What to do About a Clogged Sink

What to do About a Clogged Sink

Standing or slowly draining water may indicate that you have a clogged sink. Not only is a clogged drain annoying and often disgusting, it can also be harmful to your plumbing, eventually causing damage. As soon as you notice that your sink is clogged, take action to clear the blockage and get your water running smoothly again.

First Response to a Clogged Sink

There are some simple things to try when you discover that you have a clogged sink. Whether it’s in the bathroom or kitchen, try running very hot water down the drain. As long as your piping isn’t plastic, boil the water and immediately pour it slowly down the drain. Sometimes just a kick of hot water is enough to clear out whatever is blocking the way.

If it’s your kitchen sink, make sure that the garbage disposal isn’t full. Run some warm water and flip on the garbage disposal. It may seem like a simple solution, but it is a very common and worthwhile solution that’s worth a try.

Another simple first line solution is salt. Make sure that any standing water is emptied from the sink, then pour about a half cup of table salt down the drain, followed by at least four times as much boiling hot water. Let that sit for a few minutes and then run the hot water to clear it out. The heat mixed with the texture of the salt may be able to loosen up the clog.

Chemicals to Fix a Clogged Sink

If the simple solutions didn’t work and the drain is still totally clogged or emptying slowly, it may be time to get science involved. There are several products on the market that can help break up stubborn clogs that aren’t too expensive. Draino, Insta-Flo, and Liquid-Plumr are just a few brands that are available online and at most major retailers.

You don’t necessarily have to buy a special product, though, to get the chemical reaction needed to clear out a clogged sink. There are quite a few simple DIY methods that will get the gunk going from your drains.

Everyday household items like vinegar, baking soda, and lemon juice are all you need if your sink is clogged. Combining the right household products in the drain will cause a foaming reaction that may break up the blockage and clean out your pipes.

The most classic recipe for fixing a clogged sink is one half cup of white vinegar and one half cup of baking soda. No mixing necessary, simply pour both agents down the sink and let them sit, undisturbed and covered, for at least half an hour.

If you don’t have baking soda, or would like a fresher smell, try lemon juice instead. Double the amount of vinegar to a cup and add a cup of lemon juice. Again, let the mixture sit for at least half an hour. These two products should react and form a foam that will break up the clog. After half an hour, rinse the drain with hot water and let everything ease away.

Tools to Fix a Clogged Sink

If using a liquid agent or household products still doesn’t work, you may need to step up your game and add some additional tools. A clogged sink may have something wedged in so tightly or made of such a material that won’t be easily affected by vinegar and baking soda. The first step is to plunge. Using a smaller, sink-sized plunger, cover the entire drain with the seal of the plunger to create a seal. Push up and down vigorously to force pressure into the drain. Unlike the chemical agents, this actually works best when there is water in the sink. The additional pressure from the water may help to clear the drain.

If plunging isn’t working, it’s time to snake. A drain snake, or zip-type clog remover, is a long, metal cable with a spring at the end. You can either snake it in from the sink drain or from an access point under the sink if the clog is that far down. You feed the line through the drain until it comes to the blockage and stops. From there, you twist the cord so that the spring end embeds itself into the clog. Then you pull it back and the clog should come with it. For the DIY method, a metal coat hanger can also be an efficient drain snake.

Plumbing Repairs for a Clogged Sink

If none of the methods above work, you’ll have to get your hands a little dirty and clean out the P-trap. The P-trap is the curved pipe under the sink. Drain all the water in the sink and make sure you have a bin underneath before you disconnect any piping. Dirty water will definitely pour out. Clogs are common in this tight area and can sometimes only be cleaned out directly. If problems still persist, don’t hesitate to call a plumber. Repairs can sometimes be more extensive than the average homeowner can handle on their own. It’s always best to have a professional check it out if you’re unsure of the problem.

A clogged sink is a common household problem, but as such, it can usually be fixed with common household products and methods. Don’t let a slow drain or standing water intimidate you. Try out these methods to run your tap with confidence.

When Is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?

When Is the Best Time to Buy Appliances?

Buying appliances can be a stressful endeavor. Not only do large appliances often come with large price tags, but it’s also a lengthy commitment you’re making. Most major appliances, with adequate maintenance and minor repairs, will last more than 10 years. Making the right purchase at the right time can help make those 10 years a joy instead of a hassle.

The Best Times to Buy Appliances

  1. September, October, and May
  2. Holidays
  3. End of the month
  4. Weekdays
  5. Off Season
  6. Online

Pricing trends suggest that there are better times than others to buy appliances. Ranging from price differences to options available, we’ve compiled the six best times to shop for appliances.

1. September, October, and May

The absolute best time to make most major purchases, be it a washer and dryer or a car, is right before they release the newest models. Stores and sales people will do what they can to clear out the old inventory and make room for the newer, shinier versions. Most major appliances, like dishwashers and trash compactors, are released in late fall to get ready for the holidays which means that September and October are prime times to sweep in and get the best deal on last year’s model. The one notable exception is for refrigerators. The best time to buy a refrigerator is in May. New models are released in the summer, so late spring will get you the best deals at stores and online.

2. Holidays

If you’re in the market for some new appliances, you don’t necessarily have to wait for Christmas. You’ve probably heard people say that the best time to buy a washer and dryer, dishwasher, or refrigerator is on Black Friday. They’re not wrong. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a holiday that’s basically one giant sale. If you’re looking to do some home improvement, You can really stock up on Black Friday. But it’s not just the Thanksgiving weekend that comes with good deals. Most appliance stores run great sales around every holiday. Memorial Day, Labor Day, President’s Day, and even Columbus Day can often mean great deals on large purchases. Celebrate the founding of our country with a brand new oven and range.

3. End of the Month

If you can’t wait until the fall and there isn’t a major holiday coming up soon, then the best time to buy appliances is at the end of the month. Most sales people work on commission and they have certain quotas to meet every month. If you go shopping for new appliances when they are desperate to meet those quotas, you may be able to negotiate a better deal. Not only can you get the sticker price lowered, but they’ll often throw in extras like an extended warranty or free repairs in order to make the sale.

4. Weekdays

While you’re planning to go in at the end of the month, make sure that you don’t go on a weekend. Saturdays and Sundays are often crazy in shopping centers and malls. With so many customers, employees won’t be able to give you the attention you deserve. That may scare off some potential buyers, but it could also lead to feeling rushed and making an unwise purchase without thinking about it or negotiating the price. If it’s not a holiday sale, your best bet is to go on a slow weekday and take your time.

5. Off Season

The best time to buy appliances is during the time of year you won’t use it. People don’t usually think about air conditioning units in January or outdoor grills in the winter time. Try to think ahead and buy out of season. Stores don’t want to waste precious floor space with large items that no one is using, so they are much more likely to strike a deal to take the out-of-season item out of their showroom. It may be a little inconvenient to store an air conditioning unit through the winter, but the money you save will be worth it.

6. Online

Cyber Monday is a new tradition to rival Black Friday and it has the same perks, with the added benefit of never having to leave your home. Online shopping is quickly becoming a more favorable method of purchasing in the US, and with good reason. You can instantly search and compare prices, read consumer reports, and find the best product at the best price without going to multiple stores. Most retailers will have online deals for holidays as well, so it’s worth checking online at all the same times as mentioned above. But if you need to make a purchase quickly, you can usually find the best deals by spending a little time online comparing and shopping around.

Tips for Buying Appliances

While there are ideal times to buy appliances, there are also a few general tips that will help you no matter when you make your purchase.

  1. Do your research
  2. Plan ahead
  3. Ask boldly for what you want

1. Do Your Research

The first is research. Before running to Best Buy and dropping a thousand dollars for a refrigerator, spend a little time researching them. Find the appliance that will work best for your home and your family. Read consumer reports, look at online feedback, and, if you can, see the appliance in person. Spending a little time looking into it beforehand can save you a monstrous disaster if you bring home the wrong thing.

2. Plan Ahead

Secondly, plan ahead. Most people like to use their appliances until they break. While that may sound economical, it often leads to overspending on repairs and energy costs. By all means, take care of your appliances. Keep up to date on maintenance and make any repairs you can. If you wait until your refrigerator dies to buy a new one, you may make a rushed purchase and likely even overpay. Figure out the lifespan of your appliance and plan to make a purchase before you absolutely need to. This will give you the flexibility to take advantage of sales and timing.

3. Ask Boldly for What You Want

Thirdly, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. It can seem uncomfortable to haggle in the store, but it never hurts to ask. Especially if you have followed the above advice, a sales rep is usually more interested in making some sale than no sale and will be willing to work with you. Ask for an added warranty, ask for free delivery and set up, ask for a discount. You may be surprised by what they’re able to offer.

Of course, buying appliances is no small thing: the money, the time, the commitment. But if you do your homework, plan ahead, and go shopping at the best time to buy appliances, you’ll walk away with the appliance of your dreams at a price just as nice.

Here’s What To Know About a Tankless Water Heater Installation

Here’s What To Know About a Tankless Water Heater Installation

If you’re thinking of updating your house to be more energy-efficient, whether to save money or save the environment, you should consider a tankless water heater installation. It is a wise investment that can save you time, space, and no small amount of cash. But before taking the plunge — especially if you’re considering a DIY tankless water heater — here are a few things you should know.

What is a Tankless Water Heater?

Classic water heaters are large tanks that heat water slowly and then store it, ready to use. Tankless units are just that: tankless. Instead of storing already heated water, they heat up water only as needed, either through an electric element or via a gas connection. Using their flow sensing devices, the tankless units are only in use when the hot water is turned on, turning off when they no longer need to be working.

Why Install One?

Perhaps the most obvious draw of a tankless water heater installation is the promise of unlimited hot water. Unlike typical water heaters, these units aren’t dependent on a certain tank size. Any time that the hot water is turned on, the system heats only the amount of water necessary, no more and no less. This also translates to a lower overall cost. With a traditional tank, homeowners are paying to heat water that they’re not using.

Tankless units are especially practical for the homeowner looking to save some real estate with their square footage. For smaller homes or those with limited storage, a tankless water heater could mean the difference between a half bath or a full. And, along with these other benefits, the tankless water heater is a better choice for the environment as well, with its energy efficiency and small physical footprint.

Tankless Water Heater Installation

Before ripping out your old unit and installing a brand new tankless water heater, there are some considerations to be taken. First and foremost: This is not a beginner’s project. A tankless water heater install requires a lot of tools, skills, and time to make sure it’s done properly and safely. Before deciding to do it yourself, shop around a little bit. Contact a local expert and get a quote. Sometimes it’s actually more cost-efficient to hire someone to do it for you than it is to buy the necessary equipment, learn the techniques, and take the time to install it yourself. The most successful homeownership is finding the balance between doing it yourself and knowing when to bring in outside help.

DIY Step By Step

If you’ve decided to take on the task yourself, here is a basic guide to installing your own tankless water heater:

  1. Disconnect and remove your old water heater. Besides turning off the water, you’ll need to turn off the gas and power before completely draining the tank of all water and removing it from the space.
  2. Chances are the new water heater will need a larger gas line than your traditional tank used. You will need to get the correct width and length in order for the line to reach from the water heater to the gas meter.
  3. Install new hot and cold water lines that will connect to your home’s existing water lines. You can use a copper pipe to run the new lines to the water heater. Once the lines are tied, make sure to securely fasten your pipe against the wall with bell hangers before soldering the pipes together.
  4. Make sure to mount your tankless water heater about four inches from the wall. You can use 2X4’s to build a mount to hang the heater on. Ensure that the location is somewhere that ventilation won’t be a problem.
  5. Once securely in place, connect the water heater to your gas line. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully in regards to the plumbing and piping of the equipment. Fasten securely and then check for any leaks.
  6. Make sure that the tankless unit is close to a good ventilation spot, and then install the vent. If an exhaust hole isn’t already there, make sure to check for wiring before cutting into your walls.
  7. Turn her on! Once everything is set up, try it out and make sure everything is running smoothly. Check for leaks and make sure the water runs hot.
  8. Insulate the piping and wires, replace any shingles or drywall that needs patching, and stand back to admire your handy work.

Tankless water heaters can be an expensive and time-consuming investment, especially if you install it yourself. But the long term benefits of this new water heater, including financial savings, space savings, and environmental savings, should make it a strong consideration when the time comes to replace your current tank.

Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping?

Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping?

Do you ever find yourself using a hair dryer, watching a show, or warming up by a space heater just to be met with a localized blackout? When your breaker keeps tripping, it can be annoying and sometimes impossible to complete your daily routine. If your breaker keeps tripping, read on to know what it means, what’s causing it, and how to fix the problem for good.

Why do Breakers Trip?

The first thing to know is that a breaker tripping means that you’re being kept safe. The purpose of a circuit breaker is to help control and regulate the electrical flow in your home. If there is a chance of overheating, the breaker will trip, essentially stopping all of the power flow through that circuit. This helps to prevent blown fuses, damage to your wiring, or even potentially dangerous fires. So while it is certainly annoying to deal with, it’s also a relief to know that you’re being kept safe.

What Causes a Breaker to Trip?

Even with that being said, if your breaker keeps tripping it’s signaling that something is wrong with your electrical set up. There can be a number of reasons that prompt immediate action from your breakers to shut off and keep you safe. Some are quick fixes that involve adjusting your behavior or habits from within the house while others involve more extensive maintenance and electric work done by professionals. If you can’t confidently pinpoint why your breaker keeps tripping, always err on the side of caution. Call an electrician to evaluate the situation for you.

While it is definitely safest to consult an expert, there are some pretty common triggers for these annoying blackouts and being able to identify what’s causing the problem can aid in a quick (and hopefully inexpensive) fix.

Common Reasons that Breakers Trip

The electrical set up of any home can be complicated, especially for those without any formal training. But there are three very common causes that may explain why your breaker keeps tripping.

1) Overloaded circuit

Meaning: The most common culprit and, thankfully, the easiest to remedy, is simply having an overloaded circuit. This means that there are too many devices running too much power through the same circuit. This often happens when a hair dryer, which uses a relatively large number of amps to run, is plugged into the same circuit that other large appliances are using. Air conditioners, refrigerators, televisions, vacuums, and space heaters are common culprits.

Fix: The easiest solution is to turn off and unplug the item that is using too much power. If you have to dry your hair, turn off the heater. If the air conditioner needs to be blasting, dry your hair in another room that’s not on the same circuit. Time your day so that multiple appliances aren’t being used at the same time. An overloaded circuit could also be caused by an appliance that is overheating or working too hard due to a fault — like an air conditioner working overtime in the middle of August. Check the integrity of larger appliances to make sure that they’re working at their most efficient before plugging them back in.

2) Short Circuit

Meaning: A less likely but more dangerous explanation for a tripped breaker is a short circuit. Unlike an overloaded circuit which can be remedied by unloading some of the power running through that line, a short circuit is a wiring mishap. It happens when one of the hot wires touches a neutral wire in the outlet. This creates a huge surge of energy that flows through the circuit, overheating it, and causing the breaker to trip. It can be caused by old wiring, a broken appliance or plug, or animals chewing on the wiring.

Fix: First, you’ll need to find where the short circuit is. Identify which plugs have been affected and look for a dark discoloration around the outlet or even smell for smoke or burning. Even though the breaker is tripped, it is still dangerous to mess with faulty wires, so make sure to consult a professional electrician to help you rewire the outlet.

3) Ground Fault

Meaning: The third most-common cause of a tripped breaker is a ground fault. Instead of the hot wire touching a neutral wire like a short circuit, in a ground fault, the hot wire touches the bare copper of a ground wire or part of the box connected to it. This happens when the electrical equipment is faulty and prone to unexpected and uncontrolled contact.

Fix: Like a short circuit, a professional should definitely be contacted. A ground fault is very dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that many areas have strict requirements to keep homes safe when it comes to the grounding of certain circuits and outlets. If your outlets look normal and there is no overloading, contact an electrician to look for a possible ground fault.

A tripped breaker can be annoying and potentially dangerous. Before running straight to the breaker panel and flipping that breaker back to “on,” make sure that you discover the cause of the power overload and consult a professional if necessary. After all, electricity can be tricky, and safety should always be your number-one priority.

Here’s What You Should Do When You Have A Flooded Basement

Here’s What You Should Do When You Have A Flooded Basement

A flooded basement is a real concern for many homeowners. Descending your cellar stairs to find an indoor swimming pool can lead to worries of water damage, mold, and ruined personal belongings. And standing water is a breeding ground for some pretty nasty bacterias and fungi. It’s not necessarily a lost cause, though.

Immediate Action

The first step to take when you notice a flooded basement is to turn off the electricity that may be affected by the water. You and your family’s safety is the number-one priority. Next, determine where the water is coming from. If it’s a broken pipe from faulty plumbing, shut off the water. If it’s from a storm, wait until the storm is over to attempt any kind of cleanup.

Once you’ve stopped the water (or Mother Nature has), get rid of that standing water. Some foundations have a drain built in to help minimize damage during a basement flooding. If your basement has one but there is still water, check to make sure it’s not clogged by debris. This is a quick and efficient way to rid the area of unwanted water. If there is no drain, then the water needs to be pumped out. A sump pump or pool pump can help to get the water out. You may have a sump pump already installed or could get one from a local hardware store. If it’s a relatively small area with a manageable amount of water, a wet/dry vacuum or simple mop could be sufficient. No matter what method you use, make sure to wear waders, gloves, and face masks to keep yourself safe. Once the water is more or less gone, it’s time to take inventory, asses any water damage, and establish the next best step.

Save Your Belongings

Because many people use their basement for storage, a flood can jeopardize the integrity of a lot of personal belongings. Once the water is gone, quickly remove everything from the wet area and place it all in a preferably sunny, warm, and dry environment. Books, clothing, and pictures can be placed on blankets in front and backyards. Generally, a solid 48 hours in the sun is best when drying out smaller items. If the flood has affected anything electronic, like a television or stereo, do not move those outside. For safety reasons, allow them to dry completely in place before attempting to move or asses damage.

Cleanup

Once you’ve cleared the flooded basement of water and personal belongings, it’s time to clean it up. If your basement is carpeted, rip up any area that was affected. Carpet can trap in water and create harmful mold if left untouched for too long. Remove any drywall or insulation that was underwater as these can also become infected with harmful bacteria and mold. Air circulation is the best way to dry out the space. Open any windows you can, use fans to get the air moving, and use a dehumidifier to help get rid of any excess moisture. A flooded basement will usually bring a lot of dirt, mud, and grime with it. Once the water is out, make sure to clean the floor and the walls thoroughly so that restoration is clean and safe.

Damage Restoration

The water is out, your belongings are dry, and the damaged flooring, walls, and insulation have been removed. Now comes the most daunting part: damage restoration. Before paying for expensive repairs or putting in a lot of work yourself, make sure the problem is fixed. Consult your insurance company and let them know what’s happened (A simple “my basement is flooded” may be the best way to start that conversation). If you have flood insurance they will be able to help with any costly repairs, but even if you don’t, it’s good to touch base to see exactly what kind of help you can expect. Finally, fix any broken plumbing issues, or contact a waterproofing specialist to ensure that your basement is fully waterproof in preparation for the next incident.

Home ownership is a challenge, but a rewarding one. Preparing for the storms is just as important as knowing how to clean up after them. Don’t let a flooded basement scare you away from buying a house. With these tips you’ll be able to handle anything thrown at you.