Spring cleaning is typically the perfect time to sweep out the garage, reorganize the linen closet and wipe down the windows. But in Spring 2020, our cleaning goals are slightly different.
While shelter-in-place orders around the country may be giving families plenty of time to tackle those Marie Kondo-inspired tidying-up projects, these guidelines are essential to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Here are some helpful cleaning strategies that may help you keep germs at bay, even if your family is in good health:
Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re cleaning, and wash your hands before and after to help minimize the spread of germs. It’s also best to work in a well-ventilated space, as disinfecting chemicals can be very strong. Also, never mix cleaning chemicals as this can create toxic off gassing.
Clean First, Then Disinfect
The CDC explains that cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning helps remove dirt, debris and other residue, whereas disinfecting helps kill bacteria and pathogens.
First, wipe down surfaces with a cleaning towel or soap and water to remove dirt. Then follow up by using an EPA-approved disinfectant or a diluted household bleach solution containing 4 teaspoons of unexpired bleach for each quart of water.
Your disinfectant will need to remain on the surface for a certain amount of time, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For a household solution, wait at least 1 minute.
Focus on High-Touch Surfaces
The CDC also recommends cleaning high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas. These include bathroom and kitchen surfaces, faucets, doorknobs, hard-backed chairs, lightswitches, game controllers, computer keyboards and mobile devices.
Explore Cleaning Guides from HomeServe
If you’re like me and have become somewhat obsessive about keeping your house clean and wanting to try to keep the coronavirus at bay, check out the following HomeServe blogs for general cleaning tips and tricks that may help with hard-to-clean spots and surfaces.
Don’t forget to bookmark this post so you can come back to these helpful hints when next year’s Spring cleaning season comes around.
Prepare for the Unexpected With a Home Repair Plans
As you and your family follow shelter-in-place orders and spend more time at home, you’re counting on your essential home systems to stay in working order. Now, more than ever, your home is playing a major role as your living space, office, schoolhouse, play zone, fitness center and more. An unexpected home system breakdown could have consequences for all of these aspects of your life.
A few months ago, I wrote about my water heater mishap. (I know I’ll never forget that feeling of a freezing cold shower). I’m glad to report that my new water heater is still providing our family with hot showers and clean laundry – but I’m always on the lookout for the signs it might need maintenance.
During the frigid winter months, it’s more important than ever to check in on your water heater. If you do catch a problem early on, or realize you need an entirely new system, you can be proactive in receiving repairs (and won’t be caught in a mid-shower frozen surprise).
From my experience, I learned that installing a water heater is half the battle – and the majority of the cost – of purchasing this essential system. Don’t settle for lukewarm showers and half-washed dishes. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost to install a water heater.
The tank vs. tankless debate
The fact of the matter is, installation costs depend on the type of water heater you need or already have. Home Depot breaks down two of the most popular choices for homeowners:
Traditional water heaters: Typically store between 20 and 80 gallons of water heated by gas or electric power. The average total cost for a new traditional water heater and installation is $1,308.
Tankless water heaters: Gaining popularity in recent years, these units are also fueled by gas or electricity but only heat water as needed. They’re accepted as being more environmentally friendly, though they come with higher upfront costs. The average total cost for a tankless water heater is around $3,000.
Total costs include everything from the unit itself, permits, materials, installation, labor costs and removal of the old unit. Thumbtack.com estimates the national average cost of installing a water heater ranges from $500 to $1,000.
What’s your fuel source?
Water heater installation costs aren’t just affected by the type of water heater chosen, but also by the fuel sources available. Both traditional and tankless heaters can use gas or electricity to warm up water. A gas water heater may cost $50-100 more to install than an electric tank water heater. Likewise, you can expect to pay $500 more for a gas tankless water heater than an electric water heater.
If you need – or want – to switch fuel sources, you’ll most likely need to add some room to your budget. Going from an electric to gas water heater may require the addition of a gas line, that usually costs $500 to install, reports Homewyse.com.
Other factors to consider
The size, model, home layout and any additional – necessary – work can all contribute to the costs associated with installing a water heater. Traditional water heaters may require expansion tanks to minimize the risk of pressure damage to the plumbing system. TheSpruce.com explains this is mostly needed in closed water supply systems, so always factor that into your water heater costs.
While tankless heaters come with higher upfront costs, they can require less maintenance in the long run and families can see energy costs decrease because water is heated on a need-only basis. Both kinds of water heaters have energy-efficient models available for more cost savings.
Though each system comes with its own unique costs, installation can also vary based on your needs and wants. Always make sure to do your research before deciding on the best water heater for your home and have a licensed professional install it.
Remember that episode from Season 5 of “Friends” entitled “The One With Ross’ Sandwich” where Ross has an actual breakdown after someone steals his Thanksgiving leftovers? (One of my all time faves!)
Apparently, Ross had been looking forward to that Thanksgiving sandwich all year long – ‘cause it’s just that good.
While you binge on Netflix after the parade and pumpkin pie, wondering what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers, why not bookmark a few of my favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes?
My kids say these are better than Thursday’s turkey and stuffing — but I’ll leave it to you and yours to decide.
Try these low-carb stuffing waffles with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Or start your morning with Thanks Benedict, featuring stuffing cakes smothered in a sage hollandaise sauce, by one of my favorite chefs, Giada de Laurentiis.
My favorite turkey soup is a creamy, one-pot recipe for turkey and dumplings. It’s a great way to use up whatever turkey meat and veggies you have left.
I also recommend this hearty leftover turkey chili recipe. With a bowl filled with leftover goodness plus edamame and a homemade spice mix, it’s a great way to help your taste buds (and waist line) transition out of the holiday weekend.
I also can’t speak highly enough of Paul Hollywood’s ham and turkey pot pie. As seen on the Great BritishBaking Show holiday masterclass, it features a creamy sauce with leeks simmering beneath rough-puff pastry and looks as impressive as it tastes.
Before you get busy using all your appliances in the kitchen, it’s a good idea to have an appliance home warranty plan in place – just in case there’s a breakdown. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.
You may be able to clean out an older shower head with a simple life hack: An eight-hour soak in vinegar. Inspect the shower head afterward to see if that fix solved the problem and clear any remaining debris manually. If you’re still experiencing low shower pressure, it’s probably time to buy a new shower head.
Adjust necessary valves
If you just moved into a new home, you might find the pressure isn’t to your liking because the builder or previous owner installed a low-flow shower head. Try removing the flow regulator to improve the water stream.
If the problem persists, the low shower pressure may be the result of a water-restrictive shower valve instead of the shower head itself. Adjusting the central shut-off valve may increase the pressure.
Check with your water provider
For homes that get their water from municipal sources, there may be a problem with the amount of water flowing into the property as a whole.
You can increase the flow of water into your home either from the curb-side main or via the one coming into the house. This should be done carefully, however, and may require a call to your water provider.
Look for leak
In some cases, valves themselves could be the source of the problem. If decades-old pipes start to leak, you’ll encounter reduced water pressure in not only the shower, but also throughout the whole home. However, those issues may only present themselves in the shower. If you have low water pressure in your home overall, you may have bigger issues to deal with, like an issue with your water service line.
If you discover any leaks in your home plumbing system, you can attempt to patch them up – if the pipes are relatively new – with little fuss. All you’ll need to do is shut off the water to that pipe, make sure it’s dry and apply either a tape- or epoxy-based sealant, available at most hardware stores, to the affected area of the pipe. Some patches may not be advisable for lines that supply drinking or shower water, so check the packaging to make sure you get the right one.
When You Might Need to Call a Professional
As we have discussed, many low shower-pressure issues can be fixed on your own with a quick trip to the local hardware store to buy a replacement shower head or valve, and a few DIY how-to videos.
Once you have completed these repairs by yourself, it’s a good idea to plan for the future. Should you have any future problems, having a home warranty for your interior plumbing and draining system is a good idea.
Not sure if you need the help of a professional plumber? If the issue falls under one of these scenarios, you should definitely call a professional for expert help.
When the water pressure is low
If the water in your home isn’t flowing at its normal pressure, there could be a blockage or leak in the system, fractured pipe or eroded waterline. It can be difficult for the typical homeowner to pinpoint an issue like this. A plumbing professional can identify the source of low water pressure and advise on appropriate solutions.
When there’s no hot water
If your water isn’t heating up efficiently, it’s likely a water heater problem. As these units run on electric or gas systems, it can be dangerous to do repair work on your own. Similarly, if there is no water at all, call a professional to determine the cause.
When you notice severe pipe issues
If you think you have blocked, burst or frozen pipes, call a plumber immediately. Look out for signs, such as strange noises when the tap runs, sewage smells coming from faucets, lack of water or frost on exposed pipes.
Blockages are typically caused by sediment buildup or large debris in the sewer line. DIY attempts to fix these issues can cause more damage, resulting in a much larger repair bill. Even worse, a failed repair to a broken sewer line can cause issues for an entire neighborhood.
When you hear concerning noises
If you hear an extremely loud noise coming from the pipes, it may be a sign that something in the system is broken or about to break. If you hear a gurgling sound coming from the drains or pipes, it can be a sign of a clogged or compromised plumbing system. The sounds will likely appear when you’re using the toilet, shower, washing machine or dishwasher. If you hear these sounds, turn off the water immediately. This step will prevent the system from backing up into the house until the plumber arrives to inspect the issue.
When you’re doing a home renovation project
If you’re renovating the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room or other areas of the house that involve plumbing, make sure you get professional advice before starting the project. Relocating or installing plumbing-related items, such as sinks or dishwashers, requires the correct placement of supply lines and drains. A plumber can tell you if your renovation plans are feasible and ensure you have the proper permits. With that advice, you could save money on a potential repair or re-installation.
When you notice water damage
Look out for signs of water damage, such as leaks, water stains and mold growth. It’s ideal to catch water damage before the mold growth gets too severe, as the fungus is a health and safety hazard. A plumber can determine the source of the moisture and perform appropriate repairs to prevent further mold growth.
When DIY solutions aren’t enough
There are easy DIY fixes to many common plumbing issues, such as leaky faucets or clogged drains. Keep these plumbing do’s and don’ts in mind if you are attempting to repair the issue on your own. However, if the problem persists even after you’ve tried to fix it, a more serious problem may require expert plumbing knowledge to repair.
If you’re uncomfortable performing DIY plumbing, never hesitate to call a professional – even if it’s for a simple fix. A mistake could lead to a more severe issue, so it’s better to save yourself the hassle and get it fixed properly the first time around.Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy.
If you’re ready to put your handyman skills and toolbox to use, a toilet installation is a relatively simple job to start stretching your DIY muscles. Here are some tips you need to know about installing a toilet on your own.
Reasons to take on the project:
Replace or upgrade an old toilet
Remove and replace during remodeling
Save water and energy
If your toilet troubles are persistent, such as excessive clogging or cracking porcelain, the best option is to replace it. You can save money on your water bills by upgrading your unit to a low-flushing, energy-efficient model. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are responsible for 30 percent of a home’s average indoor water consumption. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label for high-performing, water-efficient models. Be sure to measure your bathroom before purchasing so the new toilet will fit in your space.
How to remove the old toilet:
Keep your safety in mind, and try to avoid breaking the toilet as a way to remove it. Plus, if it isn’t in terrible condition, you can sell or donate the unit.
Here’s how to dismantle the toilet without breaking it:
Turn off the water supply. The valve is on wall or floor behind the toilet.
Drain all the water from the bowl. Start by flushing the toilet, then use a plunger, small cup or sponge to remove any excess water.
Disconnect the supply line. Use a wrench to carefully release it.
Remove the tank. Start with the lid, and then use a wrench to loosen the bolts at the bottom of the tank. Lift it straight up, but gently twist it side to side if you feel resistance.
Remove the bowl.Take off the bolt caps at the base of the toilet, then use pliers or a wrench to remove the bolts. Gently rock the bowl back and forth until you can pick it up entirely.
Clean the floor. Use a putty knife to remove any gunk from the floor and around the mounting flange. Wipe down the surface before installing the new toilet.
How to install a new toilet:
Just like removing the old one, you’ll install the new one in pieces. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific guidelines.
Place the wax ringon the flange. Pro tip: Lowe’s recommended making sure the ring is warm before placing it, as it will be softer and easier to work with.
Set and secure the bowl. Place the toilet bowl onto the flange, aligning it with the bolt holes. Place a washer and nut on each bolt, and tighten into place. Alternate from side to side to make sure you tighten them evenly. Be cautious of over-tightening, as this can crack the porcelain. Place the bolt caps, and use a sealant around the base of the toilet to secure its position.
Install the tank. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placing the rubber gasket (if it’s not already installed.) Insert the mounting bolts through the inside of the tank, and then place it into position. Alternate tightening the bolts, like you did on the base.
Secure the toilet seat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Reconnect the water supply line. Turn the water back on, and then flush the toilet to test your work.
Not everyone is a DIY type, but if you are, it’s definitely worth a shot. If during the task you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. Serious plumbing issues can become a huge inconvenience, so it’s never a bad idea to have a certified plumber check out the problem.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Use a screwdriver to remove the rollers and reattach either new or existing spline.
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.
Fit the screen snugly into the splined frame.
Finally, trim any excess fiberglass and reattach any parts of the door (latch, rollers, panel and so on) you might’ve removed.
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.
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.
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.
April showers bring something a little less lovely than May flowers. All the rainwater can wreak havoc on your home if you don’t have gutters to manage it. That’s why buying and installing a really good gutter and downspout system should be at the top of your spring home improvement checklist.
Why Your Home Needs Gutters
Without gutters, you might see smashed flower beds or a flooded basement after just one heavy storm. In time, your property could experience everything from soil erosion and stained siding to damp walls and foundation damage.
These are not just unsightly issues; they can compromise your home’s structural integrity. And it might go without saying, but repairing a rotted wall or foundation can turn into a big, expensive project. Major storm damage can also occur with old, leaky gutter systems that ought to be replaced.
Thankfully, you can easily prevent this type of damage by installing a comprehensive rain gutter system with strategically located downspouts around your home.
Average Gutter Installation Cost
Homeowners can pay anywhere from $600-$800 on the lower end of the spectrum to $2,500-$5,000 on the higher end. The average gutter installation cost is closer to $1,000 to $1,800, including labor. What you pay will depend on the material you use, how large your property is and the cost of living in your area.
Reliable rain gutters are an investment in your home that will not only keep your yard looking great but will help ensure the health of your home. Luckily, you have a lot of choices about how to protect your property and re-route the rainwater.
Gutter Installation Cost Factors to Consider
If you want to figure out the total cost of a gutter installation project, you’ll need to factor a few points into your calculations.
For each square foot of your home, you will need a minimum of 10 feet of gutters. So, an average 1,500 square foot home would require at least 150 linear feet of gutters. Moreover, an upper story installation will cost between $1.00-$1.50 more per linear foot than a single-story installation.
Gutter installation can certainly be a DIY home maintenance project, but only with sectional gutters. You might prefer to have a professional install your gutters for you. While more expensive, this can be safer and more reliable — and it means you can get seamless gutters installed. Typically, labor costs are factored into the pricing. This is because, in the case of seamless gutters, the contractor will actually create gutter pieces in the right sizes onsite.
Installation or Replacement
A gutter replacement project is actually more expensive than installing a system to a home that never had gutters. Having old gutters removed will require additional labor. You can expect to pay around $100-$150 to have old gutters removed and disposed of. Just be mindful that if you discover a rotting or damaged roofline, you’ll need to address that project first before getting to the gutter installation.
Regions that see a lot of rainfall may need different types of gutters. For instance, the U.S. Department of Energy advises that homeowners in marine climates should choose high-capacity gutters with flashing. Most gutters come in widths from 4-6 inches, but can be made larger at a greater expense. Homeowners in regions that experience forest fires should choose metal gutters rather than vinyl.
Correctly placed downspouts will help you avoid a drainage problem, but you can choose where your system sends the water. You can simply set down splash blocks or use downspout extensions to carry it farther from your foundation. If you want to set up a rainwater harvesting system, you will need to budget for additional piping, filtration systems, storage tanks and more.
Gutter Type, Materials and Accessories
The total gutter installation cost will depend on the type of gutter you want, the materials you select and any add-ons and accessories you choose. The material is the biggest factor in determining the overall gutter installation cost. The two possible types are seamless gutters (including aluminum, galvanized steel and copper) and sectional gutters (including vinyl).
Seamless gutter pieces are custom made to fit your roofline. The metal is molded to shape using an extrusion machine onsite at your property. Seamless gutters are less likely to leak and can result in a perfect fit.
Seamless aluminum gutters are the most popular choice among homeowners. They cost roughly $5 to $14 per linear foot, on average. They are lightweight, corrosion-resistant and can last between 20 and 30 years, meaning they offer good value for money. They’re typically available in a variety of colors and certain aluminum gutters can even be painted to match your home’s trim, which can help minimize their appearance.
Seamless galvanized steel gutters are highly durable. They don’t dent as easily as aluminum and won’t crack in the cold. Because of this, they may be well-suited to windy or wooded areas. However, they are heavier and can start to rust if their protective coating gets damaged. They’ll typically last for about 10 to 20 years. Galvanized steel gutters can cost anywhere from $6-$16 or more per linear foot, but $9 is an average price.
Seamless copper gutters are the most durable and offer the most aesthetic value. They can offer a warm glow if kept polished or will develop a rich patina over time. However, they are also the most expensive choice and average about $20 to $40 per linear foot. Copper gutters are great for finishing off a high-end home, but as the metal is a valuable material, it can expose some properties to theft. They will last between 50 to 100 years, so the higher upfront costs will eventually pay off.
Sectional gutters consist of shorter connected pieces. Typically, they come in 10-foot lengths and need to be cut down to size. More joins are required and will need to be monitored for leaks over time. The most common type of sectional gutter is vinyl. Wood is another, less-popular option as it’s prone to rotting and can be pricey, averaging $12 to $20 per linear foot.
Sectional vinyl gutters are the least expensive option, averaging $3 to $7 per linear foot. They are very lightweight and DIY installation can be relatively straightforward, although professionals can install them as well. They are sealed with urethane to protect leaks, but may crack in cold climates.
While some components like downspouts and gutter elbows are essential, you can choose to add on other accessories to your gutter system. Many of these will come in the same material as the gutters themselves, and prices vary accordingly, with copper being the most expensive choice.
Gutter hangers, also known as gutter brackets, help keep your gutters elevated. They’re especially useful in windy or rainy climates, and can cost as low as $2 to $5 for vinyl or aluminum.
Downspouts and Extensions
You’ll typically need to install one downspout every 35 feet along your roofline. Vinyl or aluminum downspouts and above-ground downspout extensions are usually priced from $2 to $8 per linear foot, while steel can cost up to $10 per foot and copper may cost between $10-$25 per linear foot.
If your roof is not flush with the exterior walls, you’ll need gutter elbows to make the turn so that your downspout hugs the wall. With an overhanging roof, it often takes two in an “S” shape to span the distance. These can cost around $5 to $9 for the less expensive materials, but copper pieces can run from $20-$50.
Installing gutter guards, also called leaf guards, is a great way to keep your gutter system clear of debris. You may spend under $200 to purchase and install more affordable materials yourself, but could spend $1,500 to have a custom system professionally installed. Basic wire mesh screens can cost as low as $1 per linear foot, whereas perforated metal gutter guards can cost $4-$12 per linear foot.
Flashing prevents roof runoff from seeping behind your gutters. It can cost about $2-$5 for vinyl or aluminum, or $5-$10 for galvanized steel, but copper flashing may cost up to $30.
Gutter heaters or heat tape are electrical cords that warm up your gutters to prevent them, and the water in them, from freezing. This helps prevent ice dams in cold climates and can cost around $50 to $75 per 100 linear feet.
Splash blocks, also called splash guards or splash drains are plastic trays that cost about $5-$10 each. They sit below the downspout and help divert water away from your foundation and spread it evenly across the earth below.
Protecting Your Gutter Investment
Standing water and damp leaves in a gutter can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes in the summer and can cause ice dams to form in the winter. To avoid clogged gutters, clean out your system on a regular basis. You can do this yourself, or enlist a professional for about $100 to $150 per visit.
Now that I am staying at home each day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my morning commute entails going from my bed to my shower to my home office. Unfortunately, this extra time in the shower has allowed me to notice that my shower head is in need of some definite TLC. Should I order a new one from Home Depot? Or maybe just clean the one I have?
If your shower head is like mine and has seen better days, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade to a new fixture right away. A little elbow grease can go a long way when it comes to eliminating soap scum and mineral buildup.
The following method by far the best way to clean your shower head. It just takes some good scrubbing, a descaling soak and a quick polish. And, it’s a great way to beat the grime with materials you already have lying around at home.
What You’ll Need
Here’s what you should have on hand before getting started:
Soft-bristled cleaning brush or sponge.
Plastic gallon bag.
Rubber band or twist-tie.
Baking soda (optional).
Microfiber cloth (optional).
Side note: Since this green cleaning method doesn’t use harsh chemicals, you won’t need to wear cleaning gloves. But, by all means, if your shower head looks as gross as some of the ones I’ve seen (in whose bathroom? I’ll never say!) … well, you might just want a pair anyway.
Step 1: Scrub
First, you’ll need to scrub the shower head. Use a soft-bristled cleaning brush or rough sponge to knock the crusty mineral deposits out of the sprayer holes. Real Simple recommends using a trusty old toothbrush.
Be careful: Wire wool and hard-bristled brushes may scratch or damage fine metal finishes. Be sure to use soft bristles and gentle scrubbing pressure to avoid this. If your shower head holes are surrounded by flexible plastic rings, you can even poke the buildup out with your finger or a toothpick.
Run the shower to see if the water flows out in a straight jet with consistent water pressure. If it doesn’t, pay a little extra scrubbing attention to the clogged-up holes.
Step 2: Soak
Soaking is a great way to descale the fixture and get rid of both the residue and hard water spots you can’t clear off with just a brush.
Lift the bag with vinegar and water onto the shower head so that the sprayer holes are totally submerged in your cleaning solution. Use a rubber band or twist tie to secure the bag in place at the top or along the neck of the shower head.
Leave it there to soak for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the finish of your showerhead and how caked-on the buildup is.
For fixtures coated with brass, nickel, or gold, keep the bag in place for just 15 to 30 minutes. Any longer and the acid might eat away at the finish. With other fixtures, feel free to leave the solution on overnight. This will give the vinegar solution a chance to loosen up the limescale around the shower head.
If it still looks a little clogged, repeat the process — this time, Better Homes and Gardens suggests adding a few tablespoons of baking soda in the solution and leaving it on for about 30 minutes.
Step 3: Rinse
After the soaking time is up, remove the bag and discard the cleaning solution down the shower drain. Gently scrub the shower head with a damp sponge or cleaning brush to wipe off any remaining residue.
Finally, run water through the shower head for a minute or so to flush out the system.
Step 4: Polish
Although this step is optional and just for show, you can buff the metal fixture with a soft microfiber cloth to restore its gleam. Make sure to soak up any moisture to prevent those pesky white water droplets from forming.
Bonus Step: Plumbing Protection
The shower head tends to be one of those things you use and see all the time, but very rarely think to maintain.
Many of us have the same attitude toward our home plumbing systems. All the elements are right there in front of us, we use them daily, but how often do we show them the care and attention they need?
After polishing off your bathroom fixtures and giving the tub a good old scrub, you may find yourself thinking about having a home repair plan in place to protect your budget from the costs of covered plumbing repairs.
The first time I cleaned the shower in my new home, I couldn’t get the soap scum off the bathtub. No matter how much I scrubbed, no matter which cleaning products I used, it wouldn’t budge. When my neighbor mentioned it might be caused by “hard” water, I thought “what is she talking about.” To me the concept of “hard” or “soft” doesn’t apply to something like water. To me, water is just simply wet. Upon further research, I quickly realized there really is such a thing and there’s a big difference between having hard or soft water.
So, I am saving you some time and energy by sharing my knowledge. Here’s what you should know about hard water:
What is hard water?
High in minerals like calcium and magnesium, hard water is common across the United States. In fact, maps from Marmon Water reveal that 85 percent of Americans have hard water in their homes. The severity depends on location, with Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Antonio and Tampa among the metro areas with the highest levels of minerals in hard water. By contrast, New England, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest tend to have the softest water.
What are the signs of hard water?
While hard water is safe to drink, bathe or for washing, it can easily stain sinks, tubs, dishes and clothes. It can also lead to higher water bills by making appliances work double time, according to Whirlpool.
After bathing in hard water, you may experience dry skin and flat hair caused by the harsh mineral deposits. Over time, soap scum and mineral deposits will build up around the tub and fixtures, and you may notice water heater problems. Beyond the bathtub, the most common indicators of hot water include white spots on dishes, laundered clothes that are dull in color and rough to the touch, clogged pipes and struggling appliances.
If you notice these signs, you can confirm your hunch by contacting your municipality if you have city water. Alternatively, you can purchase a water hardness test kit.
Is there hard water remedies?
Installing a water softener is the best way to combat the problems associated with hard water. As far as quick fixes go, you can choose cleaning and bathing products designed for homes with hard water. To remove hard water stains, Family Handyman suggests using cleaners that work against soap scum. Spray the cleaner on the tub and shower walls, letting it sit for at least five minutes before scrubbing. There are also several DIY hard water treatments you can try.
There is no home maintenance issue that brings sheer frustration and disgust quicker than a clogged sewer or septic line. Take it from me (and my personal experience,) this inconvenience can take your day from very bad to worse in just minutes.
On the bright side, some plumbing issues can be dealt with on your own using some ingenuity and elbow grease. Let’s take a look at the big warning signs and how to go about addressing them:
The slow-moving drains
As explained by SFGate Home Guides, there is no sign of a clogged sewer line more obvious than drains that are moving slowly: Kitchen and bathroom sinks (and toilets) will either take forever and a day to drain or, in extreme cases, become blocked up entirely.
Small clogs in the kitchen drain may merely be due to a particularly recalcitrant buildup of food waste (a problem even more common to sinks without garbage disposals). Toilet draining issues, meanwhile, might just be a clump of toilet paper or other material that needs to be plunged or expunged with an appropriate cleaning product. If you try either of those and don’t succeed, you’ll probably need a plumber. Also, if multiple drains are simultaneously clogged, that’s an immediate sign of a big problem.
The dark water
If you see black or brown water emerging from any of the drains in your house, this is a surefire sign of a clogged sewer line.
What’s more, it’ll usually be accompanied by a wretched odor of raw sewage. More often than not, a sewer-line clog that produces dark water is one that will necessitate professional attention – especially, as The Spruce notes, if the filth is coming out of the drain in your tub.
This refers to the sound the toilet suddenly makes when water is traveling through other drains, like those in the kitchen or bathroom sinks, according to The Spruce. (It can affect other plumbing fixtures but only the toilet uses enough water to make the loud version of this sound.) It’s another major sign that the problem facing the drain extends to everywhere in the house, and is likely something major like overgrown tree roots causing damage to sewage pipes.
Plumbing problems are the bane of my existence. Not only are they a major inconvenience, but repairs can be costly, especially if the plumbing issue goes unnoticed.
I’ll be the first to admit that beyond pulling the occasional hair clog that looks like “Cousin It” from the shower drain, I trust a plumbing professional for all my repair needs. Now that I’m aware of the signs when it’s time to call in the experts for my plumbing woes, you can learn what some of the most common and major repairs can cost as well.
Leaky plumbing fixtures
Drip. Drip. Drip. In the rare times my home is quiet, my ears instantly perk up when I hear the sound of dripping water. Not only is it mildly annoying, but a leaky faucet or shower head can actually be a major addition to your monthly water bill.
If you have your own tools, fixing a leaky faucet is actually relatively simple. Follow these easy steps and all you’ll be paying for is the cost of the materials or cleaning supplies needed. If you do hire a plumber, Thumbtack estimates it will cost between $65 and $150, depending on the severity of the problem and potential cause of the leak.
Garbage disposal problems
The garbage disposal is one of my most utilized appliances (bye-bye smelly food scraps!). But when it starts to leak or drainage is slow, it seriously messes with my dinner clean-up routine. You can easily troubleshoot many common problems with some DIY remedies or a trip to the hardware store. But if those don’t work, call in a plumber for a similar rate to fixing a leaky faucet.
Keep in mind some new garbage disposals cost as little as $80, so it might even be worth it to get a newer, more efficient model installed.
Are you noticing a faint smell of mildew, is your water bill suddenly high for seemingly no reason or are you finding water pooled around some of your appliances? All of these are signs there may be a leak in your water line – and it’s time to call a plumber.
While you might be able to find a leak on your own, you should rely on a professional plumber to do the job, since the severity of the leak and subsequent water damage can vary depending on the issue.
According to Fixr, the source of a problem with your water pipes could range from a leaky valve that may cost as little as $400 to replace, to a crack that could set you back upwards of $1,000 to solder. Sometimes, sections in your plumbing system need to be completely replaced by a plumbing contractor. The cost to install new piping is usually between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on materials, location and length.
A blocked drain in the kitchen sink is pretty gross, but there are plenty of ways to fix it yourself. A blocked pipe, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. If you’re noticing a change in your water pressure or not-so-pleasant smells lingering, a blocked sewage or main pipe might be the culprit.
This requires professional plumbing services to come in with specialized equipment to try to eliminate the blockage. The Spruce found that the average cost to unclog a branch line within a home is around $390.
Hot water heater problems
Finding your showers cut short due to a lack of hot water? Seeing discolored water? Chances are your water heater is not working properly.
Hiring a plumber is the smart move to get your hot water heater repaired as soon as possible. For common problems, Homewyse found you can expect to pay around $200, but costs can dramatically increase in some cases.
Septic tank issues
What’s that smell? As unpleasant as it is, disagreeable odors coming from your bathroom, drains and even your yard might be sign something is seriously wrong with your septic tank and plumbing. A lot of small problems, like multiple clogged drains and gurgling noises coming from your pipes may mean there’s a larger issue happening underground.
Don’t hesitate to call in a professional for this job, but be prepared to pay upwards of $1,500 to repair this essential home system, according to A-American Septic. If you need an entirely new system, expect to pay about double that amount.
Hour by hour
Plumbing costs are no doubt expensive. As Fixr points out, most plumbers charge hourly rates between $45 and $150, depending on the size of the job (and where you live), and some will charge a flat fee between $50 and $100 for service calls.
n theory, it all seemed super straightforward. But in practice? Nope! (After lying on my back and fumbling around in a pitch-black cabinet for the better part of a Saturday afternoon, I realized that I have my limits!) I had to call in my dad to come and bail me out.
The lesson learned is that 99% of most people I meet are handier at home repairs than I am. But since I spent so much time researching on how to install a kitchen faucet, I thought I’d share my findings. Here you go:
Purchase a compatible faucet
Before you set your heart on a sleek new faucet style, make sure it’s compatible with your sink.
Peek underneath to see how many holes there are. If there’s just one, you’ll need a one-hole faucet. But you have more options if there are three or four holes in your sink.
Before taking anything apart, remember to turn off the water! If your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal or an electrical outlet underneath, turn off the power, too.
Locate the valves under your sink or, if there aren’t any, head to the main water supply line. Switch the shutoff valve to the “off” setting. If it won’t budge, try coaxing it with heat from a hairdryer or gently twisting it with pliers.
Then, switch on the faucet to relieve any pressure in the water lines.
Remove the old faucet
To get the old faucet out of the way, loosen all of the mounting hardware and disconnect all of the supply lines from below. It helps to have someone else keeps the faucet still from above, and a bucket or towel to catch the dripping water below.
Depending on the type of faucet in your sink, you may need to use different strategies, but a basin wrench will always come in handy for loosening the nuts.
Install the new faucet
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as closely as possible for the most successful installation.
Depending on the type of spout assembly you’re working with, you may need to hook up the main faucet, separate hot and cold supply lines and a side sprayer hose.
But, in general, you’ll slide the pieces in from above and use a basin wrench to tighten the mounting hardware. You might also need to use caulk or plumber’s putty to seal up the gaps.
Turn the water back on at the supply valves and run a gentle stream of water to make sure it works. Check for drips around the supply lines and tighten the hardware if necessary.
Once you’ve tested it out and everything appears to be dry, remove the faucet’s aerator. Run the water at full-blast to flush out any debris that may have collected. Replace the aerator and your new kitchen sink is ready to go!
After installing or replacing a kitchen faucet, you’ll want to keep all your home systems running smoothly.
Even with the best laid plans to winterize your home plumbing system, sometimes pipes still freeze over. And sometimes, they burst. And then the panic builds and causes the emotions to burst. (Sound familiar?)
As my science-loving daughter explained to me, it has to do with changing states of matter. (Yep, she’s a smarty pants.) As the frozen water expands, the pressure can build from 40 PSI to 40,000 PSI. Ordinary pipes are no match for this explosive stress and they’ll rupture.
The worst-case scenario
You may not notice you have a burst pipe until it starts thawing. Then, water will start flooding straight into your home at a rate of hundreds of gallons per hour, according to The Spruce. A wintertime flood can only ever lead to extensive water damage, costly home repairs and buckets of bitter tears.
Identifying a frozen pipe
The most vulnerable pipes are those in an unheated crawl space, basement or garage, and those within external walls. This includes pipes in closets and cabinets and those near outdoor hose hookups. Exposed pipes are also susceptible. Basically, any pipe with some proximity to the great frozen tundra of the outside world is at risk of freezing.
If you can successfully thaw out your frozen pipe before it bursts, you’ll save yourself endless trouble and strife. When the temperatures drop, here are some signs to look for:
Nothing comes out of the tap when you turn it on.
The water pressure is significantly reduced.
Your toilet bowl doesn’t refill after you flush it.
Frost appears on the outside of the pipe.
There’s a bulge in the pipe.
If you notice one or more of these things, chances are your pipes are frozen and you need to take action — immediately.
What to do
Upon spotting a frozen pipe, keep the surrounding area as warm as possible. Turn up the thermostat to about 70 degrees. To help the heat circulate and stay in, leave cabinet doors open so the warmth reaches the plumbing system and keep your windows and garage door closed.
Direct a space heater (though always use safety precautions) or infrared lamp towards exposed pipes and those behind walls. You can also blow a hot hair dryer towards the pipes to speed up the thawing process. (But never, ever use an exposed flame.) If the situation is really dire, consider slicing out a section of drywall to expose the pipe.
Focus your efforts on the part of the pipe closest to the faucet so that the melting water has somewhere to go. Keep a stream of cold water flowing out of the faucet. If the pipes are frozen, the water flow will be noticeably reduced. As they thaw out, you’ll notice the flow pick up.
If you expect the cold snap to pass, you may be able to resolve the problem on your own. However, if the weather forecast shows that Jack Frost is going to stick around like an unwanted guest, you’d be best served by enlisting the help of an experienced plumber.
The crisis may be averted, but you should still take preventative measures with these habits and home improvements to make sure your pipes don’t freeze again:
Cover the pipes with pipe insulation.
Insulate vulnerable rooms like the basement and crawl spaces.
Keep your thermostat at 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the colder months.
I know there are lots of parts at work to make my HVAC system run at full steam, and I’m grateful to all of them for keeping me comfortably cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. When they start to struggle, I owe it to them to make the repairs and replacements happen as soon as possible. And it’s a win-win, of course, because there’s never a convenient time to have an air conditioning unit or furnace that’s out of commission.
When the water pump malfunctions, here’s what homeowners need to know about the replacement costs:
Reasons for water pump replacement
Your HVAC appliances accumulate water as they operate. Pools of liquid don’t mix well with system performance, which is why there’s a water pump – also known as a condensate pump – to drain the excess water. These pumps often lose function over time due to wear and tear, accumulated debris or a failed motor. One of the most obvious signs of water pump trouble is leaking, which becomes apparent when there are small puddles of water accumulating around appliances. Air conditioner or furnace malfunctions may also be caused by a failing condensate pump, but you may need an HVAC professional to inspect the system to confirm that the pump is the issue.
A new condensate pump can cost anywhere from $40 to $300. Labor expenses included, HVAC water pump replacement generally costs about $250 to $500. The factors that may contribute to final price variations include:
Pump type: The cost will vary depending on the brand and model you choose. Generally, your choice will be limited to the specifications of your current pump.
Capacity: HVAC water pumps have a GPM or GPH rate, which indicates how many gallons of water the pump can remove per minute or hour. ConsumerMentor.com advises buying a pump that can remove two to three times your HVAC systems’ input condensing rate. You’ll also need to consider pump voltage and horsepower, as some appliances and systems require higher levels for proper performance.