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.

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

How to Install a Kitchen Faucet

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

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

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

Purchase a compatible faucet

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

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

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

Under-sink prep

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

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

Shut off the water

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

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

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

Remove the old faucet

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

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

Install the new faucet

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

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

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

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

Test the faucet

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

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

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

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

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

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

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

The worst-case scenario

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

Identifying a frozen pipe

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

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

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

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

What to do

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

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

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

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

Long-term solutions

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

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

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

What Does it Cost to Replace a Water Pump?

I know there are lots of parts at work to make my HVAC system run at full steam, and I’m grateful to all of them for keeping me comfortably cool in the summer and cozy in the winter. When they start to struggle, I owe it to them to make the repairs and replacements happen as soon as possible. And it’s a win-win, of course, because there’s never a convenient time to have an air conditioning unit or furnace that’s out of commission.

When the water pump malfunctions, here’s what homeowners need to know about the replacement costs:

Reasons for water pump replacement

Your HVAC appliances accumulate water as they operate. Pools of liquid don’t mix well with system performance, which is why there’s a water pump – also known as a condensate pump – to drain the excess water. These pumps often lose function over time due to wear and tear, accumulated debris or a failed motor. One of the most obvious signs of water pump trouble is leaking, which becomes apparent when there are small puddles of water accumulating around appliances. Air conditioner or furnace malfunctions may also be caused by a failing condensate pump, but you may need an HVAC professional to inspect the system to confirm that the pump is the issue.

Cost projections

A new condensate pump can cost anywhere from $40 to $300. Labor expenses included, HVAC water pump replacement generally costs about $250 to $500. The factors that may contribute to final price variations include:

Pump type: The cost will vary depending on the brand and model you choose. Generally, your choice will be limited to the specifications of your current pump.

Capacity: HVAC water pumps have a GPM or GPH rate, which indicates how many gallons of water the pump can remove per minute or hour. ConsumerMentor.com advises buying a pump that can remove two to three times your HVAC systems’ input condensing rate. You’ll also need to consider pump voltage and horsepower, as some appliances and systems require higher levels for proper performance.

Labor: Installation costs will vary depending on the company. Handy homeowners can save on labor expenses by completing the replacement project on their own – but don’t tackle the HVAC project if you aren’t comfortable with the task. It’s not worth jeopardizing your safety or unintentionally creating a more serious issue.

Once installed, keep practicing your preventative HVAC maintenance and your pump should be good to go for many days of heating and cooling to come.

Being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of American can help with the costs of home repairs.

You Won’t Believe How Much Water Dishwashers Use

I have a rule. If it is not marked “dishwasher safe”, then it’s a no go. (I refuse to spend my hard earned money on anything I have to hand wash.) Yep, that’s right. In my opinion, life’s too short to spend hours washing dishes. I know that some think dishwashers aren’t as necessary as other kitchen appliances — as those on Team Hand Washing think it’s a better option. But not me. I love the convenience of letting my built-in dishwasher do the dirty work for me.

In my effort to conserve water at home, I started to wonder about my beloved dishwasher. How much water and energy use went into each load, and if there was any way I could cut down on those numbers? Here’s what I found out:

So, tell me: How much water does a dishwasher use?

Conventional dishwashers use about 10 gallons of water per load, according to CNET. However, standards established in 2013 require dishwashers to cap their water usage at 5 gallons per load. Energy saving models can even cut it down to 3 gallons, saving nearly 5,000 gallons of water each year, as calculated by the Department of Energy.

But wait: How do dishwashers compare to the kitchen sink?

Good news: The dishwashing vs. hand-washing debate tilts in favor of the oh-so-convenient appliance. (Phew, TG!) If you cleaned a full dishwasher’s worth of dishes in your sink, it could use up to 27 gallons of water, as noted by CNET.

Models certified according to the joint DOE and Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star standards actually use less water than hand-washing your dishes. In fact, doing the dirty work yourself costs an average of $413 more in water and energy use than using a certified dishwasher, according to Energy Star. Plus, dishwashers can handle higher temperatures than your hands, which means there will be far more sanitary action.

How to cut down on dishwasher water use

As you might expect, the best way to save water without changing your dishwashing habits is to install an Energy Star-qualified model. However, there are other tricks to boost the efficiency of both conventional and energy saving dishwashers.

Try these water and energy saving tips:

  • Only run your dishwasher when it’s completely full: Make sure you load it properly so you don’t waste water on inefficient loads.
  • Skip the pre-rinse: Scrape away the large chunks of food, but modern dishwashers can handle the rest. You’ll save 55,000 gallons of water over the life of the appliance by skipping the rinse, according to Lowe’s.
  • Maintain your appliance: It may seem counterintuitive, but you do need to clean your dishwasher about once a month.
  • Know the easy fixes: Here’s how to tackle common dishwasher problems so you aren’t stuck washing by hand – and wasting water while you’re at it.

While these efforts will help improve your dishwasher’s efficiency, there’s one more thing you can do to protect your dishwasher: Be prepared in advance for unexpected breakdowns and repairs with an appliance home warranty.

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

How to Winterize Your Home Plumbing

Most homeowners are aware of the seriousness of their plumbing pipes freezing and why that situation can cause serious damage.

However, many homeowners may not understand how to prevent frozen pipes. Taking a bit of time to learn how to winterize your home plumbing system – both inside the house and out – can really pay off, especially since a lot of the winterizing work is made up of simple DIY tricks that shouldn’t take too long.

Understanding the Risks

Before you start any of these DIY jobs, you might want to consider why winterizing is so important. Frozen pipes can not only cause minor headaches when taking a shower or running a dishwasher, but also can burst and potentially cause a lot of water damage. Water damage can be costly to repair and typically requires a professional plumber. Fortunately, the following winterizing tips may help you avoid that need altogether.

Where to Begin

It’s wise to start by looking at the exposed water lines coming into – and running throughout – your home. These can be found in the basement, bathroom, kitchen – and anywhere else water flows (for example, in your garage or basement). If exposed water lines aren’t insulated, buying a few tubes of pipe insulation at the local hardware store and installing it is both inexpensive and easy.

Similarly, if you haven’t replaced your home’s insulation in a while, you could be at risk for freezing wall pipes. In many cases, this is a job you won’t – and probably can’t – handle yourself and calling a professional would be best.

Exterior walls in your home have pipes that can be at a greater risk for freezing and bursting. Fortunately, there is an easy fix: Having pipes run on a slight drip while the temperature is below freezing could help you avoid these issues. It’s a great life hack to help avoid frozen pipes as it keeps water flowing and helps prevent them from freezing.

Heading Outside

When it comes to the water lines that run outside your home, you need to be conscious of the risks those pose as well. Even something as minor as leaving a water-filled hose outside when cold weather arrives can cause problems. It’s important to shut off all water to outside spigots and flush any remaining water before the temperature drops below freezing. If you have underground sprinkler systems, those need to be flushed out as well.

Of course, winterizing should include more than taking a hard look at your plumbing. There are plenty of other ways you can make sure your property is ready for harsh winds, frigid temperatures, snow, ice and all the rest. A little winterizing research can go a long way. This can not only help you avoid major issues, but it might save you a bit of money as well.

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

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes Better Than the Holiday Meal

Thanksgiving Leftover Recipes Better Than the Holiday Meal

Remember that episode from Season 5 of “Friends” entitled “The One With Ross’ Sandwich” where Ross has an actual breakdown after someone steals his Thanksgiving leftovers? (One of my all time faves!)

Apparently, Ross had been looking forward to that Thanksgiving sandwich all year long – ‘cause it’s just that good.

While you binge on Netflix after the parade and pumpkin pie, wondering what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers, why not bookmark a few of my favorite post-Thanksgiving recipes?

My kids say these are better than Thursday’s turkey and stuffing — but I’ll leave it to you and yours to decide.

Breakfast

Try these low-carb stuffing waffles with a dollop of cranberry sauce. Or start your morning with Thanks Benedict, featuring stuffing cakes smothered in a sage hollandaise sauce, by one of my favorite chefs, Giada de Laurentiis.

For a weekend brunch with friends (and mimosas), I love making a sweet potato and kale frittata with creamy goat cheese, or this stuffing and turkey quiche.

The kids will adore breakfast sausage and stuffing bites — they’re so good you’ll want to pop a few before heading out for the Black Friday doorbusters.

Get a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America today

Soups and sandwiches

My favorite turkey soup is a creamy, one-pot recipe for turkey and dumplings. It’s a great way to use up whatever turkey meat and veggies you have left.

I also recommend this hearty leftover turkey chili recipe. With a bowl filled with leftover goodness plus edamame and a homemade spice mix, it’s a great way to help your taste buds (and waist line) transition out of the holiday weekend.

And, while you can easily throw together a turkey sandwich to relive the flavors of Thanksgiving Day, why not take it up a notch with a gooey brie, apple and cranberry grilled cheese sandwich? Simple but oh-so indulgent.

Savory pies

If you’re in the mood for comfort food, don’t miss this Thanksgiving shepherd’s pie. Or, remix the same festive flavors into a turkey pie with a cornbread stuffing crust.

I also can’t speak highly enough of Paul Hollywood’s ham and turkey pot pie. As seen on the Great British Baking Show holiday masterclass, it features a creamy sauce with leeks simmering beneath rough-puff pastry and looks as impressive as it tastes.

Get a plan from Service Lines Warranties of America today

For something quicker, pop these easy Thanksgiving leftover hand pies into the oven. They’re made with store-bought pie crust and the kids will enjoy crafting their own homemade hot pockets.

Pizza

Leftover pizzas are a serious crowd-pleaser! Layer up turkey and sides into a Thanksgiving pizza baked in puff pastry. This version is topped with fried onions for an extra crunch.

My kids always request this yummy mashed potato pizza with leeks and bacon crumbles, but I also like to make up another pizza with turkey, cranberries and barbeque sauce for the grown-ups.

Before you get busy using all your appliances in the kitchen, it’s a good idea to have an appliance home warranty plan in place – just in case there’s a breakdown. See how plans from Service Lines Warranties of America can help with the costs of home repairs.

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.