My laundry room is basically my second home. The organized linens and fabric softener is my domain, but when I moved into a new home I had a big decision to make: should I get a stackable washer and dryer set or stick with my side-by-side units?
While space was no issue, there was still plenty to consider, including my laundry needs, desired features and energy efficiency. I found that while stackable washer and dryer sets are a popular option among homeowners, they might not be best-suited to your space and expectations.
Before purchasing a new washer and dryer, consider the pros and cons of a stackable unit to decide if it’s the right choice for you.
A front-load washer and dryer is often a convenient option for homeowners in all living situations.
Here’s why many people choose stackable washer and dryer sets for their laundry needs:
Great for small spaces
More efficient cleaning
Easier on your clothes
Easy on your back
If you’re like me and are constantly rearranging your living spaces, stackable washer and dryer sets are a flexible option for changing up laundry rooms. Most stackable appliances also have free-standing capabilities and can operate side by side just as well, it just might require a few tools and some knowledge about washers and dryers.
SFGate Home Guides recommends consulting manufacturer directions for your particular model before unstacking. Then, unplug power cords and unhook the dryer duct. If you use a gas dryer, make sure the supply line is disconnected.
While the instructions will usually outline the initial installation process, just reverse the directions to unstack the unit. This can entail removing bracket mounting screws and brackets. Have another pair of hands on deck to help move the dryer down and into its new position (this may require adding new feet or anti-slip pads to its bottom).
Of course, stackable units are not ideal for every homeowner. Some drawbacks to these machines include:
Higher price tag
Out of reach
Fewer bells and whistles
Front-loading machines are simply designed differently than top-load washers. While buildup of mold, mildew and soap scum is common in all washers, there are different nooks and crannies in a front-loading machine you’ll have to pay more attention to.
This includes the rubber gasket, where mold can build up fast. Always try to wipe it down with a clean towel and let the unit air dry after it’s used. Every few months it can also be beneficial to grab a toothbrush and do a deep clean of the rubber components to get rid of any lingering odors and buildup.
Additionally, you should check that your stackable system is still secured. Consult your manual and ensure that no screws are loose or parts from your stacking kit need to be replaced. Before buying any appliance, it’s always a good idea to brush up on common problems they experience (like a waterlogged washer) so you can be prepared to conduct maintenance or call in a professional.
Ultimately, the best washer and dryer for your home comes down to your laundry needs. A compact, stackable unit is best if you typically have small loads of laundry. Due to its gentle wash cycle, don’t expect a quick wash like you would from a top-loading machine. Your clothes will still be exceptionally clean, and you may be able to cut down the time on dry cycles since the laundry will not be sopping wet.
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you might want to consider a stacked laundry center like this one from Whirlpool. You can still save on space with a high-quality top-loading washer and electric dryer that automatically senses when clothes are ready for a quick dry. While these combined units are convenient and cost-effective, repairing this unique appliance can be tricky. Make sure you’re prepared that if one part of this unit breaks or you want an upgrade, you might need to invest in an entirely new machine.
April showers bring something a little less lovely than May flowers. All the rainwater can wreak havoc on your home if you don’t have gutters to manage it. That’s why buying and installing a really good gutter and downspout system should be at the top of your spring home improvement checklist.
Why Your Home Needs Gutters
Without gutters, you might see smashed flower beds or a flooded basement after just one heavy storm. In time, your property could experience everything from soil erosion and stained siding to damp walls and foundation damage.
These are not just unsightly issues; they can compromise your home’s structural integrity. And it might go without saying, but repairing a rotted wall or foundation can turn into a big, expensive project. Major storm damage can also occur with old, leaky gutter systems that ought to be replaced.
Thankfully, you can easily prevent this type of damage by installing a comprehensive rain gutter system with strategically located downspouts around your home.
Average Gutter Installation Cost
Homeowners can pay anywhere from $600-$800 on the lower end of the spectrum to $2,500-$5,000 on the higher end. The average gutter installation cost is closer to $1,000 to $1,800, including labor. What you pay will depend on the material you use, how large your property is and the cost of living in your area.
Reliable rain gutters are an investment in your home that will not only keep your yard looking great but will help ensure the health of your home. Luckily, you have a lot of choices about how to protect your property and re-route the rainwater.
Gutter Installation Cost Factors to Consider
If you want to figure out the total cost of a gutter installation project, you’ll need to factor a few points into your calculations.
For each square foot of your home, you will need a minimum of 10 feet of gutters. So, an average 1,500 square foot home would require at least 150 linear feet of gutters. Moreover, an upper story installation will cost between $1.00-$1.50 more per linear foot than a single-story installation.
Gutter installation can certainly be a DIY home maintenance project, but only with sectional gutters. You might prefer to have a professional install your gutters for you. While more expensive, this can be safer and more reliable — and it means you can get seamless gutters installed. Typically, labor costs are factored into the pricing. This is because, in the case of seamless gutters, the contractor will actually create gutter pieces in the right sizes onsite.
Installation or Replacement
A gutter replacement project is actually more expensive than installing a system to a home that never had gutters. Having old gutters removed will require additional labor. You can expect to pay around $100-$150 to have old gutters removed and disposed of. Just be mindful that if you discover a rotting or damaged roofline, you’ll need to address that project first before getting to the gutter installation.
Regions that see a lot of rainfall may need different types of gutters. For instance, the U.S. Department of Energy advises that homeowners in marine climates should choose high-capacity gutters with flashing. Most gutters come in widths from 4-6 inches, but can be made larger at a greater expense. Homeowners in regions that experience forest fires should choose metal gutters rather than vinyl.
Correctly placed downspouts will help you avoid a drainage problem, but you can choose where your system sends the water. You can simply set down splash blocks or use downspout extensions to carry it farther from your foundation. If you want to set up a rainwater harvesting system, you will need to budget for additional piping, filtration systems, storage tanks and more.
Gutter Type, Materials and Accessories
The total gutter installation cost will depend on the type of gutter you want, the materials you select and any add-ons and accessories you choose. The material is the biggest factor in determining the overall gutter installation cost. The two possible types are seamless gutters (including aluminum, galvanized steel and copper) and sectional gutters (including vinyl).
Seamless gutter pieces are custom made to fit your roofline. The metal is molded to shape using an extrusion machine onsite at your property. Seamless gutters are less likely to leak and can result in a perfect fit.
Seamless aluminum gutters are the most popular choice among homeowners. They cost roughly $5 to $14 per linear foot, on average. They are lightweight, corrosion-resistant and can last between 20 and 30 years, meaning they offer good value for money. They’re typically available in a variety of colors and certain aluminum gutters can even be painted to match your home’s trim, which can help minimize their appearance.
Seamless galvanized steel gutters are highly durable. They don’t dent as easily as aluminum and won’t crack in the cold. Because of this, they may be well-suited to windy or wooded areas. However, they are heavier and can start to rust if their protective coating gets damaged. They’ll typically last for about 10 to 20 years. Galvanized steel gutters can cost anywhere from $6-$16 or more per linear foot, but $9 is an average price.
Seamless copper gutters are the most durable and offer the most aesthetic value. They can offer a warm glow if kept polished or will develop a rich patina over time. However, they are also the most expensive choice and average about $20 to $40 per linear foot. Copper gutters are great for finishing off a high-end home, but as the metal is a valuable material, it can expose some properties to theft. They will last between 50 to 100 years, so the higher upfront costs will eventually pay off.
Sectional gutters consist of shorter connected pieces. Typically, they come in 10-foot lengths and need to be cut down to size. More joins are required and will need to be monitored for leaks over time. The most common type of sectional gutter is vinyl. Wood is another, less-popular option as it’s prone to rotting and can be pricey, averaging $12 to $20 per linear foot.
Sectional vinyl gutters are the least expensive option, averaging $3 to $7 per linear foot. They are very lightweight and DIY installation can be relatively straightforward, although professionals can install them as well. They are sealed with urethane to protect leaks, but may crack in cold climates.
While some components like downspouts and gutter elbows are essential, you can choose to add on other accessories to your gutter system. Many of these will come in the same material as the gutters themselves, and prices vary accordingly, with copper being the most expensive choice.
Gutter hangers, also known as gutter brackets, help keep your gutters elevated. They’re especially useful in windy or rainy climates, and can cost as low as $2 to $5 for vinyl or aluminum.
Downspouts and Extensions
You’ll typically need to install one downspout every 35 feet along your roofline. Vinyl or aluminum downspouts and above-ground downspout extensions are usually priced from $2 to $8 per linear foot, while steel can cost up to $10 per foot and copper may cost between $10-$25 per linear foot.
If your roof is not flush with the exterior walls, you’ll need gutter elbows to make the turn so that your downspout hugs the wall. With an overhanging roof, it often takes two in an “S” shape to span the distance. These can cost around $5 to $9 for the less expensive materials, but copper pieces can run from $20-$50.
Installing gutter guards, also called leaf guards, is a great way to keep your gutter system clear of debris. You may spend under $200 to purchase and install more affordable materials yourself, but could spend $1,500 to have a custom system professionally installed. Basic wire mesh screens can cost as low as $1 per linear foot, whereas perforated metal gutter guards can cost $4-$12 per linear foot.
Flashing prevents roof runoff from seeping behind your gutters. It can cost about $2-$5 for vinyl or aluminum, or $5-$10 for galvanized steel, but copper flashing may cost up to $30.
Gutter heaters or heat tape are electrical cords that warm up your gutters to prevent them, and the water in them, from freezing. This helps prevent ice dams in cold climates and can cost around $50 to $75 per 100 linear feet.
Splash blocks, also called splash guards or splash drains are plastic trays that cost about $5-$10 each. They sit below the downspout and help divert water away from your foundation and spread it evenly across the earth below.
Protecting Your Gutter Investment
Standing water and damp leaves in a gutter can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes in the summer and can cause ice dams to form in the winter. To avoid clogged gutters, clean out your system on a regular basis. You can do this yourself, or enlist a professional for about $100 to $150 per visit.
Spring cleaning is typically the perfect time to sweep out the garage, reorganize the linen closet and wipe down the windows. But in Spring 2020, our cleaning goals are slightly different.
While shelter-in-place orders around the country may be giving families plenty of time to tackle those Marie Kondo-inspired tidying-up projects, these guidelines are essential to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Here are some helpful cleaning strategies that may help you keep germs at bay, even if your family is in good health:
Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re cleaning, and wash your hands before and after to help minimize the spread of germs. It’s also best to work in a well-ventilated space, as disinfecting chemicals can be very strong. Also, never mix cleaning chemicals as this can create toxic off gassing.
Clean First, Then Disinfect
The CDC explains that cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning helps remove dirt, debris and other residue, whereas disinfecting helps kill bacteria and pathogens.
First, wipe down surfaces with a cleaning towel or soap and water to remove dirt. Then follow up by using an EPA-approved disinfectant or a diluted household bleach solution containing 4 teaspoons of unexpired bleach for each quart of water.
Your disinfectant will need to remain on the surface for a certain amount of time, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For a household solution, wait at least 1 minute.
Focus on High-Touch Surfaces
The CDC also recommends cleaning high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas. These include bathroom and kitchen surfaces, faucets, doorknobs, hard-backed chairs, lightswitches, game controllers, computer keyboards and mobile devices.
Explore Cleaning Guides from HomeServe
If you’re like me and have become somewhat obsessive about keeping your house clean and wanting to try to keep the coronavirus at bay, check out the following HomeServe blogs for general cleaning tips and tricks that may help with hard-to-clean spots and surfaces.
Don’t forget to bookmark this post so you can come back to these helpful hints when next year’s Spring cleaning season comes around.
Prepare for the Unexpected With a Home Repair Plans
As you and your family follow shelter-in-place orders and spend more time at home, you’re counting on your essential home systems to stay in working order. Now, more than ever, your home is playing a major role as your living space, office, schoolhouse, play zone, fitness center and more. An unexpected home system breakdown could have consequences for all of these aspects of your life.