How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

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:

Protect Yourself

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.

Cleaning Products to Use Around the House

Bathroom Cleaning Guides

Kitchen Cleaning Guides

Living Space Cleaning Guides

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.

Being prepared for the unexpected with a repair plan from Service Lines Warranties of America is a good strategy.

What Is the Cost to Install a Water Heater?

What Is the Cost to Install a Water Heater?

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.

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

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes Better Than the Holiday Meal

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes Better Than the Holiday Meal

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.

Breakfast

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.

For a weekend brunch with friends (and mimosas), I love making a sweet potato and kale frittata with creamy goat cheese, or this stuffing and turkey quiche.

The kids will adore breakfast sausage and stuffing bites — they’re so good you’ll want to pop a few before heading out for the Black Friday doorbusters.

Get a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America today

Soups and sandwiches

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.

And, while you can easily throw together a turkey sandwich to relive the flavors of Thanksgiving Day, why not take it up a notch with a gooey brie, apple and cranberry grilled cheese sandwich? Simple but oh-so indulgent.

Savory pies

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, don’t miss this Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie. Or, remix the same festive flavors into a turkey pie with a cornbread stuffing crust.

I also can’t speak highly enough of Paul Hollywood’s ham and turkey pot pie. As seen on the Great British Baking Show holiday masterclass, it features a creamy sauce with leeks simmering beneath rough-puff pastry and looks as impressive as it tastes.

Get a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America today

For something quicker, pop these easy Thanksgiving leftover hand pies into the oven. They’re made with store-bought pie crust and the kids will enjoy crafting their own homemade hot pockets.

Pizza

Leftover pizzas are a serious crowd-pleaser! Layer up turkey and sides into a Thanksgiving pizza baked in puff pastry. This version is topped with fried onions for an extra crunch.

My kids always request this yummy mashed potato pizza with leeks and bacon crumbles, but I also like to make up another pizza with turkey, cranberries and barbeque sauce for the grown-ups.

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.

DIY Shower Pressure Fixes

Low or declining shower pressure may be a frustrating situation. Fortunately, most of the causes of low shower pressure can be fixed quickly, easily and without a lot of personal expertise.

To determine the culprit behind this issue, there are a number of places to look. The best place to start is in the shower itself.

Here are some DIY shower pressure fixes you can complete without the assistance of a plumber:

Remove shower head sediment

Older homes may experience water pressure problems due to years of sediment build-up in the shower head.

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.

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

Reasons to call a professional plumber

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. 

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

DIY plumbing: How to install a toilet

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:

  1. Turn off the water supply. The valve is on wall or floor behind the toilet.
  2. 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.
  3. Disconnect the supply line. Use a wrench to carefully release it.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

  1. Place the wax ring on 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Secure the toilet seat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. 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.

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

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.

Does a home warranty cover water and sewer lines?

Does a Home Warranty cover Water and Sewer Lines?

My grandmother used to say, “You never know how good things are ‘til they are gone.” When it comes to your appliances and home systems working properly, this is so true. We all rely upon our water running, our dishwasher washing and our heat warming.

And while we all take our essential home infrastructure for granted, a homeowner can be unsure how to proceed when things go wrong. Fortunately, you can be prepared with a home repair plan that includes provisions for covered repairs of your water line or clogged sewer line.

Water and sewer coverage 101

Before you decide on a home repair plan or home warranty, it’s always important to know exactly what a given plan will offer you in terms of repair coverage for different systems and appliances.

According to Consumer Reports.org, it is fairly common for a home repair or home warranty plan that addresses household infrastructure to include provisions for repairs to the internal plumbing, as it’s one of any home’s critical systems along with the electrical wiring and water heater. But coverage for indoor plumbing does not always mean that the water and sewer lines – which run underground from the outskirts of your house’s foundation to the municipal pipes underneath all of the nearby streets – are necessarily covered.

Along similar lines, if you have a septic tank to handle your home’s wastewater instead of being connected to your city’s sewer-line network, be sure to check if the tank and the pipes that connect it to your internal plumbing are covered. Some plans that might cover exterior water and sewer lines won’t be adaptable to homes that use septic systems.

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Additionally, keep in mind that homeowner’s insurance will often only be of help if your plumbing, water or sewer lines suffered sudden and catastrophic damage, according to Policygenius.

Line-specific plans from SLWA

By turning to Service Line Warranties of America, you can find yourself a number of different home repair plan options to protect your water and sewer lines. First off, there are plans that cover individual aspects of the exterior plumbing:

  • Sewer/septic line coverage: With this plan, the essential steps for finding and repairing a problematic sewer or septic line are covered – replacement or repair of pipes, seals and joints, unblocking, fusing, welding, pipe-cutting, valve-fitting and restoration of any exterior home areas disturbed by the repair process.
  • Water line coverage: Everything described above, but for the water line instead.

Being prepared for plumbing, water line, sewer line and other household breakdowns is always a smart choice. Learn more on how  a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America can help you with the costs of covered repairs.

How much does it cost to install or replace a garbage disposal

by Meghan Stiltner

garbage disposal installed under sink

You don’t realize how frequently you use your garbage disposal until it stops working. And when it happens, all you want to know is the quickest, least-costly way to get back to grinding.

This May Also Interest You: How to Install a Garbage Disposal on Your Own

If your garbage disposal isn’t working, it’s important to get it fixed to prevent a clogged sink — or maybe you don’t have a garbage disposal and are looking to have one installed. Read on to learn about the cost to do the work yourself versus calling in a pro.

How much does a garbage disposal cost?

There are many options that you can choose from at varying price ranges. You’ll have to first determine what your budget is and choose the best option within that sum. Garbage disposals can cost as little as $50 and range all the way up to $250 or more depending on the size and brand you choose.

On average, the cost of installation will run from around $120 up to $600. Where you live plays a role in how much service-call charges are.

How long do garbage disposals last?

Your garbage disposal’s useful lifespan will depend on how often you use it. If it’s something you use just here and there, you’ll likely get the maximum life out of it, which on average is 10 years out — though there still may be some repairs needed from time to time. As with any home appliance, proper maintenance and use according to manufacturer instructions are important.

How much does a garbage disposal replacement cost?

When your garbage disposal is in need of replacement, you’ll want to call around to the local plumbing companies to get quotes so you can choose the best offer. After all, does the need for home repairs ever arrive when we’re financially prepared for it? The good news is that you shouldn’t need to have this done very often as long so you don’t put things down the drain that don’t belong there.

How much does garbage disposal repair cost?

On average, most repairs will cost you around $250, including labor. Plumbers generally charge around $80 an hour.

In deciding whether to repair it or replace it, be sure to consider the cost of the disposal itself: It may make more sense to simply replace it. That likely comes with additional costs, so be prepared.

Are garbage disposals worth the money?

Everyone has to make up their own mind on what is valuable to them — but if you use your kitchen a lot for cooking, odds are you’ll be happy you have this particular appliance. It can cut down on the amount of smelly food waste you forget about in the garbage until it’s already stunk up the place. That said, you have to maintain your disposal, or it’ll get odorific as well.

Can I replace or repair my own garbage disposal?

Households often opt to have an expert do this particular dirty work for them, but the answer is yes: If you’re confident in your ability to do it yourself, you can. You’ll almost certainly save money versus making a service call.

For most such repairs, you can expect to pay around $75; a replacement will cost more. Although, if you do it yourself, you’ll save a substantial chunk of change on labor.

Tools needed to repair a garbage disposal

You’ll need the right tools and supplies to work on your garbage disposal. Many of the items you may already have around your home but, if not, any local hardware store should have them.

Here’s a checklist of things you may need:

  • A bucket
  • Safety glasses
  • Plumber’s putty
  • A putty knife
  • A new garbage disposal
  • A screwdriver
  • Screws
  • A hammer

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from Service Line Warranties of America is important. Having a plan in place gives you the peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

How to clear a clogged drain

Have you ever glanced down at a drain and realized it’s moving slowly or even stopped draining altogether? Clogged drains can definitely look gross, but you don’t have to let them be a major hassle. With a few easy steps, you can handle most drain clogs at home.

Safety first: Always follow the directions on any chemicals carefully, and be sure to wear protective gear when handling chemicals or hot liquids. Also, turn off the water before snaking the drain, just in case a leak develops.

Step 1: Try removing the clog manually

If you have long hair that’s causing a clog right at the top of the drain, you’re in luck! As unpleasant as it might seem to remove a clog manually, it’s actually easier to deal with than a clogged drain that occurs farther down in your pipes. All you have to do is carefully detach the drain stopper, pull out the drain, and clean the hair, grime, and other gunk from it. This lets you unclog your drain without chemicals. For the typical bathroom drain clogged with hair, this is the simplest method of removing the drain clog.

Step 2: Create a DIY clogged drain remover

Have a clog that’s a bit too deep in the pipe to pull out by hand? You may want to try to unclog it by using a drain clog remover, like Drano®. There are some ready-made chemical solutions that can be effective, but before you take a trip to the store, try using one of these homemade solutions instead.

  • Pour boiling hot water down the drain. This can dissolve mildew, slime, soap scum, and other similar clogs.
  • Put half a cup of baking soda in the drain, then pour half a cup of vinegar down after it. Let this mixture sit for an hour, and then check the drain. The bubbles that form can break up some clogs.
  • Mix together half a cup of table salt and half a cup of baking soda. Pour this mixture down the drain and let it sit for half an hour. Then, pour a few cups of boiling water down the drain.
  • Put one-fourth cup of salt in the drain, then pour in one-fourth cup of borax. Follow it up with half a cup of vinegar. Let this mixture sit for an hour before running water down the drain.

Step 3: Use a plunger on the drain

You might be surprised to learn that a plunger can work just as well for a clogged sink as it can for a clogged toilet. Get a drain plunger that has a larger bell and a sturdier handle. Seal any other connected drain openings and clamp off the line that goes to the dishwasher. Then, fill the sink with a few inches of water and place the plunger over the drain. Firmly pump the handle up and down for about 20 seconds, forcing water through the drain. This can bust up the obstruction and get things moving again.

Step 4: Try a commercial clogged drain remover

Commercial drain clog removers are made of powerful chemicals, so they can be a helpful solution for stubborn clogs. Just keep in mind that these are meant to literally dissolve hair and grease, so if they splash on you, they can be dangerous. Repeated use of chemical clogged drain products can be problematic. The cleaners tend to generate heat as they work, which can soften PVC pipes or put pressure on pipe fittings. Be aware that repeatedly using them can cause a leak to develop.

Step 5: Snake the drain

When all else fails, turn to the reliable old drain auger. Also called a snake, this is a tool that travels through the pipe until it runs into the clog and busts it up. Most experts agree it’s one of the best ways to unclog a drain pipe. If you don’t already own this tool, they’re widely available at home improvement stores and fairly affordable. To use it, all you need to do is put it against the drain opening and turn the handle to feed the snake into the pipe. Once it hits the clog, you’ll feel resistance. Keep turning it to spin the head of the snake into the clog and break it into smaller pieces. You can also try pulling the auger backward, which can sometimes yank out an attached clog.

Step 6: Get professional assistance

If you have tried to unclog a drain with DIY methods and aren’t getting anywhere, don’t force it. It’s possible to damage your plumbing by banging around in there without any clue of what you’re doing. In some cases, it might be wiser to get professional assistance. Some drain clogs are deep in the main drain line of your home where DIY methods can’t reach them. Sometimes, the clog is just too stubborn to remove with basic tools. In these cases, you may need an expert plumber who can scope out the drain, identify the problem, and address it properly.

Don’t let a clogged drain stop you from using your sink, shower, or tub. Having a plan from Service Line Warranties of America in place can help make it easy to clear drain clogs. When you have an issue, call our 24/7 helpline, we’ll assist you with setting up an appointment with a licensed plumber. Our plans cover the cost of repairs up to the benefit amount, so you have peace of mind. Find out more about plumbing plans from Service Line Warranties of America today.

How to thaw frozen pipes

How to thaw frozen pipes

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.

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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.

Long-term solutions

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.
  • Consider having electric heat cables installed.

Being prepared for pipe and plumbing emergencies is always a good idea. Get help with the costs and services associated with these types of repairs with a variety of affordable repair plans from Service Lines Warranties of America.

How to Clean a Washing Machine

While your washing machine keeps clothes looking and smelling their best, the appliance can develop some strong odors over time. Between the grungy clothes that you send through it to the detergents and fabric softeners that you use, those odors can make you hate entering your laundry room. Luckily for you, you can learn a how to clean washing machines and get yours clean again.

Safety first, though: Always put down some towels or old clothing near the base of the washing machine and around it. Not only will this keep the water from damaging your floors, but it will also prevent slips and falls.

Why Does My Washer Smell?

Your washing machine may develop odors because of the cleaning products that you use as well as the fibers that come off your clothing and bed linens. Dirt and hair can add to those odors as can the oils that come off your body and stick to your clothing. Odors also stick to the washer because germs and bacteria grow in moist environments. Regular cleaning will eliminate those musty odors and other smells.

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Washing Machine?

Learning how to drain a washer is your first step because you need to remove the excess water. If your washer dies in the middle of a load, this is the first step that you’ll take. No matter what type of washer you have, always turn it off first and unplug it from the wall. You can also use duct or electrical tape to secure the cord to the appliance and keep it out of the water.

You will then want to pull the washer away from the wall and locate the three hoses on the back. Two supply the machine with hot and cold water. The third hose is the drain hose that takes water away from the machine. Turn off the water supply to the washer and place a large bucket on the ground. Pull and twist the drain hose until it comes loose, and place it inside the bucket. As soon as the drain hose is free, water will start rushing out. You may need to drain the bucket several times to remove all of the water from the washer.

This is a good time to check the drainpipe and hose for clogs, too. Clogs can form in a washing machine drain hose because of loose fibers from your clothing and items left inside pockets. You can generally knock the hose against a hard surface to dislodge clogs.

How to Clean Your Front-Loading Washing Machine

There are a few methods on how to clean washer machines that you can try if you own an older or a traditional appliance. Start with an empty washer and run a hot cycle with a washing machine cleaner. You can then use ordinary detergent mixed with warm water to clean the inside. Use a scrub brush on both the door and inside the drum. Once you run another hot water cycle, you should notice that the bad odors have disappeared.

Many people hear about cleaning washing machine with vinegar tips and wonder if this liquid will clean their appliances. Vinegar is a simple product that is available in grocery and home improvement stores. It works on all types of washing machines and will not damage the drain line or pump filter. Some even say that vinegar is the best way to clean washing machine drains and other parts.

With a standard or traditional washing machine, fill the drum with hot water and add up to 2 cups of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Both types work equally well. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that removes stubborn odors, but it also kills any bacteria growing in your washing machine. You can mix one-quarter of a cup of the vinegar with a quart of warm or hot water and use the mixture to clean the outside of the washer, too.

How to Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine

Learning how to clean top-loading washing machines is important because these appliances are finicky and prone to certain types of damage. You can use hot water and let the machine run through a cycle. It’s helpful to pause the front loader for a few minutes in the middle of the cycle, which gives the water time to work.

You may want to clean both the door and the inside of the washing machine, too. A microfiber cloth is gentle enough that it won’t damage or scratch the surface. Try dipping this cloth in warm or hot water before rubbing it against the dials and knobs. A small sprinkle of baking soda can remove stuck-on grime, especially if you rub the baking soda into those surfaces with a damp cloth. Let it dry for several hours or overnight before removing it.

If you searched for answers to “how to clean my washing machine” because you have a front loader and want to know if you can use vinegar, don’t worry. Vinegar is just as safe to use on front-loading washing machines as it is on top-loading models. Add up to 2 cups of vinegar to the machine and set it to a standard cycle. Pause the machine and give the vinegar at least two minutes to work before finishing the cycle.

You can use vinegar on the outside and the knobs and dials, too. Place equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the outside of the washer. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the solution around. It will kill germs and bacteria on the washer and remove foul odors at the same time.

Vinegar has a harsh and slightly acidic odor that you might not like. If you find that it clings to your washer, you can wipe down the surface with plain water and a soft towel. Running the washer one or more times with only water in it can eliminate the vinegar smell that clings to the inside.

Cleaning your washing machine takes a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. It’s also worth it to be ready for washer and other appliance breakdowns with a plan from Services Lines Warranties from America. See what plans are available in your area.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Got a dishwasher that seems a bit smelly or is leaving a weird film on your dishes? The simplest and easiest solution to this problem is just learning how to clean your dishwasher. With a few basic tips, you can make sure the inside of your dishwasher is sparkling clean.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

Many of us can admit to not cleaning our dishwashers as often as we should. Most people just do a deep cleaning every now and then, but it turns out, everyone should be cleaning their dishwasher on a monthly basis! Appliance experts explain that cleaning the dishwasher each month helps it run more smoothly and reduce the need for dishwasher replacements. You can delay a little if you are not using the dishwasher every day, but it still needs to be done fairly often. If you notice any smells, mold, mildew, buildup, or dirty dishes, it’s definitely a sign you need to clean the dishwasher.

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher?

There’s a bit of debate on the best way to clean a dishwasher. Some people like to clean their dishwasher with vinegar or other natural materials, while others like to use a store-bought dishwasher cleaner. Either option works fine according to Good Housekeeping, so just pick whichever method is easiest for you. As long as you’re making sure to clean the filter and scrub the interior, your dishwasher will remain in great shape.

Tools and Materials Needed

Learning how to clean a dishwasher does not have to involve any unusual or pricey tools. It can typically be done with items you have lying around your home. You will need:

  • Your chosen dishwasher cleaner
  • A dishwasher-safe cup
  • A sponge
  • Soap
  • A dish brush
  • A microfiber rag
  • Baking soda
  • Stainless steel cleaner (optional)
  • Cleaning gloves (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning a dishwasher isn’t usually dangerous, but when working with chemicals, always follow the instructions on the label carefully. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands from contact with hot water and harsh chemicals.

1. Clean the filter and drain: Start by pulling out any debris from the dishwasher drain, then take out the filter and clean it in the sink. Standard soap and warm water will work well. If possible, scrub with a dish brush, but you can also use a rag or sponge in a pinch. Some older models do not have removable filters, so you may have to get in there and clean bits of food out manually.

2. Add your cleaner: Put your chosen dishwasher cleaner in the empty dishwasher. If you’re doing a commercial cleaner, follow the instructions to place it in the detergent cup or the dishwasher rack. For a DIY dishwasher cleaner, place it in a dishwasher-safe cup on the top rack. Most people clean their dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar, but some DIY cleaners use apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice.

3. Run the dishwasher: Set your machine to its longest, hottest wash cycle. Some units will have a self-clean cycle, while others may not have this option. Pretty much any hot water cycle will be effective.

4. Spot clean the interior: Typically, cleaning the inside of a dishwasher can be done just by running your cleaner through the machine. However, take a glance inside after it is done. If you notice any spots or streaks, use a soft rag and a paste made with a cup of baking soda and water to clean away lingering stains.

Clean the Stainless Steel

The above steps work great for all the plastic and interior parts on a dishwasher, but if your unit has stainless steel, you need to also know how to clean stainless steel. Never clean these surfaces with bleach since this can damage the metal. For the outside of the machine, polish the steel gently with your favorite stainless steel cleaner. For stubborn water spots or soap scum on the inside, mineral oil is a great, food-safe cleaner. Use it with soap to clean away streaks and speckles, then run another cleaning cycle through your machine.

FAQs

Should I Clean the Dishwasher Filter?

Yes, the dishwasher filter is actually the main source of grime in your machine. It catches all the food particles in your machine, so it is where bacteria can flourish. Most modern machines let you remove the filter, so it is very easy to clean the filter. How do you clean a dishwasher filter that isn’t removable? Just use a toothpick or other small tool to clean out any visible pieces of food, then pour some vinegar over the filter.

What Should I Do If My Dishwasher Has Mold?

Dealing with a mold outbreak will depend on your dishwasher type. For a plastic dishwasher, Hunker recommends a blend of 3/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water. Thoroughly scrubbing all areas with this will help reduce mold. Bleach can damage the stainless steel finish, but vinegar is just as effective. It actually kills 82% of all mold species. Just use a sponge or brush to thoroughly scrub all moldy spots with vinegar before cleaning your dishwasher normally. To prevent mold in the future, leave your dishwasher open a crack to improve ventilation.

Regular dishwasher cleanings can prevent clogs and other problems. If something does go wrong with your appliance, having a plan from HomeServe will help. When you’re prepared with a plan, you’ll have peace of mind in case anything breaks or needs replacing. We cover repairs up to the benefit amount, and we send highly qualified local technicians to fix the issue. See how plans from Services Lines Warranties from America can help with the costs of covered repairs today.

How Much Do Common Plumbing Repairs Costs?

Plumber fixing leaky pipes under sink

When something goes wrong in your home, your first thought may be, “Oh no, what is this repair going to cost me?!” When it comes to plumbing, you may definitely be thinking “plumbing repair costs are going to put me in debt!” But getting a rough estimate of how much plumbing repairs will be can help you feel prepared, mentally and financially. There are a lot of factors that go into plumbing pricing, so there’s quite a bit of variation in how much you might have to pay.

Average Plumbing Repair Costs

The average plumbing repair tends to be about $175 to $450. However, there can be quite a bit of disparity. Simpler jobs may be as little as $50, while more complicated repairs can be around $500. The overall average trends toward the cheaper side because the majority of plumbing repairs are for very basic and easy-to-fix issues. However, for major plumbing repairs that involve system-wide fixes, you could pay around $1,000.

Costs for a plumbing repair may include:

  • Labor for the job
  • Parts and supplies to repair the problem
  • Replacement parts or appliances
  • Service and diagnostic fees
  • Permit fees
  • Haul-away fees for old plumbing

Typical Plumbing Costs by Service Type

To get a more accurate idea of how much you might be required to pay, you need to identify the problem. The problem could be anything from a shower drain clog to a major sewer pipe malfunction. Due to the variations in how long a repair takes and how challenging it is, different repairs have widely different prices. Here are the average costs for plumbing repair broken down by repair type.

  • Drain clog: $125 to $300
  • Leaky pipe: $150 to $700
  • Drain line problems: $250 to $1,000
  • Toilet issue: $150 to $300
  • Broken water heater: $200 to $900
  • Water main repair: $400 to $2,000
  • Septic tank problem: $300 to $2,500
  • Well pump repair: $350 to $1,350
  • Sewer issue: $1,200 to $4,000

What Should a Plumber Cost Per Hour?

Many plumbers’ fees will depend on how long the job takes. Something simple like busting a clog in a drain could be completed in under an hour. Meanwhile, a major repair such as replacing piping throughout the home may take up to 10 days. Plumbers’ prices tend to be about $20 to $150 per hour. This variation in pricing is usually due to the individual plumber’s expertise and can also be due to geography. A new journeyman plumber may just charge local minimum wage, but an experienced plumber who takes on challenging jobs can command a much higher price.

Do Some Plumbers Use Flat-Rate Plumbing Pricing?

Though most plumbing repairs are priced on an hourly basis, some plumbers may use flat-rate plumbing pricing. This is typically done for small jobs, like replacing a faucet, that can be done quickly. It may also be done for more major jobs like handling the piping for a bathroom. Since there’s so much variation for flat-rate pricing, you can expect this to be anywhere from $75 to $6,000.

Can You Save Money With Plumbing DIY Repairs?

If the price of plumbing seems a little high, you might be interested in doing the repairs yourself. Whether or not this is a good idea will depend on the problem. There are several plumbing repairs you can DIY for just the cost of parts or tools, so it is possible to save hundreds. For example, handling a clogged drain may just require you to purchase a $5 plunger instead of paying the full plumber fee. The typical competent DIYer can manage:

  • Clearing a clogged drain
  • Fixing a toilet that runs constantly
  • Repairing a leaky faucet
  • Replacing a shower head
  • Installing a new faucet

However, for more complex tasks like rerouting pipes, fixing a dishwasher, or handling large repairs, you may need to call in a professional. Depending on where you live, your building code may specify that certain tasks like a water heater replacement only be done by a licensed plumber.

Find Affordable Services by Understanding Cost Factors in Plumbing

There are several reasons that there is such a wide range in plumbing costs. Understanding all the various cost factors in plumbing can help you hire an expert to get the job done properly.

First of all, the area you live in has a huge effect on plumbing costs. You may want to enter your zip code into cost calculators for plumbing to find out how much the average price is in your location.

The condition of your current plumbing also has a big influence on costs. Older homes with galvanized plumbing should expect to pay around $100 extra or so for plumbing assistance. Multiple stories or extra plumbing fixtures in your home may increase prices as well.

Another factor is the company itself. Some bigger companies can charge less since they have more customers. Sometimes, more experienced plumbers will also charge more for their expertise. You may want to call around and get plumbing estimates to find the best deal.

If you want to save money on plumbing repairs, be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America. Having a plan in place before things go wrong can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

Once you have a plan in place and a plumbing issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances.

Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of plumbing repairs.

5 Easy Steps to Get Water Out of Your Washer

How to clean your washing machine

Most people assume that drainage is something a washing machine does automatically. However, this appliance actually needs a pump and drain line to drain properly. If the machine breaks down or if you are moving the machine, you need to take a little extra time to drain it completely. This easy guide will show you some tips for getting all the water out of your washing machine.

Step 1: Power It Down and Turn Off the Water Supply

Start by powering down your machine. If there is any problem, powering off the machine can keep it from getting worse. If you are trying to drain a washing machine for moving or drain a washing machine for storage, powering it down will keep any electronic problems from popping up. To do this, you need to both switch the power button on the model off and unplug your washer from the outlet.

Next, you just need to find your water supply hoses and turn them off. The water supply will be the red and blue hoses or knobs running from your machine to a pipe on the wall. Twisting them counterclockwise until they will not move further will shut off the water to the machine.

Step 2: See If You Can Drain the Drain Hose

The drain hose is the line that carries water away from your machine. It is gray on many models, and it typically just sits loosely in a large pipe on the wall. This drain hose almost always has some water in it, so you will need to drain it before you move the washing machine or clean it. If your washing machine is broken, it is still important to try to drain the drain hose. Often, the whole reason for a washing machine that won’t drain is just a clog in the hose, so you need to disconnect it and take a look inside.

To do this, you can usually just wiggle the hose and slide it right out. Hold it upright in the air because if the end goes below the waterline in your washer, water may start to shoot out. When you have a bucket ready, lower the drain line and place it in the bucket. If water drips out or moves slowly, you probably have a drain clog. Fortunately, drain lines are short enough that removing a clog is simple. Just break up the blockage with a plumber’s snake or an unclogging solution.

Step 3: Check Out the Drain Pump

Washing machines use a pump to remove water from the machine, and this can also get clogged. If that happens, you can open up the washer and access the pump. Models vary, so check your user manual to see where the pump is located. Drain pumps are usually translucent, so you may be able to see the clog from the outside.

Following the user manual, disconnect the drain pump to access the clog. Have a bucket handy since water may come out when you do this. Then, you can just use pliers to pull the clog away. In some cases, the pump itself may be bad. This usually results in leaks and strange noises, and it will need to be replaced to drain the machine.

Step 4: Drain the Interior Manually If Needed

If you have checked all the components of the drain line and still cannot get the machine to drain, you may want to consider draining it manually. This is not an actual fix, but it will keep water from sitting around inside your machine and let you access your clothes.

If you want to drain water from a front-loader washing machine, you can try the drain hose process outlined in step 2. Do not try to open the door since this will let water gush out all over your floor. For a top-loading machine, it is quite simple. To drain the water from your washer manually, start by using a siphon or a bucket to get out most of the water. When it is too low to scoop up any more, use towels to soak up the remaining water.

Step 5: Know When to Call a Professional

One of the final and most important steps of how to drain water from a washing machine is simply knowing when to get some help. Washing machines are fairly complex appliances. The average homeowner can handle the basic drainage project, but some repairs may be hard if you do not have the expertise. There are potential issues like a broken drain pump or a snapped belt that can keep your washing machine from draining properly. Call an expert plumber if it still will not drain or if the machine is making strange noises.

It’s a smart idea to be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America . Once you have a plan in place and a washing machine issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances. Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

How to Drain a Water Heater the Right Way

Water heater dripping water

Your Guide to Draining a Hot Water Heater

Your hot water tank is meant to hold water for years and years, but regularly draining your tank is an important part of home maintenance. Once you learn how to drain a water heater, you’ll see that this task is quick and simple!

Step 1: Know When to Drain the Tank

The first thing you need to be aware of is when you should be draining your water heater tank. You can often check your user manual to get instructions on the exact timing for tank draining. According to BobVila.com, most tanks should be drained at least once a year.

Draining a tank helps to clear out sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank. Sediment is a problem because it can reduce the quality and cleanliness of your hot water, and it also makes it harder for your tank to heat water. If sediment does get pulled into your pipes, it can cause buildup that requires repairs to unclog pipes. Therefore, draining a tank helps lower your energy bills and improve the quality of your hot water.

Step 2: Turn Off Your Heater and Water Connection

Safety first: All of the following steps for draining a water heater should be done with the power turned off. For electric tanks, just flip the switch. If you have a gas tank, turn your heater to pilot mode. It is safer to let the water cool before proceeding. You can take a hot shower or just turn on hot water faucets to go ahead and remove some of the hot water.

Afterwards, locate the cold water supply. Turn the knob or trip the lever to turn off the water. With the water and power off, you can safely proceed to the next steps.

Step 3: Run the Drain Line to a Good Draining Location

Unless your tank is outside and in a well-drained location, you will need to attach a drain line. This can be as simple as twisting a garden hose onto the drain and running it outside. If your tank is at a low level, like in your basement, you may need to attach the hose to a pump. This can help counteract gravity and push the extra water away. Anywhere that connects to a drainage point, like a shower floor drain or a cleanout, is a good spot for the end of the hose.

Step 4: Quick Flush Your Drain and Check Your Pressure Relief Valve

Before flushing the drain itself, check to make sure the pressure relief valve is working. This step is not necessary, but it also needs to be done regularly. If you notice any issues with your water heater or pressure relief valve, you may need to check this valve sooner than scheduled. Combining these jobs will let you get two maintenance tasks out of the way at once.

Place a bucket under the valve and pull up the lever on the top of the valve. You should hear air hiss or water expel through the overflow tube. If nothing comes out, you may need to replace the valve. Next, move on to the drain valve. Open it for a few seconds and then close it. Repeat this a couple times. This high-pressure burst can help push any sediment through the drain valve so the tank drains quicker.

Step 5: Open Your Drain Valve

Once your garden hose is positioned in a spot where you can dump a lot of water, proceed with opening the drain valve. If you notice water is leaking out very slowly, you most likely have a vacuum forming in your pipes. You can turn on a hot water faucet somewhere else in your home, like the bath tub, to break the vacuum. This will let water flow out more quickly.

Step 6: Flush the Tank

Next, it is time to use some fresh cold water to flush any remaining sediment out of your tank. While leaving the power to the tank off, turn on the cold water for a few seconds. Give it just enough time for a few gallons to flow into the tank, then turn off the water again. Run cold water through and let it drain a few times to finish flushing your tank. These short bursts of high-pressure water will break up the sediment clumps still in your tank. When the water starts running clear, you can move on to the next step of how to drain a water heater.

If you’re having trouble with this step, consider contacting a professional. They may recommend a hot water heater replacement.

Step 7: Refill the Tank and Turn It Back On

Now you can refill your water heater fully. Remove the hose on your drain and close the drain valve. If you had any hot water faucets on in your home, you can turn them off now as well. Turn on the cold water supply and leave it on to fill up your tank. Restore power to the tank so it can start warming your water again. If the pilot light went out on your hot water heater, you may need to relight it before it will start warming your water again.

Step 8: Check Both Valves for a Tight Seal

The final step of draining a tank is making sure all the valves you adjusted are back to their initial, leakproof positions. If you left your pressure relief valve on, go ahead and turn it back to its original position now. There is a small chance that an older, plastic drain valve may not be able to close again completely. If this happens, you might notice a slow, steady drip from the valve. You can put a cap on it to stop any drips for now or get a plumber to replace it with a sturdier valve.

In case anything goes wrong, be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America . Our plans can assist with the stress and associated costs of hot water heater repairs. Once you have a plan in place and a plumbing issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances. Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Worth It?

Heater Money

At the end of a long day, nothing’s better than relaxing in a warm bath or shower. If you want plenty of hot water without high energy bills, a tankless hot water heater is a great option. These handy little appliances give you on-demand hot water without breaking the bank. When you’re ready to replace your hot water heater, use this guide and decide if a tankless water heater is worth it for you.

Why Go With a Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless heaters work a little differently than traditional water heaters. Instead of storing gallons of hot water, the tankless heater only heats up water when you need it. It looks like a small box mounted among some piping. Whenever you turn on a hot water tap, it instantaneously heats up the water you need.

The big advantage of tankless water heaters is that they use less energy since they only heat up water when you need it. You can save hundreds on your energy bill each year. Because they don’t waste power, you can also enjoy the fact that your home will be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

The only downside of a tankless water heater is that tankless water heater costs for installation tend to be a bit higher. According to Consumer Reports, you should expect to pay about $800 to $1,500 or more to have your tankless water heater installed.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: Which Is Better?

One of the very first things to consider is whether you should get a tankless heater powered by gas or electric. Generally, electric-powered heaters are easier and cheaper to install. Every home has electricity, and installation just requires connecting a few wires and pipes. Furthermore, electric tanks are about $500 cheaper due to their simplicity.

Gas tanks are trickier to install, especially if you don’t already have a gas line running to your home. With gas tanks costing about twice as much as electric tanks, you might be wondering why people even bother with them. The big perk is that gas tanks are way cheaper to run since gas is cheaper than electricity. That difference can amount to about $100 to $200 a year in utility costs.

Choosing Between Condensing and Non-Condensing Types of Water Heaters

Non-condensing tankless heaters are the first generation of tankless heater design. They use a heat exchange system to warm water, and they vent hot exhaust outside your home. Home Depot explains that non-condensing heaters are cheaper to install and are less likely to need water heater repairs.

Condensing water heaters use the hot exhaust as a secondary means of heating water. This makes them more energy efficient. Though they are more complex and pricier to install, you end up saving on your energy bills. Another plus is that they work with cheaper PVC piping instead of requiring pricey stainless-steel flue pipes.

Should You Consider Point-of-Use Water Heaters?

Also called on-demand water heaters, these are a special type of compact tankless water heater. They work just like a typical tankless heater, but they do not supply water to the entire house. Instead, you install them right by your sink, shower, or washing machine. With these heaters, you do not end up losing precious heat as the water travels around the pipes in your home, so you save on energy. These heaters can be a great way to supplement your hot water heating.

How to Find the Right Hot Water Heater Capacity

You need to consider flow rate to find the right capacity. This will tell you how much hot water your machine can comfortably produce on demand. You can calculate your required flow rate (usually expressed in gallons per minute, or GPM) by thinking about what sorts of water fixtures you plan on running simultaneously and then adding up all their individual flow rates. Here’s a helpful list of the flow rate for common fixtures.

  • Standard Dishwasher: 2 GPM
  • High-Efficiency Dishwasher: 1 GPM
  • Faucet: 1 GPM
  • Shower: 2 GPM
  • Rain Shower Head: 5 GPM
  • Standard Washing Machine: 2.5 GPM
  • High-Efficiency Washing Machine: 1 GPM

Things to Know About Tankless Water Heater Costs

The average tankless water heater costs between $450 and $1,050 to purchase. When looking at costs, you also have to factor in installation. Typically, installation will add from around $400 up to around $1,000 to costs. If you need to install a gas line as well, expect to pay an additional $500. On average, total costs for buying the unit and installing it can be as low as about $600 or as high as nearly $3,000.

If you want lower costs, you may want to look at electric, non-condensing models. Lower-capacity models are also cheaper. Brands like Rheem, Takagi, and EcoSmart tend to have more budget-friendly models while higher-end models come from brands like Rinnai, A. O. Smith, and Bradford White.

A high-quality tankless water heater can in many cases last for 20 years as long as it is properly maintained and repaired. That’s why being prepared is a smart move.

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