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.

Plumbing Repair Cost Guide

Plumbing Repair Cost Guide

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.

Damaged pipes

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.

Blocked pipe

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.

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

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

So it turns out, I’m not as handy as I thought. After binge-watching a ton of home renovation shows, I got cocky and decided to take a crack at replacing my kitchen faucet on my own. (I mean how hard could it be?)

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.

As for the style, copper, brass and brushed gold are popular, but pewter and gunmetal finishes can add darker drama. For functionality, consider a motion-sensing touchless faucet.

Under-sink prep

Clear out everything in the storage cabinet under your sink and keep a work light, bucket and towels on hand.

Since you’ll be laying on your back, set down a small ramp of plywood and an old pillow for comfort.

Shut off the water

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.

Once everything is secure, connect the water supply lines to complete the plumbing connection.

Test the faucet

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.

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

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.

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

What Does it Cost to Replace a Water Pump?

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.

Cost projections

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.

Labor: Installation costs will vary depending on the company. Handy homeowners can save on labor expenses by completing the replacement project on their own – but don’t tackle the HVAC project if you aren’t comfortable with the task. It’s not worth jeopardizing your safety or unintentionally creating a more serious issue.

Once installed, keep practicing your preventative HVAC maintenance and your pump should be good to go for many days of heating and cooling to come.

Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

You Won’t Believe How Much Water Dishwashers Use

I have a rule. If it is not marked “dishwasher safe”, then it’s a no go. (I refuse to spend my hard earned money on anything I have to hand wash.) Yep, that’s right. In my opinion, life’s too short to spend hours washing dishes. I know that some think dishwashers aren’t as necessary as other kitchen appliances — as those on Team Hand Washing think it’s a better option. But not me. I love the convenience of letting my built-in dishwasher do the dirty work for me.

In my effort to conserve water at home, I started to wonder about my beloved dishwasher. How much water and energy use went into each load, and if there was any way I could cut down on those numbers? Here’s what I found out:

So, tell me: How much water does a dishwasher use?

Conventional dishwashers use about 10 gallons of water per load, according to CNET. However, standards established in 2013 require dishwashers to cap their water usage at 5 gallons per load. Energy saving models can even cut it down to 3 gallons, saving nearly 5,000 gallons of water each year, as calculated by the Department of Energy.

But wait: How do dishwashers compare to the kitchen sink?

Good news: The dishwashing vs. hand-washing debate tilts in favor of the oh-so-convenient appliance. (Phew, TG!) If you cleaned a full dishwasher’s worth of dishes in your sink, it could use up to 27 gallons of water, as noted by CNET.

Models certified according to the joint DOE and Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star standards actually use less water than hand-washing your dishes. In fact, doing the dirty work yourself costs an average of $413 more in water and energy use than using a certified dishwasher, according to Energy Star. Plus, dishwashers can handle higher temperatures than your hands, which means there will be far more sanitary action.

How to cut down on dishwasher water use

As you might expect, the best way to save water without changing your dishwashing habits is to install an Energy Star-qualified model. However, there are other tricks to boost the efficiency of both conventional and energy saving dishwashers.

Try these water and energy saving tips:

  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full: Make sure you load it properly so you don’t waste water on inefficient loads.
  • Skip the pre-rinse: Scrape away the large chunks of food, but modern dishwashers can handle the rest. You’ll save 55,000 gallons of water over the life of the appliance by skipping the rinse, according to Lowe’s.
  • Maintain your appliance: It may seem counterintuitive, but you do need to clean your dishwasher about once a month.
  • Know the easy fixes: Here’s how to tackle common dishwasher problems so you aren’t stuck washing by hand – and wasting water while you’re at it.

While these efforts will help improve your dishwasher’s efficiency, there’s one more thing you can do to protect your dishwasher: Be prepared in advance for unexpected breakdowns and repairs with an appliance home warranty.

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

How to Winterize Your Home Plumbing

Most homeowners are aware of the seriousness of their plumbing pipes freezing and why that situation can cause serious damage.

However, many homeowners may not understand how to prevent frozen pipes. Taking a bit of time to learn how to winterize your home plumbing system – both inside the house and out – can really pay off, especially since a lot of the winterizing work is made up of simple DIY tricks that shouldn’t take too long.

Understanding the Risks

Before you start any of these DIY jobs, you might want to consider why winterizing is so important. Frozen pipes can not only cause minor headaches when taking a shower or running a dishwasher, but also can burst and potentially cause a lot of water damage. Water damage can be costly to repair and typically requires a professional plumber. Fortunately, the following winterizing tips may help you avoid that need altogether.

Where to Begin

It’s wise to start by looking at the exposed water lines coming into – and running throughout – your home. These can be found in the basement, bathroom, kitchen – and anywhere else water flows (for example, in your garage or basement). If exposed water lines aren’t insulated, buying a few tubes of pipe insulation at the local hardware store and installing it is both inexpensive and easy.

Similarly, if you haven’t replaced your home’s insulation in a while, you could be at risk for freezing wall pipes. In many cases, this is a job you won’t – and probably can’t – handle yourself and calling a professional would be best.

Exterior walls in your home have pipes that can be at a greater risk for freezing and bursting. Fortunately, there is an easy fix: Having pipes run on a slight drip while the temperature is below freezing could help you avoid these issues. It’s a great life hack to help avoid frozen pipes as it keeps water flowing and helps prevent them from freezing.

Heading Outside

When it comes to the water lines that run outside your home, you need to be conscious of the risks those pose as well. Even something as minor as leaving a water-filled hose outside when cold weather arrives can cause problems. It’s important to shut off all water to outside spigots and flush any remaining water before the temperature drops below freezing. If you have underground sprinkler systems, those need to be flushed out as well.

Of course, winterizing should include more than taking a hard look at your plumbing. There are plenty of other ways you can make sure your property is ready for harsh winds, frigid temperatures, snow, ice and all the rest. A little winterizing research can go a long way. This can not only help you avoid major issues, but it might save you a bit of money as well.

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

Kitchen Sink Not Draining? Here Are 6 ways to Unclog It

There I was, minding my own business, washing the dishes after dinner like I always do. Just moments into scrubbing and rinsing the frying pan, I noticed that the water wasn’t draining from the sink. I checked to see if anything was blocking the drain opening – nothing. I switched on the garbage disposal, but that was only a temporary fix. As I continued washing dishes, the drainage was only getting slower. With a clogged sink on my hands, my after-dinner cleanup was about to get more intense.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience the inconvenience of clogged drains. Clogged kitchen sinks are among the most common drainage issues to plague homeowners, largely because food debris and soap residue are nightmares for smooth draining. Thankfully, clogged drains are also one of the easiest home repairs to make on your own. However, before you roll up your sleeves and get into the do-it-yourself spirit, make sure you’re aware of the plumbing myths that could lead you astray.

When it comes to the kitchen sink, for instance, don’t think Drano and other chemical-based drain cleaners are the easy, go-to fix. The chemicals can sometimes cause more damage to your system, even if the clog seems fixed initially. Plus, backsplash from stubborn blockages could seriously harm your skin and eyes. You can avoid these catastrophes with other clog repair methods, some using common household items and others requiring some straightforward plunger or plumber’s snake action.

Don’t call the plumber yet! There’s a good chance you can fix the problem yourself with one of these six methods to unclog a kitchen sink:

1. Attack with boiling water

When hair, grease, soap residue and other debris get stuck in your drain, boiling water may be all your pipes needs to loosen the blockage. It’s the simplest fix, which means it should be your first move when trying to unclog a sink.

Easy as 1-2-3, here are the steps to follow:

  • Bring half a gallon of water to a boil on your stove or use a kettle to heat the water.
  • Pour the boiling water directly into the drain opening.
  • Turn on the faucet to see if the water drains in a steady fashion. If it’s still draining slowly or standing still in the sink, repeat the process.

Important note: Don’t try this method if your drain is attached to PVC pipes, as the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic.

If the boiling water fails to dislodge the clog after the second try, it’s time to move on to another method. Unfortunately, you have yourself a sink clog that’s too stubborn for the simple boiling water approach.

2. Check the garbage disposal

If your sink has a garbage disposal, it could be the culprit of your drainage issues. If the clog is in the disposal, turning it on will usually break up the blockage. Overheated or dysfunctional disposals may not even turn on, but you can activate the reset switch at the side or bottom of the unit for an easy reboot. After resetting the disposal, try turning it on again to clear the clog.

If you turn on the disposal and hear a low humming sound, the unit could be jammed or broken. Before doing anything to fix your disposal, remember to disconnect the power to the unit and never – and we mean never – stick your hand in the disposal. From there, you can try to break up the clog in the disposal by turning the blades manually. You can do that by inserting an Allen wrench into the hole on the bottom of the disposal, and twisting until you feel less resistance, meaning the blockage is beginning to break up. If that doesn’t work, follow these tips to unclog your garbage disposal. Once unclogged, turn the power back on and test the disposal. If all looks and sounds good, turn the faucet to see if the sink drainage is back to normal.

Keep in mind that your garbage disposal inspection may not reveal any clogs or issues, in which case you can skip straight to a different unclogging method.

3. Plunge away the blockage

Once you establish that the disposal isn’t the problem, it’s time to bring out the plunger. But keep in mind: While you can use the toilet plunger if it’s all you have on hand, Dengarden suggested using a flat-bottomed one for the job. With your plunger at the ready, follow these steps:

  • Fill the sink with hot water until it’s about halfway full and creates a seal around the drain.
  • Position the plunger over the drain and begin pumping up and down quickly several times.
  • Remove the plunger and wait to see if the water drains.
  • Repeat the process until the water drains freely.

If the sink still isn’t draining properly after multiple plunging attempts, you know the drill. Time to try a different method.

4. Break it down with baking soda and vinegar

This approach is a natural alternative to using chemical drain cleaners on clogged drains. Much to your convenience, baking soda and vinegar are also common household items that you’re likely to already have in your kitchen. Follow these steps to let the mixture work its magic:

  • Remove standing water from the sink with a cup or bowl.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spatula or spoon to push the powder down the drain if necessary.
  • Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
  • Place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and run hot tap water down the drain.
  • Use boiling water to break up more intense clogs.

As with any unclogging method, this natural alternative doesn’t have a 100% success rate. However, if it seems like you’re making progress on the clog after completing the steps, repeat the process to double down on the blockage.

5. Try the plumber’s snake

The clogs that put up a fight will require the strength of a plumber’s snake to battle the blockage. The tool has a coiled spiral snake that reaches down into the drain. Once the snake hits an obstruction, you can crank the handle to dislodge the debris and pull it out of the drain. Electric snakes pack even more power to tackle clogged drains.

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can create a makeshift one with a wire coat hanger. Simply use a pair of needle-nose pliers to unwind the hanger into a long piece of wire. Keep the hooked end, as this is what you’ll use to grab onto the debris. If necessary, you can use the pliers to adjust the angle of the hook so that it can easily fit through the drain opening.

No matter which tool you’re using, simply feed it down the drain a few feet at a time. Try not to push too roughly, as you might accidentally push the clog further down the pipe. When you feel the tip of your tool hit an obstruction, hook it on and pull the debris up through the drain. Keep doing this until you feel confident that the blockage is gone. Run hot water down the drain to see if you’re right.

6. Clean the P-trap

If the water is still not draining correctly, there might be a blockage in the P-trap, aka the elbow-shaped pipe under your sink. Food, grease and other debris may be stuck in the pipe, causing your sink to drain slowly or not at all because the water hits a snag on its way down.

The fix is disassembling the pipe to clean out the gunk that’s causing the blockage. Warning: This task can get a little messy, so you might want to prepare yourself with gloves, goggles and towels. When you’re ready, follow these steps to clean the P-trap:

  • Place a bucket underneath the pipe. This will catch any backed up water or debris that may fall out when you open the P-trap.
  • Unscrew the connectors on the trap that hold the curved piece to the vertical and horizontal drain pipe. There should be a slip nut on either end of the P-trap.
  • Remove the P-trap and clean the pipe of all debris, grime and residue.
  • Reconnect the trap.
  • Turn on the faucet to run water down the drain.

If the drainage situation is still not up to par, the clog may be farther up the pipe. Back under the sink you go to find the source of the blockage. Here’s what to do when you get there:

  • Repeat the steps to remove the P-trap.
  • Remove the horizontal pipe that connects the system to the wall.
  • Feed a plumber’s snake, auger or coat hanger into the wall pipe. When you feel an obstruction, use your tool to pull the blockage out from the pipe.
  • Repeat the process until you remove all debris.
  • Reassemble the pipes and P-trap, tightening the connectors by hand. (Pro tip from Home Depot: Do not over-tighten, as this may cause the connectors to crack.)
  •  Run hot water to flush the drain.

Before you celebrate your handiwork, check under the sink while the water’s running to make sure there isn’t any leaking from the pipes. If you do notice leaks, make sure all the connectors are tightened. Once you’re free from the drips, dry any water spillage from under the sink or on the floor and you’re good to go.

If you’ve made it to this point and your sink still isn’t draining, there could be a larger issue at play. It’s time to give in and schedule an appointment with a plumber for a professional fix.

How to prevent future clogs

Now that your kitchen sink is draining properly again, make sure you’re taking measures to prevent clogs from coming back. The most important preventative measure is refraining from disposing of harmful items down the drain. That includes:

  • Grease, fats and oils.
  • Meat.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Egg shells.
  • Starchy foods, such as pasta, rice or bread.
  • Fruit peels, pits and stickers.
  • Gum.
  • Paint.
  • Paper products, such as paper towels or food wrappers.

Instead, pour cooking grease in an old can and dispose of the container once it’s full. You can add certain waste, including coffee grounds, to mulch or compost piles.

The Home Depot also advised homeowners not to overload the garbage disposal. Try not to grind more than one cup of food waste at a time, and, of course, avoid sending any of the above items to the disposal. Another pro maintenance tip: Create an equal solution of vinegar and water, and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray. About once a month, grind a few of the cubes down your disposal to scrape away food-waste buildup and keep the unit fresh. Here are more garbage disposal do’s and don’ts to keep your drains clean and clear.

Another good habit for your pipes sake is running hot water down the drain after each sink use to keep everything clear. You might also want to use a drain cover to catch debris before they cause damage in the pipes.While clogged drains are an easy DIY fix, being prepared for serious plumbing troubles before they arise is always a good strategy.

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