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.

Protect Your Home Against Flooding With This Sump Pump Maintenance Checklist

Protect Your Home Against Flooding With This Sump Pump Maintenance Checklist

During a storm, your basement is often the first place in your home to flood. Keeping it dry protects the rest of your home and possessions from water damage. You make even keep some of your most important possessions in the basement — like irreplaceable photos and important documents — which makes it even more important to have a working sump pump.

This May Also Interest You: Sump Pump Alarm Going Off? Here’s What to Do Next

How well you maintain your pump will impact how long it lasts — and whether it’ll be able to run properly when you need it to. Here’s a maintenance checklist you can use to extend your sump pump’s life and keep your home dry.

How Many Years Does a Sump Pump Last?

If you’re performing routine sump pump maintenance, you can expect to get up to 10 years out of your pump before you need to replace it. There are some factors that can reduce the life of your pump, so if you don’t test and repair it when you need to, you may find that it has a reduced operating life. Simple things such as not making sure that the pump is on an even surface and in an upright position may force the pump to work harder and for longer than it should. Accumulated debris inside of the pump pit, basin, discharge line and other operating parts can also damage the sump pump and cause it to malfunction.

Do Sump Pumps Need Maintenance?

You should perform sump pump maintenance at least once a year. Consider performing maintenance checks more often if you notice that it’s working more than usual because of an unusual accumulation of rain, snow or moisture due to the weather.

Preventative maintenance is less expensive in the long run than an early replacement. You run the risk of severe flooding if your pump can’t clear water from your basement as quickly as it accumulates. You should factor in the cost of repairing water damage to your home if this should happen. Some insurance companies might be resistant to pay claims if you didn’t perform regularly scheduled maintenance.

How Do You Test Your Sump Pump?

The easiest way to test whether your sump pump is working properly is to pour some water down the pit and see if the pump turns on. This is a great way to see how the entire system is operating because you can run outside and check the discharge line for signs of blockages or debris that has built up inside the pipe. Pay attention to where the water is exiting your home and the direction of the runoff.

You may need to make adjustments if the water is running onto your neighbor’s property or back toward your home. It’s a good idea to perform this test once a month so that you’re aware of any problems and can clean or repair your sump pump if necessary.

How Often Should You Clean Your Sump Pump?

You should clean your sump pump whenever you notice a buildup of debris or a change in how well it performs. Most of the time, you can resolve any issues by cleaning the components and locating the source of the obstructions in the system. If you clean your sump pump thoroughly and still notice that it’s not working properly, it might be time to have it repaired or replaced.

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How to Perform Sump Pump Maintenance

You can maintain your sump pump yourself most of the time. Follow these easy steps to make sure that your pump is set up correctly and that all the components are free of debris:

  • Check that the pump is positioned correctly. Your sump pump works properly when it’s on a level surface and upright. If it’s leaning or the floor is not even, water won’t flow into it properly and the pump may have to work harder to clear water, or it may be unable to pump out any accumulating water.
  • Remove the cover and look inside. You might be surprised by what you find inside of the sump pump, but you can often clean out the debris by spraying the basin and internal components with a hose.
  • Check the drainage line. Some clogs can be due to a frozen line or natural debris buildup. When you check the pipe, also make sure that it’s connected securely to the sump pump.
  • Inspect and clean the inlet screen. The inlet screen is another common place where debris and gunk can accumulate and clog your pump.
  • Make sure that the float is working. One way that sump pumps die quickly is by being overworked. If your float isn’t functioning, the pump may activate when it doesn’t need to, and the engine can wear itself out from running all the time. It could also keep the pump from turning on when it needs to drain water from your basement.
  • Test the pump. Using the method mentioned above, give the sump pump a test to make sure that it’s activating properly and moving water out of your basement.
  • Make sure that the pump has multiple power options. After making sure that the pump has a power source, consider that it may rain or flood when your home doesn’t have power. You can buy a backup battery or a generator to ensure that your pump can work during an emergency that knocks out the power.
  • Consider having a backup sump pump. If your primary pump fails for any reason, having a second pump on hand can prevent basement flooding and minimize the damage done to your home in a flood.

If you’ve tried all these things and find that your pump isn’t working properly, the final step is to call someone that knows how to repair or replace your pump.

Tired of Tepid? Here’s How to Turn Up the Temp on Your Water Heater

Tired of Tepid? Here’s How to Turn Up the Temp on Your Water Heater

Turning Up Your Water Heater at a Glance

  • Step 1: Shut off power
  • Step 2: Remove access panel
  • Step 3: Pull back insulation
  • Step 4: Adjust thermostat temperature
  • Step 5: Replace insulation
  • Step 6: Reinstall access panel
  • Step 7: Turn power back on
  • For gas water heaters: Relight pilot light

A hot shower after a long day is soothing, but if your water heater is set too low, that’s a comfort you may be denied. Proper water temperature isn’t just about comfort. If the water coming out of your tap is only lukewarm, it may not kill harmful bacteria or get your dishes clean.

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Adjust the temperature of your water heater by following a few easy steps.

Why Might You Need to Turn Up Your Water Heater?

Although most homeowners want hotter water because of personal preference, there are two main reasons to consider raising the temperature on your water heater’s thermostat:

Safety

If your water heater is set too low, it can create an environment that’s ideal for bacteria. Disease-causing microorganisms such as Legionella — which causes Legionnaires’ Disease — thrive in lower temperatures. SFGATE says some health experts recommend setting your water heater to at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit to minimize bacterial growth.

Cleaning

If your dishwasher doesn’t have a booster heater, it may require higher temperatures for optimal cleaning. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the ideal range typically falls between 130 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Where Is My Water Heater Located?

In most houses, the water heater is located against an exterior wall in the garage or basement. You may also find your water heater in several other common places:

  • Utility closets
  • Crawlspaces
  • Attics
  • Bedroom closets

technician with water heater

How to Turn Up Your Water Heater

Depending on the type of water heater, the temperature interface may vary. Tankless heaters typically feature an easy-to-use digital control panel to set temperatures, whereas traditional electric or gas water heaters may feature a dial near the unit’s base that can be adjusted by turning it to the desired temperature.

Adjusting the temperature on newer gas or electric water heaters may be more involved and can be completed by following these simple steps:

  1. Shut off power to the water heater at the circuit breaker.
  2. Locate and remove the thermostat’s access panel.
  3. Pull back the insulation.
  4. Adjust the thermostat’s temperature setting using a flathead screwdriver. If your heater has two thermostats, both need to be adjusted the same amount, with the top thermostat set a few degrees higher than the bottom thermostat.
  5. Replace the insulation.
  6. Reinstall the access panel.
  7. Return the circuit breaker to the ON position.
  8. For gas water heaters, you may also need to relight the pilot light.

Before adjusting the temperature setting of any hot water heater, you should test the thermostat’s accuracy. To get an accurate reading, run hot water from the faucet nearest the heater for at least three minutes. Then, hold a cooking thermometer under the hot water stream to get a temperature reading.

After adjusting the thermostat, wait at least three hours and check the temperature again using a thermometer. If the temperature needs additional adjustment, repeat the appropriate steps.

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What Precautions Should You Take When Turning Up Your Water Heater?

Turning up the temperature on your hot water heater may have its benefits, but it can also cause safety risks. Water above 130 degrees Fahrenheit can scald you, and water above 140 degrees Fahrenheit can cause third-degree burns. Young children and the elderly are especially susceptible.

In extreme cases where the water in a heater tank reaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit, it can turn to steam, which can cause the tank to burst, potentially resulting in major injuries and severe damage. If your faucet is releasing steam instead of hot water, or if your heater’s T&P valve has escaping steam or water, shut down your unit immediately.

How Hot or Cold Does Your Water Heater Go?

Water heaters can typically be set anywhere from 60 degrees to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. However, some units feature dials that include settings ranging from “warm” to “very hot.” Most modern units have a default setting of 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Will Turning Up Your Water Heater Increase Your Utility Bills?

Yes. The higher your water heater is set, the more energy you’ll use, resulting in higher utility bills. The opposite is also true. For every 10 degrees you lower your thermostat, you can save between 3% to 5% on energy costs. A smart water heater can also help improve energy efficiency.

What If Turning It Up Doesn’t Solve the Issue?

The thermostat setting isn’t always the cause of a lack of hot water. Other reasons for low or no hot water include:

  • Sediment: Over time, sediment can accumulate in your water heater. If your tank isn’t drained periodically, it could lead to reduced efficiency and clogs that reduce the water temperature.
  • A pilot light that’s out: On gas heaters, the pilot light can go out due to a breeze or downdraft, leaving your heater nonfunctional.
  • Power surges: Power surges can interfere with your heater. If you’ve recently had a storm, turning your unit off and then on again may solve the problem.
Here’s How to Hack Your Low-Flow Showerhead … But Should You?

Here’s How to Hack Your Low-Flow Showerhead … But Should You?

Low water pressure in the shower is annoying. Some days, it seems like the water is just trickling out of the showerhead, producing hardly enough flow to rinse the shampoo out of your hair. If you have a low-flow showerhead, this problem is probably all too familiar to you. These showerheads limit the water pressure to save on water and energy costs — but if it costs you your sanity in the process, is it really worth it?

This May Also Interest You: Showerhead Stuck? Here’s How to Remove It

A quick internet search will reveal plenty of tutorials describing how to increase water pressure in the shower if you have a low-flow showerhead. However, using these DIY fixes could increase your utility bills and even put you on the wrong side of the law, as we’ll explain below.

What Is a Low-Flow Showerhead?

A low-flow showerhead is specially designed to use less water for cost and environmental reasons. According to Exelon, to qualify as low-flow, the showerhead should release water at a rate of no more than 2.5 gallons per minute.

Low-flow showerheads can save you a significant amount of money on your water and water heating bills. They’re also helpful for water conservation. Using less water during your shower helps reduce the amount of saltwater that needs to be desalinated for drinking and washing. The desalination process uses a lot of energy and is expensive, so reducing the need for desalination is good for the planet and could even lower taxes.

Why Does My Showerhead Have No Pressure?

If you’ve just installed a brand-new showerhead and find that the pressure is suddenly lower, it’s probably because you’ve purchased a water-saving showerhead. Check the labels around the rim, or perform the showerhead GPM test as described below. If the showerhead flow rate is lower than the legal limit in your area, you could consider replacing it with a more powerful one.

If you had water pressure problems before installing a new showerhead and the issue continues, the reason for your low water pressure could be down to blocked, leaking or damaged pipes or an issue with the shower controls. In this situation, it’s best to call a professional plumber to inspect your plumbing and repair any damaged pipes or mechanisms.

How Do I Know If My Showerhead Is Low-Flow?

Often, you can determine whether your showerhead is low-flow by reading any labels printed around the rim. If your showerhead is labeled 2.5 GPM or less, you have a low-flow showerhead. Any showerhead labeled 2.6 GPM or above is a high-flow showerhead.

If your showerhead doesn’t have a label, try this trick to determine the flow rate. Place a bucket or container with a 1-gallon marker under the showerhead. If your showerhead can fill it to the gallon marker in 20 seconds or less, it is high-flow. If it takes more than 20 seconds, it is low-flow.

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How Do I Increase the Flow on My Low-Flow Showerhead?

Most low-flow showerheads have a rubber pressure-reducing valve (called a regulator) to maintain a lower pressure. You can increase the flow by simply taking it out. You could also consider enlarging the hole that allows water into your showerhead with a drill to increase the amount of water coming through.

Should I Remove the Regulator in My Low-Flow Showerhead?

The regulator in a low-flow showerhead limits the amount of water that can flow through it, reducing the pressure. Some people choose to remove the regulator to achieve less restricted water flow. While the obvious advantage of doing this is significantly higher water pressure, there are a couple of reasons why it might not be such a great idea.

The U.S. Department of Energy is likely to reimpose a legal flow rate limit of 2.5 GPM for showerheads as a part of its energy-saving efforts. The law was previously revised to allow for higher water pressure using multiple showerheads, but the Department of Energy has stated that it intends to return to the previous low-flow laws. Therefore, it’s a good idea to test your showerhead flow rate — especially after taking steps to increase the pressure — to ensure that it won’t fall afoul of federal law in the future.

Some states may impose tighter restrictions on legal showerhead flow rates, often to help maintain a steady freshwater supply during hot weather. For example, the standard legal flow rate in both Hawaii and Washington State is 1.8 GPM. It’s worth checking the restrictions in your area before tampering with your showerhead.

In addition, removing the flow regulator will also increase your overall water usage and the amount of power used for heating water, which is bad for your wallet and the environment.

How to Refinish or Reglaze a Bathtub

How to Refinish or Reglaze a Bathtub

Refinishing a Bathtub at a Glance

  • Tools & Materials: Putty knife, screwdriver, masking tape, scraping tool, Lysol cleaner, palm sander, refinishing kit
  • Step 1: Remove caulk
  • Step 2: Remove drain and overflow plate
  • Step 3: Clean and prep area
  • Step 4: Prep coating
  • Step 5: Apply coating
  • Step 6: Add caulk

When your bathtub has grown old and becomes worn out, you might consider replacing it. Unfortunately, replacing a bathtub isn’t the easiest thing, and the costs can quickly add up. But getting rid of your old tub isn’t the only option if you want to make your bathroom look fresh. You can always refinish or reglaze the bathtub instead.

This May Also Interest You: How to Remove a Bathtub in 4 Simple Steps

Tub reglazing or refinishing costs significantly less than a full tub replacement. By applying a new layer of epoxy paint to your bathtub, you can make it look brand new again. Here’s how to do it.

bathroom bathtub re-glazing-BEFORE

What’s the Difference Between Reglazing and Refinishing?

“Reglazing” and “refinishing” both refer to the same process of restoring an old bathtub and making it look new again. You might hear some professionals call the process “refinishing” and others call it “reglazing,” but at the end of the day, they’re the same thing.

Can You Reglaze a Tub with Rust Spots?

As the topcoat of the tub deteriorates and exposes the metal surface, it can lead to rust. The continuous mix of air and water helps speed up the rusting process. Luckily, it’s entirely possible to still reglaze a tub with rust spots. You just need to sand it adequately before you cover it up with the new coating.

Refinishing a Bathtub: 6 Steps

Bathtub refinishing fumes can be harmful to people, so make sure you wear safety equipment and send everyone else out of the house when doing this. If you don’t feel too comfortable or confident with this project, it’s better to hire a professional that knows exactly what they’re doing.

Tools and Materials

You will want to wear safety equipment like gloves and safety glasses. Tools required for the job include a putty knife, screwdriver, masking tape, scraping tool, Lysol cleaner and palm sander. You can buy a bathtub finishing kit that comes with epoxy paint and application tools to apply it.

Step 1: Remove the Existing Caulk

Part of the process for reglazing is adding new caulk. You will want to remove any existing caulking around the entire bathtub. Use a scraping tool to scrape all around the tub, including the open side bottom, and remove all the caulk.

Step 2: Remove the Drain and Overflow Plate

One of the most common mistakes inexperienced DIYers make is leaving in the tub drain and overflow plate. You will want to remove these to get the most out of your refinish and ensure it lasts for years. To remove the overflow plate, use a screwdriver.

Removing the drain is a very crucial step to ensure you get a smooth finish. When the drain is not taken out, the area around the drain will deteriorate since it wasn’t adequately refinished. In the worst-case scenario, some of the coating may go inside the drain and cause issues.

To remove the drain, you can use a drain tool. If it’s an older drain, you’ll need to use pliers and force it out of there. After that’s done, add a cup below the drain hole so that when you apply the material, it falls into the cup rather than your pipes.

Step 3: Clean the Tub and Prepare the Area

You should clean the tub at least one day before you plan to do the refinishing. Any water that remains will make the process more complicated. To clean the tub, use a Lysol cleaner and spray it across the entire area. Then, dip the scrub brush in water, scrub the tub gently and wash it down with more water. After washing it, wait a day before proceeding.

Add cardboards or newspaper to the floors to catch any accidental spills and prevent stains. Tape around the tub. When you’re taping the open side of it, ensure that the tape on the bottom is also slightly taped to the tub instead of just the floor. When you tape the enclosed sides of the tub, you can just tape the tile. The benefit of cleaning the tub the day before is that it will be easy to tape around the area without worrying about moisture.

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bathroom bathtub re-glazing-AFTER

Step 4: Prepare the Coating

If you ordered a bathtub finishing kit, you’ll have two containers. Part B is the activator which you will want to pour into the main base container. Then, use the stirring stick that comes with the kit and make sure the epoxy paint is thoroughly mixed.

As a side note, you shouldn’t use any mixing tools for this since mixers will bring in air and often lead to bubbles in the material, which is not ideal. It can only be done by hand, so do it gently. According to Home Repair Tutor, the minimum amount of time you should spend stirring is 10 minutes. It’s an essential step to get a quality finish. After you finish mixing, let it sit for another 10 minutes.

Step 5: Apply the Coating

Pick up the can and pour it onto the edges of the tub, letting it slide down them. Then, use a roller to distribute the material all around the tub. Ensure you gently spread it along the edges and let the material roll down the sides. The key here is to use the roller gently and let it spread the epoxy all around.

A scooper will come along with the kit that you can use to scoop the epoxy and add it all around the tub. You can also use a putty knife to apply the paint to other places if that’s easier. Make sure all the areas are covered, especially around the overflow plate and drain hole. Another common mistake is not getting the material into the corners, so make sure those are covered.

Since the material falls down the sides on both ends, use a scooper or putty knife to pick up large quantities before they build up on the bathroom floor.

Step 6: Add Caulk

Let the material sit for the next 24 hours before you apply the caulk. When you come back, the material around the caulking areas will have hardened around the tub, so use a knife or glazing tool to cut through it. After that’s done, remove all the tape and caulk the edges.

How Many Times Can You Reglaze a Tub?

While you might have done a perfect job refinishing the first time, things always become worn out after years of use. It’s possible to reglaze or refinish a bathtub that has already been refinished once. However, the underlying layer will require more preparation in terms of cleaning and sanding, so it’s best to let a professional do it the second time around.

As an alternative, you can always install a tub liner instead. A tub liner is a PVC sheet or acrylic mold that is added over your existing bathtub. You will also want a professional to do this job since accurate measurements are crucial for manufacturing one that fits well with the tub.

How Long Does Reglazing Last?

A reglaze can last anywhere from 10 to 20 years, depending on the quality of the job. Performing routine maintenance, like cleaning the bathtub, can help extend its life. A professional reglaze will also last longer than a DIY project.

What’s a Wet Room?

What’s a Wet Room?

A wet room is a bathroom, except the whole thing’s designed to get wet. Think floor-to-ceiling tile, waterproof décor and a shower that’s out in the open. Wet rooms are certainly trendy as of late, and it’s no wonder why: They’re functional, accessible and may even raise the value of your home.

This May Also Interest You: How Much Does a Shower Remodel Cost?

Wet rooms are a popular bathroom style in some European countries. The minimalist concept crams everything a bathroom needs — a toilet, shower and sink — into as little space as possible. In particularly cramped spaces, you might see a showerhead above the toilet and the drain in the center of the room.

The floor is slightly sloped toward the drain so you’re not left with any standing water. Often, the sink and toilet are “floating” models anchored to the wall so there are no extra spaces for water to collect and form mildew or mold. If there’s room, you might also have a waterproof cabinet to store the things you’d rather keep dry.

American iterations of the wet room are usually larger, with multiple showerheads, spa-like tile and perhaps a bathtub. You may also see semi-wet rooms where the shower is tucked behind a small half wall or glass divider.

Benefits of a Wet Room

Here are four reasons why you’d want a wet room:

1. Accessibility

In a traditional wet room, there are no barriers. That makes the space accessible for household members who may have mobility issues or use mobility aids. Depending on the placement of your fixtures, you can use the closed toilet as a shower seat. It’s also a great setup for pet parents: You don’t have to worry about the inevitable splash-over when you’re trying to give your dog a bath.

2. Easy to Clean

Everything is made to get wet, so it’s easy enough just to spray down the whole room when it comes time to clean. There’s no need for a shower curtain or a bathmat, so the only textiles that need to be laundered are the towels.

3. Makes the Most of Your Space

Not all bathrooms are created equal, space-wise. When you’re remodeling, you may find yourself having to choose between the walk-in shower and a big, luxurious bathtub. A wet room allows you to combine those features in one space. Wet rooms don’t need to be large, either. They can often fit all the fixtures of a full bathroom in the same space as a half-bath.

4. Resale Value

According to data from Remodeling Magazine, you could recoup up to 64% of the cost of a midrange bathroom remodel when you sell your home. A wet room is considered a “high-end addition,” so depending on the quality of the materials, you may see a higher return on your investment.

However, a lot of buyers aren’t looking to go all in on wet rooms. And most buyers are looking for a house with a bathtub. Fixr recommends homeowners keep at least one American-style bathroom. Converting a small half-bath, the kids’ bathroom or the guest bathroom into a wet room may be a lucrative investment.

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Can You Turn an Existing Bathroom Into a Wet Room?

Yes, but it’s going to require a serious remodel — and almost certainly not a DIY one. The drain sits at a lower level than everything else, so the floor will have to be reconstructed with a grade that will allow the water to flow toward it. The walls and floor will need to be waterproofed.

You’ll also run into a lot of limitations with the materials you can put in a wet room. Usually, the only options are tile, porcelain, metal and plastic. Say goodbye to wood accents or cabinetry. You’ll probably have to cover your walls in tile, too.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Wet Room?

Due to the aforementioned extras, it costs a bit more to install a wet room than it does to remodel a traditional, American-style bathroom. Remodeling a traditional bathroom costs about $18,000 on average, where a wet room costs over $21,000. The difference comes down to the price of waterproofing materials. If you choose to install something like radiant floor heating, that’ll cost you extra, too.

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 peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.

How to Tighten a Faucet Handle

Tightening a Faucet Handle at a Glance

  • Tools & Materials: Allen wrench, screwdriver, wrench, flashlight, plumber’s tape, thread sealant
  • Tightening a Set Screw:
    • Step 1: Remove covers
    • Step 2: Tighten screw
    • Optional: Add thread sealant
  • Tightening a Retainer Nut
    • Step 1: Clear space under sink
    • Step 2: Locate retaining nut
    • Step 3: Tighten nut
    • Optional: Wrap with plumber’s tape

A loose faucet handle is no doubt annoying. But did you know that a loose faucet handle can also damage your sink’s plumbing lines over time? That being said, tightening a loose faucet handle is something you should address sooner rather than later.

This May Also Interest You: How to Replace or Install a Bathroom Faucet

The good news is that it’s easy to fix, and there’s no need to dish out any of your hard-earned cash for a professional plumber. Read on to learn how to easily tighten a faucet handle.

Tools and Materials

  • Allen (Hex) wrench
  • Screwdriver: Phillips- or flat-head, depending on the faucet
  • Wrench: Adjustable, combination or basin
  • Flashlight
  • Optional: Teflon thread (plumber’s) tape
  • Optional: Non-permanent thread sealant

Why Is My Faucet Handle Loose?

Faucet handles can naturally become loose over time, but they may also be loose because of a sloppy or improper faucet replacement. Regardless of the reason, there are two main causes of loose faucet handles:

The Set or Handle Screw Is Loose

On most faucets, the handle will be secured to the faucet by a small Allen screw (set screw) that’s screwed horizontally into the outside perimeter of the handle’s base plate cover, or with a Phillips- or flat-head screw (handle screw) that’s screwed vertically into the handle’s base. Single-handle faucets will likely only use a single-set screw. Two-handled faucets may use a retaining nut, handle screw or both, depending on the model.

The Retaining Nut Is Loose

A sink’s faucet or handles are sometimes secured to the sink with a retaining nut located underneath the sink. If this nut becomes loose, the handle will become loose.

How to Tighten a Faucet Handle

Before performing any of these steps, you should turn off the water supply to your faucet. While this step isn’t a mandatory step, doing so will eliminate the possibility of flooding if you damage any plumbing components during the repair.

There are two shut-off valves (angle valves or angle stops) underneath the sink and coming out of the wall. Turn each of the valves clockwise (“righty-tighty”) until they’re fully closed. Fully open the faucet handles to relieve the residual water pressure and to verify that your water supply is turned off.

step-by-step instructional guide on how to tighten the temperature handles on a sink  In this case, we are looking at an oil rubbed faucet on a utility sink

Tightening the Set Screw or Handle Screw

Locate the set screw or handle screw. If your faucet handle is secured to the baseplate with a set screw, there will be a small hole somewhere around the perimeter of the cover. Inside this hole will be a small Allen screw. Select the appropriate Allen wrench, then gently turn the set screw clockwise until the screw is firmly seated.

step-by-step instructional guide on how to tighten the temperature handles on a sink  In this case, we are looking at an oil rubbed faucet on a utility sink

If your handle uses a handle screw, begin by removing the decorative caps on the top of the handles. These will often be labeled or colored — “H” or red for hot and “C” or blue for cold. You can either use a knife or flat-head screwdriver to gently pry these covers off. Inside, you should see a Philips- or flat-head screw. Turn this screw clockwise until the screw is firmly seated.

Physically inspect the faucet handle to verify your repair was successful. For a stronger and longer-lasting repair, you can fully remove the screws and add a non-permanent thread sealant compound to the screw’s threads. This will help to prevent the screw from coming loose in the future.

step-by-step instructional guide on how to tighten the temperature handles on a sink  In this case, we are looking at an oil rubbed faucet on a utility sink

Tightening a Retainer Nut

Clear the space under your sink. Remove any cleaning or kitchen supplies you have stored under your sink to make room for you to work.

Slide under your sink, resting on your back and facing the underside of your sink. Using a flashlight to increase visibility, locate the retaining nut holding the faucet handle in place.

Select the right wrench and tighten the nut. You can use an adjustable wrench, combination wrench (with one open wrench end and one box wrench end) or basin wrench to tighten the nut. Either set the adjustable wrench to the appropriate size or select a wrench that fits the retaining nut. A basin wrench might be required if the retaining nut is too difficult to access with a conventional wrench.

Turn the nut in a clockwise direction until snug. You can also fully remove the nut and wrap the female threads the nut screws onto with plumber’s tape for a stronger and longer-lasting hold. Come out from under the sink and physically verify that the handle is tight.

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How Do You Fix a Faucet Handle That Keeps Turning?

Most faucet handles are designed with internal “stops” that only let the handle turn in a limited range of motion. For example, a half-turn in the clockwise direction will turn the faucet fully on, and a half-turn in the counter-clockwise direction will turn the faucet off. The component responsible for this limited range of motion is the faucet cartridge.

When the faucet cartridge becomes stripped (either over time or due to the wear-and-tear from a loose handle), the handle will turn continuously without stopping, resulting in leaks and other plumbing issues. Take the following steps to replace the cartridge:

1. Shut off the water supply to your faucet.

2. Remove the handle using the steps in previous sections to expose the cartridge. The cartridge’s appearance will vary between faucet models, but it will always be directly underneath the faucet handle.

3. Locate the nut holding the cartridge in place. The nut will be at the base of the cartridge, resting on top of the sink.

4. Remove the nut. Select the appropriately sized wrench for the nut, then turn counter-clockwise to remove it from the threaded stem it’s seated on. Slip the nut over the cartridge to free the cartridge.

5. Remove the old cartridge and replace it with a new one.

6. Place the nut back onto the threaded stem and tighten it clockwise with your wrench until snug. You can also wrap the threads with plumber’s tape before reinstalling the nut for a stronger connection.

7. Reinstall the faucet handle and physically inspect it to verify the success of your repair.

8. Turn the faucet’s water supply back on.

How to Install or Replace a Shower Drain

How to Install or Replace a Shower Drain

A shower drain is an important plumbing fixture that captures water and directs it towards your home’s sewage system. You can install a shower drain as part of a home renovation project or replace an existing one when you notice a leak.

This May Also Interest You: How to Unclog a Shower Drain

Doing this project DIY-style — whether you’re installing or replacing — shouldn’t take you more than an afternoon. Keep on reading to find out how.

How Do You Install a Shower Drain?

The type of shower drain you install depends on several factors, including the flooring material and your particular scenario. Below are two popular options when it comes to installing a shower drain.

How to Install a Shower Drain on a Prefabricated Shower Pan

When renovating a bathroom, a new shower drain should always be part of the process. A drain assembly — which consists of a drain body, strainer, compression gasket, compression nut, compression wrench, drain nut, fiber gasket and rubber gasket — will cost you between $7 and $60 at your nearest hardware store. This is the piece you will attach to a preformed shower pan, a one-piece base that is usually made from acrylic and reinforced with fiberglass.

You’ll need some plumber’s putty to act as a sealant between the shower pan and the drain assembly. Roll the putty into a half-inch bead and wrap it around the underside of the drain body flange. Insert the drain body through the hole of the shower pan from the top and press down firmly (do not twist) to form an even seal.

At the bottom of the shower pan, place the rubber gasket and fiber gasket (in that order) onto the drain body. Insert the drain nut and tighten it with your hand. When it gets too hard to turn, use a set of adjustable pliers or a wrench to tighten it all the way through. Use your index finger to remove any excess putty from the top of the drain.

For this part, get a buddy to help you lower the shower pan onto the shower base. The shower base, in this scenario, is the substructure of the shower’s subfloor. It will have a drain hole with a 2-inch drain pipe located in the middle. The drainpipe should be positioned in the center of the drain body as you’re lowering the shower pan onto the shower base.

Once this is done, grab the compression gasket and insert it from the top of the hole, bevel side up, making sure that it fits in the space between the drain body and pipe. Push it down until it sets at the bottom.

Next, thread the compression nut over the drain pipe. Insert the compression wrench into the compression nut and tighten with a screwdriver. Finish the shower drain install by snapping strainer or drain cover onto the drain body.

How to Install a Shower Drain for a Tile Floor

Since tiles are square (in most cases), you will need a drain assembly with a square strainer. There are essentially three parts to a tile floor assembly: the drain barrel (where the strainer is attached), drain body and clamping ring.

Begin installing the shower drain after you’ve finished installing the subfloor and drain pipe. Fit the drain body over the drainpipe, ensuring that the flange is resting on the subfloor. Use solvent cement to bond them together.

Next comes the bottom mortar bed. Be sure to cover the drain body with a clean rag before you apply it so the drainpipe remains clean. Lay down the layer of mortar starting from the wall. Make sure there is a slope every ¼ inch per foot, all the way to the drain’s opening. The mortar bed should be flush with the drain body’s flange.

Wait for the mortar bed to dry. Afterward, install a pan liner on top of it. This is a waterproof membrane that catches any water that seeps through the mortar bed and directs it towards the drain. Cut a hole in the membrane around the drain hole and around the inner and outer mounting holes of the drain body. Screw some bolts into the outer mounting holes to secure the pan liner and drain body to the subfloor.

Place the clamping ring above the membrane. Align its mounting holes with the ones on the drain body and screw it in. This will sandwich the membrane between the drain body and the clamping ring. Fill the shower floor with 2 to 3 inches of water to check if the membrane has any leaks.

If there are no leaks, screw the drain barrel into the clamping ring; stop when it reaches the height you want. Leave at least 1 inch of space between the drain body and the top of the drain barrel. Apply another mortar bed layer on top of the pan membrane and finish installing the tile floor once it’s dry.

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Replacing a Shower Drain

Is the floor underneath your shower showing signs of water damage? If so, there may be a leak that requires the shower drain to be replaced. If you do this yourself, you won’t have to call a plumber for a costly replacement. Here’s how.

How to Replace a Shower Drain from Underneath

If the shower drain replacement is on a prefabricated shower pan, you have to go at it from the bottom. This will allow you to effectively take the drain assembly apart. Be sure to turn off the electricity in the area you’ll be working in before you begin. Then, use a flat screwdriver to pop the strainer out of the drain body to expose the compression nut. Insert your compression wrench into the compression nut and turn it counterclockwise with a screwdriver to unscrew it.

Using a combination of a utility knife and drywall saw, cut a rectangular hole in the ceiling beneath the drain. Make sure the hole is big enough to fit adjustable pliers and is along the joist so you have something to support the new drywall when patching it up. Use the adjustable pliers to loosen the drain until you can remove the rest of it with your hand. Follow that up by removing the rubber and fiber gaskets as well.

If you see that the drainpipe is welded or glued to a U-shaped pipe (also called the P-trap), you’ll need to cut it. This will make it easier to push out the drain pipe and cut out the drain body. However, you’ll need to know how to replace a shower drain trap as well once you cut it. Without the P-trap, sewer gases can travel into your home through the drain line. In addition to the unpleasant smell, long-term exposure to this gas can be harmful.

Install a new drainpipe in the shower base and repeat the steps on how to install a shower drain on a prefabricated shower pan. Repeat the above steps for installation — from inserting the drain body, to tightening the drain nut, to snapping the drain cover on top of the drain. However, since the shower pan is already on the floor, you don’t have to struggle with lowering and positioning it.

Assemble a new P-trap by gluing its pieces together and gluing the assembly to the drainpipe. Turn on the water and dash back downstairs to see if there are any leaks. If there are no leaks, patch up the drywall.

How to Replace a Shower Drain from the Top

When performing a shower drain replacement on tile flooring, you don’t need to go underneath. Start by unscrewing the drain barrel, cleaning the drainpipe and covering the hole to prevent debris from falling in it. Then, carefully pry out the tiles around the shower drain and chisel that area until the subfloor and mounting bolts are exposed. Unscrew the bolts and remove the clamping ring and drain body.

Install the new tile floor assembly while patching up the membrane and mortar bed. Don’t forget to check for leaks when you’re done. To patch the membrane, cut a new piece of membrane to fit the area you destroyed. Make holes for the drain and the mounting holes of the drain body. Apply caulk along the chiseled area and apply the patch. Leave the caulk to dry and patch the mortar bed with deck mud.

Down the Drain

By following the steps outlined above, you should be able to confidently install or replace a shower drain on your own. You’ve even learned how to plumb a shower drain by installing a brand-new P-trap. Not only is doing this by yourself cost-effective, but it is oh-so-satisfying when you watch the water — and not the hard-earned cash you could have spent on a plumber — go down the drain.

How to Replace a Shower Handle

How to Replace a Shower Handle

Replacing a Shower Handle at a Glance

  • Step 1: Turn off water supply
  • Step 2: Unscrew set screw
  • Step 3: Remove handle from valve
  • If handle is corroded: Add plumber’s lubricant
  • Step 4: Remove trim plate
  • Step 5: Wrap faucet stem with Teflon tape
  • Step 6: Screw handle in place
  • Step 7: Replace trim plate

As wonderful as your shower might be, there are certain things that can always improve your experience — a nice showerhead, a superior sponge, the perfect arsenal of soaps and shampoos and, of course, a nice, functional handle that doesn’t leak.

This May Also Interest You: Showerhead Stuck? Here’s How to Remove It

The good news is that replacing this essential shower control and its accompanying trim is an extremely simple task that you can knock out quickly without eating into your precious shower time.

Can You Replace Just the Shower Handle?

Yes. In fact, sometimes, just changing the shower handle without replacing the valve makes the most sense. A shower handle gets the brunt of the whole “taking a shower” business — getting twisted and turned, pushed and pulled. It’s no wonder they age quickly. Perhaps the style or finish isn’t to your liking, and you’re left wondering how easily you can upgrade without having to call in a plumber.

For this particular project, ye should fret not. In most cases, replacing the shower knob or handle is a pretty straightforward task. Consider the following guide to help you remove a shower faucet handle, install a new one and get on with your day.

How Do You Replace a Single-Handle Shower Faucet?

Shower handles come in a variety of styles, including single-, double- and even triple-handle styles. If you’re working with a shower-tub combo, you might have any one of these setups. A stand-alone shower is more likely to have a single handle, but double handles are also sometimes used. Regardless of what kind of handle you have, the removal and installation process for a replacement is essentially the same.

That said, unless you are committed to replacing your entire shower valve assembly, you should only try to replace a handle of the same style. In other words, if you currently have a single-handle style, then you’ll need to look for another single-handle one to replace it.

Also, keep in mind that if you only plan to replace the shower handle (or handles), you obviously want to make the replacement as close to a match in style and color finish as possible to the rest of the fixtures in your shower or tub. Replacing a tub spout, for example, is a slightly trickier process than handle replacement, as spout lengths and their water pipe counterparts vary. So, if you can get away with just replacing the handles, it’ll save you some time.

If you’d like to try to buy from the same manufacturer, one trick is to look behind the trim plate for a brand name or manufacturer symbol if the name isn’t listed on the handles themselves. Take a look around for a model number while you’re at it, as model numbers are also sometimes listed behind trim plates or even under the tub spout.

Before you begin, use a drain stopper or drop cloth to block the drain opening to keep any small screws or other components from falling down the drain. Dropping small screws happens often and having them promptly vanish into the depths of your plumbing means halting your shower handle replacement project and heading up to your local hardware store to find the right screw.

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Do I Need to Turn Off the Water to Replace a Shower Handle?

The first step in a shower knob replacement is to turn off the water supply. Many showers have supply shut-off valves on the back or sides of the shower unit, but they’re usually hidden behind the wall. If you’re not in the middle of a larger shower remodel and you don’t have access to those supply lines, you’ll need to shut the water off to your entire home at the main shut-off valve. Once the water is shut off, place the valve in the on position to remove any excess pressure that might still be in the water pipe.

Removing the Handle

Next, find the shower knob handle’s screw. Depending on the style of shower handle, it could be under the decorative cap, or there could be a set screw underneath the handle. Unscrew the set screw using a hex-head wrench or a small Phillips screwdriver. When the set screw has been unscrewed, remove the handle from the valve.

Keep in mind that older handles can be pretty difficult to remove, especially if they’re corroded. If you find yourself in this situation, you can apply some plumber’s lubricant to the handle or use a special tool called a handle puller.

After the handle has been pulled off the valve, remove the escutcheon plate from the wall. Also called a trim plate, this is the panel that covers the hole in the shower wall leading to the valve body.

Installing the New Handle

Once you’ve removed the trim plate, you can begin the process of installing the new handle. For this step, wrap Teflon tape around the base of your faucet stem. Slide the new handle onto the faucet stem and screw it in place using the supplied set screw. For double- or triple-handle systems, the method is the same: Wrap Teflon tape around each stem and screw the handles into place using the supplied screws.

After the handles have been secured, place your trim plate over the top of your new handle and snap or screw it into place, depending on the brand of your trim kit. Once your trim plate has been installed, turn back your water supply back on and enjoy your new faucet.

Small Project, Big Reward

One of the easiest ways to upgrade a shower is changing out the hardware for a more updated look or greater functionality. It’s the kind of quick and painless project that will make you question why you didn’t tackle it sooner.

Got a Stopped-up Sink With a Sink Stopper? Pull Out All the Stops

Got a Stopped-up Sink With a Sink Stopper? Pull Out All the Stops

photo is looking down on a residential bathroom sink that is clogged and slowing draining water

Slow drains can be a hassle. You’re brushing your teeth or washing your face and notice the water isn’t draining from the sink as fast as it’s flowing in. You don’t want to stand there and wait for the sink to empty just so you can wash your hands. And if you’re not careful, a slow drain could lead to leaks and overflows in the future. It’d be easy enough if you could just look down the drain to locate the obstruction, but many bathroom sinks have stoppers that make them more difficult to unclog.

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Got a stopped-up sink with a sink stopper? Here’s how to remove both the drain stopper and the clog.

Common Reasons for Bathroom Sink Clogs

What’s causing your bathroom sink to clog in the first place? One of the most common culprits is hair. If you shave or cut your hair at the bathroom sink, hair can be washed down the drain. There, it clumps together and, eventually, causes clogs. Even if you don’t intentionally rinse hair down the sink, hair that falls out or breaks naturally during the process of brushing or styling can eventually collect in the plumbing below the sink.

Other common reasons for bathroom clogs include:

  • Soap and soap scum buildup
  • Dried or clumped product, including toothpaste
  • Small items stuck in the P-trap

pulling bathroom sink stopper

First, Remove the Stopper…

To unclog your sink, you’ll need to remove the bathroom sink stopper. Sometimes, the stopper is helping to form the clog, and by removing it, you may pull up or release some of the gunk that’s causing the slow drain.

Start by pulling by hand or turning the stopper. Some are made to be easily removed. If that’s not the case, you may need to use some tools and unfasten or unscrew the part holding the stopper in place under the sink. Here’s what to do:

  1. Locate a horizontal rod and stopper strap under the sink. The vertical strap is a metal strip with holes in it.
  2. Find the clip that holds these two pieces together. Take off the clip, but keep it close by. You’ll need it to put everything back together.
  3. Look for the nut attached to the rod and unscrew it. Water may come out when you do this, so put a container underneath the sink to catch it. At this point, you should be able to remove the stopper.

…Then Tackle the Clog

Some of these methods to unclog the bathroom sink will require that you remove the stopper. Others can be tried without going through that step.

Boiling Water

Boiling water can clear some clogs, especially those created by buildup or soap. Hot water dissolves grease and other solids so they can be pushed out of your pipes. Make sure the sink is empty and pour boiling water from a pot or kettle slowly down the drain. You can try this without removing the stopper. This can also work on some clogs in your kitchen sink.

Before you try this method, double check that your pipes are made of metal and not PVC; the boiling water may melt PVC pipes. Also, try not to pour the hot water directly onto the surface of your sink. Porcelain sinks may crack due to the abrupt temperature change.woman plunging sink

Use a Plunger

The plunger is something you can try when you’re working to unclog any drain. You can attempt this fix with the stopper in place, but it’s going to work best without the stopper in the way. Simply place the plunger over the drain and create a seal. Then, push the plunger up and down quickly a few times. This creates a force in the pipe that can push or pull a clog loose.

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Natural Products

Pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the sink can help dissolve some clogs. You may also be able to purchase drain cleaning products at the store for this purpose. As long as you can get some of these products down your drain to begin with — i.e., there’s no physical obstruction or standing water — you don’t need to remove the stopper.man rotating a drain snake into a kitchen sink to unclog the pipe

Snake the Pipe

Remove the P-trap from below your sink and look for any visible clogs. Then, you can use a drain snake or even a straightened wire coat hanger to push the clog out from above. Usually, you have to remove the stopper to do this, but you might be able to get a thin pipe snake down the drain without doing so. Put a large bowl or bucket under the sink to catch any water.

When Should You Call a Professional About Your Clog?

Many clogs can be handled with these and other DIY measures, especially if you have a little bit of plumbing knowledge. The above tips, for example, can also be used to unclog bathroom drains or deal with similar issues in the kitchen.

But not all issues can be attacked with a pot of boiling water or a plunger. If you’re dealing with something like a clogged sewer line or a clog your drain snake can’t reach, you may need to call in a professional. Ignoring the clog could lead to even more expensive repairs later on. Standing water may cause moisture damage, mold or even nastier problems.

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 peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.

Pipe Burst? Here’s What to Do Next

Pipe Burst? Here’s What to Do Next

burst pipe with water coming out

There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling that sets in when you notice water dripping from your ceiling or — worse — gushing from a broken pipe. Many homeowners find themselves panicking as they start to tally up the water damage repair costs. Fortunately, a bit of forward planning can help you avert a total plumbing disaster.

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If a water pipe bursts in your home, it’s important to act quickly to prevent serious water damage to your house and belongings. Knowing what to do when you have a broken water pipe can save you a lot of money on costly plumbing and building repairs.

What Happens When a Pipe Bursts?

There are several reasons that your pipes could burst, though one of the leading culprits is ice. When the temperature outside dips below freezing, the water in your pipes can freeze, too. When water freezes, it expands, putting significant pressure on your pipework.

When your pipes freeze for the first time, they may withstand the added pressure without any adverse effects. However, allowing your pipes to freeze repeatedly will gradually weaken them as they expand and contract, eventually causing them to burst or crack.

Other potential causes of burst pipes include:

  • Corrosion
  • High water pressure
  • Blockages
  • Invading tree roots

Whatever the reason for a burst pipe, spotting it early is crucial for protecting your home.

How Do You Know If Your Pipes Have Burst?

When you mention broken pipes, most people imagine water gushing dramatically from the wall or ceiling. However, the first signs are often subtler. It’s a good idea to look out for the less obvious symptoms of a major leak.

When a water pipe bursts, moisture starts seeping into your floors, ceilings and insulation, causing significant damage. Eventually, mold and mildew start to flourish, creating a potentially hazardous living environment. If you find yourself wading through puddles of water on the floor or can hear water bubbling inside the walls, you won’t be left in any doubt as to whether you have a burst pipe.

Other, less obvious signs include:water meter wrapped with dollar bills

Unexplained Hike in Water Bills

If your water bill suddenly shoots up for no apparent reason, it could be a sign of a burst water main. As water seeps out of the pipe, it sends your water usage sky high. Any unexpected increase in your water bills warrants further investigation.dripping faucet

Reduced Water Pressure

A broken water main or burst pipe means your system must work harder to maintain a supply to your faucets and other fixtures. Therefore, reduced or uneven water pressure could be a sign that you’ve got a leak. While there are a few potential causes of dodgy water pressure, it’s important to find the reason quickly to prevent water damage.

No Flow

Reduced water pressure is inconvenient enough, but you may suddenly find that you have no water flow at all. One of the most likely reasons for a complete lack of running water is a frozen pipe. You should defrost your pipes as quickly as possible to stop them from bursting.

If you can access the frozen pipe, you could try defrosting it yourself. Turn on the central heating to around 70 degrees and use a gentle heat source like a hairdryer or infrared lamp to warm the pipe up gradually — never use a blowtorch or other open flame. If the pipe is inaccessible or your efforts aren’t fruitful, call a plumber to defrost the pipes for you.

Damp Patches in Your Home or Yard

As water flows out of a burst pipe, you may notice damp or discolored patches on your walls, floors or ceilings. If the leak happens under a tiled floor, it could make the tiles feel wobbly or unstable.

Don’t forget to look for exterior signs of a burst pipe. Depending on the location, you may also see puddles, depressions or wobbly pavement in your yard.

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turning hot water valve

What Do You Do If Your Pipes Burst?

As soon as you see the signs of a pipe burst in your house, you should immediately turn the water supply off at the main. If you have a minute, locate your stopcock now so you’re able to find it fast in an emergency. Turning the water off stops the flow to your pipes and prevents more water from seeping into your home.

Next, call an emergency plumber to locate and fix the burst pipe. While you can often repair minor leaks yourself, a burst pipe requires urgent diagnosis and replacement by a professional.

While you wait for the plumber, there are steps you can take to reduce the damage. Start by moving furniture and any valuable items as far away from the burst pipe as possible. Doing this will also make it quicker and easier for the plumber to access the problem area when they arrive.

If you can see and access the leak, plugging it with rags can staunch the flow and protect your walls and insulation. You can reduce damage to your floor by placing buckets to catch any flowing or dripping water. Use towels to dry any puddles.

water service line

Protect Your Home Long-Term

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to frozen pipes and broken water mains. Fortunately, there are some simple and cost-effective ways to prevent major leaks and protect your home:

  • Use insulation to prevent freezing pipes
  • Keep your central heating on when outside temperatures drop below freezing
  • Repair small leaks quickly
  • Resolve clogs and corrosion as soon as you notice them

Being prepared with a plumbing plan from Service Line Warranties of America can help you handle unexpected plumbing emergencies. When you have a plan in place, simply call our 24/7 hotline to get connected with pros who can get your system up and running again. See what plans are available in your area.