from the faucets for a few minutes. Running water through pipes, especially exposed ones, is an especially effective way to prevent them from freezing.

  1. Keep garage doors closed

Blocking the garage from the chilly air is especially important if this is where your water supply lines are located.

  1. Insulate everywhere

The best long-term solution to avoid frozen pipes is to add proper insulation in your attic, basement and crawl space. It’s also important to seal doors and windows to prevent drafts of cold outdoor air sneaking inside. You can also use foam pipe insulation or heat tape to wrap exposed plumbing.

If your pipes freeze despite your best preventative efforts, you may be able to save them before they burst. Leave the faucet on – even if there isn’t any water flowing. Start heating the pipes closest to the faucet, using a hair dryer, electric heating pad, space heater or towels soaked in hot water. If the water doesn’t start flowing, leave the faucet on and call a licensed plumber for help.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

What You Need to Know to Hire the Best Plumber

Hesitant to hire a plumber out of fear that they won’t have proper qualifications or charge you fair prices? With the right preparations, have no fear: you may discover that hiring a plumber is easier than you thought.

plumbing

Simply follow these tips:

Determine the type of plumber

The extent of the plumbing repair or replacement can determine the kind of plumber you should hire. Plumbers often advertise a specialized skill set, most commonly focusing on building and remodeling projects or existing system repair. They further refine their skill level by trade credentials:

  • Apprentice plumbers are still in training, often working alongside more experienced tradesman.
  • Journeyman plumbers graduated from their apprenticeships and now have licenses. They can do most plumbing work, but typically don’t run plumbing companies.
  • Master plumbers are the most qualified option, complete with years of plumbing experience and additional vocational education certifications. These are the plumbers who run their own businesses.

For basic plumbing services, you can rely on a journeyman plumber to complete the job. For more complex issues, you may want to request the help of a master plumber.

Verify current licenses

While the specifications differ, most states require plumbers to at least obtain a license. Reference your state government website to search online databases and find plumbers listed as professional license holders. The National Contractor License Service is also a good resource for researching your state’s licensing requirements.

Lean on other opinions

When you’re in need of plumbing services, start your search by asking neighbors, friends and family members for recommendations. Online reviews and testimonials can also be helpful resources for determining a plumber’s reliability and qualifications.

Ask the right questions

While the cost of a plumber may be among your first inquiries, your search should extend well beyond “the cheapest plumber near me.” Ask plumbers about cost estimates and expected payment schedules before they perform any work. It’s also acceptable to inquire about references, plumbing experience and proof of license, registration and insurance before hiring a plumber or contractor service.

Prepare with home repair plans

Being prepared before a plumbing or home repair issue arises is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.