How To Fix a Running Toilet

My son flushed the toilet an hour ago and yet it’s been running constantly ever since. Not only is it annoying, but I know it’s putting a major damper on my energy efficient and water-saving efforts. The issue isn’t a clog, so at least I don’t have to go anywhere near the plunger today. (Unlike the time he flushed his PAW Patrol figure down the bowl. UGH!) 

The good news is that it’s a relatively easy plumbing repair that usually doesn’t require professional help. Just keep plumbing DIY do’s and don’ts in mind, one of the most important do’s being safety precautions like wearing gloves and goggles. (Thanks Google.)

My Google searches also led me to these tips on how to fix a running toilet:

Step One: Identify the culprit

A running toilet is generally caused by a faulty or deteriorated flapper, but there could also be a broken float or fill valve. We’ll take you through how to fix each problem.

Fixing a faulty flapper

The flapper is the rubber stopper in the tank, connected to a chain that lifts the flap every time you flush. Bob Vila.com advises pushing down on the flapper to test it. If the toilet stops running, you’ve identified the source of the problem and your next step will be to replace the flapper.

Here’s how:

1. Turn the water to the toilet off. The valves should be behind or below the tank.

2. Flush the toilet. This will drain most of the water.

3. Unhook the old flapper.

4. Buy a replacement. Take your current flapper to the hardware store so you can buy an identical replacement.

5. Attach the new flapper. Follow the instructions on the packaging for specifics.

6. Turn the water back on. Do a flush test to see if the running has stopped.

Adjusting the float

You should see either a ball or cup float in the tank. If it’s set too high, it forces the water level to rise to the point where the tank never stops draining. To fix the problem, simply adjust the float to sit at the same height as the water level.

Replacing the fill valve

If fixing the flapper and float doesn’t work, consider replacing the valve. Fill valves control water flow in the tank and broken ones cause constant refill cycles – hence the running toilet.

Follow these steps to replace it:

1. Turn off the water and drain the tank.

2. Remove the fill valve. Unscrew the lock nut at the bottom of the water supply line to free the valve.

3. Purchase a matching replacement.

4. Install the new valve. Insert the threaded end into the base of the tank and tighten the locking nut. The Spruce advises adjusting the valve height to be one inch below the tank’s edge.

5. Turn the water back on. Flush to test.

Being prepared for the unexpected with a repair plan from Service Lines Warranties of America is a good strategy.

Common Dishwasher Problems and How To Fix Them

Common Dishwasher Problems and How To Fix Them

When you hear “dirty dishwasher,” you’re probably thinking about an appliance filled with yesterday’s dinner plates, cookware and cutlery. But a dirty dishwasher can also mean one that hasn’t been cleaned out in a while.

Wait — you actually have to clean a dishwasher? The appliance that does nothing but disinfect dishes all day? 

Yep, that’s right! Regular cleaning is important for maintaining all of your appliances, even the dishwasher. Without regular upkeep, your appliance may start to turn out gross, still-dirty plates and glasses, give off a bad odor or even start to leak all over your kitchen floor.

These are fairly common dishwasher problems, and you can typically diagnose them yourself — although some dishwasher repairs require the help of a professional. With care and attention, most dishwashers are designed to last about 10 years, according to Consumer Reports.

Below are some tips on how to tackle the most common dishwasher problems. To ensure your safety, disconnect your appliance from its power source before troubleshooting.

Still-Dirty Dishes and Foul Odors

Load Carefully

Some dishwasher problems have to do with how you’re using the appliance. If you’re left with dirty dishes after a complete wash cycle, it might be a simple loading issue. Avoid overloading or inserting bulky items that prevent any of the spray arms from spinning freely. Failing to rinse off food residue and grease can also contribute to a smelly or still-dirty end result.

Clean the Appliance

If this is a persistent problem, you will need to clean the components of your dishwasher. First, remove and scrub down each spray arm to remove any debris or mineral buildup. 

Then, clean out the filter. The removal process will vary slightly depending on whether your appliance has a manual filter or self-cleaning filter that functions like a garbage disposal, Bob Vila explains, but both types can be washed with hot, soapy water. 

Water Spots and Mineral Residue

Try Rinse Aid

For dishes that come out clean but are speckled with water spots, use rinse aid during each wash cycle. This helps combat surface tension and prevent little droplets from sticking to the surface of each glass or dish, according to Wirecutter. It can be placed in the rinse aid dispenser next to the detergent compartment.

Use Water Softener

If you’re seeing white spots or powder, it’s probably not a dishwasher problem but rather your region’s hard water. Add water softener to the appropriate container inside the door to help prevent any mineral residue.

Failure to Dry the Dishes

Check the Heating Element

If your appliance is cleaning dishes but not drying them, there may be an issue with the heating elements. Use a multimeter to check the high-limit thermostat behind the access panel at the bottom of the appliance. When working correctly, these should reach a high temperature to evaporate the moisture, but will need to be replaced if broken.

Water Leaking Out

Examine the Door

There could be water overflowing onto the floor beneath your appliance for a few reasons. The first is an issue with the door seal. 

Wipe down the dishwasher door gaskets to remove any residue that may be preventing a proper seal. If there are any worn areas, you can replace the gasket. Look to see if the door latch is holding the door closed. If this piece is broken, that will also need replacing. 

Test the Inlet Valve

If the door isn’t the problem, it may be a leak from the water inlet valve which connects the appliance to your home’s water supply. Look for puddling around the valve and use a multimeter to check the continuity of the wires. If it’s leaking or the electrical components aren’t functioning correctly, you’ll need to get this piece replaced.

Check the Float Assembly 

The float should be able to move up and down freely so it can tell the appliance when to stop filling with water. Remove any debris and make sure the float switch isn’t stuck in the down position. 

Standing Water Inside

Examine the Drain Valve

If there’s water puddling at the bottom of the appliance and your dishwasher won’t drain, Family Handyman advises examining the drain hose and drain valve. You can disconnect the hose from the drain pump and blow through it to see if it’s clear or clogged, and use a multimeter to check the continuity of the valve


In addition to troubleshooting dishwasher problems as they come up, make sure you’re prepared before a major appliance repair issue arises. Find out how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of covered repairs.

The Pros and Cons of Stackable Washer and Dryers

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.

The pros 

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:

  1. Great for small spaces
  2. More efficient cleaning
  3. Easier on your clothes
  4. Easy on your back
  5. Flexibility

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).

The cons 

Of course, stackable units are not ideal for every homeowner. Some drawbacks to these machines include:

  1. Smaller capacity
  2. Higher price tag
  3. Out of reach
  4. Fewer bells and whistles
  5. More maintenance

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.

Other considerations

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. 


When appliances and home systems break down, it can be inconvenient beyond belief. But being prepared before home repair issues arise is easy with us. See how plans from Services Lines Warranties from America can help with the costs of covered repairs today.

Gutter Installation Cost Guide

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.

Gutter illustration

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.

Home Size

Gutter illustration

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.

Labor Costs

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.

Climate  

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.

Drainage Plan

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 illustration

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 Gutters

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.

Aluminum

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.

Galvanized Steel

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.

Copper

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

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.

Vinyl

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.

Gutter Accessories

Gutter illustration

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

Gutter illustration

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.

Gutter Elbows

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.

Gutter Guards

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

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.

Heat Tape

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

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.

In addition to getting your gutters cleaned out regularly, you may also want to prepare for home repairs before they happen. Plans from Service Line Warranties of America can offset the costs of covered repairs. Find out about plans available in your area and connect with our team to learn more.

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

Spring cleaning is typically the perfect time to sweep out the garage, reorganize the linen closet and wipe down the windows. But in Spring 2020, our cleaning goals are slightly different.

While shelter-in-place orders around the country may be giving families plenty of time to tackle those Marie Kondo-inspired tidying-up projects, these guidelines are essential to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Here are some helpful cleaning strategies that may help you keep germs at bay, even if your family is in good health:

Protect Yourself

Remember to wear disposable gloves when you’re cleaning, and wash your hands before and after to help minimize the spread of germs. It’s also best to work in a well-ventilated space, as disinfecting chemicals can be very strong. Also, never mix cleaning chemicals as this can create toxic off gassing.

Clean First, Then Disinfect

The CDC explains that cleaning and disinfecting are two different things. Cleaning helps remove dirt, debris and other residue, whereas disinfecting helps kill bacteria and pathogens.

First, wipe down surfaces with a cleaning towel or soap and water to remove dirt. Then follow up by using an EPA-approved disinfectant or a diluted household bleach solution containing 4 teaspoons of unexpired bleach for each quart of water.

Your disinfectant will need to remain on the surface for a certain amount of time, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions. For a household solution, wait at least 1 minute.

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

The CDC also recommends cleaning high-touch surfaces in high-traffic areas. These include bathroom and kitchen surfaces, faucets, doorknobs, hard-backed chairs, lightswitches, game controllers, computer keyboards and mobile devices.

Explore Cleaning Guides from HomeServe

If you’re like me and have become somewhat obsessive about keeping your house clean and wanting to try to keep the coronavirus at bay, check out the following HomeServe blogs for general cleaning tips and tricks that may help with hard-to-clean spots and surfaces.

Don’t forget to bookmark this post so you can come back to these helpful hints when next year’s Spring cleaning season comes around.

Cleaning Products to Use Around the House

Bathroom Cleaning Guides

Kitchen Cleaning Guides

Living Space Cleaning Guides

Prepare for the Unexpected With a Home Repair Plans

As you and your family follow shelter-in-place orders and spend more time at home, you’re counting on your essential home systems to stay in working order. Now, more than ever, your home is playing a major role as your living space, office, schoolhouse, play zone, fitness center and more. An unexpected home system breakdown could have consequences for all of these aspects of your life.

Being prepared for the unexpected with a repair plan from Service Lines Warranties of America is a good strategy.

How to Clean a Shower Head

How to Clean a Shower Head

Now that I am staying at home each day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my morning commute entails going from my bed to my shower to my home office. Unfortunately, this extra time in the shower has allowed me to notice that my shower head is in need of some definite TLC. Should I order a new one from Home Depot? Or maybe just clean the one I have?
 
If your shower head is like mine and has seen better days, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade to a new fixture right away. A little elbow grease can go a long way when it comes to eliminating soap scum and mineral buildup.

The following method by far the best way to clean your shower head. It just takes some good scrubbing, a descaling soak and a quick polish. And, it’s a great way to beat the grime with materials you already have lying around at home.

What You’ll Need

Here’s what you should have on hand before getting started:

  • Soft-bristled cleaning brush or sponge.
  • Plastic gallon bag.
  • Rubber band or twist-tie.
  • Vinegar.
  • Water.
  • Toothpick (optional).
  • Baking soda (optional).
  • Microfiber cloth (optional).

Side note: Since this green cleaning method doesn’t use harsh chemicals, you won’t need to wear cleaning gloves. But, by all means, if your shower head looks as gross as some of the ones I’ve seen (in whose bathroom? I’ll never say!) … well, you might just want a pair anyway.

Step 1: Scrub

First, you’ll need to scrub the shower head. Use a soft-bristled cleaning brush or rough sponge to knock the crusty mineral deposits out of the sprayer holes. Real Simple recommends using a trusty old toothbrush.

Be careful: Wire wool and hard-bristled brushes may scratch or damage fine metal finishes. Be sure to use soft bristles and gentle scrubbing pressure to avoid this. If your shower head holes are surrounded by flexible plastic rings, you can even poke the buildup out with your finger or a toothpick.

Run the shower to see if the water flows out in a straight jet with consistent water pressure. If it doesn’t, pay a little extra scrubbing attention to the clogged-up holes.

Step 2: Soak

Soaking is a great way to descale the fixture and get rid of both the residue and hard water spots you can’t clear off with just a brush.

Fill a plastic bag — preferably of the sturdy zip-top gallon variety — with your own DIY cleaning solution. Good Housekeeping suggests using one part hot water and one part white vinegar. Half a cup of each should do.

Lift the bag with vinegar and water onto the shower head so that the sprayer holes are totally submerged in your cleaning solution. Use a rubber band or twist tie to secure the bag in place at the top or along the neck of the shower head.

Leave it there to soak for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours, depending on the finish of your showerhead and how caked-on the buildup is.

For fixtures coated with brass, nickel, or gold, keep the bag in place for just 15 to 30 minutes. Any longer and the acid might eat away at the finish. With other fixtures, feel free to leave the solution on overnight. This will give the vinegar solution a chance to loosen up the limescale around the shower head.

If it still looks a little clogged, repeat the process — this time, Better Homes and Gardens suggests adding a few tablespoons of baking soda in the solution and leaving it on for about 30 minutes.

Step 3: Rinse

After the soaking time is up, remove the bag and discard the cleaning solution down the shower drain. Gently scrub the shower head with a damp sponge or cleaning brush to wipe off any remaining residue.

Finally, run water through the shower head for a minute or so to flush out the system.

Step 4: Polish

Although this step is optional and just for show, you can buff the metal fixture with a soft microfiber cloth to restore its gleam. Make sure to soak up any moisture to prevent those pesky white water droplets from forming.

Bonus Step: Plumbing Protection

The shower head tends to be one of those things you use and see all the time, but very rarely think to maintain.

Many of us have the same attitude toward our home plumbing systems. All the elements are right there in front of us, we use them daily, but how often do we show them the care and attention they need?

After polishing off your bathroom fixtures and giving the tub a good old scrub, you may find yourself thinking about having a home repair plan in place to protect your budget from the costs of covered plumbing repairs.

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

How to Know if Your Bathtub has Hard Water

How to Know if Your Bathtub has Hard Water

The first time I cleaned the shower in my new home, I couldn’t get the soap scum off the bathtub. No matter how much I scrubbed, no matter which cleaning products I used, it wouldn’t budge. When my neighbor mentioned it might be caused by “hard” water, I thought “what is she talking about.” To me the concept of “hard” or “soft” doesn’t apply to something like water. To me, water is just simply wet. Upon further research, I quickly realized there really is such a thing and there’s a big difference between having hard or soft water.

So, I am saving you some time and energy by sharing my knowledge. Here’s what you should know about hard water:

What is hard water?

High in minerals like calcium and magnesium, hard water is common across the United States. In fact, maps from Marmon Water reveal that 85 percent of Americans have hard water in their homes. The severity depends on location, with Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Antonio and Tampa among the metro areas with the highest levels of minerals in hard water. By contrast, New England, Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest tend to have the softest water.

What are the signs of hard water?

While hard water is safe to drink, bathe or for washing, it can easily stain sinks, tubs, dishes and clothes. It can also lead to higher water bills by making appliances work double time, according to Whirlpool.

After bathing in hard water, you may experience dry skin and flat hair caused by the harsh mineral deposits. Over time, soap scum and mineral deposits will build up around the tub and fixtures, and you may notice water heater problems. Beyond the bathtub, the most common indicators of hot water include white spots on dishes, laundered clothes that are dull in color and rough to the touch, clogged pipes and struggling appliances.

If you notice these signs, you can confirm your hunch by contacting your municipality if you have city water. Alternatively, you can purchase a water hardness test kit.

Is there hard water remedies?

Installing a water softener is the best way to combat the problems associated with hard water. As far as quick fixes go, you can choose cleaning and bathing products designed for homes with hard water. To remove hard water stains, Family Handyman suggests using cleaners that work against soap scum. Spray the cleaner on the tub and shower walls, letting it sit for at least five minutes before scrubbing. There are also several DIY hard water treatments you can try.

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

How to Fix a Clogged Sewer Line

How to Fix a Clogged Sewer Line

There is no home maintenance issue that brings sheer frustration and disgust quicker than a clogged sewer or septic line. Take it from me (and my personal experience,) this inconvenience can take your day from very bad to worse in just minutes.

On the bright side, some plumbing issues can be dealt with on your own using some ingenuity and elbow grease. Let’s take a look at the big warning signs and how to go about addressing them:

The slow-moving drains

As explained by SFGate Home Guides, there is no sign of a clogged sewer line more obvious than drains that are moving slowly: Kitchen and bathroom sinks (and toilets) will either take forever and a day to drain or, in extreme cases, become blocked up entirely.

Small clogs in the kitchen drain may merely be due to a particularly recalcitrant buildup of food waste (a problem even more common to sinks without garbage disposals). Toilet draining issues, meanwhile, might just be a clump of toilet paper or other material that needs to be plunged or expunged with an appropriate cleaning product. If you try either of those and don’t succeed, you’ll probably need a plumber. Also, if multiple drains are simultaneously clogged, that’s an immediate sign of a big problem.

The dark water

If you see black or brown water emerging from any of the drains in your house, this is a surefire sign of a clogged sewer line.

What’s more, it’ll usually be accompanied by a wretched odor of raw sewage. More often than not, a sewer-line clog that produces dark water is one that will necessitate professional attention – especially, as The Spruce notes, if the filth is coming out of the drain in your tub.

The gurgling

This refers to the sound the toilet suddenly makes when water is traveling through other drains, like those in the kitchen or bathroom sinks, according to The Spruce. (It can affect other plumbing fixtures but only the toilet uses enough water to make the loud version of this sound.) It’s another major sign that the problem facing the drain extends to everywhere in the house, and is likely something major like overgrown tree roots causing damage to sewage pipes.

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

Plumbing Repair Cost Guide

Plumbing Repair Cost Guide

Plumbing problems are the bane of my existence. Not only are they a major inconvenience, but repairs can be costly, especially if the plumbing issue goes unnoticed.

I’ll be the first to admit that beyond pulling the occasional hair clog that looks like “Cousin It” from the shower drain, I trust a plumbing professional for all my repair needs. Now that I’m aware of the signs when it’s time to call in the experts for my plumbing woes, you can learn what some of the most common and major repairs can cost as well.

Leaky plumbing fixtures

Drip. Drip. Drip. In the rare times my home is quiet, my ears instantly perk up when I hear the sound of dripping water. Not only is it mildly annoying, but a leaky faucet or shower head can actually be a major addition to your monthly water bill.

If you have your own tools, fixing a leaky faucet is actually relatively simple. Follow these easy steps and all you’ll be paying for is the cost of the materials or cleaning supplies needed. If you do hire a plumber, Thumbtack estimates it will cost between $65 and $150, depending on the severity of the problem and potential cause of the leak.

Garbage disposal problems

The garbage disposal is one of my most utilized appliances (bye-bye smelly food scraps!). But when it starts to leak or drainage is slow, it seriously messes with my dinner clean-up routine. You can easily troubleshoot many common problems with some DIY remedies or a trip to the hardware store. But if those don’t work, call in a plumber for a similar rate to fixing a leaky faucet.

Keep in mind some new garbage disposals cost as little as $80, so it might even be worth it to get a newer, more efficient model installed.

Damaged pipes

Are you noticing a faint smell of mildew, is your water bill suddenly high for seemingly no reason or are you finding water pooled around some of your appliances? All of these are signs there may be a leak in your water line – and it’s time to call a plumber.

While you might be able to find a leak on your own, you should rely on a professional plumber to do the job, since the severity of the leak and subsequent water damage can vary depending on the issue.

According to Fixr, the source of a problem with your water pipes could range from a leaky valve that may cost as little as $400 to replace, to a crack that could set you back upwards of $1,000 to solder. Sometimes, sections in your plumbing system need to be completely replaced by a plumbing contractor. The cost to install new piping is usually between $2,000 and $4,000 depending on materials, location and length.

Blocked pipe

A blocked drain in the kitchen sink is pretty gross, but there are plenty of ways to fix it yourself. A blocked pipe, on the other hand, is a different beast entirely. If you’re noticing a change in your water pressure or not-so-pleasant smells lingering, a blocked sewage or main pipe might be the culprit.

This requires professional plumbing services to come in with specialized equipment to try to eliminate the blockage. The Spruce found that the average cost to unclog a branch line within a home is around $390.

Hot water heater problems

Finding your showers cut short due to a lack of hot water? Seeing discolored water? Chances are your water heater is not working properly.

Hiring a plumber is the smart move to get your hot water heater repaired as soon as possible. For common problems, Homewyse found you can expect to pay around $200, but costs can dramatically increase in some cases.

Septic tank issues

What’s that smell? As unpleasant as it is, disagreeable odors coming from your bathroom, drains and even your yard might be sign something is seriously wrong with your septic tank and plumbing. A lot of small problems, like multiple clogged drains and gurgling noises coming from your pipes may mean there’s a larger issue happening underground.

Don’t hesitate to call in a professional for this job, but be prepared to pay upwards of $1,500 to repair this essential home system, according to A-American Septic. If you need an entirely new system, expect to pay about double that amount.

Hour by hour

Plumbing costs are no doubt expensive. As Fixr points out, most plumbers charge hourly rates between $45 and $150, depending on the size of the job (and where you live), and some will charge a flat fee between $50 and $100 for service calls.

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

What Is the Cost to Install a Water Heater?

What Is the Cost to Install a Water Heater?

A few months ago, I wrote about my water heater mishap. (I know I’ll never forget that feeling of a freezing cold shower). I’m glad to report that my new water heater is still providing our family with hot showers and clean laundry – but I’m always on the lookout for the signs it might need maintenance.

During the frigid winter months, it’s more important than ever to check in on your water heater. If you do catch a problem early on, or realize you need an entirely new system, you can be proactive in receiving repairs (and won’t be caught in a mid-shower frozen surprise).

From my experience, I learned that installing a water heater is half the battle – and the majority of the cost – of purchasing this essential system. Don’t settle for lukewarm showers and half-washed dishes. Here’s everything you need to know about the cost to install a water heater.

The tank vs. tankless debate

The fact of the matter is, installation costs depend on the type of water heater you need or already have. Home Depot breaks down two of the most popular choices for homeowners:

  • Traditional water heaters: Typically store between 20 and 80 gallons of water heated by gas or electric power. The average total cost for a new traditional water heater and installation is $1,308.

  • Tankless water heaters: Gaining popularity in recent years, these units are also fueled by gas or electricity but only heat water as needed. They’re accepted as being more environmentally friendly, though they come with higher upfront costs. The average total cost for a tankless water heater is around $3,000.

Total costs include everything from the unit itself, permits, materials, installation, labor costs and removal of the old unit. Thumbtack.com estimates the national average cost of installing a water heater ranges from $500 to $1,000.

What’s your fuel source?

Water heater installation costs aren’t just affected by the type of water heater chosen, but also by the fuel sources available. Both traditional and tankless heaters can use gas or electricity to warm up water. A gas water heater may cost $50-100 more to install than an electric tank water heater. Likewise, you can expect to pay $500 more for a gas tankless water heater than an electric water heater.

If you need – or want – to switch fuel sources, you’ll most likely need to add some room to your budget. Going from an electric to gas water heater may require the addition of a gas line, that usually costs $500 to install, reports Homewyse.com.

Other factors to consider

The size, model, home layout and any additional – necessary – work can all contribute to the costs associated with installing a water heater. Traditional water heaters may require expansion tanks to minimize the risk of pressure damage to the plumbing system. TheSpruce.com explains this is mostly needed in closed water supply systems, so always factor that into your water heater costs.

While tankless heaters come with higher upfront costs, they can require less maintenance in the long run and families can see energy costs decrease because water is heated on a need-only basis. Both kinds of water heaters have energy-efficient models available for more cost savings.

Though each system comes with its own unique costs, installation can also vary based on your needs and wants. Always make sure to do your research before deciding on the best water heater for your home and have a licensed professional install it.

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