3 signs your sewer line is clogged

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When the main sewer line clogs, everything will eventually force its way back up through the drains and into your house. In other words, it’s a recipe for a very messy and expensive disaster.

Be prepared to handle potentially serious clogs by looking out for these three signs of possible sewer line trouble:

  1. Multiple drain issues

If your main line clogs, it affects all the connected drains in your sinks, showers, baths and toilets. When the water reaches a blockage, it has nowhere to go but back up. Therefore, you will notice that multiple drains and plumbing fixtures clog or back up at the same time. You may also hear loud gurgling sounds coming from the drains, which is caused by wastewater hitting air pockets as it pushes its way through the clog.

  1. Strong sewer smell

If the less-than-ideal smell of sewer begins to waft into your home from the drains, it’s likely a telltale sign of a clogged line. It’s quite a strong and unpleasant scent, so this sign of sewer trouble is unmistakable.

  1. Water overflows

Look out for unusual activity coming from your plumbing fixtures. If there’s water or sewage coming up through the bathtub, shower drain or toilet, your main sewer line is likely clogged. Overflowing water tends to go to the lowest points in the home first, so watch for plumbing fixtures in those areas to show initial signs.

When you’re unsure about the issues, you can try a few tricks to double check for overflowing water. In the bathroom, flush the toilet. If water immediately comes up through the bathtub or shower drain, you probably have an overflow issue. You can also run the water in the sink and watch to see if the water rises in the toilet. Another test is to run your washing machine and check the bathtub or shower drain for signs of water coming up.

What should you do if you think your sewer line is clogged?

If you notice these signs, don’t flush the toilet or run any water. Shut off the main water supply valve immediately, which should be in the garage or near your water heater. Turning off the water will prevent excess sewage from flooding the system until a professional can check out the problem. You can’t do much to clear the sewer line without expert help, so make an appointment with a professional plumber as soon as possible.

It’s always important that you spot plumbing problems early to minimize damage and expense.

Not sure if it’s a city sewer line backup? Check with neighbors – if they are experiencing the same issues then it’s likely a city sewer line. Remember that the city will only fix their line, and not the homeowner’s line.

Be prepared for potential issues with plans from Sewer Line Warranties of America as having plans can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

Cooling systems: A homeowner’s buying guide

HVAC unitSummer is in full swing, which means for many of us, thoughts are turning to air conditioning and home cooling systems. Let’s be honest —central air conditioning is a game changer. No more sweaty nights tossing and turning in front of a box fan or toughing it out because you haven’t installed the window units yet. But, you have options when you’re ready to install a home cooling system.

Here are a few types to consider:

Central air conditioning

Designed to cool the entire house, this cooling system feeds into your home’s ductwork and distributes cool air throughout each room. A large compressor unit lives outside, combining the evaporator, condenser and compressor in one place. Proper sizing and efficiency are important for choosing the right air conditioning unit for your home. Look for a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating of at least 13 if you live in a northern state and 14 if your home is in a southern climate, according to SmarterHouse. Plus, consider buying an energy-efficient model approved by ENERGY STAR for the best performance.

Once you’re the proud owner of an air conditioning unit, you’ll need to keep maintenance in mind, prepping it for seasonal changes and enhancing its efficiency. With a little love and care, your unit will continue to keep your home at lovely, cool temperatures when the heat rises outside.

Ductless system

These mini-split systems are popular for room additions or homes without ductwork. Similar to central air cooling systems, there is an outdoor unit. However, a ductless system requires each room or zone to have its own air handler, which is connected to the outdoor unit via a conduit. You can mount these indoor units on walls or ceilings. As such, you can choose to cool specific areas of your home, rather than the entire house. However, this option can be much less cost effective than a central cooling system.

Evaporator system

Ideal for dry climates, evaporator systems use a fan to push fresh air through moist pads and circulate cool air throughout the house. They can be cost-effective because the fan is the only electrical component, but they lose efficiency when the humidity rises. If you live in the right environment for this system, you’ll need to be careful about choosing the size of the evaporator. To give you an idea, homes around 1,500 square feet require an evaporator fan that runs at 6,000 cubic feet per minute, according to SmarterHouse.

Portable units

Self-contained cooling units are an ideal temporary solution, and common in homes up North where the temperatures don’t stay high for long. Window air conditioners or portable stand-alone units are among the most popular. They’re great for immediate relief from the heat when you need it, but can be noisy and only cool a limited area.

Remember that while your choice may depend on budget, location and regional climate, if you’re looking to cool your home consistently and frequently, installing a central air conditioning system is a more long-term, effective solution than the portable cooling units.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.

Reasons to call a professional plumber

plumbing.pngNot 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. External plumbing, like your water sewer line, may also be contributing to the problems in your home.

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. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.

5 quick tips for lawn irrigation system maintenance

sprinkler

The grass is greener on the other side – but what if your lawn could be lush and green all over? With proper upkeep and maintaining your lawn irrigation system, it can be.

Keep your sprinkler and lawn irrigation systems in tip-top shape with these five maintenance tips:

  1. Practice routine upkeep

Ideally, check in on your lawn irrigation system once a month. At the very least, aim for twice a year, particularly at the beginning of spring and fall. Routine maintenance promotes proper water flow and yard safety.

  1. Examine the sprinkler heads

Clean out clogged nozzles, tighten loose screws and look for sunken, tilted or missing heads. Common signs of faulty sprinkler heads include cracked or broken casing, inconsistent spraying, or inability to pop up. Clean and reset the heads, or replace them if necessary. Adjust the sprinkler heads to make sure they spray the lawn, as opposed to giving the sidewalk or sides of your house an unnecessary shower.

  1. Look for dry spots

If there are areas of your lawn that aren’t getting enough attention, adjust the sprinkler heads to spray the dry spots with additional water. Alternatively, you may need to increase the coverage of your sprinkler system or adjust the valves to increase water pressure.

  1. Check for signs of leakage

Extreme weather, tree roots, or damage from sharp gardening tools may cause leaks in the valves and pipes of a lawn irrigation system. Repair or replace damaged valves and pipes at the first sign of leaking.

  1. Install a rain sensor

These water-conserving tools prevent your system from running when the ground is already wet and doesn’t require additional watering. Most new systems will automatically include rain sensors, but if you don’t have one, it’s a good idea to install one, as it will waste less water.

There are other potential causes of a breakdown, such as a blown fuse, a coil that needs to be replaced, or voltage issues. The five listed above are the most common and easiest to diagnose and fix.

Very Important: Call 811 before performing any repair work on your own. An operator will connect you with a local professional to identify and mark the approximate locations of your underground utility lines. That way, you can avoid hitting the lines and causing serious damage. Even simple fixes like replacing spray heads require digging, so always make the call before getting started.

If you find signs of damage during your maintenance efforts, call a professional to inspect your lawn irrigation system.

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

Water sewer line repair: DIY or plumbing pro?

sewer-pipe-closeupSlow draining, poor water pressure, leaks, wet spots, unusual noises: what is wrong with your plumbing system? The heart and soul of your plumbing system is your sewer line. What homeowners may be unaware of is that tree root intrusion, disruptive debris, worn materials or cracking pipes, can affect a home’s sewer line.

If you think you can perform a DIY plumbing sewer line repair, you might want to reconsider, as there are plenty of reasons to avoid do-it-yourself sewer line repair. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Lack of plumbing expertise

While sewer line repair is a relatively straightforward job, it requires the necessary knowledge, experience and equipment to perform the task properly. Along with understanding the process, a licensed professional knows how to choose the best materials and has the right tools and equipment to complete the job.

Additionally, plumbing pros have experience with public code requirements, which means they not only know which permits and approvals are necessary but also understand how to obtain them. If you complete a DIY project without a permit, you may risk penalties from your city or town, which may lead to hiring a professional to redo the work.

Potential for additional damage

When you don’t have the proper expertise and equipment, there’s a higher chance for issues along the way. Before you know it, a simple issue can become a more complex one that you’re unsure how to fix. Additionally, patch jobs, temporary fixes or poor-quality work may eventually lead to more serious problems and potentially higher costs. For most homeowners, it’s better to pay for the professional service upfront and avoid surprise costs.

Safety hazards

There are also health and safety risks to consider when performing sewer line repair or replacement. You risk exposure to methane gas, salmonella and E. coli, as well as accidentally hitting a natural gas line during the digging process, when working with pipes, according to Pipe Spy. These issues can cause damage and health risks to not only your property but also your neighbors’ sewer line.

Our answer to the DIY plumbing pro question is that unless you’re a plumber, don’t attempt to repair or replace your sewer line.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs.

 

Common dishwasher problems and how to fix them

DishwasherProblems

When’s the last time you thought to clean your dishwasher? It may seem counterintuitive to clean an appliance that does nothing but wash and disinfect dishes all day, but regular cleaning is important for maintaining all of your appliances.

Here’s how to tackle common dishwasher problems:

Dishes come out dirty

If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning properly, it might be a simple issue that you can easily repair yourself. For starters, avoid overloading the dishwasher, as doing so can prevent it from cleaning properly. In addition, many times dirty dishes are the result of dirty spray arms. Clean clogs from detergent or mineral buildup, and remove small items that may be restricting spray arm movement. Inspect for the same buildup on the strainer screen or door gaskets. Finally, run a cleaning cycle without dishes.

If you still notice water spots or white residue on your dishes even after cleaning and inspecting your dishwasher, use a water softener or specialized detergent with rinse aid.

Dishwasher smells bad

Trapped food and grease can cause your dishwasher to smell even after a cleaning cycle. This problem has an easy DIY repair: Simply clean the filter, strainer screen and sprayer arms to get rid of the old and wet food. (It can be a dirty job, so consider wearing rubber gloves.) Run a cycle without dishes, using a dishwasher cleaner or disinfectant. To avoid future issues, pre-rinse your dishes to remove grease and large food particles before putting them in the dishwasher.

Dishes won’t dry

If your dishwasher isn’t drying properly, it’s likely an issue with the heating element. The easiest fix is using a liquid rinse aid in each cycle. If that doesn’t work, use a multimeter to check the high-limit thermostat, usually at the bottom of the dishwasher tub. If it’s malfunctioning, it can cause the heater to turn off before your dishes are fully dry. If this is the case, you’ll need to call in a professional to install a new heating element.

Dishwasher is cracked

If you find a crack on the inside of your dishwasher, your unit is likely at the end of its life. Cracks leave the mechanical parts vulnerable to water and soap, which can be a serious safety hazard. Unfortunately, there aren’t any DIY solutions to repair this issue. You’ll need to replace the dishwasher.

Dishwasher is old

Once your dishwasher reaches a certain age, repeat repairs and poor performance will eventually cost more than purchasing a new one. According to Sears, seven years is usually the cut off. At that point, it’s a better decision to invest in a new dishwasher, especially if the repairs will cost at least half of the unit’s original price. If you decide it’s time to replace, consider an energy-saving model. Energy efficient appliances are better for the environment and can help lower your monthly bills.

Being prepared before home repair issues arise is always a good strategy. Water sewer line plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs when problems arise. See what plans are available in your area.

Tips for fixing leaky faucets

Tips for fixing leaky faucets

There’s nothing worse than the drip…drip…drip sound of a leaky faucet. Not only is it annoying, but it can cause higher water bills. That’s why fixing a leaky faucet ASAP is always a good idea. With a few tools and the right advice, leaky faucet repair is a simple DIY project.

Keep in mind that the repair process will differ depending on the type of spout and sink, but you can follow these basic tips for most faucet repairs:

Examine the faucet

Before doing repair work, put on your detective glasses and try to identify the source of the leak. That once-over will determine what kind of repair needs to be done. For instance, if the leak is around the stem of the faucet, you’ll want to install new packing or O-rings.

Turn off the water

Always turn off the water supply before doing repair work. Look for the shutoff valves under the sink. Turn them clockwise until they’re tightly closed. Avoid using too much force, as overtightening can cause damage. If the valves aren’t under the sink, you’ll need to close the main water valves. These devices are usually located in the basement or near the washer, dryer and hot water heater. Once you’ve shut off the valves, turn the faucet on to release pressure and drain remaining water in the pipes.

Close the drain

You’re going to be working with small screws as you take apart the faucet, and you don’t want them to end up lost down the drain pipes. Avoid catastrophe by concealing the drain holes with covers or plugs. You can also push a rag down the pipe.

Be mindful of the parts

Pay attention to the order and orientation of the parts as you remove them. This diligence makes for much easier reassembly. To help you remember, set the parts aside in the order you removed them. You can also take photos or videos as you go.

Check the seals, washers and O-rings

Seals, washer and O-rings are often the culprits when a faucet starts to leak. Inspect them for obvious wear and tear, such as a flattened washer or grooves worn into the parts. If they look rough, replace them. Take the old parts to the store with you to ensure you’re buying the right replacements. Alternatively, replace with a washerless faucet to help avoid the issue in the future.

Clean as you go

Take advantage of this time to clean the parts before you reassemble them. Once parts are removed, clean all seals and interior cylinders. Check the interior of the valve for pieces of deteriorated gaskets or mineral deposits. Use a cloth to clean the surfaces, and loosen these deposits by soaking them in vinegar.

Never push down on the faucet

At the first sign of drips, you may feel inclined to push down on the faucet in an effort to close any opening and stop the dripping water. Avoid doing this as it can cause more damage to the faucet.

Consider replacing rather than repairing

If an old faucet is giving you issues, it’s usually a good idea to go ahead and replace the faucet altogether. Follow these steps to replace your faucet like a pro.

Slow and steady wins the race

Once you’ve finished the repair, you’ll need to turn the water back on. Expert advice from Lowes: Make sure the faucet is in the “on” position, and turn the water back on slowly. If the faucet is in the “off” position or there’s too much pressure applied too quickly, it may cause more serious damage, such as cracking the discs in the cartridge. Let the water run until it flows normally.

Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs. See what plans are available in your area.