Time for Spring Cleaning!

Spring Cleaning Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds, Sun Rays and Sky.

During this time of year, most people are looking to clean up and clean out, finding things they don’t have use for and throwing them away, or in some cases, finally figuring out a way to use what they have in a better way. Service Line Warranties of America is doing some spring cleaning of its own. We are working on revamping and improving our blogs and social media, and we will be debuting our new format next week!

While we put the finishing touches on our spring work, take some time to check out these spring plumbing tips and make sure you are ready for what spring has to offer! For more information on other ways to be prepared for spring, visit www.slwofa.com.

What to do when you have a clogged pipe

Handyman on the scene

Clogged pipes are one of the most common problems in sewer lines, but do you know what to do when it happens?

When sewer pipes clog, it is a plumbing emergency because your wastewater has nowhere to go and could inevitably cause other plumbing fixtures to back up as well.

There are warning signs that will alert you to a problem – like a slow drain or a foul odor emanating from the drain. This means that something is impeding the flow in the line. When multiple drains are slow, it may be a sign of a bigger problem in the main line. Toilets are particularly prone to this problem, but other pipes could be involved. Toilets generally have the most direct path to the sewer with the biggest drain line in the house, so if you’re having a problem with the toilet, it’s likely affecting the entire household plumbing system.

If you suspect you have a clogged sewer pipe, it’s best to consult with a professional plumber rather than attempt to unclog the line yourself. It’s possible the problem could be more extensive than a simple fix and attempts at repairing the line yourself could cause more damage.

If you’re enrolled in external sewer line repair or in-home plumbing coverage with Service Line Warranties of America, this consultation would be a covered expense through the warranty program.

Protect Your Home from Water Damage

iStock_000006953014XSmall WP Plumbing

Did you know, water damage is more likely to occur in your home than fire damage? We protect our homes from catastrophes, but water damage could be just as dangerous.

Plumbing leaks are common anywhere there is running water, such as:

  • Toilets
  • Faucets/Sinks
  • Dishwashers
  • Ice makers
  • Water heaters
  • Tubs/showers
  • Washing machines
  • Internal pipes and hoses

Water damage isn’t only a problem financially; it can lead to serious health risks from chemicals, toxins and mold, such as rashes, asthma or other chronic health conditions. Additionally, recent studies have shown that children with prolonged exposure to water damaged rooms in their home are at a higher risk of developing eczema.

Whether from a slow leak or flooded basement, water damage can be devastating, but there are things that a homeowner can do to mitigate or minimize the extent of the damage.

  • Check for leaks or cracks in hoses that run to the washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator at least once a year and replace these hoses every five to seven years.
  • Be sure the caulking around tubs and showers is free of cracks.
  • Know where your water main is located and how to shut it off.
  • Install floor pans under appliances to prevent damage from slow, undetected leaks.
  • Use water leak alarms, which will alert you to a leak in basements, laundry rooms, bathrooms, kitchens and sump pumps.
  • Buy a water flow monitoring system, which attaches to your water main and, if flow that exceeds normal use is detected, will automatically shut off the flow of water into your home.

Fall Weather Tips

iStock_000014942576XLargeFall has officially arrived, which means it’s time to prepare your home for winter while the weather is still cooperative.

Freezing temperatures, heavy snowfall and extensive rain or drought can wreak havoc on the condition of your home. Seasonal maintenance and weather proofing can help prevent expensive repairs and inconvenience.

  • Cover external pipes with an insulation kit, which will prevent freezing and ice buildup. For added protection, turn off external faucet shut-off valves. External pipes and faucets are extremely susceptible to cold weather since they are exposed to snow and ice.
  • Drain garden hoses and store them in a dry place. Water left in a hose can freeze and cause the hose to crack or split. This could be problematic next spring when you’re ready to water the plants.
  • Wrap exterior faucets with insulation tape to protect against freezing pipes. Even indoor pipes can freeze with extreme temperature changes, so make sure internal pipes remain warm throughout the winter.
  • Seal leaks around windows and doors to prevent cold air from entering your home and warm air from escaping. Cold air leaks may cause your furnace to work harder to keep the home’s interior warm and increase heating bill costs.
  • Flush water heaters to remove sediment buildup, which can damage the tank. By performing a flush twice a year in the fall and spring, you can increase the tank’s life expectancy.
  • Clear leaves and debris from outside gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage and prevent ice buildup. As the snow and ice begin to melt, it’s important to have free-flowing spouts to properly remove water from your roof.
  • Test smoke detector functionality and change batteries as needed. Test the functionality of the smoke detector by having someone go to the furthest point in the house away from the detector while you spray test smoke (available at most hardware stores) near the detector to ensure the alarm is activated and can be heard.
  • Examine your walkways and driveways for loose pavement that could become slippery or dangerous when ice or snow-covered.
  • Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean the chimney before the first use.

Snow, ice and freezing temperatures will be in the forecast soon, so prepare your home today.

Are you prepared?

Home emergencies could happen at any time. Are you prepared?iStock_000022456000Large

September is National Preparedness Month and Service Line Warranties of America would like to encourage you to be prepared for an emergency by keeping an emergency kit at home and in the car.

Last winter we saw a record amount of snowfall and weather-related events throughout the world. As a result, people were stranded without power or in their vehicles for days. Every home should be equipped with a proper emergency kit for each family member to sustain life for at least two to three days. Emergency kits should include items such as:

  • Water – one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation.
  • Non-perishable food
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Battery-powered radio and flashlights with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Plastic cups, plates, bowls and silverware
  • Paper towels
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Disinfectant
  • Matches and candles

Of course, home emergencies aren’t the only type of emergency you should be prepared for – what if you’re stranded in your car? Keep an emergency kit with the following in your car:

  • Extra warm blanket (especially if you live in a snow-prone area) or sleeping bag
  • Jacket or coat, long pants, long-sleeved shirt and sturdy shoes
  • Hats and gloves
  • Non-perishable food and bottled water
  • Cash
  • Paper Towels
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Compass
  • Matches in water proof container
  • Signal flare or whistle to signal for help
  • Paper and pencil
  • Disinfectant
  • Emergency contact information and identification

While we can’t predict emergencies, being prepared will ease the situation. For more information on National Preparedness Month, visit http://www.ready.gov/.

Why are water costs rising?

iStock_000003907033MediumUS water sewer service provider

Recently, USA Today conducted a study of residential water rates over the past 12 years and found crumbling infrastructure is forcing repairs nationwide, with costs more than doubling in one out of every four localities of the 100 municipalities polled.

As water rates continue to rise, protecting private infrastructure becomes more important each day. Repairing a break or leak may seem simple, but if left unattended it could cost you thousands of dollars in not only repair costs, but also lost water. According to the USA Today study, a typical residential consumption level is approximately 1,000 cubic feet of water, which costs residents in Atlanta, Seattle and San Diego more than $50 per month. With any kind of water leak, your money is just dripping away and contributing to the rise in overall rates.

Water rates are driven by a variety of factors such as:

  • Upgrades to aging water systems to ensure you are receiving safe drinking water
  • Increased operation costs, including staff, electric, chemical treatment, infrastructure upgrades and fuel
  • Federal government rules and regulations, including water protection systems implemented after 9/11
  • Unique geographic conditions and circumstances that could limit availability, such as drought, areas prone to natural disasters, etc.

With many areas experiencing record-breaking drought conditions, water conservation has become extremely important, dictating extensive infrastructure improvements to fix failing pipelines to protect this precious resource.

Ultimately, when repairs need to be made to infrastructure, the cost is passed down to the consumer by raising rates in an effort to ensure adequate infrastructure repairs and upgrades are not left undone, costing consumers more in the long run.

As far as protection from the high cost of rising water bills, homeowners who conserve water can decrease their water bill. (Check out our previous blog articles about water conservation in the home and yard.) However, water conservation provides only some protection. While consumption may drop, increases in the cost of production, supply and operations may still result in an increased cost for the consumer. Additionally, some water companies in drought-stricken areas have imposed additional fees on customers who use more than an identified amount of water per month. In California, fines have even been imposed on those wasting water.

As a homeowner, your infrastructure is subject to the same failure potential as that of municipal infrastructure. When private water and sewer lines fail, the repair cost could be thousands of dollars, depending on the length of the line, the location of the line and the problem – costs the homeowner would be responsible for. For many homeowners, it’s not “if these private lines fail” – it’s “when these private lines fail, how will I handle the repair?” Homeowners who want to be prepared have options. They can add funds for service line repairs to their rainy day fund, or they can choose to enroll in warranty programs such as those offered by Service Line Warranties of America. For more information about Service Line Warranties of America, visit www.slwofa.com.

Can you afford a costly repair?

sad worried man in stress with piggy bank in bad financial situation

Times are tough and a recent study by the Federal Reserve discovered that more than 50% of individuals surveyed could not afford a hypothetical emergency expense of $400 without selling belongings or borrowing money.

Homeowners work hard for their money and it’s no secret that the expense of owning a home adds up over time. In fact, the study by the Federal Reserve also revealed that “more than a third of all respondents said they were worse off financially than five years ago.” With credit hard to come by and many of those eligible for retirement unprepared, expensive repairs are just not in the budget.

When evaluating monthly expenses, such as a water or sewer line warranty program, it’s important for a homeowner to consider what they have in savings and what they can honestly spend each month for protection. For those homeowners living paycheck to paycheck, a few dollars a month to provide peace of mind could outweigh the risk of “if” a failure would ever occur, considering just over half of the survey respondents were putting some portion of their income away in savings and only 39% said they had a rainy day fund.

If you’re evaluating whether or not to purchase warranty protection, consider the following factors:

  • Do you have savings to adequately cover a repair of potentially $2000 dollars?
  • Could you sell belongings to help cover the cost of an expensive repair quickly?
  • Could you apply for a loan in an emergency and know you would get approved? As more homeowners struggle to make payments, credit has become more difficult to obtain.
  • Could you refinance your home and use the excess for repairs?