How to Drain a Water Heater the Right Way

Water heater dripping water

Your Guide to Draining a Hot Water Heater

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

Step 1: Know When to Drain the Tank

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

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

Step 2: Turn Off Your Heater and Water Connection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Step 5: Open Your Drain Valve

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

Step 6: Flush the Tank

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

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

Step 7: Refill the Tank and Turn It Back On

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

Step 8: Check Both Valves for a Tight Seal

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

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

Is a Tankless Water Heater Worth It?

Heater Money

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

Why Go With a Tankless Water Heater?

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

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

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

Gas vs. Electric Water Heaters: Which Is Better?

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

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

Choosing Between Condensing and Non-Condensing Types of Water Heaters

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

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

Should You Consider Point-of-Use Water Heaters?

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

How to Find the Right Hot Water Heater Capacity

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

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

Things to Know About Tankless Water Heater Costs

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

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

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

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

How to Deep Clean a Garbage Disposal

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

Gather Your Supplies

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

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

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

Pick Your Cleaning Method

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

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

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

Step 1: Disconnect the Garbage Disposal

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

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

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

Step 2: Shine a Light and Clean

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

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

Step 3: Cleaning With Dish Soap and a Sponge

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

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

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

Step 4: Clean the Drain With Baking Soda and Vinegar

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

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

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

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

Step 5: Deodorizing the Garbage Disposal

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

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

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

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

How to Keep Septic Tank Pumping Costs to a Minimum

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

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

Why Septic Tank Pumping?

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

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

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

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

Typical Problems Leading to Septic Tank Pumping

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

Some of the typical septic tank problems include:

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

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

What Is the Septic Tank Pump Out Going to Cost?

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

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

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

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

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

What Else Does a Septic Pumping Service Do?

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

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

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

Take the Guessing Out of Septic Pumping Cost

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

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

The Ultimate Guide on How to Unclog a Shower Drain

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

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

How to Unclog the Drain Using Basic Household Ingredients

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

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

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

How to Unclog a Drain With Chemicals

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

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

How to Unclog a Shower Drain Manually

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

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

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

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

How to Unclog a Toilet With 4 Easy Methods

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

Get a plan and peace of mind

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

How to Unclog the Drain Using Basic Household Ingredients

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

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

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

How to Unclog a Drain With Chemicals

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

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

How to Unclog a Shower Drain Manually

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

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

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

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

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.