How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home During COVID-19

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

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

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

Protect Yourself

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

Clean First, Then Disinfect

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

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

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

Focus on High-Touch Surfaces

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

Explore Cleaning Guides from HomeServe

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

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

Cleaning Products to Use Around the House

Bathroom Cleaning Guides

Kitchen Cleaning Guides

Living Space Cleaning Guides

Prepare for the Unexpected With a Home Repair Plans

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

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

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.

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.

DIY Shower Pressure Fixes

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

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

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

Remove shower head sediment

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

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

Adjust necessary valves

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

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

Check with your water provider

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

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

Look for leak

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

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

When You Might Need to Call a Professional

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

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

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

Reasons to call a professional plumber

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

When the water pressure is low

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

When there’s no hot water

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

When you notice severe pipe issues

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

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

When you hear concerning noises

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

When you’re doing a home renovation project

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

When you notice water damage

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

When DIY solutions aren’t enough

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

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

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

DIY plumbing: How to install a toilet

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

Reasons to take on the project:

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

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

How to remove the old toilet:

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

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

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

 How to install a new toilet:

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

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

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

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

A Homeowner’s Guide to Mold Removal

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

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

What is mold?

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

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

Can you clean mold?

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

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

How can you avoid mold?

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

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

When should you call a professional?

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

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

8 Ways To Conserve Water At Home

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

Follow these tips for how to save water at home:

1. Be mindful of running water.

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

2. Fix leaks as soon as possible.

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

3. Don’t let the toilet run.

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

4. Wash full loads only.

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

5. Use a compost bin.

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

6. Insulate pipes.

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

7. Run the sprinklers in the morning.

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

8. Perform routine appliance maintenance.

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

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

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

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

How to Fix a Screen Door

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

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

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

Screen replacement 101

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

Let’s go step by step:

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

Learn More About Home Repair Plans Near You

Dragging wheels and other irritations

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

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

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

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

Worst-case scenario

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

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

Ever Wonder What A Dishwasher Air Gap Is?

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

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

So what is a dishwasher air gap anyway?

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

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

Does your dishwasher have an air gap?

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

Do you need to do anything with the air gap?

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

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

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

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

How Much Does Sanitary Sewer Line Maintenance Cost?

How Much Does Sanitary Sewer Line Maintenance Cost?

Per the quote popularly attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, “luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Conversely, when it comes to your sanitary sewer, yuck is what happens when disregard meets eventuality. (See what we did there?) While there’s no guarantee against a sewer leak on your property, another old adage — this one courtesy of American philosopher Benjamin Franklin — states that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Again, in sanitary sewer terms, swap out “prevention” with “maintenance,” and “pound of cure” with “untold quantities of raw sewage not leaking into your home or yard.”

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As opposed to your water service line, which carries fresh water to your house, and storm sewer, which channels rainwater away from your house, your sanitary sewer rids your household of all that nastiness produced by the members of your household when they shower, brush their teeth, wash the dishes and, perhaps most pointedly, flush the toilet. As defined by Michigan State University: “The sanitary sewer is a system of underground pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, and other plumbing components to a wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered, treated and discharged.”

If proper maintenance isn’t performed over time, these underground pipes can rupture and leak. Even if you keep your line well-maintained, ground shifting, pipe separations, cracks and root infiltrations can cause problems. But keeping up with recommended sewer-line maintenance intervals helps ensure the odds are ever in your favor, per Seneca and Franklin … and that YA book series.

How Often Should Sewer Lines Be Serviced?

Homeowners should have their sewer pipes serviced at least every few years, and for large households with several residents creating a lot of sewage waste, at least every two years. This will ensure your sanitary sewer line remains free of gradual clogs and potential backups from debris buildup.

“Performing routine inspection and cleaning is the best way to keep a sewer or storm system working properly,” states Wisconsin-based trade publication Municipal Sewer & Water magazine. “Sewer systems around the world vary in many details, including the type of material for the pipe, shape, size and location. Regardless of these variables, sewer systems must be routinely cleaned to ensure safe, consistent movement of the material.”

According to the magazine, sewer cleaners use high-pressure water jetting and a high-flow vacuum force to scour pipes clean and vacuum up the material that causes would-be blockages. More severe clogs could necessitate rodding, according to the village of Glenview, Ill., “done by inserting a cutting tool into the sewer to cut away roots or blockages along the inside of the pipe.” Before committing to any work, however, have a sewer camera inspection performed to better determine the scope of work needed.

We at Service Line Warranties of America advocate for homeowners to do their own maintenance and repairs wherever they are willing, able and confident to do so, but this isn’t the type of job the vast majority of people can handle themselves without proper training, expertise, equipment and safety precautions. That means you’re going to want to have at least an idea of how much a repair job is likely to cost you before you start making calls to professional sewer contractors.

The good news: Maintenance (i.e., pipe cleaning and clog prevention) on average runs between one-tenth and a quarter of the price of a full repair or pipe replacement costs.

What’s This Gonna Cost Me?

To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay for sanitary sewer line maintenance, Service Line Warranties of America has calculated the average costs — both nationally and state by state — for comparison. In order to determine what’s wrong with your system, you’ll have to call someone out to diagnose the problem, which comes with its own cost. We’ve calculated that average, as well.

Below, you’ll find the average costs for sanitary sewer line maintenance in your state. All figures are based on aggregated HomeServe data reported by our network of thousands of contractors across the nation. Where insufficient data was available to determine a verifiable average, we’ve noted so.

(At the time of publication, pandemic-precipitated materials shortages were impacting home maintenance, repair and construction sectors across the board; price fluctuations caused by those supply-chain issues are not necessarily reflected here.)

Nationwide

  • Diagnosis: $83 (CAD 106)
  • Maintenance: $408 (CAD 520)

State by State

1. Alabama

  • Diagnosis: $85 (CAD 108)
  • Maintenance: $467 (CAD 595)

2. Alaska

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Maintenance: Insufficient data

3. Arizona

  • Diagnosis: $75 (CAD 96)
  • Maintenance: $324 (CAD 413)

4. Arkansas

  • Diagnosis: $77 (CAD 98)
  • Maintenance: $398 (CAD 507)

5. California

  • Diagnosis: $67 (CAD 85)
  • Maintenance: $450 (CAD 574)

6. Colorado

  • Diagnosis: $99 (CAD 126)
  • Maintenance: $455 (CAD 580)

7. Connecticut

  • Diagnosis: $69 (CAD 88)
  • Maintenance: $698 (CAD 890)

8. Delaware

  • Diagnosis: $69 (CAD 88)
  • Maintenance: $443 (CAD 565)

9. District of Columbia

  • Diagnosis: $80 (CAD 102)
  • Maintenance: $542 (CAD 691)

10. Florida

  • Diagnosis: $103 (CAD 131)
  • Maintenance: $496 (CAD 632)

11. Georgia

  • Diagnosis: $97 (CAD 124)
  • Maintenance: $378 (CAD 482)

12. Hawaii

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Maintenance: Insufficient data

13. Idaho

  • Diagnosis: $66 (CAD 84)
  • Maintenance: $421 (CAD 537)

14. Illinois

  • Diagnosis: $71 (CAD 91)
  • Maintenance: $429 (CAD 547)

15. Indiana

  • Diagnosis: $77 (CAD 98)
  • Maintenance: $372 (CAD 474)

16. Iowa

  • Diagnosis: $87 (CAD 111)
  • Maintenance: $605 (CAD 771)

17. Kansas

  • Diagnosis: $85 (CAD 108)
  • Maintenance: $340 (CAD 433)

18. Kentucky

  • Diagnosis: $85 (CAD 108)
  • Maintenance: $363 (CAD 463)

19. Louisiana

  • Diagnosis: $84 (CAD 107)
  • Maintenance: $373 (CAD 475)

20. Maine

  • Diagnosis: $95 (CAD 121)
  • Maintenance: $413 (CAD 526)

21. Maryland

  • Diagnosis: $87 (CAD 111)
  • Maintenance: $544 (CAD 694)

22. Massachusetts

  • Diagnosis: $88 (CAD 112)
  • Maintenance: $406 (CAD 518)

23. Michigan

  • Diagnosis: $106 (CAD 135)
  • Maintenance: $317 (CAD 404)

24. Minnesota

  • Diagnosis: $99 (CAD 126)
  • Maintenance: $435 (CAD 555)

25. Mississippi

  • Diagnosis: $90 (CAD 115)
  • Maintenance: $397 (CAD 506)

26. Missouri

  • Diagnosis: $85 (CAD 108)
  • Maintenance: $331 (CAD 422)

27. Montana

  • Diagnosis: $102 (CAD 130)
  • Maintenance: $443 (CAD 565)

28. Nebraska

  • Diagnosis: $70 (CAD 89)
  • Maintenance: $441 (CAD 562)

29. Nevada

  • Diagnosis: $69 (CAD 88)
  • Maintenance: $391 (CAD 499)

30. New Hampshire

  • Diagnosis: $88 (CAD 112)
  • Maintenance: $812 (CAD 1,035)

31. New Jersey

  • Diagnosis: $74 (CAD 94)
  • Maintenance: $365 (CAD 466)

32. New Mexico

  • Diagnosis: $112 (CAD 143)
  • Maintenance: $296 (CAD 377)

33. New York

  • Diagnosis: $91 (CAD 116)
  • Maintenance: $390 (CAD 497)

34. North Carolina

  • Diagnosis: $98 (CAD 125)
  • Maintenance: $406 (CAD 518)

35. North Dakota

  • Diagnosis: $88 (CAD 112)
  • Maintenance: $495 (CAD 631)

36. Ohio

  • Diagnosis: $88 (CAD 112)
  • Maintenance: $420 (CAD 536)

37. Oklahoma

  • Diagnosis: $89 (CAD 114)
  • Maintenance: $620 (CAD 791)

38. Oregon

  • Diagnosis: $106 (CAD 135)
  • Maintenance: $421 (CAD 537)

39. Pennsylvania

  • Diagnosis: $78 (CAD 99)
  • Maintenance: $346 (CAD 441)

40. Rhode Island

  • Diagnosis: $103 (CAD 131)
  • Maintenance: $316 (CAD 403)

41. South Carolina

  • Diagnosis: $81 (CAD 103)
  • Maintenance: $307 (CAD 392)

42. South Dakota

  • Diagnosis: $92 (CAD 117)
  • Maintenance: $431 (CAD 550)

43. Tennessee

  • Diagnosis: $85 (CAD 108)
  • Maintenance: $445 (CAD 568)

44. Texas

  • Diagnosis: $82 (CAD 105)
  • Maintenance: $345 (CAD 440)

45. Utah

  • Diagnosis: $64 (CAD 82)
  • Maintenance: $466 (CAD 594)

46. Vermont

  • Diagnosis: Insufficient data
  • Maintenance: Insufficient data

47. Virginia

  • Diagnosis: $83 (CAD 106)
  • Maintenance: $330 (CAD 421)

48. Washington

  • Diagnosis: $97 (CAD 124)
  • Maintenance: $558 (CAD 712)

49. West Virginia

  • Diagnosis: $80 (CAD 102)
  • Maintenance: $391 (CAD 499)

50. Wisconsin

  • Diagnosis: $62 (CAD 79)
  • Maintenance: $372 (CAD 474)

51. Wyoming

  • Diagnosis: $82 (CAD 105)
  • Maintenance: $531 (CAD 677)
Weird Sound Coming From the Dishwasher? How to Diagnose Dishwasher Noises

Weird Sound Coming From the Dishwasher? How to Diagnose Dishwasher Noises

Most dishwashers make some noise during operation, but unusual dishwasher noises could be a cause for concern.

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Fortunately, you can often fix a noisy dishwasher yourself with the right knowledge.

Reasons Your Dishwasher Is Making Noise

Dishwashers usually make hissing or sloshing sounds as the water pumps through the inlet and jets. A gentle humming sound from the motor is also nothing to worry about.

However, new or unusual sounds like thumping or grinding warrant investigation. The type of dishwasher noise you hear can help you figure out what the issue is.

Buzzing

A low buzzing sound from your dishwasher can be normal as the water goes down the drain. On the other hand, a new or very loud buzzing sound could be a sign that something’s wrong with the wash pump or drain pump.

A broken or faulty wash pump can reduce water flow through your dishwasher, and you may notice that your dishes aren’t properly clean. Drain pump problems often prevent water from draining, so you might see pooled water at the bottom of the machine.

Grinding

A dishwasher making a grinding noise can be a sign that there’s something stuck in the chopper blade. The chopper blade cuts up solid debris from your crockery before it reaches the drain to prevent clogged pipes. A chopper blade can usually handle soft debris, but harder items like popcorn kernels can get stuck in the mechanism.

Faulty pumps sometimes make a grinding sound when the bearings start going bad. This sound usually gets worse the longer you leave it.

Squealing

A squealing or droning sound is often due to worn-out bearings inside the wash pump or drain pump. The bearings support the pump’s rotor and allow it to turn correctly. Rusty or damaged bearings stop the rotor from rotating properly, which can be noisy.

Thumping

Thumping noises from your dishwasher can be annoying, but they’re not usually anything to worry about. Water flowing through the drain hose can make it vibrate, potentially causing it to knock against nearby surfaces.

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What Does It Sound Like if Something’s Wrong With the Circulator Pump?

Broken or faulty circulator pumps usually make a loud squealing or grinding sound. This sound is usually due to worn or rusty bearings. You can’t replace the bearings individually, so you’ll need to replace the entire circulator pump assembly to solve the problem.

What Does It Sound Like If There’s a Problem With the Drain Pump?

Malfunctioning drain pumps often make a loud buzzing sound, usually when the bearings start to wear out. This noise often progresses to a squealing noise as the problem worsens. The only fix for this problem is to replace the drain pump.

How Do I Stop My Dishwasher From Making Noise?

There are several things you can try to stop a dishwasher from making noise before you call a professional.

Move the Dishwasher

First, try moving the dishwasher away from the surrounding wall or cabinets in case the sounds are due to vibrations. In some cases, this can stop annoying buzzing or thumping sounds. You could also try fixing the dishwasher wall or cabinets to prevent it from vibrating so loudly, or pad it with acoustic pads and blankets.

Clean the Chopper Blade

Try removing any debris stuck in the chopper blade if you hear a grinding sound. You can access the blade by taking the lower spray arm off. Inspect the blades and replace them if they’re damaged. You can stop the problem from recurring by rinsing your plates and bowls thoroughly before putting them in the dishwasher and avoiding putting solid food items in the dishwasher.

Replace the Pump

You may need to replace the pump and motor assemblies if you hear a buzzing or squealing sound. Substandard cleaning suggests that you need to replace the wash pump, while pooled water indicates a faulty drain pump. The dishwasher often won’t work at all if you have a defective circulation pump.

Call a Pro

Consider calling a professional technician to diagnose and fix the fault if none of the above tips work. A technician can also advise you about how to prevent the causes of dishwasher noise in the future. It may be more cost-effective to replace your dishwasher if it’s very old or keeps breaking down.

How Much Water Do Dishwashers Use?

How Much Water Do Dishwashers Use?

How much water does a dishwasher use? It’s something you might wonder about, especially when your water bill arrives.

This May Also Interest You: Weird Sound Coming From the Dishwasher? How to Diagnose Dishwasher Noises

You might be surprised how much water the average dishwasher uses and how it compares to washing your dishes by hand.

How Much Water Does a Typical Dishwasher Cycle Use?

The amount of water used per cycle can vary depending on the efficiency of your machine and its age.

In the U.S., if your dishwasher was manufactured after May 30, 2013, it has to meet federal limits that mandate no more than 5 gallons of water used per cycle for a standard-sized appliance. Compact dishwashers made in the same timeframe can use no more than 3.5 gallons. If you choose an Energy Star-rated dishwasher, it can only use a maximum of 3.5 gallons per cycle for a standard-size model or 3.1 gallons per cycle for a compact model. Older dishwashers use a lot more water — often 10 to 15 gallons per cycle.

Is It More Efficient to Handwash Dishes?

The alternative to using an automatic dishwasher is washing your dishes by hand. How much water does a dishwasher use compared to handwashing dishes? Surprisingly, a dishwasher usually uses less water. When you handwash dishes, you might use anywhere from 9 to 27 gallons, depending on how many dishes you wash and your efficiency when washing and rinsing them.

If you have a new dishwasher — especially an Energy Star-rated model — using the dishwasher is typically more efficient when it comes to water usage. However, an older model will use more water and make the process less efficient. The winner in hand versus machine washing can also depend on your habits when you wash dishes by hand.

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How to Wash Dishes More Efficiently

Whether you wash your dishes by hand or in a dishwasher, you can make the process more efficient.

  • Wait for a full load. If you use a dishwasher, only run it when the machine is full. If you do multiple smaller loads throughout the day, you’ll use more water overall. This can also be true of handwashing dishes. If you fill the sink to wash a few dishes, you’ll waste more water than you would if you wanted until you had lots of dishes and washed them all at once.
  • Skip pre-rinsing: When you pre-rinse your dishes for the dishwasher, you’ll add to your water consumption. You typically just need to scrape the food on the dishes before putting them in the machine instead of rinsing.
  • Fix issues: If you’re having issues with your dishwasher, have them fixed immediately to keep the appliance efficient and working properly to get dishes clean with one cycle.
  • Upgrade your dishwasher. If you have an old model, consider installing a new dishwasher that’s more efficient.
  • Install an aerator. An aerator installed on your kitchen faucet cuts down on how much water comes out of the faucet without reducing the effectiveness of the flow.
  • Reduce your suds. Only add enough dish soap to create sufficient suds for handwashing. More bubbles mean more rinsing and higher water consumption.
  • Start with a little water. Instead of filling your sink to the top to handwash, start with just an inch or so in the bottom. As you wash smaller dish items, rinse them with hot water directly into the sink to fill it gradually. When you get to larger items, the sink will have more water in it.
  • Wait to turn on the water. Avoid turning on the faucet until you’re done scrubbing a dish and are ready to rinse.
Why Do My Drains Smell?

Why Do My Drains Smell?

Walking into your kitchen to find a bad smell wafting from the drain is not pleasant. It may also leave you worrying about the cause of the odor.

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There can be many causes of smelly drains. Understanding the reason behind your drain’s smell is the first step to clearing the air.

Why Does My Drain Smell?

Some of the most common problems are:

Clogged Drain

If something is caught in a drain and stops water from flowing, this blockage can begin to rot and cause a foul odor.

Dry P-Trap

Person wearing rubber gloves uses an adjustable wrench on a drain pipe underneath a sink.

P-traps are under every sink in your home. They trap debris before it goes down the drain and the water pooled in them blocks sewer gas. If a P-trap gets dry, odors from the trapped debris can be released, and sewer gas may also rise up the drain.

Venting Problems

Your drainpipes are connected to venting pipes that lead to your roof. These pipes bring fresh air in and allow bad odors to escape. If a venting pipe is clogged from outside debris, such as leaves or a bird’s nest, the bad smells are forced back down into your home and out your drains.

Mold or Mildew

Moist environments are the perfect environment for mold and mildew to form. If mold grows in your drains, it can lead to bad smells. This is often a problem with drains that aren’t used regularly.

Why Does My Drain Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

A rotten egg smell is caused by hydrogen sulfide. This is one of the compounds found in sewage but can also be caused by a bacteria build-up. Although the smell can be overwhelming, hydrogen sulfide itself isn’t a health risk. However, it can indicate a more serious problem with the sewage line, so it’s important to diagnose the problem.

First, check if the problem is with your water by filling a glass with water from your sink and taking it outside to smell. If your water smells like rotten eggs, contact a plumber to investigate the problem because it could be a problem with your hot water tank, water supply or plumbing.

If your kitchen sink smells like rotten eggs, it’s most likely due to grease or fat stuck in the drain. The bacteria that grow on these substances usually have this smell. If the hydrogen sulfide smell is in your bathroom, it’s more likely to be caused by a clog or dry P-trap. There are actions you can take to fix these problems, but if the smell persists, it’s time to call a plumber.

Why Does My Kitchen Drain Smell?

media/?Closeup overview of stainless steel sink drain shows where the circular sink flange inserts into the sink basin.

HomeServe photo by Matt Schmitz

The most common cause of kitchen drain odors is rotting food. Food can stick to the sides of your drain or get caught in the garbage disposal, and even small amounts can rot and cause a bad odor.

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Why Does My Shower or Bath Drain Smell?

Hair, soap and other substances build up in shower drains and become a breeding ground for bacteria, causing a smell. Another common cause of bad smells in bathrooms is a dry P-trap, especially in guest bathrooms that are rarely used.

How Do You Fix Drain Smells?

The first step to take is always flushing your drain with boiling water. If the problem is a dry P-trap, this will fill it again. If the issue is debris or a blockage, boiling water can help move it.

If this doesn’t work, try pouring 1 cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup of vinegar. Let this sit for 10 minutes, then flush with boiling water. This can help dissolve a blockage and scrub away residue stuck to the sides of drains.

What Do You Do If You Smell Sewer Gas From a Drain?

If you’ve tried the above steps and the sewage smell remains, try doing a full clean of your sink to remove the blockage. If you can safely access your venting pipe, you may also want to check for blockages there. If this doesn’t work, it might be time to call in a professional.

How Do You Keep Drains From Smelling in the First Place?

If you want to stop the problem before it starts, make sure you regularly flush water down any drains that If you want to stop the problem before it starts, make sure you regularly flush water down any drains that aren’t used regularly. You should also be careful of what goes down your drains. Never pour fat or grease down your sink, and always put food waste in the trash or a compost heap. In the bathroom, use a mesh screen or similar device to catch hair before it goes down the drain. Lastly, never flush anything down the toilet besides toilet paper and human waste.

How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace a Water Softener?

How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace a Water Softener?

Water Softener Installation Costs at a Glance

  • Average installation cost: $1,500 (CAD $1,880)
  • Installation price range: $500-$6,000 (CAD 630-CAD 7,500)
  • Replacement cost: $700-$930 (CAD 880- CAD 1,200)
  • Average labor cost: $100-$500 (CAD 125- CAD 630)
  • Monthly salt cost: $2-$15 (CAD 2.50 to CAD 19)

Maybe you have white calcium built up on your shower heads and around the drains. Perhaps you find that your skin is itchy and your hair is dry. These may be indicators that you have hard water, which can harm your appliances in the long run.

This May Also Interest You: Have Hard Water? Here’s How to Know — and How to Treat It

It may be time to consider investing in a water softener system. Use this guide to get an idea of how much that will cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Water Softener?

The average cost of installing a new water softener system is $1,500 (CAD 1,880).

Prices for a water softener installation for the average home typically range from $500 to $6,000 (CAD 630 to CAD 7,500). The main factor of what it will cost is the size of the system you purchase. The average price for water softener installation in a larger home is $2,500 to $10,000 (CAD 3,100 to CAD 12,500).  If you are handy, you may be able to cut costs by installing it yourself.

A water softener needs to be replenished with sea salt. The monthly cost of softener salt is $2 to $15 (CAD 2.50 to CAD 19).

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Softener?

Most water softeners typically last around 10 to 15 years — provided they’re well maintained. When it comes time to replace your unit, you can expect an average cost between $700 and $930 (CAD 880 and CAD 1,200). This cost includes installation. Modern water softener systems may have certain parts tied to the sewer system. Because of this, you may need a permit and a professional who can install these systems to code.

What Are the Labor Costs Involved?

The average cost of installing a water softener is $500 to $6,000 (CAD 630 to CAD 7,500). The labor aspect of this average is $100 to $500 (CAD 125 to CAD 630). The labor cost for installing a water softener depends on a few factors:

  • The type and size purchased
  • How accessible the installation area is
  • If it requires extra piping materials or a drain

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What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

1. Determine the Hardness of the Water

One of the first things you should do to determine if you need to get a water filtration system is test your water hardness. The hardness of your water is based on what minerals are present in it. You can contact your water company, hire a professional lab or purchase a testing kit. The results are measured by grains per gallon (gpg) or milligrams per liter (mgL). The range for hard water is 7 to 11 gpg or 121 to 180 mgL.

2. Determine Your Water Consumption

Next, you need to determine the amount of water your household uses. Most household members use 80 to 100 gallons (300 to 400 liters) of water per day. Multiply your daily average by the number of people in your home. This number is your average daily consumption. For example, if you use 80 gallons (300 liters) per day and have three people in your home, your average daily consumption would be 240 gallons (900 liters).

3. Calculate Grains Removed

Calculate how many grains the system would need to remove weekly.  Multiply the gpg of your water by your household daily consumption. If your water has a hardness of 9 gpg, and the daily usage is 240 gallons (900 liters), the number of grains that need to be removed each day is 2,160. Multiply your daily number by 7. This example has a weekly average of 15,120 GR.

4. Determine Water Softener Size

Water softener sizes are typically indicated by grains to be removed weekly. The most common sizes for water softeners start at 24,000 GR and go up to 64,000 GR. When choosing a size, allow for water use fluctuations in different seasons. For the household of 3 that needs 15,120 grains to be removed, a 24,000 GR softener would be suitable.

How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace a Water Softener?

How Much Does It Cost to Install or Replace a Water Softener?

Water Softener Installation Costs at a Glance

  • Average installation cost: $1,500 (CAD $1,880)
  • Installation price range: $500-$6,000 (CAD 630-CAD 7,500)
  • Replacement cost: $700-$930 (CAD 880- CAD 1,200)
  • Average labor cost: $100-$500 (CAD 125- CAD 630)
  • Monthly salt cost: $2-$15 (CAD 2.50 to CAD 19)

Maybe you have white calcium built up on your shower heads and around the drains. Perhaps you find that your skin is itchy and your hair is dry. These may be indicators that you have hard water, which can harm your appliances in the long run.

This May Also Interest You: Have Hard Water? Here’s How to Know — and How to Treat It

It may be time to consider investing in a water softener system. Use this guide to get an idea of how much that will cost.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Water Softener?

The average cost of installing a new water softener system is $1,500 (CAD 1,880).

Prices for a water softener installation for the average home typically range from $500 to $6,000 (CAD 630 to CAD 7,500). The main factor of what it will cost is the size of the system you purchase. The average price for water softener installation in a larger home is $2,500 to $10,000 (CAD 3,100 to CAD 12,500).  If you are handy, you may be able to cut costs by installing it yourself.

A water softener needs to be replenished with sea salt. The monthly cost of softener salt is $2 to $15 (CAD 2.50 to CAD 19).

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Water Softener?

Most water softeners typically last around 10 to 15 years — provided they’re well maintained. When it comes time to replace your unit, you can expect an average cost between $700 and $930 (CAD 880 and CAD 1,200). This cost includes installation. Modern water softener systems may have certain parts tied to the sewer system. Because of this, you may need a permit and a professional who can install these systems to code.

What Are the Labor Costs Involved?

The average cost of installing a water softener is $500 to $6,000 (CAD 630 to CAD 7,500). The labor aspect of this average is $100 to $500 (CAD 125 to CAD 630). The labor cost for installing a water softener depends on a few factors:

  • The type and size purchased
  • How accessible the installation area is
  • If it requires extra piping materials or a drain

More Related Articles:

What Size Water Softener Do I Need?

1. Determine the Hardness of the Water

One of the first things you should do to determine if you need to get a water filtration system is test your water hardness. The hardness of your water is based on what minerals are present in it. You can contact your water company, hire a professional lab or purchase a testing kit. The results are measured by grains per gallon (gpg) or milligrams per liter (mgL). The range for hard water is 7 to 11 gpg or 121 to 180 mgL.

2. Determine Your Water Consumption

Next, you need to determine the amount of water your household uses. Most household members use 80 to 100 gallons (300 to 400 liters) of water per day. Multiply your daily average by the number of people in your home. This number is your average daily consumption. For example, if you use 80 gallons (300 liters) per day and have three people in your home, your average daily consumption would be 240 gallons (900 liters).

3. Calculate Grains Removed

Calculate how many grains the system would need to remove weekly.  Multiply the gpg of your water by your household daily consumption. If your water has a hardness of 9 gpg, and the daily usage is 240 gallons (900 liters), the number of grains that need to be removed each day is 2,160. Multiply your daily number by 7. This example has a weekly average of 15,120 GR.

4. Determine Water Softener Size

Water softener sizes are typically indicated by grains to be removed weekly. The most common sizes for water softeners start at 24,000 GR and go up to 64,000 GR. When choosing a size, allow for water use fluctuations in different seasons. For the household of 3 that needs 15,120 grains to be removed, a 24,000 GR softener would be suitable.

9 Common Plumbing Myths — Busted

9 Common Plumbing Myths — Busted

From the outside, your plumbing system might seem simple, but go a bit deeper, and you’ll find an intricate network of pipes and fixtures that can all have major issues. Because plumbing systems are often mysterious to homeowners, it’s no wonder certain myths have cropped up about their inner workings.

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Acting on common plumbing myths can make plumbing problems worse or introduce new issues that can damage fixtures, cause water damage or require expensive professional repairs. These are some of the biggest plumbing myths going around. Here’s how to avoid unintentionally damaging your plumbing system.

Steer Clear of These Plumbing Myths

These plumbing “tips” are often passed down through generations. Kids see their parents putting a brick in the toilet tank or pouring drain cleaner down the sink to clear clogs and assume it’s the best way to handle plumbing issues. The following plumbing myths are some of the most common ones people share.

1. Drain Cleaners Are Safe and Effective

It’s easy to assume that drain-cleaning products are safe and effective if they’re sold in stores, but they can actually be very dangerous. The harsh ingredients used in these drain openers are often damaging and can cause your pipes to deteriorate. If you breathe them in, splash them on your skin or get them in your eyes, they can cause serious injuries.

Drain cleaners don’t always work all that well, either. That might lead you to try other methods, such as additional drain-cleaning products, which can cause a serious chemical reaction if combined. If you use a plunger after putting drain opener in your drain, the plunger could splash the product on you. Instead, it’s best to try plungers and augers initially without the addition of drain-opening products.

2. Flushable Wipes Are Flushable

Despite the name, flushable wipes aren’t really safe to flush. Toilet paper is designed to break down, so it goes down the drain when you flush your toilet and doesn’t easily clog up the sewer or septic system. However, flushable wipes don’t disintegrate as toilet paper does, so they can often clog up the system. It might flush down your toilet, but it can create deeper issues in your system. Toilet paper and human waste are the only things you should flush.

3. Minor Leaks Are Nothing to Worry About

If your sink only has a minor drip, you might not think much of it. However, every drip adds up and can lead to gallons of wasted water. The leaky faucet will likely get worse, which can cause more damage and even more wasted water. Handling a plumbing leak as soon as you notice it prevents the issue from getting worse.

4. Lemon Peels Are Good for Garbage Disposals

There’s a good chance someone has told you to put lemon peels down your garbage disposal to freshen it up. Citrus peels can damage the disposal. Even though the chopped-up lemons might temporarily freshen your kitchen, they can make the blades dull. The citric acid can also cause the metal blades to corrode, and the peels can clog your garbage disposal. Instead, use a cleaner designed for garbage disposals, and always disconnect the power if you’re wiping the blades or other garbage disposal components.

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5. If It Goes Down the Drain, There’s Nothing to Worry About

For the most part, if your toilets flush and the drains drain well, your plumbing should be working fine. However, sometimes clogs can build up inside the pipes even when water is still flowing. Some clogs start small and gradually build up as more gunk goes down the drains, which means the problem could be growing in the pipes without you realizing it. If you notice the water starts to take longer to drain or you notice other unusual things, having your drains cleaned could help you avoid a major clog or backup.

6. Pipes Only Freeze If the Heat Is Off

You might think the only way your pipes can freeze is if you lose power or your furnace stops working. However, some pipes can freeze even if your heat is working fine. Pipes that run through exterior walls without much insulation or in areas like basements and attics that aren’t insulated can freeze, even if your furnace is still running. Freezing can often lead to a burst pipe, which can cause serious water damage. Monitor your pipes carefully in freezing weather. Leaving cabinet doors under sinks open and insulating pipes in uninsulated areas can minimize the risk of freezing.

7. Putting a Brick in the Toilet Tank Will Save Money

A brick in the toilet tank is supposed to save you money by using less water, but it can cause toilet issues. Your toilet tank needs a certain amount of water in it to flush the toilet properly. The brick can make the flushing worse by decreasing how much water the toilet has. The brick could break apart and cause issues inside your toilet.

8. Plumbing Is Easy to Fix Yourself

All homes eventually need plumbing repairs. It’s tempting to tackle them yourself to save money, but many repairs are better left to professional plumbers. DIY repairs could lead to bigger problems that cost a lot more to fix. Before trying to fix a plumbing issue yourself, ensure you’re fully equipped to make the repair.

9. Any Plumber Can Handle Your Issues

Some people believe that all plumbers are the same and can handle all plumbing issues. Most states require plumbers to be licensed, but they don’t all have the same credentials or training. Not all plumbers are equally reliable or knowledgeable on plumbing issues, so it’s important to check reviews and ratings to look for red flags.

If you have a very specific issue, it’s a good idea to find a plumber with extensive experience in that issue. For example, if your tankless water heater isn’t working properly, ensure you find a plumber who has worked on a lot of tankless water heaters and not just traditional tank types.

How Your Home’s Plumbing System Works

How Your Home’s Plumbing System Works

Our plumbing system is an essential part of your home, but many homeowners don’t understand how it works.

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Knowing what the different plumbing system components do and how they function can help you diagnose and manage plumbing problems.

How Does a Plumbing System Work?

Your plumbing system consists of freshwater and wastewater subsystems. The freshwater subsystem pushes water through your pipes under enough pressure to supply upstairs fixtures. Meanwhile, the wastewater subsystem transports used water away from your home. Depending on your wastewater system, the water travels to a municipal sewer or a septic tank.

Plumbing systems also contain a water heater with a tank to store hot water and supply your fixtures. Alternatively, you may have a tankless system that heats water on demand.

How Does Fresh Water Enter Your Home?

Most American homes get their water supply from a public water supply system in their town or city. The entity responsible for the communal water supply uses powerful pumps to transport water from a well or body of water to a water tower, and the source depends on the natural geography of the area. Water suppliers then treat and filter the water to make it safe to drink.

Sometimes, the tower is located on high ground, allowing gravity to pull water along supply lines to people’s homes. Otherwise, the supplier pumps the water to supply local houses with water.

Some homeowners in remote communities have their own wells that supply their homes with fresh water. They may also have a tank as part of their plumbing system to store water so that it’s readily available.

How Does Fresh Water Flow to Fixtures Like Sinks and Showers?

After fresh water enters your home via a main water supply line, it’s pumped under pressure along supply pipes made from plastic, iron or copper. These pipes branch out to supply every fixture in your home, including toilets, faucets and showers. Some of the water supplies your water heater and travels along hot water supply pipes to your fixtures.

Pressure is essential for forcing water through your plumbing system. A pressurized system allows water to travel upward to supply upstairs taps and push around corners in your pipework.

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What Are the Major Parts of a Home Plumbing System?

Your home’s plumbing system has three major parts:

  • Pipes: Supply hot and cold fresh water to your fixtures
  • Fixtures: Allow access to hot and cold fresh water
  • Drains: Carry wastewater from your fixtures to the sewage system

Each part of your plumbing system requires proper installation and maintenance to keep everything working correctly. A professional plumber can advise you on how to care for your plumbing system.

What Are Plumbing Vents?

Plumbing vents, also known as vent stacks or plumbing air vents, control the airflow through your plumbing system. These vents are vertical pipes that attach to a drain line and allow waste gases to escape while supplying fresh air to your plumbing system.

Plumbing vents prevent a vacuum from forming inside your plumbing system, allowing water to flow freely to your fixtures. They also stop sewer gases from entering your home by carrying them to the main roof vent away from your home’s ventilation system.

How Is Wastewater Taken Out of the Home?

Unlike your freshwater system, your drainage system isn’t pressurized. When you flush the toilet or let the water run down the plughole, gravity transports it downward through the fixture drain. Fixture drainpipes usually have curved sections called traps that prevent waste gases from traveling back up the pipe and into your home.

Fixture drains connect to horizontal branch drain lines concealed in the walls. These horizontal lines have a slight downward angle to allow the water to flow into soil stacks, which are large vertical pipes that connect to the main drain. The main drain is usually located underneath your house.

The main drain line is angled downward to encourage wastewater and solid waste toward the municipal sewer main or septic field. The municipal sewer main is a communal line owned by your city or county that transports the sewage to a wastewater treatment plant. Some municipal sewer lines transport water using gravity alone, but others use pumps to push wastewater through the system.

If you live in a rural area where it would be too expensive or impractical to install a public sewer system, you may have a septic tank. These tanks are large concrete or steel containers installed underground in the yard. Sewage flows through the main drain line into the septic tank, where solids sink to the bottom to form sludge and floating waste rises to the top. This creates a layer of clear wastewater in the middle. As more water enters the tank, some of the existing water flows into perforated pipes in a drain field where it seeps into the ground.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bathtub Drain?

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bathtub Drain?

Bathtub Drain Replacement Costs at a Glance

  • Drain and parts: $100
  • Professional installation: $350

No one thinks about their bathtub drain. In fact, unless it’s clogged, you probably never do. But things happen. And sometimes your bathtub drain needs a little more care than a simple unclogging.

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If that’s the case, you’re probably left with two questions: Can you even replace the drain in a bathtub, and how much will that cost? We’ve got your answers.

Can You Replace the Drain in a Bathtub?

The good news is that, thankfully, a bathtub drain can be replaced. The process can be done either by a professional or as a do-it-yourself project. Usually, it’s a relatively straightforward process. Some drains can be easily replaced within a few minutes. Be aware, though, that others will require extensive plumbing work beyond that of a simple drain replacement. How involved the process is will likely be determined by the type of bathtub you have and the reasons you want or need to replace the drain.

Why Replace a Bathtub Drain?

There are many reasons people will need to replace the bathtub drain. It could be that you’ve tried every method you can think of to clear a clog and you’re still having issues. It might be that you’ve got a cast iron tub, and a drain that doesn’t work could lead to rust issues. Perhaps you have a fiberglass tub, and the drain is causing residue buildup. Any of these reasons — or a whole host of others — could lead you to want to replace your drain. Replacing your drain is also a step to take before going through the work required to replace the whole bathtub.

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What’s the Average Cost to Replace a Bathtub Drain?

Typically, the cost for the drain itself is somewhere around $100. However, you might be able to do it for less. The price of parts and labor associated with the cost to replace a bathtub drain vary based on a few factors. The two biggest will be the kind of bathtub you have and the type of work it needs. Free-standing tubs, for example, will require a completely different drain-replacement technique than a walk-in unit. Plus, if you’re just replacing the main drain interface of the tub, it will be much cheaper than if you need to hire a plumber to replace the bathtub P-trap.

If you go the DIY route, labor costs are zero, putting the total around $100 because you’re just paying for parts. Meanwhile, the cost to hire a professional to change out your bathtub drain will come in somewhere around $350. Keep in mind this price is just for the drain replacement, and it doesn’t include other bathtub drainpipe costs. The more the job extends into the plumbing beyond the drain area, the more it will cost.

How to Flush Your Tankless Water Heater: A 7-Step Guide

How to Flush Your Tankless Water Heater: A 7-Step Guide

Flushing a Tankless Water Heater at a Glance

  • Step 1: Turn of isolation valves and gas
  • Step 2: Connect hoses
  • Step 3: Attach hoses to circulation pump
  • Step 4: Add cleaning agent
  • Step 5: Open valves
  • Step 6: Flush cleaning agent
  • Step 7: Reconnect

One of the most important maintenance tasks you can do for your water heater is to flush it. Sediment like calcium and other minerals can build up inside the tank over time, causing it to erode, which shortens its lifespan. To deal with this problem, you need to flush it to get rid of these pesky minerals and other unwanted debris.

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Whether you hire a professional or do it yourself, flushing your tankless water heater is something you need to add to your list of yearly maintenance tasks. By doing so, you can improve your water heater’s efficiency and delay an expensive water heater replacement down the road.

Why You Need to Flush Your Tankless Water Heater

Mineral sediment made up of calcium and magnesium can build up inside your water heater over time and disrupt efficiency as well as reduce its lifespan. Mineral buildup can also cause loud, unpleasant noises to come from the water heater. When you flush a water heater, the cleaning agent used helps remove this buildup in the process and restores the machine.

Water heaters aren’t cheap by any means, so by performing routine maintenance like flushing them, you’ll help increase your machine’s longevity.

How Often Do You Need to Flush Water Heaters?

You should strive to flush your water heater at least once a year at the minimum. This will keep things running smoothly and ensure it doesn’t need replacement before its time. If the area you live in has hard water, you’ll want to flush it even more often.

DIY or Hire a Professional?

With the right tools and knowledge, you can certainly flush a tankless water heater by yourself. In fact, there are water heater flushing kits you can buy online for the job, which come with everything you need. They include things like a circulation pump, hoses, a bucket and a cleaning agent.

However, this is not a project where you can put caution aside. If you’re not confident working with tools, it’s best to leave it up to a professional. Depending on where you live, you can expect to pay anywhere between $150 to $250 per flush. Assuming you only do it once a year, the yearly costs of flushing are minimal compared to the costs of replacing a water heater. So, in the end, it’s a good long-term investment.

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How to Flush a Tankless Water Heater: Step By Step

Step 1: Turn Off the Isolation Valves and Gas

The first step is to turn off the isolation water valves that connect to your water heater — a blue inlet valve for the cold water and a red outlet valve for the hot water. A valve is turned off when it’s perpendicular to the pipe. If the valve is in the same direction as the pipe, then the valve is turned on. Always double-check that the valves are closed. You also need to turn off the gas valve by following the same steps above. You don’t need to turn off the power to your water heater.

Step 2: Connect the Hoses

Connect the hoses to the inlet and outlet valves. There might be a service port cap on both valves you need to remove before connecting them. If you didn’t buy a flushing kit that already comes with water hoses, you could always use water machine hoses as well. Connect the hoses to the vales and use pliers to ensure that the hose and valve are watertight. You don’t want the water to start leaking when you’re in the middle of flushing.

Step 3: Attach Hoses to the Circulation Pump

Now you need to use the circulation pump that came with your water heater flushing kit. Attach the other end of the inlet hose to the circulation pump and place it in the bucket. You only need to attach the inlet hose to the discharge side of the pump. For the outlet hose, you can simply place it in a bucket since the system you have set up will ensure the cleaner goes through the structure and cleans off any magnesium and calcium.

Step 4: Add Cleaning Agent

Once your system is all set up, simply add the cleaning agent to the bucket. The bucket should have at least one gallon of water in it before beginning the process.

Quick tip: If you don’t have a cleaning agent, you can always use vinegar. However, you will need to use at least 2 to 3 gallons of vinegar and let it circulate longer.

Step 5: Open the Valves

At this point, you just need to open up the water valves to let water flow through them and start the pump. You need to let everything circulate for at least 45 minutes and up to an hour and a half. The instruction booklet that comes with the cleaning agent will tell you how long you should let things circulate, but plan on at least an hour. If you’re using vinegar, you need to let it run even longer — for at least an hour and a half to 2 hours.

Step 6: Flush Out the Cleaning Agent

After the time has passed, turn off the pump to stop the circulation. Then turn off both valves and disconnect the inlet valve hose. You now want to flush out any remaining cleaning agent or vinegar. To do this, keep the hose connected to the hot water outlet valve and turn on the cold water inlet valve. This will push water up the system and flush out everything through the hose on the hot water side. Let the water flush for 5 to 10 minutes, then turn off the service port and the cold water inlet valve again. Finally, simply remove the remaining hose.

Step 7: Reconnect Everything

The tankless water heater has now been flushed, so now you can put everything back the way it was. Plug the service port caps back in and then turn on both water valves and the gas valve.