How to Clean a Washing Machine

While your washing machine keeps clothes looking and smelling their best, the appliance can develop some strong odors over time. Between the grungy clothes that you send through it to the detergents and fabric softeners that you use, those odors can make you hate entering your laundry room. Luckily for you, you can learn a how to clean washing machines and get yours clean again.

Safety first, though: Always put down some towels or old clothing near the base of the washing machine and around it. Not only will this keep the water from damaging your floors, but it will also prevent slips and falls.

Why Does My Washer Smell?

Your washing machine may develop odors because of the cleaning products that you use as well as the fibers that come off your clothing and bed linens. Dirt and hair can add to those odors as can the oils that come off your body and stick to your clothing. Odors also stick to the washer because germs and bacteria grow in moist environments. Regular cleaning will eliminate those musty odors and other smells.

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Washing Machine?

Learning how to drain a washer is your first step because you need to remove the excess water. If your washer dies in the middle of a load, this is the first step that you’ll take. No matter what type of washer you have, always turn it off first and unplug it from the wall. You can also use duct or electrical tape to secure the cord to the appliance and keep it out of the water.

You will then want to pull the washer away from the wall and locate the three hoses on the back. Two supply the machine with hot and cold water. The third hose is the drain hose that takes water away from the machine. Turn off the water supply to the washer and place a large bucket on the ground. Pull and twist the drain hose until it comes loose, and place it inside the bucket. As soon as the drain hose is free, water will start rushing out. You may need to drain the bucket several times to remove all of the water from the washer.

This is a good time to check the drainpipe and hose for clogs, too. Clogs can form in a washing machine drain hose because of loose fibers from your clothing and items left inside pockets. You can generally knock the hose against a hard surface to dislodge clogs.

How to Clean Your Front-Loading Washing Machine

There are a few methods on how to clean washer machines that you can try if you own an older or a traditional appliance. Start with an empty washer and run a hot cycle with a washing machine cleaner. You can then use ordinary detergent mixed with warm water to clean the inside. Use a scrub brush on both the door and inside the drum. Once you run another hot water cycle, you should notice that the bad odors have disappeared.

Many people hear about cleaning washing machine with vinegar tips and wonder if this liquid will clean their appliances. Vinegar is a simple product that is available in grocery and home improvement stores. It works on all types of washing machines and will not damage the drain line or pump filter. Some even say that vinegar is the best way to clean washing machine drains and other parts.

With a standard or traditional washing machine, fill the drum with hot water and add up to 2 cups of distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Both types work equally well. Vinegar is a natural deodorizer that removes stubborn odors, but it also kills any bacteria growing in your washing machine. You can mix one-quarter of a cup of the vinegar with a quart of warm or hot water and use the mixture to clean the outside of the washer, too.

How to Clean Your Top-Loading Washing Machine

Learning how to clean top-loading washing machines is important because these appliances are finicky and prone to certain types of damage. You can use hot water and let the machine run through a cycle. It’s helpful to pause the front loader for a few minutes in the middle of the cycle, which gives the water time to work.

You may want to clean both the door and the inside of the washing machine, too. A microfiber cloth is gentle enough that it won’t damage or scratch the surface. Try dipping this cloth in warm or hot water before rubbing it against the dials and knobs. A small sprinkle of baking soda can remove stuck-on grime, especially if you rub the baking soda into those surfaces with a damp cloth. Let it dry for several hours or overnight before removing it.

If you searched for answers to “how to clean my washing machine” because you have a front loader and want to know if you can use vinegar, don’t worry. Vinegar is just as safe to use on front-loading washing machines as it is on top-loading models. Add up to 2 cups of vinegar to the machine and set it to a standard cycle. Pause the machine and give the vinegar at least two minutes to work before finishing the cycle.

You can use vinegar on the outside and the knobs and dials, too. Place equal parts vinegar and warm water in a spray bottle and lightly mist the outside of the washer. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the solution around. It will kill germs and bacteria on the washer and remove foul odors at the same time.

Vinegar has a harsh and slightly acidic odor that you might not like. If you find that it clings to your washer, you can wipe down the surface with plain water and a soft towel. Running the washer one or more times with only water in it can eliminate the vinegar smell that clings to the inside.

Cleaning your washing machine takes a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. It’s also worth it to be ready for washer and other appliance breakdowns with a plan from Services Lines Warranties from America. See what plans are available in your area.

How to Clean a Dishwasher

Got a dishwasher that seems a bit smelly or is leaving a weird film on your dishes? The simplest and easiest solution to this problem is just learning how to clean your dishwasher. With a few basic tips, you can make sure the inside of your dishwasher is sparkling clean.

How Often Should You Clean Your Dishwasher?

Many of us can admit to not cleaning our dishwashers as often as we should. Most people just do a deep cleaning every now and then, but it turns out, everyone should be cleaning their dishwasher on a monthly basis! Appliance experts explain that cleaning the dishwasher each month helps it run more smoothly and reduce the need for dishwasher replacements. You can delay a little if you are not using the dishwasher every day, but it still needs to be done fairly often. If you notice any smells, mold, mildew, buildup, or dirty dishes, it’s definitely a sign you need to clean the dishwasher.

What Is the Best Way to Clean a Dishwasher?

There’s a bit of debate on the best way to clean a dishwasher. Some people like to clean their dishwasher with vinegar or other natural materials, while others like to use a store-bought dishwasher cleaner. Either option works fine according to Good Housekeeping, so just pick whichever method is easiest for you. As long as you’re making sure to clean the filter and scrub the interior, your dishwasher will remain in great shape.

Tools and Materials Needed

Learning how to clean a dishwasher does not have to involve any unusual or pricey tools. It can typically be done with items you have lying around your home. You will need:

  • Your chosen dishwasher cleaner
  • A dishwasher-safe cup
  • A sponge
  • Soap
  • A dish brush
  • A microfiber rag
  • Baking soda
  • Stainless steel cleaner (optional)
  • Cleaning gloves (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

Cleaning a dishwasher isn’t usually dangerous, but when working with chemicals, always follow the instructions on the label carefully. You may want to wear gloves to protect your hands from contact with hot water and harsh chemicals.

1. Clean the filter and drain: Start by pulling out any debris from the dishwasher drain, then take out the filter and clean it in the sink. Standard soap and warm water will work well. If possible, scrub with a dish brush, but you can also use a rag or sponge in a pinch. Some older models do not have removable filters, so you may have to get in there and clean bits of food out manually.

2. Add your cleaner: Put your chosen dishwasher cleaner in the empty dishwasher. If you’re doing a commercial cleaner, follow the instructions to place it in the detergent cup or the dishwasher rack. For a DIY dishwasher cleaner, place it in a dishwasher-safe cup on the top rack. Most people clean their dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar, but some DIY cleaners use apple cider vinegar, baking soda, or lemon juice.

3. Run the dishwasher: Set your machine to its longest, hottest wash cycle. Some units will have a self-clean cycle, while others may not have this option. Pretty much any hot water cycle will be effective.

4. Spot clean the interior: Typically, cleaning the inside of a dishwasher can be done just by running your cleaner through the machine. However, take a glance inside after it is done. If you notice any spots or streaks, use a soft rag and a paste made with a cup of baking soda and water to clean away lingering stains.

Clean the Stainless Steel

The above steps work great for all the plastic and interior parts on a dishwasher, but if your unit has stainless steel, you need to also know how to clean stainless steel. Never clean these surfaces with bleach since this can damage the metal. For the outside of the machine, polish the steel gently with your favorite stainless steel cleaner. For stubborn water spots or soap scum on the inside, mineral oil is a great, food-safe cleaner. Use it with soap to clean away streaks and speckles, then run another cleaning cycle through your machine.

FAQs

Should I Clean the Dishwasher Filter?

Yes, the dishwasher filter is actually the main source of grime in your machine. It catches all the food particles in your machine, so it is where bacteria can flourish. Most modern machines let you remove the filter, so it is very easy to clean the filter. How do you clean a dishwasher filter that isn’t removable? Just use a toothpick or other small tool to clean out any visible pieces of food, then pour some vinegar over the filter.

What Should I Do If My Dishwasher Has Mold?

Dealing with a mold outbreak will depend on your dishwasher type. For a plastic dishwasher, Hunker recommends a blend of 3/4 cup bleach to a gallon of water. Thoroughly scrubbing all areas with this will help reduce mold. Bleach can damage the stainless steel finish, but vinegar is just as effective. It actually kills 82% of all mold species. Just use a sponge or brush to thoroughly scrub all moldy spots with vinegar before cleaning your dishwasher normally. To prevent mold in the future, leave your dishwasher open a crack to improve ventilation.

Regular dishwasher cleanings can prevent clogs and other problems. If something does go wrong with your appliance, having a plan from HomeServe will help. When you’re prepared with a plan, you’ll have peace of mind in case anything breaks or needs replacing. We cover repairs up to the benefit amount, and we send highly qualified local technicians to fix the issue. See how plans from Services Lines Warranties from America can help with the costs of covered repairs today.

How Much Do Common Plumbing Repairs Costs?

Plumber fixing leaky pipes under sink

When something goes wrong in your home, your first thought may be, “Oh no, what is this repair going to cost me?!” When it comes to plumbing, you may definitely be thinking “plumbing repair costs are going to put me in debt!” But getting a rough estimate of how much plumbing repairs will be can help you feel prepared, mentally and financially. There are a lot of factors that go into plumbing pricing, so there’s quite a bit of variation in how much you might have to pay.

Average Plumbing Repair Costs

The average plumbing repair tends to be about $175 to $450. However, there can be quite a bit of disparity. Simpler jobs may be as little as $50, while more complicated repairs can be around $500. The overall average trends toward the cheaper side because the majority of plumbing repairs are for very basic and easy-to-fix issues. However, for major plumbing repairs that involve system-wide fixes, you could pay around $1,000.

Costs for a plumbing repair may include:

  • Labor for the job
  • Parts and supplies to repair the problem
  • Replacement parts or appliances
  • Service and diagnostic fees
  • Permit fees
  • Haul-away fees for old plumbing

Typical Plumbing Costs by Service Type

To get a more accurate idea of how much you might be required to pay, you need to identify the problem. The problem could be anything from a shower drain clog to a major sewer pipe malfunction. Due to the variations in how long a repair takes and how challenging it is, different repairs have widely different prices. Here are the average costs for plumbing repair broken down by repair type.

  • Drain clog: $125 to $300
  • Leaky pipe: $150 to $700
  • Drain line problems: $250 to $1,000
  • Toilet issue: $150 to $300
  • Broken water heater: $200 to $900
  • Water main repair: $400 to $2,000
  • Septic tank problem: $300 to $2,500
  • Well pump repair: $350 to $1,350
  • Sewer issue: $1,200 to $4,000

What Should a Plumber Cost Per Hour?

Many plumbers’ fees will depend on how long the job takes. Something simple like busting a clog in a drain could be completed in under an hour. Meanwhile, a major repair such as replacing piping throughout the home may take up to 10 days. Plumbers’ prices tend to be about $20 to $150 per hour. This variation in pricing is usually due to the individual plumber’s expertise and can also be due to geography. A new journeyman plumber may just charge local minimum wage, but an experienced plumber who takes on challenging jobs can command a much higher price.

Do Some Plumbers Use Flat-Rate Plumbing Pricing?

Though most plumbing repairs are priced on an hourly basis, some plumbers may use flat-rate plumbing pricing. This is typically done for small jobs, like replacing a faucet, that can be done quickly. It may also be done for more major jobs like handling the piping for a bathroom. Since there’s so much variation for flat-rate pricing, you can expect this to be anywhere from $75 to $6,000.

Can You Save Money With Plumbing DIY Repairs?

If the price of plumbing seems a little high, you might be interested in doing the repairs yourself. Whether or not this is a good idea will depend on the problem. There are several plumbing repairs you can DIY for just the cost of parts or tools, so it is possible to save hundreds. For example, handling a clogged drain may just require you to purchase a $5 plunger instead of paying the full plumber fee. The typical competent DIYer can manage:

  • Clearing a clogged drain
  • Fixing a toilet that runs constantly
  • Repairing a leaky faucet
  • Replacing a shower head
  • Installing a new faucet

However, for more complex tasks like rerouting pipes, fixing a dishwasher, or handling large repairs, you may need to call in a professional. Depending on where you live, your building code may specify that certain tasks like a water heater replacement only be done by a licensed plumber.

Find Affordable Services by Understanding Cost Factors in Plumbing

There are several reasons that there is such a wide range in plumbing costs. Understanding all the various cost factors in plumbing can help you hire an expert to get the job done properly.

First of all, the area you live in has a huge effect on plumbing costs. You may want to enter your zip code into cost calculators for plumbing to find out how much the average price is in your location.

The condition of your current plumbing also has a big influence on costs. Older homes with galvanized plumbing should expect to pay around $100 extra or so for plumbing assistance. Multiple stories or extra plumbing fixtures in your home may increase prices as well.

Another factor is the company itself. Some bigger companies can charge less since they have more customers. Sometimes, more experienced plumbers will also charge more for their expertise. You may want to call around and get plumbing estimates to find the best deal.

If you want to save money on plumbing repairs, be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America. Having a plan in place before things go wrong can help you pay for covered water, sewer and other service line repairs.

Once you have a plan in place and a plumbing issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances.

Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of plumbing repairs.

5 Easy Steps to Get Water Out of Your Washer

How to clean your washing machine

Most people assume that drainage is something a washing machine does automatically. However, this appliance actually needs a pump and drain line to drain properly. If the machine breaks down or if you are moving the machine, you need to take a little extra time to drain it completely. This easy guide will show you some tips for getting all the water out of your washing machine.

Step 1: Power It Down and Turn Off the Water Supply

Start by powering down your machine. If there is any problem, powering off the machine can keep it from getting worse. If you are trying to drain a washing machine for moving or drain a washing machine for storage, powering it down will keep any electronic problems from popping up. To do this, you need to both switch the power button on the model off and unplug your washer from the outlet.

Next, you just need to find your water supply hoses and turn them off. The water supply will be the red and blue hoses or knobs running from your machine to a pipe on the wall. Twisting them counterclockwise until they will not move further will shut off the water to the machine.

Step 2: See If You Can Drain the Drain Hose

The drain hose is the line that carries water away from your machine. It is gray on many models, and it typically just sits loosely in a large pipe on the wall. This drain hose almost always has some water in it, so you will need to drain it before you move the washing machine or clean it. If your washing machine is broken, it is still important to try to drain the drain hose. Often, the whole reason for a washing machine that won’t drain is just a clog in the hose, so you need to disconnect it and take a look inside.

To do this, you can usually just wiggle the hose and slide it right out. Hold it upright in the air because if the end goes below the waterline in your washer, water may start to shoot out. When you have a bucket ready, lower the drain line and place it in the bucket. If water drips out or moves slowly, you probably have a drain clog. Fortunately, drain lines are short enough that removing a clog is simple. Just break up the blockage with a plumber’s snake or an unclogging solution.

Step 3: Check Out the Drain Pump

Washing machines use a pump to remove water from the machine, and this can also get clogged. If that happens, you can open up the washer and access the pump. Models vary, so check your user manual to see where the pump is located. Drain pumps are usually translucent, so you may be able to see the clog from the outside.

Following the user manual, disconnect the drain pump to access the clog. Have a bucket handy since water may come out when you do this. Then, you can just use pliers to pull the clog away. In some cases, the pump itself may be bad. This usually results in leaks and strange noises, and it will need to be replaced to drain the machine.

Step 4: Drain the Interior Manually If Needed

If you have checked all the components of the drain line and still cannot get the machine to drain, you may want to consider draining it manually. This is not an actual fix, but it will keep water from sitting around inside your machine and let you access your clothes.

If you want to drain water from a front-loader washing machine, you can try the drain hose process outlined in step 2. Do not try to open the door since this will let water gush out all over your floor. For a top-loading machine, it is quite simple. To drain the water from your washer manually, start by using a siphon or a bucket to get out most of the water. When it is too low to scoop up any more, use towels to soak up the remaining water.

Step 5: Know When to Call a Professional

One of the final and most important steps of how to drain water from a washing machine is simply knowing when to get some help. Washing machines are fairly complex appliances. The average homeowner can handle the basic drainage project, but some repairs may be hard if you do not have the expertise. There are potential issues like a broken drain pump or a snapped belt that can keep your washing machine from draining properly. Call an expert plumber if it still will not drain or if the machine is making strange noises.

It’s a smart idea to be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America . Once you have a plan in place and a washing machine issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances. Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

How to Drain a Water Heater the Right Way

Water heater dripping water

Your Guide to Draining a Hot Water Heater

Your hot water tank is meant to hold water for years and years, but regularly draining your tank is an important part of home maintenance. Once you learn how to drain a water heater, you’ll see that this task is quick and simple!

Step 1: Know When to Drain the Tank

The first thing you need to be aware of is when you should be draining your water heater tank. You can often check your user manual to get instructions on the exact timing for tank draining. According to BobVila.com, most tanks should be drained at least once a year.

Draining a tank helps to clear out sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank. Sediment is a problem because it can reduce the quality and cleanliness of your hot water, and it also makes it harder for your tank to heat water. If sediment does get pulled into your pipes, it can cause buildup that requires repairs to unclog pipes. Therefore, draining a tank helps lower your energy bills and improve the quality of your hot water.

Step 2: Turn Off Your Heater and Water Connection

Safety first: All of the following steps for draining a water heater should be done with the power turned off. For electric tanks, just flip the switch. If you have a gas tank, turn your heater to pilot mode. It is safer to let the water cool before proceeding. You can take a hot shower or just turn on hot water faucets to go ahead and remove some of the hot water.

Afterwards, locate the cold water supply. Turn the knob or trip the lever to turn off the water. With the water and power off, you can safely proceed to the next steps.

Step 3: Run the Drain Line to a Good Draining Location

Unless your tank is outside and in a well-drained location, you will need to attach a drain line. This can be as simple as twisting a garden hose onto the drain and running it outside. If your tank is at a low level, like in your basement, you may need to attach the hose to a pump. This can help counteract gravity and push the extra water away. Anywhere that connects to a drainage point, like a shower floor drain or a cleanout, is a good spot for the end of the hose.

Step 4: Quick Flush Your Drain and Check Your Pressure Relief Valve

Before flushing the drain itself, check to make sure the pressure relief valve is working. This step is not necessary, but it also needs to be done regularly. If you notice any issues with your water heater or pressure relief valve, you may need to check this valve sooner than scheduled. Combining these jobs will let you get two maintenance tasks out of the way at once.

Place a bucket under the valve and pull up the lever on the top of the valve. You should hear air hiss or water expel through the overflow tube. If nothing comes out, you may need to replace the valve. Next, move on to the drain valve. Open it for a few seconds and then close it. Repeat this a couple times. This high-pressure burst can help push any sediment through the drain valve so the tank drains quicker.

Step 5: Open Your Drain Valve

Once your garden hose is positioned in a spot where you can dump a lot of water, proceed with opening the drain valve. If you notice water is leaking out very slowly, you most likely have a vacuum forming in your pipes. You can turn on a hot water faucet somewhere else in your home, like the bath tub, to break the vacuum. This will let water flow out more quickly.

Step 6: Flush the Tank

Next, it is time to use some fresh cold water to flush any remaining sediment out of your tank. While leaving the power to the tank off, turn on the cold water for a few seconds. Give it just enough time for a few gallons to flow into the tank, then turn off the water again. Run cold water through and let it drain a few times to finish flushing your tank. These short bursts of high-pressure water will break up the sediment clumps still in your tank. When the water starts running clear, you can move on to the next step of how to drain a water heater.

If you’re having trouble with this step, consider contacting a professional. They may recommend a hot water heater replacement.

Step 7: Refill the Tank and Turn It Back On

Now you can refill your water heater fully. Remove the hose on your drain and close the drain valve. If you had any hot water faucets on in your home, you can turn them off now as well. Turn on the cold water supply and leave it on to fill up your tank. Restore power to the tank so it can start warming your water again. If the pilot light went out on your hot water heater, you may need to relight it before it will start warming your water again.

Step 8: Check Both Valves for a Tight Seal

The final step of draining a tank is making sure all the valves you adjusted are back to their initial, leakproof positions. If you left your pressure relief valve on, go ahead and turn it back to its original position now. There is a small chance that an older, plastic drain valve may not be able to close again completely. If this happens, you might notice a slow, steady drip from the valve. You can put a cap on it to stop any drips for now or get a plumber to replace it with a sturdier valve.

In case anything goes wrong, be prepared with a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America . Our plans can assist with the stress and associated costs of hot water heater repairs. Once you have a plan in place and a plumbing issue arises, you can call our 24/7 repair hotline and schedule an appointment with HomeServe’s network of plumbing technicians. We assist with the cost of repairs so you can protect your finances. Learn more about  how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

Is a Tankless Water Heater Worth It?

Heater Money

At the end of a long day, nothing’s better than relaxing in a warm bath or shower. If you want plenty of hot water without high energy bills, a tankless hot water heater is a great option. These handy little appliances give you on-demand hot water without breaking the bank. When you’re ready to replace your hot water heater, use this guide and decide if a tankless water heater is worth it for you.

Why Go With a Tankless Water Heater?

Tankless heaters work a little differently than traditional water heaters. Instead of storing gallons of hot water, the tankless heater only heats up water when you need it. It looks like a small box mounted among some piping. Whenever you turn on a hot water tap, it instantaneously heats up the water you need.

The big advantage of tankless water heaters is that they use less energy since they only heat up water when you need it. You can save hundreds on your energy bill each year. Because they don’t waste power, you can also enjoy the fact that your home will be more sustainable and eco-friendly.

The only downside of a tankless water heater is that tankless water heater costs for installation tend to be a bit higher. According to Consumer Reports, you should expect to pay about $800 to $1,500 or more to have your tankless water heater installed.

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: Which Is Better?

One of the very first things to consider is whether you should get a tankless heater powered by gas or electric. Generally, electric-powered heaters are easier and cheaper to install. Every home has electricity, and installation just requires connecting a few wires and pipes. Furthermore, electric tanks are about $500 cheaper due to their simplicity.

Gas tanks are trickier to install, especially if you don’t already have a gas line running to your home. With gas tanks costing about twice as much as electric tanks, you might be wondering why people even bother with them. The big perk is that gas tanks are way cheaper to run since gas is cheaper than electricity. That difference can amount to about $100 to $200 a year in utility costs.

Choosing Between Condensing and Non-Condensing Types of Water Heaters

Non-condensing tankless heaters are the first generation of tankless heater design. They use a heat exchange system to warm water, and they vent hot exhaust outside your home. Home Depot explains that non-condensing heaters are cheaper to install and are less likely to need water heater repairs.

Condensing water heaters use the hot exhaust as a secondary means of heating water. This makes them more energy efficient. Though they are more complex and pricier to install, you end up saving on your energy bills. Another plus is that they work with cheaper PVC piping instead of requiring pricey stainless-steel flue pipes.

Should You Consider Point-of-Use Water Heaters?

Also called on-demand water heaters, these are a special type of compact tankless water heater. They work just like a typical tankless heater, but they do not supply water to the entire house. Instead, you install them right by your sink, shower, or washing machine. With these heaters, you do not end up losing precious heat as the water travels around the pipes in your home, so you save on energy. These heaters can be a great way to supplement your hot water heating.

How to Find the Right Hot Water Heater Capacity

You need to consider flow rate to find the right capacity. This will tell you how much hot water your machine can comfortably produce on demand. You can calculate your required flow rate (usually expressed in gallons per minute, or GPM) by thinking about what sorts of water fixtures you plan on running simultaneously and then adding up all their individual flow rates. Here’s a helpful list of the flow rate for common fixtures.

  • Standard Dishwasher: 2 GPM
  • High-Efficiency Dishwasher: 1 GPM
  • Faucet: 1 GPM
  • Shower: 2 GPM
  • Rain Shower Head: 5 GPM
  • Standard Washing Machine: 2.5 GPM
  • High-Efficiency Washing Machine: 1 GPM

Things to Know About Tankless Water Heater Costs

The average tankless water heater costs between $450 and $1,050 to purchase. When looking at costs, you also have to factor in installation. Typically, installation will add from around $400 up to around $1,000 to costs. If you need to install a gas line as well, expect to pay an additional $500. On average, total costs for buying the unit and installing it can be as low as about $600 or as high as nearly $3,000.

If you want lower costs, you may want to look at electric, non-condensing models. Lower-capacity models are also cheaper. Brands like Rheem, Takagi, and EcoSmart tend to have more budget-friendly models while higher-end models come from brands like Rinnai, A. O. Smith, and Bradford White.

A high-quality tankless water heater can in many cases last for 20 years as long as it is properly maintained and repaired. That’s why being prepared is a smart move.

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

How to Deep Clean a Garbage Disposal

Homeowners who have a house with a garbage disposal often report that it is an added convenience. Whether it was pre-installed or you installed it, to maintain the garbage disposal and keep it in good working condition, you should keep it relatively clean. Industry professionals recommend that you clean your garbage disposal once a week. Once it begins to emit foul odors, the disposal requires a deep cleaning. The good news is that cleaning the appliance only requires a few steps and materials. Here is a step-by-step guide to get you started on cleaning the disposal.

Gather Your Supplies

When you clean the garbage disposal, begin by gathering your supplies. They include:

  • A cup of baking soda
  • A cup of vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Ice cubes
  • Citrus peels
  • A kitchen sponge
  • Rock salt
  • An old toothbrush
  • A flashlight
  • Tongs

It’s important to note that professionals in the plumbing industry do not recommend pouring harsh cleaners down your home’s pipes for any reason. Even though you may be trying to unclog a drain, there are alternatives to harsh cleaners. And when in doubt, you can always call a plumber.

Pick Your Cleaning Method

After gathering your supplies, you need to assess the current cleanliness of the garbage disposal in order to choose your cleaning method. You can clean your garbage disposal with just liquid dish soap and a sponge. If you notice that there is a slight odor coming from the appliance, however, you should consider going the baking soda and vinegar route. Citrus peels are used when the odor from the drain is persistent.

The best way to clean the garbage disposal is to get rid of the gunk, kill the majority of germs and eliminate the odor from the drain. If you have been keeping it fairly clean, begin with soap and a sponge. Then, go from there. You can give the appliance an easy scrub every other day.

There are times when persistent, foul odors from a garbage disposal are a sign that something is stuck in the appliance. It could also mean that the disposal is showing signs of age. The typical garbage disposal lasts eight to 15 years. If yours has reached this maturity, you may need to call in a professional for a closer look.

Step 1: Disconnect the Garbage Disposal

Safety first: Before you begin to clean your garbage disposal, disconnect it. You need to ensure that it will not be accidentally turned on by yourself or someone else. To disconnect the appliance, look under the sink for the cord that leads from your wall to the disposal. Pull the plug.

Turning on the garbage disposal is one way to double-check that you successfully cut the connection. If it does not run, you are good to go.

If you are not sure where the disposal’s power source is located, cut the power off from the circuit breaker. Then, turn on the appliance. If it does not start, you are set to begin cleaning the disposal.

Step 2: Shine a Light and Clean

Next, take your flashlight and look down the drain. You are looking for food scraps and any other debris that might be stuck on the blades. With the tongs or old toothbrush you’ve gathered, pull at, loosen and clear away the dirt and grime.

Once scraps have been cleared away, pour down the ice cubes and rock salt. The goal here is to get rid of the debris you loosened from the blades.

Step 3: Cleaning With Dish Soap and a Sponge

To clean the garbage disposal appliance with the soap and a sponge, create a lather. A sponge with an abrasive portion is helpful in this situation because you need to scrub all sides of the drain’s rubber baffle. It is important to clean underneath it so you can kill the germs in that area. Those germs have an impact on the rest of your kitchen sink.

Next, wash the grinding chamber. It is a good idea to keep running water on as you do this so you can clean the gunk you are scraping off from the sponge as you go.

Warm water works best and can help to keep killing the germs. If it gets too hot, run cold water. Then, switch back to warm.

Step 4: Clean the Drain With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Pour half of the baking soda down the sink drain. Next, pour the vinegar down the drain as carefully and slowly as possible. White vinegar is preferred.

Cover the drain opening with your sink stopper because the combination of the ingredients is going to cause fizzing and bubbling. The stopper acts like a splash guard.

Wait about 15 minutes before removing the stopper. Pour warm water down the drain to flush out your homemade cleaning solution.

Use the remainder of your baking soda and vinegar to repeat the process one more time, if necessary. If you have two sink basins, clean them at the same time.

Step 5: Deodorizing the Garbage Disposal

You are well aware of all the items that you pour down the drain when you wash the dishes or clean up after cooking. (Nasty bits of food scraps, etc.) So it should be no surprise that the sink can get a little stinky. To deodorize the garbage disposal appliance and help your kitchen smell great, try citrus peels.

Cut the peels into small pieces. Pour them down the drain with cold water and some ice cubes. Turn on the disposal and let it run so that it grinds up the peels. The fragrant oils will be released from the peels and into your drain and kitchen.

The other way you can deodorize the disposal is to use bleach. Since bleach is a harsh chemical, you must be careful of backsplash and the amount that you breathe into your lungs. Dilute one part bleach with two parts warm water and pour this solution down the drain. After pouring, run warm water for a few seconds to clear away the bleach. Before taking this final step, remember that deodorizing the drain works best after you have cleaned it.

Being prepared for the unexpected with a repair plan from Service Lines Warranties of America is a good strategy to protect you and your family from expensive repair bills.

How to Keep Septic Tank Pumping Costs to a Minimum

Nobody likes to deal with the awful smell of sewage in the house, not to mention dirty, stinky water in the front yard.

If you’re experiencing these issues, it most likely means your septic tank is full, or damaged, or there’s a drain field issue. Odors and water pooling are common symptoms, but there are other symptoms that can include slow house drains, gurgling pipes and a very green patch of grass in the drain field area.

Why Septic Tank Pumping?

Homeowners are responsible for maintaining their septic tanks and drain fields. So you may be wondering just how much does septic tank pumping cost?

The septic tank pumping cost is dependent on a number of factors. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires a septic tank to be pumped when the scum (top) layer reaches within 6 inches of the outlet pipe. Unfortunately, you may not discover your septic tank is full until there is a problem, like foul odors coming out of your drains, or even worse, a septic system backup.

To understand the costs, it’s important to know what may be involved in septic tank pumping. All the wastewater from the home travels through a pipe to the septic tank. The septic tank is designed to hold the wastewater long enough for the solid materials (sludge) to settle to the bottom and for grease and oil (scum) to float to the water’s surface.

The tank construction keeps the sludge and scum from exiting the septic tank, and only wastewater is dispersed into the drain field. Newer tanks make accessing the septic tank easy because they have risers that reach ground level and are capped with lids. The openings for older tanks are on the septic tank and underground.

Typical Problems Leading to Septic Tank Pumping

Between each septic tank pumping, a septic tank usually works efficiently. However, problems can develop for a variety of reasons.

Some of the typical septic tank problems include:

  • The floating scum and sludge fill the septic tank.
  • The pipes between the inside fixtures leading to the septic tank are clogged or blocked.
  • The scum and sludge levels are so high that they leave the septic tank and enter the drain field, plugging up the drain field because water cannot leech into the ground.
  • The ground is saturated with heavy rainfall or a high water table.
  • The drainpipe cracks due to roots or something else, so too much water is released into the field area.
  • The drainpipe is crushed, so water rises too high in the septic tank and pushes sewage into the drains in the home.

Clearly, there may be more of a problem than just a full septic tank when you smell that foul odor in your home. When a technician does a septic system pumping, he or she is also an expert at spotting drain field problems or even sewage in a reverse flow from where it should be entering the tank.

What Is the Septic Tank Pump Out Going to Cost?

The factors influencing the cost of the septic tank pump out include the following:

  • Size of the septic tank
  • How full the tank is at the time of septic pumping
  • Prep work the homeowner does before the septic pumping service arrives
  • Condition of the pipes in the drain field
  • Age of the septic tank (older ones don’t have risers)
  • Geographic location (contractor prices vary by geography)
  • Contractor selected

The septic tank pumping cost can be minimal compared to what it could cost if there is a drain field problem or a septic tank needs repair. The typical costs for septic pumping are as follows:

  • National average cost for a septic tank pump out: $295-$610
  • Up to 750-gallon tank: $175-$300
  • Up to 1,000-gallon tank: $225-$400
  • 1,250- to 1,500-gallon tank: $275-$500
  • Large tanks over 1,500 gallons: $600

Typically, a homeowner will pay between $250 to $500 for a septic system pumping. Sometimes, a homeowner can save money by preparing the area for the septic tank technician. For example, the homeowner can ensure the tank access port is cleared for the technician.

What Else Does a Septic Pumping Service Do?

A typical septic tank pump out can take up to five hours. Each company determines their pricing structure. Some companies charge by the hour while others charge a flat fee with additional fees should there be more involved than just septic tank pumping.

In some cases, the septic pumping service will include repairing the septic tank. This can add up to $1,500 on top of the septic tank pumping cost. If the drain field needs work, it will probably cost a lot more. Replacing or fixing a drain field so the septic system works properly can easily run into the thousands of dollars.

It is always important to remember the money spent in septic system pumping is typically for a three-year period. The EPA recommends pumping a septic tank every three to five years to keep the septic system in good condition. By spending up to $500 every three to five years, you are more likely to avoid costly septic tank and drain field problems.

Take the Guessing Out of Septic Pumping Cost

If this sounds a bit complicated, don’t worry. If you maintain your septic tank, it is unlikely to have problems for decades. That’s because the general life expectancy of a well-maintained septic tank is up to 30 years.

Dealing with a septic tank mess is never fun. That’s why being prepared with a Plumbing Plan from HomeServe is a smart strategy. We have a variety of affordable plans that can help protect your finances up to the benefit amount for covered repairs. See what plans from HomeServe are available in your area.

The Ultimate Guide on How to Unclog a Shower Drain

Have you ever stepped into the shower and noticed a pool of water forming around your ankles? Things like loose hair, conditioner, and other gunk can easily cause clogs in your shower. If you want to get your shower draining properly again, you need to learn how to unclog a shower drain.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest plumbing problems to fix yourself. Here are some tried-and-tested methods of getting the clog out of your shower drain.

How to Unclog the Drain Using Basic Household Ingredients

The simplest way to handle a clogged shower drain is just using a few basic household ingredients. This method works to break up clogs and can kill the nasty mildew or mold in your drain.

An easy option any homeowner will have on hand is boiling water. Approved by home repair legend Bob Vila himself, boiling water works for some drain clogs because it removes the gunk that causes some shower clogs. All you have to do is heat up water and pour it slowly down the drain.

Another option is reminiscent of elementary school science projects. You start by pouring about a cup of baking soda into the drain and giving it a few minutes to seep downward. Then, you pour a cup of vinegar in the drain. This causes a fizzy explosion that can push clogs out of your pipes and drain.

How to Unclog a Drain With Chemicals

There are chemicals specifically designed to eat away hair and other grime that can cause a shower drain clog. These methods are effective but you need to take some safety precautions. Be sure to wear gloves and goggles and pour slowly to avoid splashing. Follow all the directions carefully as instructed on the container to avoid injury.

However, keep in mind that many plumbing experts do not recommend the drain cleaning chemicals you get at your hardware store. Repeated use of these can cause damage to your pipes, resulting in an even bigger plumbing problem.

How to Unclog a Shower Drain Manually

If the basic methods for unclogging a shower drain mentioned above are not cutting it, it might be time to take things a step further and unclog the shower drain manually. Those who have a plunger can try plunging the shower drain just like they would a toilet. In some cases, this can be enough to shift the clog and get water moving through your pipes again.

If the clog is close to the top of the shower drain, which happens a lot with bathtub-style plugs, you can go ahead and pull it straight out. Check out your shower drain and see how easy it is to remove it. Some styles can be popped right out of your shower while others may need to be unscrewed. (Be prepared for a lot of slime and a nasty smell.) It is definitely not fun to handle, but the good news is that you can get your drain functioning again in just a few minutes.

If the clog is farther down the drain, then it might be time to start snaking. A basic snake tool can reach into the pipe, hook on the clog, and pull it straight out. Another option is picking a snake with an auger attached. This can break up a clog into tiny pieces that you can then flush through the drain.

Don’t have the right tools for the job or just feel too grossed out to do it yourself? Let a professional help. Being prepared for the unexpected with a repair plan from Service Lines Warranties of America is a good strategy.