Kitchen Sink Not Draining? Here Are 6 ways to Unclog It

There I was, minding my own business, washing the dishes after dinner like I always do. Just moments into scrubbing and rinsing the frying pan, I noticed that the water wasn’t draining from the sink. I checked to see if anything was blocking the drain opening – nothing. I switched on the garbage disposal, but that was only a temporary fix. As I continued washing dishes, the drainage was only getting slower. With a clogged sink on my hands, my after-dinner cleanup was about to get more intense.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience the inconvenience of clogged drains. Clogged kitchen sinks are among the most common drainage issues to plague homeowners, largely because food debris and soap residue are nightmares for smooth draining. Thankfully, clogged drains are also one of the easiest home repairs to make on your own. However, before you roll up your sleeves and get into the do-it-yourself spirit, make sure you’re aware of the plumbing myths that could lead you astray.

When it comes to the kitchen sink, for instance, don’t think Drano and other chemical-based drain cleaners are the easy, go-to fix. The chemicals can sometimes cause more damage to your system, even if the clog seems fixed initially. Plus, backsplash from stubborn blockages could seriously harm your skin and eyes. You can avoid these catastrophes with other clog repair methods, some using common household items and others requiring some straightforward plunger or plumber’s snake action.

Don’t call the plumber yet! There’s a good chance you can fix the problem yourself with one of these six methods to unclog a kitchen sink:

1. Attack with boiling water

When hair, grease, soap residue and other debris get stuck in your drain, boiling water may be all your pipes needs to loosen the blockage. It’s the simplest fix, which means it should be your first move when trying to unclog a sink.

Easy as 1-2-3, here are the steps to follow:

  • Bring half a gallon of water to a boil on your stove or use a kettle to heat the water.
  • Pour the boiling water directly into the drain opening.
  • Turn on the faucet to see if the water drains in a steady fashion. If it’s still draining slowly or standing still in the sink, repeat the process.

Important note: Don’t try this method if your drain is attached to PVC pipes, as the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic.

If the boiling water fails to dislodge the clog after the second try, it’s time to move on to another method. Unfortunately, you have yourself a sink clog that’s too stubborn for the simple boiling water approach.

2. Check the garbage disposal

If your sink has a garbage disposal, it could be the culprit of your drainage issues. If the clog is in the disposal, turning it on will usually break up the blockage. Overheated or dysfunctional disposals may not even turn on, but you can activate the reset switch at the side or bottom of the unit for an easy reboot. After resetting the disposal, try turning it on again to clear the clog.

If you turn on the disposal and hear a low humming sound, the unit could be jammed or broken. Before doing anything to fix your disposal, remember to disconnect the power to the unit and never – and we mean never – stick your hand in the disposal. From there, you can try to break up the clog in the disposal by turning the blades manually. You can do that by inserting an Allen wrench into the hole on the bottom of the disposal, and twisting until you feel less resistance, meaning the blockage is beginning to break up. If that doesn’t work, follow these tips to unclog your garbage disposal. Once unclogged, turn the power back on and test the disposal. If all looks and sounds good, turn the faucet to see if the sink drainage is back to normal.

Keep in mind that your garbage disposal inspection may not reveal any clogs or issues, in which case you can skip straight to a different unclogging method.

3. Plunge away the blockage

Once you establish that the disposal isn’t the problem, it’s time to bring out the plunger. But keep in mind: While you can use the toilet plunger if it’s all you have on hand, Dengarden suggested using a flat-bottomed one for the job. With your plunger at the ready, follow these steps:

  • Fill the sink with hot water until it’s about halfway full and creates a seal around the drain.
  • Position the plunger over the drain and begin pumping up and down quickly several times.
  • Remove the plunger and wait to see if the water drains.
  • Repeat the process until the water drains freely.

If the sink still isn’t draining properly after multiple plunging attempts, you know the drill. Time to try a different method.

4. Break it down with baking soda and vinegar

This approach is a natural alternative to using chemical drain cleaners on clogged drains. Much to your convenience, baking soda and vinegar are also common household items that you’re likely to already have in your kitchen. Follow these steps to let the mixture work its magic:

  • Remove standing water from the sink with a cup or bowl.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spatula or spoon to push the powder down the drain if necessary.
  • Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
  • Place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and run hot tap water down the drain.
  • Use boiling water to break up more intense clogs.

As with any unclogging method, this natural alternative doesn’t have a 100% success rate. However, if it seems like you’re making progress on the clog after completing the steps, repeat the process to double down on the blockage.

5. Try the plumber’s snake

The clogs that put up a fight will require the strength of a plumber’s snake to battle the blockage. The tool has a coiled spiral snake that reaches down into the drain. Once the snake hits an obstruction, you can crank the handle to dislodge the debris and pull it out of the drain. Electric snakes pack even more power to tackle clogged drains.

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can create a makeshift one with a wire coat hanger. Simply use a pair of needle-nose pliers to unwind the hanger into a long piece of wire. Keep the hooked end, as this is what you’ll use to grab onto the debris. If necessary, you can use the pliers to adjust the angle of the hook so that it can easily fit through the drain opening.

No matter which tool you’re using, simply feed it down the drain a few feet at a time. Try not to push too roughly, as you might accidentally push the clog further down the pipe. When you feel the tip of your tool hit an obstruction, hook it on and pull the debris up through the drain. Keep doing this until you feel confident that the blockage is gone. Run hot water down the drain to see if you’re right.

6. Clean the P-trap

If the water is still not draining correctly, there might be a blockage in the P-trap, aka the elbow-shaped pipe under your sink. Food, grease and other debris may be stuck in the pipe, causing your sink to drain slowly or not at all because the water hits a snag on its way down.

The fix is disassembling the pipe to clean out the gunk that’s causing the blockage. Warning: This task can get a little messy, so you might want to prepare yourself with gloves, goggles and towels. When you’re ready, follow these steps to clean the P-trap:

  • Place a bucket underneath the pipe. This will catch any backed up water or debris that may fall out when you open the P-trap.
  • Unscrew the connectors on the trap that hold the curved piece to the vertical and horizontal drain pipe. There should be a slip nut on either end of the P-trap.
  • Remove the P-trap and clean the pipe of all debris, grime and residue.
  • Reconnect the trap.
  • Turn on the faucet to run water down the drain.

If the drainage situation is still not up to par, the clog may be farther up the pipe. Back under the sink you go to find the source of the blockage. Here’s what to do when you get there:

  • Repeat the steps to remove the P-trap.
  • Remove the horizontal pipe that connects the system to the wall.
  • Feed a plumber’s snake, auger or coat hanger into the wall pipe. When you feel an obstruction, use your tool to pull the blockage out from the pipe.
  • Repeat the process until you remove all debris.
  • Reassemble the pipes and P-trap, tightening the connectors by hand. (Pro tip from Home Depot: Do not over-tighten, as this may cause the connectors to crack.)
  •  Run hot water to flush the drain.

Before you celebrate your handiwork, check under the sink while the water’s running to make sure there isn’t any leaking from the pipes. If you do notice leaks, make sure all the connectors are tightened. Once you’re free from the drips, dry any water spillage from under the sink or on the floor and you’re good to go.

If you’ve made it to this point and your sink still isn’t draining, there could be a larger issue at play. It’s time to give in and schedule an appointment with a plumber for a professional fix.

How to prevent future clogs

Now that your kitchen sink is draining properly again, make sure you’re taking measures to prevent clogs from coming back. The most important preventative measure is refraining from disposing of harmful items down the drain. That includes:

  • Grease, fats and oils.
  • Meat.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Egg shells.
  • Starchy foods, such as pasta, rice or bread.
  • Fruit peels, pits and stickers.
  • Gum.
  • Paint.
  • Paper products, such as paper towels or food wrappers.

Instead, pour cooking grease in an old can and dispose of the container once it’s full. You can add certain waste, including coffee grounds, to mulch or compost piles.

The Home Depot also advised homeowners not to overload the garbage disposal. Try not to grind more than one cup of food waste at a time, and, of course, avoid sending any of the above items to the disposal. Another pro maintenance tip: Create an equal solution of vinegar and water, and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray. About once a month, grind a few of the cubes down your disposal to scrape away food-waste buildup and keep the unit fresh. Here are more garbage disposal do’s and don’ts to keep your drains clean and clear.

Another good habit for your pipes sake is running hot water down the drain after each sink use to keep everything clear. You might also want to use a drain cover to catch debris before they cause damage in the pipes.While clogged drains are an easy DIY fix, being prepared for serious plumbing troubles before they arise is always a good strategy.

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

DIY Shower Pressure Fixes

Low or declining shower pressure may be a frustrating situation. Fortunately, most of the causes of low shower pressure can be fixed quickly, easily and without a lot of personal expertise.

To determine the culprit behind this issue, there are a number of places to look. The best place to start is in the shower itself.

Here are some DIY shower pressure fixes you can complete without the assistance of a plumber:

Remove shower head sediment

Older homes may experience water pressure problems due to years of sediment build-up in the shower head.

You may be able to clean out an older shower head with a simple life hack: An eight-hour soak in vinegar. Inspect the shower head afterward to see if that fix solved the problem and clear any remaining debris manually. If you’re still experiencing low shower pressure, it’s probably time to buy a new shower head.

Adjust necessary valves

If you just moved into a new home, you might find the pressure isn’t to your liking because the builder or previous owner installed a low-flow shower head. Try removing the flow regulator to improve the water stream.

If the problem persists, the low shower pressure may be the result of a water-restrictive shower valve instead of the shower head itself. Adjusting the central shut-off valve may increase the pressure.

Check with your water provider

For homes that get their water from municipal sources, there may be a problem with the amount of water flowing into the property as a whole.

You can increase the flow of water into your home either from the curb-side main or via the one coming into the house. This should be done carefully, however, and may require a call to your water provider.

Look for leak

In some cases, valves themselves could be the source of the problem. If decades-old pipes start to leak, you’ll encounter reduced water pressure in not only the shower, but also throughout the whole home. However, those issues may only present themselves in the shower. If you have low water pressure in your home overall, you may have bigger issues to deal with, like an issue with your water service line.

If you discover any leaks in your home plumbing system, you can attempt to patch them up – if the pipes are relatively new – with little fuss. All you’ll need to do is shut off the water to that pipe, make sure it’s dry and apply either a tape- or epoxy-based sealant, available at most hardware stores, to the affected area of the pipe. Some patches may not be advisable for lines that supply drinking or shower water, so check the packaging to make sure you get the right one.

When You Might Need to Call a Professional

As we have discussed, many low shower-pressure issues can be fixed on your own with a quick trip to the local hardware store to buy a replacement shower head or valve, and a few DIY how-to videos.

Once you have completed these repairs by yourself, it’s a good idea to plan for the future. Should you have any future problems, having a home warranty for your interior plumbing and draining system is a good idea.

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

Reasons to call a professional plumber

Not sure if you need the help of a professional plumber? If the issue falls under one of these scenarios, you should definitely call a professional for expert help.

When the water pressure is low

If the water in your home isn’t flowing at its normal pressure, there could be a blockage or leak in the system, fractured pipe or eroded waterline. It can be difficult for the typical homeowner to pinpoint an issue like this. A plumbing professional can identify the source of low water pressure and advise on appropriate solutions.

When there’s no hot water

If your water isn’t heating up efficiently, it’s likely a water heater problem. As these units run on electric or gas systems, it can be dangerous to do repair work on your own. Similarly, if there is no water at all, call a professional to determine the cause.

When you notice severe pipe issues

If you think you have blocked, burst or frozen pipes, call a plumber immediately. Look out for signs, such as strange noises when the tap runs, sewage smells coming from faucets, lack of water or frost on exposed pipes.

Blockages are typically caused by sediment buildup or large debris in the sewer line. DIY attempts to fix these issues can cause more damage, resulting in a much larger repair bill. Even worse, a failed repair to a broken sewer line can cause issues for an entire neighborhood.

When you hear concerning noises

If you hear an extremely loud noise coming from the pipes, it may be a sign that something in the system is broken or about to break. If you hear a gurgling sound coming from the drains or pipes, it can be a sign of a clogged or compromised plumbing system. The sounds will likely appear when you’re using the toilet, shower, washing machine or dishwasher. If you hear these sounds, turn off the water immediately. This step will prevent the system from backing up into the house until the plumber arrives to inspect the issue.

When you’re doing a home renovation project

If you’re renovating the bathroom, kitchen, laundry room or other areas of the house that involve plumbing, make sure you get professional advice before starting the project. Relocating or installing plumbing-related items, such as sinks or dishwashers, requires the correct placement of supply lines and drains. A plumber can tell you if your renovation plans are feasible and ensure you have the proper permits. With that advice, you could save money on a potential repair or re-installation.

When you notice water damage

Look out for signs of water damage, such as leaks, water stains and mold growth. It’s ideal to catch water damage before the mold growth gets too severe, as the fungus is a health and safety hazard. A plumber can determine the source of the moisture and perform appropriate repairs to prevent further mold growth.

When DIY solutions aren’t enough

There are easy DIY fixes to many common plumbing issues, such as leaky faucets or clogged drains. Keep these plumbing do’s and don’ts in mind if you are attempting to repair the issue on your own. However, if the problem persists even after you’ve tried to fix it, a more serious problem may require expert plumbing knowledge to repair.

If you’re uncomfortable performing DIY plumbing, never hesitate to call a professional – even if it’s for a simple fix. A mistake could lead to a more severe issue, so it’s better to save yourself the hassle and get it fixed properly the first time around.Being prepared before home maintenance issues arise is always a good strategy. 

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

DIY plumbing: How to install a toilet

If you’re ready to put your handyman skills and toolbox to use, a toilet installation is a relatively simple job to start stretching your DIY muscles. Here are some tips you need to know about installing a toilet on your own.

Reasons to take on the project:

  • Replace or upgrade an old toilet
  • Remove and replace during remodeling
  • Save water and energy

If your toilet troubles are persistent, such as excessive clogging or cracking porcelain, the best option is to replace it. You can save money on your water bills by upgrading your unit to a low-flushing, energy-efficient model. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, toilets are responsible for 30 percent of a home’s average indoor water consumption. Look for the EPA’s WaterSense label for high-performing, water-efficient models. Be sure to measure your bathroom before purchasing so the new toilet will fit in your space.

How to remove the old toilet:

Keep your safety in mind, and try to avoid breaking the toilet as a way to remove it. Plus, if it isn’t in terrible condition, you can sell or donate the unit.

Here’s how to dismantle the toilet without breaking it:

  1. Turn off the water supply. The valve is on wall or floor behind the toilet.
  2. Drain all the water from the bowl. Start by flushing the toilet, then use a plunger, small cup or sponge to remove any excess water.
  3. Disconnect the supply line. Use a wrench to carefully release it.
  4. Remove the tank. Start with the lid, and then use a wrench to loosen the bolts at the bottom of the tank. Lift it straight up, but gently twist it side to side if you feel resistance.
  5. Remove the bowl.Take off the bolt caps at the base of the toilet, then use pliers or a wrench to remove the bolts. Gently rock the bowl back and forth until you can pick it up entirely.
  6. Clean the floor. Use a putty knife to remove any gunk from the floor and around the mounting flange. Wipe down the surface before installing the new toilet.

 How to install a new toilet:

Just like removing the old one, you’ll install the new one in pieces. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions for any specific guidelines.

  1. Place the wax ring on the flange. Pro tip: Lowe’s recommended making sure the ring is warm before placing it, as it will be softer and easier to work with.
  2. Set and secure the bowl. Place the toilet bowl onto the flange, aligning it with the bolt holes. Place a washer and nut on each bolt, and tighten into place. Alternate from side to side to make sure you tighten them evenly. Be cautious of over-tightening, as this can crack the porcelain. Place the bolt caps, and use a sealant around the base of the toilet to secure its position.
  3. Install the tank. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placing the rubber gasket (if it’s not already installed.) Insert the mounting bolts through the inside of the tank, and then place it into position. Alternate tightening the bolts, like you did on the base.
  4. Secure the toilet seat. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Reconnect the water supply line. Turn the water back on, and then flush the toilet to test your work.

Not everyone is a DIY type, but if you are, it’s definitely worth a shot. If during the task you find yourself becoming increasingly frustrated, don’t hesitate to call in a professional. Serious plumbing issues can become a huge inconvenience, so it’s never a bad idea to have a certified plumber check out the problem.

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

A Homeowner’s Guide to Mold Removal

As a homeowner, you’re bound to deal with troublesome maintenance troubles. However, spotting problems early can help minimize the severity of the issues and protect your wallet from the burden of significant home repairs.

To catch and help avoid mold-related issues, here’s what you need to know about removing this common fungus from your home:

What is mold?

While it can be a nuisance inside your home, this fungus is a natural part of the environment. Mold can grow almost anywhere – on plants, food, wood, paper, carpet and tile grout – as long as there is moisture in the area. You’ve probably seen it darken the grout lines in your shower or build up on damp outdoor decks. The most common type of mold is mildew, which starts as little black spots and grows into a larger infestation. Black mold can be furry and possibly toxic, so homeowners should take extra precautions when trying to remove it. There’s also hidden mold, which you can usually smell even if you can’t see it.

Mold can occur at any time throughout the year, so, unfortunately, you and your home are always vulnerable. The fungus can cause health issues for you and your family, including allergic reactions, asthma and skin irritations, so it’s important to remove mold before it gets to be severe.

Can you clean mold?

With the right tools and precautionary measures, you can usually clean the surfaces where mold develops. Always wear a mask, goggles and gloves while cleaning to limit your exposure to the mold.

The first step for DIY mold removal is to dry the surface and vacuum any dust or debris. Then, scrub the mold off the surface with a bristle brush and mold cleaner, rinse and dry the area completely. For light surfaces, such as tile grout, you can use diluted chlorine bleach to remove the mold. According to The Maids, hydrogen peroxide, vinegar or baking soda are effective natural, non-toxic cleaners. However, if there is black mold, you may need to purchase a specific cleaner to disinfect the area. While these methods work for hard surfaces, keep in mind that absorbent materials with mold, such as ceiling tiles or outdoor seating cushions, should ideally be discarded and replaced.

How can you avoid mold?

Your cleaning efforts will go to waste if you don’t control the moisture in the area. To prevent mold from growing, start by identifying the source of the moisture, which could be leaks, condensation, humidity or poor ventilation. Once you know where the water is coming from, the key is to act quickly. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you should fix plumbing leaks as soon as possible, and dry materials within a day or two of leaks or spills.

The EPA further recommends reducing the humidity levels in your home by 30 to 60 percent in order to decrease mold growth. To do so, make sure there is proper ventilation in all bathrooms, and take action by completing small steps like running the fan during and after your shower. Adding insulation to windows, doors, piping and floors can reduce condensation and improve the airflow inside your home. Dust also causes mold to grow, so make sure to clean your home regularly, focusing on baseboards, floorboards and air vents where dust is prone to build up quickly.

When should you call a professional?

When it’s ignored, mold can become excessive and cause health risks, so it’s never a bad idea to have your home inspected by a trained professional. Plus, while cleaning can be an effective temporary home mold removal solution, the mold may persist or you may experience plumbing or HVAC problems that only a professional can completely and safely repair.

Preparing for the future is the best line of defense when dealing with issues in and around your home. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

8 Ways To Conserve Water At Home

Long showers feel great, but with every minute you spend pampering yourself, your wallet and the environment struggle. Along with saving money on your monthly bills, water conservation is critical for your community. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, it’s likely that at least 40 states will experience water shortages by 2024.

Follow these tips for how to save water at home:

1. Be mindful of running water.

Don’t keep the faucet running the entire time you’re brushing your teeth or washing your hands. You may have heard this one before, but it’s easy to lazily run the faucet instead of turning it off while scrubbing and then turning the tap back on when you’re ready to rinse. Similarly, avoid luxuriously long showers. Try to limit shower time to 10 to 15 minutes maximum to prevent wasting excess gallons of water.

2. Fix leaks as soon as possible.

Look out for leaky faucets, dripping water from shower heads, rusting pipes and signs of water damage.Locate the source of the leak, and fix it immediately to avoid wasting more water.

3. Don’t let the toilet run.

If you notice that your toilet is constantly running, try replacing the flapper. Simply shut off the water to the toilet, and flush to drain the tank. Unhook the old flapper from the base of the tank and chain, and then replace it with the new one. Turn the water back on, and you’re all set. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to buy a new toilet. Look for an energy-efficient model, and follow these steps to remove the old unit and install the new one.

4. Wash full loads only.

Make sure the dishwasher and washing machine are full before you run them. If you have a unit with energy-saving settings for light washes and smaller loads, take advantage of them. When it’s time to invest in a new machine, look for water-saving models with the settings that allow you to adjust to load size.

5. Use a compost bin.

An in-sink garbage disposal needs a lot of water to work efficiently, so opt for a compost bin instead. It’s healthier for the environment while reducing water waste and increasing the energy efficiency of your home.

6. Insulate pipes.

Be sure to insulate exposed pipes around the house, especially in the attic and basement. When they’re not insulated, it takes longer for water to heat up, meaning it’s running for longer periods of time. You can also cover the water heater with insulating blanket to further speed up the process.

7. Run the sprinklers in the morning.

The optimal time to water your lawn is early morning. This strategy prevents rapid evaporation from midday heat, which means less water is required to sufficiently cover the grass. Avoid rogue sprinklers wasting water by spraying the sidewalk or side of the house, instead positioning them to face the grass and landscaping appropriately.

8. Perform routine appliance maintenance.

Proper appliance care and upkeep can prevent potential leaks and wasted energy. This preventative maintenance includes regular cleaning and seeking professional advice when necessary. Plus, if it’s time for an upgrade, buy energy-saving products and appliances. According to the EPA, the average household can use about 20 percent less water with water-efficient fixtures and appliances.

Complement your water conservation at home with these ways to increase energy efficiency. With mindful changes, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money each month.

If you notice spikes in your water bill, serious leaks or other maintenance issues during your water conservation efforts, don’t hesitate to call a professional.

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

Garbage Disposal Won’t Turn On? Here’s How To Troubleshoot Common Issues

Behold the underrated luxury of a modern kitchen: the garbage disposal. It gets rid of your food waste in seconds with the simple flip of a wall switch, saving your kitchen from the smell of rotting food scraps. Of course, they’re not quite invincible, considering they don’t do well with items like coffee grounds, eggshells and paper products. Still, it’s easy to overlook how precious this little machine is until it stops working.

The good news is that most garbage disposal repair is easy enough to perform on your own. Whether it won’t turn on or it’s acting strange when it does, there are several ways to repair a broken garbage disposal.

Safety first

As with any do-it-yourself project, safety always comes first. No matter the source of the issue, your prep should always be the same: Turn off the garbage disposal, unplug the unit and maybe even shut off power to the machine entirely from your main circuit breaker before beginning repair work. The less likely you are to encounter an electric shock, the better.

Another important safety consideration is to never, under any circumstances, put your hand down the drain or blindly run your fingers inside the disposal where the blades can do damage. Finally, brief yourself on these important tips for DIY plumbing repairs.

With safety in mind, you’re officially ready to tackle your broken garbage disposal.

If the disposal refuses to turn on at all…

When you flip the switch and nothing happens, there could be something wrong with the power source. For instance, the garbage disposal’s overload circuit may have automatically shut off due to a power surge or malfunction, or the electrical circuit connected to the machine may be off.

The fix: Think back to your safety prep for a moment. Was the plug loose when you pulled it from the socket? Maybe the circuit breaker switch was already in the “off” position? If so, the simple fix may just be plugging in the unit properly or flipping the circuit switch back on. However, just to be safe, press the reset button on the bottom of the garbage disposal. DoItYourself.com noted that the red button will already be sticking out if it tripped, which means pressing it should solve the problem. Head back to the circuit breaker and manually flip the switch back to the “on” position. Now try to turn on the disposal again.

If that doesn’t work, you may need to do some detective work to find the source of the power malfunction. It could be the wall switch, outlet, power cord, wiring or another electrical element. If you find a faulty component, you may need to call a professional to inspect the issue, as the repair may be beyond your electrical and plumbing knowledge. However, if you can’t find any signs of trouble, your best option may be to replace the unit.

If there’s a humming sound…

If the garbage disposal won’t turn on or fails to grind food waste, but the motor still ekes out a humming sound when you flip the switch, the problem is probably a jam. It’s common for food or other debris to block the impeller and other components inside of the disposal.

The fix: Turn off the disposal immediately, as humming without any grinding action can burn out the motor, according to HomeTips. To fix the jam, insert a hex wrench or short wooden broom into the hole on the underside of the disposal. Turn your tool clockwise to dislodge the flywheel, continuing until you feel the blades turn freely. If you can see the blockage in the disposal, use tongs or pliers (not your hands!) to dislodge the item from the unit. Cleaning it out may require removing the unit entirely and reattaching it once the obstruction is gone.

From there, turn the power back on and press the reset button on the bottom of the unit. Then, run water from the faucet and quickly flip the disposal switch on and off a few times to wash away residual obstruction that could still be blocking the flywheel. If all goes well, you should be back in business at this point.

If you notice leaking…

The vibration of the garbage disposal can loosen connections over time, often leading to a leak. When there’s water dripping from the garbage disposal into the base of the cabinet, you’ll need to determine the source of the leak to fix the problem. It’s usually one of three culprits: the flange that connects the disposal to the bottom of the sink, the hose that leads to the dishwasher or the drain pipe that connects to the sewage system.

The fix:Inspect the drainage pipe first, looking for loose screws. Use a screwdriver to tighten them, and then run the water to see if the leaking continues. If the leak appears to be coming from the sink flange, tighten the mounting bolts. The Spruce also noted that worn down plumber’s putty could be the reason for the leak. If that’s the case, loosen the bolts and push the sink flange up into the drain opening. Remove the old putty and apply a fresh amount around the flange. Next, re-tighten the mounting bolts and put the flange back in place. Wipe away excess putty. Test your work with the water running so you can ensure the leak is fixed.

Note that if there are cracks in the unit or water is dripping from the garbage disposal reset button, your best bet is to replace the machine.

If draining happens painfully slowly…

In the event that the garbage disposal turns on but fails to drain the water or disposal water comes back up into the sink, the drainage issue likely stems from a clogged disposal or sink.

The fix:Start by running boiling water down the drain to free up blockages. If the clog is too stubborn for that simple fix, you can use a plunger to unclog your kitchen sink. Some clogs will require removing the discharge pipe that connects to the disposal so you can clear the debris with a sink auger or coat hanger. If the clog is in the disposal, try one of these three methods to remedy the issue.

If you smell an unfortunate odor…

When bits of food get stuck in the garbage disposal blades or drain pipes, the result is generally a less-than-ideal smell coming from your sink.

The fix: Run a big cup of ice and about half a cup of salt through the disposal to scrub away the debris. You can also throw in some lemons for a much more pleasant citrus scent. Another way to banish bad odors is with an equal mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Simply pour the solution down the drain and cover the opening with a stopper, letting the ingredients sit in the drain for about 10 to 15 minutes. Flush with hot water to complete the process.

Once you solve the smelly garbage disposal problem, routine maintenance can keep the bad odors away for good. For example, the Spruce suggested grinding up pieces of lemon peels and ice cubes on a regular basis to maintain proper disposal performance.

If these DIY solutions fail to fix the problem, it may be time to call in a professional plumber. When the garbage disposal continues to perform poorly despite your handy efforts, there could be more complex plumbing system problems at play.

Preventing future problems

Avoiding future malfunctions requires some dedicated rule following. While disposals are durable shredding machines, they’re serious about their do’s and don’ts when it comes to what you can send down the drain for grinding. Some of the big no-nos, for instance, include fats, coffee grounds, bones, shells, metal, rubber, paper and glass.

When it gets to the point that you can’t get your disposal to turn on or perform with the same efficiency, you may be better off replacing the unit. Keep in mind that even normal wear and tear limits garbage disposals to about 10 to 15 years of use. A new one usually costs between $80 and $200, according to estimates from Thumbtack. The Home Depot sells residential disposals that range from about $50 to $500, although most homeowners will be fine sticking with a unit that falls within Thumbtack’s average range. And with your savvy preventative maintenance skills, you can extend the life of your new disposal, avoiding premature issues or replacements.

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

How to Fix a Screen Door

I grew up in a house with an outside deck. So I have many fond memories of sitting outside on warm, sunny days, reading and enjoying the view of my neighborhood. I would often open the sliding deck door to the adjacent living room while keeping the screen door shut so I could hear music from the living-room stereo without worrying about insects sneaking to the indoors.

So when that screen door started showing signs of wear and tear, my mom would complain how my brother and I were to blame (“too much rough housing” she would say) and “how in the world am I going to fix it?” What mom didn’t know is that while trying to patch a ripped screen door can seem difficult, it’s actually not so hard to fix.

We’ve compiled a list of common issues and helpful DIY remedies to make screen-door repairs a breeze:

Screen replacement 101

Because the screens in most screen doors consist of lightweight fiberglass, tears in the material are hardly unheard of, according to Popular Mechanics. Fortunately, they’re also easy and fairly inexpensive to replace. Your local hardware store will almost definitely have a replacement screen that fits your door. They’ll also have the specialized tool for dealing with spline – the rubber tubing that surrounds the perimeter of a screen and keeps it affixed to the door frame.

Let’s go step by step:

  1. Remove the old screen by lifting it away from the track-mounted rollers. Pull the bottom of the material out and then lower the door until the screen clears the top edge of the frame.
  2. From there, you can cut your own portion of screen material from a large roll, as HGTV noted, or purchase an a la carte pre-cut screen from your local hardware store.
  3. Next, unscrew the door’s handle, then remove the segments of spline surrounding the door frame with an awl. (Don’t get rid of your spline if it doesn’t show signs of damage, as intact spline can be reused.
  4. Use a screwdriver to remove the rollers and reattach either new or existing spline.
  5. Align the replacement screen with the frame, using the spline tool’s convex and concave rollers to press the rubber tubing into the frame grooves.
  6. Fit the screen snugly into the splined frame.
  7. Finally, trim any excess fiberglass and reattach any parts of the door (latch, rollers, panel and so on) you might’ve removed.

Learn More About Home Repair Plans Near You

Dragging wheels and other irritations

If opening your sliding screen door is a chore – it moves slowly, creaks or doesn’t close all the way – it’s time to remedy that situation. (Especially if you want to avoid insect intruders.)

The culprit behind the dragging screen is frequently worn-down or broken wheels along either the top or bottom edge of the door’s frame, according to The Family Handyman. But just like a torn screen, this problem isn’t too hard to remedy – and neither are some other issues that may be at play.

  • Make sure the wheel track is clean and unobstructed.
  • Addressing a jammed track is even easier than a wheel replacement: just clear any debris or dirt from it. If the track is bent, straighten it with a pair of pliers.
  • Check the screws holding the wheels in place – if they’re too loose or too tight, adjust as necessary.
  • Don’t forget to check the sliding screen’s top row of wheels. Because of their location, they don’t experience as much wear and tear, but better to be safe than sorry.

If these steps don’t address the issue, you probably need to change the wheels. As with replacement screens, you can easily find spare screen-door wheels at most hardware stores. To start, remove the screen door from its tracks. From there, you can unscrew the old wheels, affix your replacements to the door and put the adjusted door back in place. Ideally, it should move smoothly from then on.

Worst-case scenario

A screen door that is damaged beyond repair will need to be completely replaced. You can call your local hardware store, handyman, or big box retailer to find a new screen door that works for you.

Being prepared for home repairs before they arise is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Lines of America can help with the costs of covered repairs.

Ever Wonder What A Dishwasher Air Gap Is?

I’ll admit it, I never thought about the inner workings of my dishwasher until it started giving me issues, and I had to figure out why the dishes weren’t coming out clean. When someone asked me if I’d checked the “dishwasher air gap”, I had no idea what they were talking about. So, that prompted me to Google how dishwashers work. (I’m somewhat of a self-proclaimed expert now.)

What I learned is: Your dishwasher is connected to the same plumbing infrastructure as the rest of your kitchen, meaning it’s eerily close to the dirty drain water that flows down your sink. If there’s a clog in your drains, that dirty water could flow back up into your dishwasher, contaminating your kitchen’s sanitation haven. Lucky for you, the dishwasher air gap is there to prevent such an unfortunate event from plaguing your appliance.

So what is a dishwasher air gap anyway?

Usually fitted to an existing hole on the sink or countertop and covered with a decorative cap, a dishwasher air gap connects to hoses below the sink or countertop. One is the dishwasher drain hose and the other typically connects to the sink’s drain pipe or garbage disposal.

As the unit runs, the dishwasher pump pushes wastewater to the air gap so it can exit through the drain hoses. If there is a backup or build up in pressure, the air gap also pushes fresh air into the hoses to prevent dirty water to flow back into the dishwasher. The process is essential for preventing cross-contamination between pipes and backflow into the dishwasher.

Does your dishwasher have an air gap?

I know, after all this talk about dirty sink water, why wouldn’t you want to have a dishwasher air gap? Well, some building codes only require minimal ventilation systems, so if you can’t find an air gap in your kitchen, odds are your area doesn’t consider it a compulsory component. However, if you’re planning on installing a new dishwasher any time soon, be sure to check local building and plumbing codes to determine if you should be including an air gap.

Do you need to do anything with the air gap?

Your dishwasher air gap will generally get on with its business with little necessary maintenance. However, cleaning it regularly can prevent blockage issues. To do so, simply remove the cover and unscrew the plastic cap. DoItYourself.com recommended removing the air gap entirely so you can flush it with water and wipe away debris. While you have visibility to the hoses, check it for clogs. If you see any signs of trouble, you can remove them to rinse and dry. Once you get everything back in place, be sure to check for leaks during the next dishwasher cycle.

If you want to install an air gap for your existing dishwasher, you can purchase a kit and follow this step-by-step guide from SFGate Home Guides. Alternatively, a licensed plumber can easily handle the project.

Maintaining the air gap goes hand in hand with overall dishwasher upkeep. For instance, loading your dishwasher correctly and cutting down on excessive water use can boost the appliance’s efficiency. And while it may feel a tad counterintuitive, you should clean your entire dishwasher about once a month.

Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of water sewer line repairs and replacements.

How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom

You use your bathroom multiple times a day, so it’s only fair that you should give it some frequent cleaning attention. A quick wipe down is one thing, but it’s the deep clean that really gets into all the nooks and crannies.

Grab your gloves and safe cleaning products, play some upbeat tunes and get cleaning.

The sink

Start by wiping down the sink with a dry cloth or paper towel to remove dust, hair and other debris. Spray an all-purpose bathroom cleaner or homemade solution on the sink and wipe it down with a cloth or disinfecting wipe. Real Simple advises pouring white vinegar or baking soda down the drain and then flushing it with hot water to eliminate buildup.

The tub and shower

DIY Network advises spraying cleaner on the tub and shower before you do any other cleaning, letting it sit while you work elsewhere. After ample standing time, simply scrub the surfaces and rinse with water. Real Simple offered a trick for the shower head: Pour white vinegar into a plastic grocery bag and tie it so the nozzle is fully submerged. Leave it to soak overnight and then wipe the shower head down with a wet cloth after you remove the bag in the morning.

The toilet

Pour baking soda or toilet bowl cleaner into the toilet and let it sit for at least five minutes. Use a toilet brush to scrub the bowl before flushing. If a stubborn ring remains around the bowl, you can use a pumice stone to remove the deposit. Wipe down the toilet seat and tank area with a paper towel before using a cleaner on the surface.

The tiles

Don’t forget to clean bathroom walls and floors, using a brush to scrub tile grout. Bleach can clean bathroom mold that’s stuck in the grout, but if it persists, schedule a professional inspection in case it requires a more intense mold removal method.

How often should you clean your bathroom?

Your cleaning schedule will depend on how frequently you use your bathroom but aim to deep clean it every month or two. CNET recommends the more frequent cleaning tasks that will prevent your bathroom from getting too grimy in between deep cleans, including:

  • Wipe down the sink daily with an antibacterial cleaner or cleansing wipe.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down the mirror when you get out of the shower.
  • Clean the toilet once a week.
  • Launder the bathroom rug weekly.

Regular cleaning is a great way to keep your bathroom in tip-top shape. And keeping your home in tip-top shape is important too. That’s why being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Line Warranties of America can help with the costs of repairs and replacements.