How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

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

n theory, it all seemed super straightforward. But in practice? Nope! (After lying on my back and fumbling around in a pitch-black cabinet for the better part of a Saturday afternoon, I realized that I have my limits!) I had to call in my dad to come and bail me out.

The lesson learned is that 99% of most people I meet are handier at home repairs than I am. But since I spent so much time researching on how to install a kitchen faucet, I thought I’d share my findings. Here you go:

Purchase a compatible faucet

Before you set your heart on a sleek new faucet style, make sure it’s compatible with your sink.

Peek underneath to see how many holes there are. If there’s just one, you’ll need a one-hole faucet. But you have more options if there are three or four holes in your sink.

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

Under-sink prep

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

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

Shut off the water

Before taking anything apart, remember to turn off the water! If your kitchen sink has a garbage disposal or an electrical outlet underneath, turn off the power, too.

Locate the valves under your sink or, if there aren’t any, head to the main water supply line. Switch the shutoff valve to the “off” setting. If it won’t budge, try coaxing it with heat from a hairdryer or gently twisting it with pliers.

Then, switch on the faucet to relieve any pressure in the water lines.

Remove the old faucet

To get the old faucet out of the way, loosen all of the mounting hardware and disconnect all of the supply lines from below. It helps to have someone else keeps the faucet still from above, and a bucket or towel to catch the dripping water below.

Depending on the type of faucet in your sink, you may need to use different strategies, but a basin wrench will always come in handy for loosening the nuts.

Install the new faucet

Follow the manufacturer’s instructions as closely as possible for the most successful installation.

Depending on the type of spout assembly you’re working with, you may need to hook up the main faucet, separate hot and cold supply lines and a side sprayer hose.

But, in general, you’ll slide the pieces in from above and use a basin wrench to tighten the mounting hardware. You might also need to use caulk or plumber’s putty to seal up the gaps.

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

Test the faucet

Turn the water back on at the supply valves and run a gentle stream of water to make sure it works. Check for drips around the supply lines and tighten the hardware if necessary.

Once you’ve tested it out and everything appears to be dry, remove the faucet’s aerator. Run the water at full-blast to flush out any debris that may have collected. Replace the aerator and your new kitchen sink is ready to go!

After installing or replacing a kitchen faucet, you’ll want to keep all your home systems running smoothly.

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

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

Even with the best laid plans to winterize your home plumbing system, sometimes pipes still freeze over. And sometimes, they burst. And then the panic builds and causes the emotions to burst. (Sound familiar?)

As my science-loving daughter explained to me, it has to do with changing states of matter. (Yep, she’s a smarty pants.) As the frozen water expands, the pressure can build from 40 PSI to 40,000 PSI. Ordinary pipes are no match for this explosive stress and they’ll rupture.

The worst-case scenario

You may not notice you have a burst pipe until it starts thawing. Then, water will start flooding straight into your home at a rate of hundreds of gallons per hour, according to The Spruce. A wintertime flood can only ever lead to extensive water damage, costly home repairs and buckets of bitter tears.

Identifying a frozen pipe

The most vulnerable pipes are those in an unheated crawl space, basement or garage, and those within external walls. This includes pipes in closets and cabinets and those near outdoor hose hookups. Exposed pipes are also susceptible. Basically, any pipe with some proximity to the great frozen tundra of the outside world is at risk of freezing.

If you can successfully thaw out your frozen pipe before it bursts, you’ll save yourself endless trouble and strife. When the temperatures drop, here are some signs to look for:

  • Nothing comes out of the tap when you turn it on.
  • The water pressure is significantly reduced.
  • Your toilet bowl doesn’t refill after you flush it.
  • Frost appears on the outside of the pipe.
  • There’s a bulge in the pipe.

If you notice one or more of these things, chances are your pipes are frozen and you need to take action — immediately.

What to do

Upon spotting a frozen pipe, keep the surrounding area as warm as possible. Turn up the thermostat to about 70 degrees. To help the heat circulate and stay in, leave cabinet doors open so the warmth reaches the plumbing system and keep your windows and garage door closed.

Direct a space heater (though always use safety precautions) or infrared lamp towards exposed pipes and those behind walls. You can also blow a hot hair dryer towards the pipes to speed up the thawing process. (But never, ever use an exposed flame.) If the situation is really dire, consider slicing out a section of drywall to expose the pipe.

Focus your efforts on the part of the pipe closest to the faucet so that the melting water has somewhere to go. Keep a stream of cold water flowing out of the faucet. If the pipes are frozen, the water flow will be noticeably reduced. As they thaw out, you’ll notice the flow pick up.

If you expect the cold snap to pass, you may be able to resolve the problem on your own. However, if the weather forecast shows that Jack Frost is going to stick around like an unwanted guest, you’d be best served by enlisting the help of an experienced plumber.

Long-term solutions

The crisis may be averted, but you should still take preventative measures with these habits and home improvements to make sure your pipes don’t freeze again:

  • Cover the pipes with pipe insulation.
  • Insulate vulnerable rooms like the basement and crawl spaces.
  • Keep your thermostat at 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the colder months.
  • Consider having electric heat cables installed.

Being prepared for pipe and plumbing emergencies is always a good idea. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

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.

6 Ways to Protect Your Home from Water Damage

home water damage

Did you know, water damage is more likely to occur in your home than fire damage? We protect our homes from catastrophes, but water damage could be just as dangerous.

Plumbing leaks are common anywhere there is running water, such as:

  • Toilets
  • Faucets/Sinks
  • Dishwashers
  • Ice makers
  • Water heaters
  • Tubs/showers
  • Washing machines
  • Internal pipes and hoses

Water damage isn’t only a problem financially; it can lead to serious health risks from chemicals, toxins and mold, such as rashes, asthma or other chronic health conditions. Additionally, recent studies have shown that children with prolonged exposure to water- damaged rooms in their home are at a higher risk of developing eczema.

Whether from a slow leak or flooded basement, there are things that a homeowner can do to mitigate or minimize the extent of water damage.

  • Check for leaks or cracks in hoses that run to the washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator at least once a year and replace these hoses every five to seven years.
  • Be sure the caulking around tubs and showers is free of cracks.
  • Know where your water main is located and how to shut it off.
  • Install floor pans under appliances to prevent damage from slow, undetected leaks.
  • Use water leak alarms, which will alert you to a leak in basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and sump pumps.
  • Buy a water flow monitoring system, which attaches to your water main and, if flow that exceeds normal use is detected, will automatically shut off the flow of water into your home.

When the problem is from your water service line, that’s when repairs can really get costly. Service Line Warranties of America offers affordable warranties to help cover those repairs. Enter your zip code to learn more.

NLC City Summit 2016

NLC PittsburghIn November Utility Service Partners, Inc. (USP), program administrator for the National League of Cities (NLC) Service Line Warranty Program, was an exhibitor at the NLC City Summit in Pittsburgh, PA – our hometown! We had the opportunity to meet with city officials from across the nation. Many of our current partners also stopped by the booth to check in. Please check out all the great photos from the event on our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ServiceLineWarrantiesofAmerica.

Today, USP would like to thank all of our current partners, customers and contractors that make the Service Line Warranty Program a great success, as well as the many organizations we partner with on a local, state and national level. It is through your commitment to the program and valued partnership that we are able to provide warranty protection to homeowners across North America.

Thank you for your continued support.

Utility Service Partners

Flashback Friday: In-Home Plumbing Tips

Plumbing systems are pretty simple – they use pressure and valves Plumbing suppliesand you just have to keep them dry and warm so problems don’t arise. Here are a few tips that can alert you to small problems in order to avoid bigger problems in the future.

Warning signs of a potential in-home plumbing problem:

  • damp cabinets
  • leaking or dripping faucets
  • wobbly toilets
  • leaking refrigerator, dishwasher or washing machine

What you can do to help preserve the integrity of your in-home plumbing:

  • To save yourself money and the plumber time, know where your home’s main water shut-off valve and sewer stack are located. (This also includes the valves for washing machines, icemakers, sinks and toilets. A stud sensor can also detect pipes and wiring to help you locate valves.)
  • Insulate exposed pipes in a crawl space or in the garage with plastic or foam insulation.
  • Apply insulating caps to outdoor fixtures.
  • If you plan on being away from home for a few days, open taps to a small trickle to prevent pipes from freezing.
  • For leaky shower heads, replace the washer.
  • Fit tub and shower drains with strainers to catch hair and clean them regularly.
  • Don’t use your toilet as a wastebasket.
  • If you have hard water, you probably have a build-up of mineral deposit on your shower head. Remove the build-up by putting one cup of distilled vinegar in a plastic bag, immerse the shower head in the vinegar, secure the bag to the shower head with a twist tie and let it soak overnight.
  • Check washer hoses for bulges and leaks as well as sediment build-up where the hose connects to the piping.
  • Ensure the water heater temperature is not set above 120°F, or “medium” for older water heater models.
  • Reduce water pressure and install water softener to expand the life expectancy of your in-home plumbing pipes. Normal pressure will register between 40 and 85 psi.

 

To find out how to help protect yourself in the event of an in-home plumbing emergency, visit www.slwofa.com

Flashback Friday: Put Your Landscape on a Water Diet

When plants absorb sunlight to produce iStock_000001999339Smalloxygen through photosynthesis, the water in their leaves evaporates, requiring the plant to pull water from the ground – which could be trouble for some plants in drought-prone areas.

During periods of extreme heat and drought, this process can use all of a plant’s water resources quickly. As a result, when the weather is hotter, a natural reaction when gardening is to water the plants. Unfortunately, too much of a good thing could be detrimental to the plants. If plants are overwatered during the hottest months, it could send mixed signals, encouraging growth at a time when the plant should be conserving resources. Sometimes it’s better to put your landscape on a strict water diet to ensure healthy plants and conserve water during the hottest months.

So what’s the right amount of water for your plants? That relies on several factors, including:

  • Climate
  • Types of plants
  • Current weather predictions

In order to keep your landscape on a strict diet and conserve water, here are a few simple tricks from the Environmental Protection Agency:

  • Select plants native to the climate, which will require less water since they are adapted to adjust with the seasons locally. Local nurseries can give you the best advice for native plants along with tips on how to properly care for them.
  • Water plants in the early morning or late evening and not during the hottest part of the day. Be sure to note the weather forecast so you don’t water in the morning only for it to rain later in the day.
  • Use mulch to help retain moisture in the soil.
  • Group plants with similar watering needs together, which will help not only conserve water, but concentrate your watering areas correctly.

When monitoring your plants, there are some tell-tale signs they need water:

  • Drooping leaves and stems
  • Flowers that lose their petals too soon
  • Plant coloration – look for a brownish color

These simple tips will help keep your landscape fit and trim this summer. Interested in learning more about photosynthesis? Check out these articles on How Stuff Works andEncylopedia.com. For more information on finding native plants in your area, check out Find Native Plants.

 

Water-Themed Summer Playlist

While working on water conservation and enjoying the summer, jam out to our water-themed playlist!

 

Purple Rain – Prince

Waterfalls – TLC

Ice, Ice Baby – Vanilla Ice

November Rain – Guns N’ Roses

No Rain – Blind Melon

Smoke on the Water – Deep Purple

Water Runs Dry – Boyz II Men

Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head – BJ Thomas

I’m Only Happy When it Rains – Garbage

Red Rain – Peter Gabriel

Set Fire to the Rain – Adele

Cake by the Ocean – DNCE

Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake

Moon River – Henry Mancini

Take Me to the River – Talking Heads

Nightswimming – REM

Green River – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Sea of Love – The Honeydrippers

Black Water – The Doobie Brothers

I Love a Rainy Night – Eddie Rabbitt

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay – Otis Redding

Tide is High – Blondie

 

Service Line Awareness Week Recap

Service Line Warranties of America (SLWA) hosted the first annual Service Line Awareness Week from March 20-26. During the week, we focused on providing citizens educational materials to help demonstrate simple ways to improve water conservation. Here are some fun tips and facts that were featured:

 

  • You can refill an 8-oz glass of water approximately 15,000 times for the same cost as a six-pack of soda pop.
  • Americans use 5.7 billion gallons of water per day from toilet flushes, an average of 1.5 to 3.5 gallons per flush.
  • Adjust mowers to a higher setting. Taller grass shades the roots and helps retain soil moisture so your lawn requires less water.
  • Re-use your pasta water. Try straining your pasta water into a large pot. Once it cools, you can use it to water your plants.

 

In addition to the fun facts and educational materials that were provided, SLWA also ran two contests for residents. Residents were encouraged to share photos and/or stories about how they conserve water. The winner from each contest received a water conservation prize pack. Randy C. From Kansas City, Missouri, won our #SLAWeek Story Contest. Take a look at his winning story:

 

“We installed a 1150-gallon tank under our deck a few years ago and then added heavy gutters to collect most of the rainwater from the backside of our house. We use it to water our raised-bed gardens, wash the dogs, water the house’s foundation (something we have to do in Kansas), any power washing, and occasional lawn watering (by running it through a pump and then sprinkler). In the house, we flush one toilet with it and use it for all devices which create steam – humidifiers, irons, etc. – to avoid damage caused by our local hard water. Near-term future plans include adding a solar shower in the backyard using the rainwater; longer-term future plans include a secondary pressurized set of water lines in the house providing non-potable water where appropriate. I think our norms for water use in the US are insane – treated, drinkable water is a precious resource that takes energy to clean and then move around, and then it’s largely used thoughtlessly for things that don’t require that level of sanitation. The goal at our house is to make that division as clear as possible and then use the appropriate water source for any given task.”

Flashback Friday – Madison, Wisconsin

Today we travel to the capital of the State of Wisconsin. Named for the fourth President of the United States, James Madison, the City offers residents and visitors entertainment, adventure, and history. It features the 250px-Wis-capitolWisconsin State Capitol Building, modeled after the U.S. Capitol’s dome.

Once you have taken in the sites at the Capitol Building, make your way to the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. Open year round, the gardens span 16 acres of beautiful landscapes. Featuring multiple outdoor gardens, you can enjoy the roses in the Rose Garden, absorb the beauty of the Perennial Garden, and work up an appetite at the Herb Garden.

During the cold Wisconsin winters, make your way inside to the Bolz Conservatory. This 50-foot-high glass pyramid is a tropical oasis. Home to a waterfall, a diverse tropical plant collection, and free-flying birds, you will feel like you have just stepped out of a blizzard and into the tropics! Some of the more unique plant life is located in the Conservatory, where you can observe banana, vanilla, and coffee plants before getting up close and personal with a collection of carnivorous plants. Just don’t get too close!

After wandering through all of the gardens, you are sure to have worked up an appetite. Take a stroll back down to the Square at the State Capitol Building and check out the Dane County Farmers’ Market. Choose from a selection of meats, vegetables, and cheeses and a variety of baked goods. This year-round weekly market gives residents and visitors alike the chance to sample some of the best produce and products from local vendors. For those more interested in a festival atmosphere, Memorial Day weekend offers you the chance to attend the World’s Largest Brat Fest. The event provides a carnival-like atmosphere Brat Festfeaturing games, live music, fireworks, and of course, Bratwurst. The event has donated more than $1.6 million to local charities and grows larger every year. This year’s event sold over 163,000 Brats alone! After you have taken care of your food cravings, you can explore the many museums around the City, where you can enjoy both classic and contemporary art.

There are many great sites to enjoy in Madison, but to see Madison from the best perspective, you should navigate toward the Brodhead Airport in Middleton, Wisconsin, where you will find Ted Davis, Bi-planeowner and pilot for Biplane Rides of America. Mr. Davis offers local tours of the Madison area in his New Standard Model D-25 Biplane. Able to carry four passengers in the front seat with the pilot in the rear, you can take in the sights of the local area, or enjoy a tour of the Wisconsin rivers and Lake Wisconsin.

Enjoy the wind rushing through your hair, and then relax a little after your adventures in Madison.

For more information on things to do and see in Madison, visit www.visitmadison.com.

To find out how to enroll with Service Line Warranties of America, and bring yourself peace of mind, visit www.slwofa.com.