How to Handle Frozen Pipes and Avoid Them Altogether

How to Handle Frozen Pipes and Avoid Them Altogether

As annoying as it is to have frozen pipes, bursting a pipe or starting a fire (the effects of thawing gone wrong) are even worse. Before you pull out the blow torch and get to work on your pipes, check out how to thaw frozen pipes safely and efficiently. And to be clear, please do not use a blow torch.

How to Locate Frozen Pipes

At Risk Pipes

  • Outdoor pipes like sprinkler lines, hose bibs, pool lines, etc. are at risk. You might not notice if these pipes are frozen because you might not be using your hose, sprinklers, or pool during the winter. But, those pipes can still burst and cause damage.
  • Pipes in remote areas of your home (attic, basement, garage) are at risk because there’s less indoor heating directed toward these areas.
  • Pipes up against an outdoor wall are closer to the cold and have higher risk.

Finding the Pipe

  • Turn on the different water sources in your home. If any are running at just a trickle, there’s a chance that a pipe is frozen.
  • Frozen pipes often come in pairs or groups. If there’s one frozen pipe, odds are it isn’t the only one.
  • Depending on the location of the pipe, you might be able to see that it’s frozen. Besides ice on the outside of the pipe, a frozen pipe can also swell. Look for expanded pipes.

Get Started

  • Turn on the hot and cold water for the faucet that uses the frozen pipe. This will lower the pressure in the pipe. Leave the faucet on while thawing the frozen pipe to keep the pipe’s pressure in a safe place.
  • Start the thawing process close to the faucet. If you start thawing in the middle of the pipe, the pressure might burst the pipe.

How to Thaw Pipes

Thaw Accessible Pipes

Here are some tried and true options for thawing when you can reach the pipe.  Whichever heat source(s) you end up using, keep applying the heat until water again is flowing out the faucet at its usual speed and strength.

  1. A blow dryer is typically the simplest option. It’s easy to direct the heat right where you want it. Remember to start close to the faucet and work your way toward the frozen area. Keep the blow dryer from falling into a puddle of water or anything else that could violate the blow dryer’s safety precautions.
  2. Space heaters are another efficient way to thaw a pipe. Make sure to follow the device’s safety protocol, particularly keeping it away from water. Try to get the heater close enough to the frozen area to be effective, but not so close that it will get wet.
  3. Heat lamps work similarly to the space heater. Again, it’s best to check on the device’s safety instructions.
  4. Hot towels are a safe way to start. Put towels into hot water and drape them around the frozen pipe. This is a slower and more cautious technique.
  5. Heat tape or heating cables are slightly fancier options. The heat tape sticks on the pipe to warm it up. Whereas, heating cables wrap around the pipe. Cables are also a great long-term solution for preventing your freezing pipes.

Thaw Hidden Pipes

Here are some tips for those out-of-reach pipes.

  1. Turn the heat on. Turning your thermostat up a few notches can do the trick when the situation isn’t too dire.
  2. If you know where a pipe is, but can’t reach it because of a wall, an infrared lamp can help. This isn’t the most full-proof plan for a few reasons. But, it’s worth a shot before moving on to more drastic measures.
  3. For the brave homeowner, you could cut out a section of your wall. This would allow you to use the techniques mentioned earlier. But, calling a plumber might be the wiser decision at this point.

When It Goes Wrong

Here’s what to do if your pipe bursts or you can’t reach your pipe.

  • If you find yourself with a burst pipe, act quickly. Start by turning off the main water line. The main line is typically found by your home’s water meter.
  • Contact a professional plumber if a pipe bursts, if the pipe isn’t accessible, or if you just feel safer in trained hands.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

It’s much simpler to learn how to prevent freezing pipes than it is to learn how to unfreeze pipes. Plus, homeowner’s insurance differs on the cost of damage caused by frozen pipes. Typically, there isn’t any damage until the pipe actually bursts. Insurance may cover the water damage from a burst pipe, but only if sufficient preventive measures were taken by the owner. Here are 10 ways to prevent frozen pipes.

  1. Keep the heat on in your home to keep pipes’ temperatures regulated. You should leave the heat on to at least 55° F if you’re leaving on winter vacation.
  2. Allow the heated air to circulate closer to pipes by leaving doors to rooms, closets, and hallways open. You can also open the cabinets beneath your kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  3. Keep your garage door closed.
  4. Keep your faucets dripping. You only need to do this in extremely low temperatures. The slight movement of the water helps keep the pressure low and the water from freezing.
  5. Take care of holes and cracks in your home to keep the temperatures from dropping.
  6. Add insulation to the remote areas of your home (attic, basement, garage).
  7. Shut off your hose bib and turn on the hose faucet to release water still inside the pipes. Leave the faucet turned to open to keep pressure from building.  
  8. Drain your pool and sprinkler lines.
  9. In general, try to avoid antifreeze unless a professional directs you to use it. It isn’t ideal for the environment, and can hurt your property and pets.
  10. As mentioned earlier, heating cables can be purchased and wound around a pipe to prevent the pipe’s temperature from dropping too low.
What Are the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners?

What Are the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners?

Caring for Your Hardwood Floors

Keeping your house clean can seem like fighting an endless battle. Laundry is never finished, dishes pile up, and no matter how often you sweep, there always seems to be dust or dirt gathering somewhere. In fact, keeping your floors clean is often the hardest chore of all. Thanks to gravity and frequent usage, floors seem to get the brunt of spills, dirt, and mud. Carpets can be vacuumed and stains cleaned, but what about your hardwood floors? How can you clean them, keep them clean, and protect them from damage? We’ve collected data from around the web to compile a list of the best hardwood floor cleaners. Whether you’re working with mops or brooms, spray or steam, hardwood or laminate flooring, you’ll be able to clean your floors with confidence using one of these products.

What Are the Best Hardwood Floor Cleaners?

There are a lot of wood floor cleaners on the market. It can be overwhelming to try and choose the one that’s best for your home. We’ve narrowed it down for you and present you with our list of the best hardwood floor cleaners to give you an idea of what to buy next time your floors need a spruce.

1. Bona Hardwood Floor Cleaner Spray

This water-based spray is popular for a reason— it works! But aside from cleaning your hardwood and laminate floors, it’s a simple spray-and-mop process, no rinsing necessary. Users love the ease of this product as well as the results. It’s perfectly safe for use in homes with pets and children, no matter how much time they spend on the floor. The company has over 100 years of experience in the wood floor refinishing business and that experience shows in their product.

2. Pledge FloorCare Wood Squirt & Mop

Pledge is a household name and the nostalgic smell alone may be enough to sell some customers on this product. In addition to the familiar lemon scent, Pledge FloorCare Wood & Squirt is routinely cited as the best hardwood floor cleaner for larger areas and fast cleans. Instead of a diluted spray or mop and bucket, you squirt the solution straight onto the floor and mop up the grime. It also doubles as an easy and safe cleaner for wood furniture or paneling.

3. Bruce Hardwood and Laminate Floor Cleaner

Like the two wood floor cleaners above, Bruce’s cleaner doesn’t require mop water. Just spray directly onto the floor and mop it up. Customers love not only the ease with which the product gets up smudges, scuffs, and grime, but the shine it leaves afterwards. It is safe to use on hardwood and laminate floors, but avoid it for wax-sealed flooring as it may eat away at the wax. Customers also liked the price tag, citing it as the best bargain hardwood floor cleaner.

4. Swiffer Wet Jet Mop

Customers agree that the best part about the Swiffer Wet Jet Mop is the sanitation. With the removable and disposable pads, you don’t have to clean and store a traditional mop that is sure to harbor all sorts of gross things. The electric dispenser sprays the solution for you, making it very easy to work with. The Swiffer Wet Jet solution is a solid option for a hardwood floor cleaner as well, as it is not streaky and doesn’t take too many passes with the mop to get scuffs and dirt off the floor. You can DIY your own microfiber pads that are reusable and machine washable, and you can even use other hardwood floor cleaners with the mop for specific needs, like the next product on our list.

5. Zep Commercial Hardwood and Laminate

The word “commercial” may scare off the casual consumer, but it doesn’t need to. All it means is that this product is heavy duty and ready to tackle anything your hardwood or laminate flooring, cabinets, or crown molding can throw at it. It’s a simple spray and mop as well, but a bit tougher than some other products so it’s not recommended for oil-finish or wax-finish floors.

6. Method Hardwood Floor Cleaner

If you’re worried about your environmental footprint as well as your dirty one, then the all natural, plant-based, biodegradable hardwood floor cleaner from Method is for you. The bottle is even made from completely recycled material. Customers like it for the environmental impact, or lack thereof, and the leftover residue, or lack thereof. The almond scent adds a nice touch to your natural and safe wood floor cleaner.

7. Murphy Oil Soap Liquid Wood Cleaner

This last recommendation is for more than just your hardwood floors. This is routinely ranked by customers as the best all-purpose cleaner. Not only is it a hardwood floor cleaner, it’s a laminate floor cleaner, a tile cleaner, a linoleum cleaner, and a furniture cleaner all wrapped up in one. It’s not our top recommendation for wood floor cleaners because some users said there could be a slight oily residue left after, but if you’re looking to save space and money by getting a product that can do more, this is your best option.

Caring for Your Hardwood Floors Can Be Simple

Hardwood floors, whether real wood or laminate, can bring a timeless and classic look to your home. Keeping them clean can bring anxiety and annoyance. Hopefully this list of recommended wood floor cleaners will give you an idea on where to start when it comes to cleaning and caring for your home’s beautiful hardwood floors.

How to Replace a Toilet

How to Replace a Toilet

Before You Start Replacing Your Toilet

Before learning how to replace a toilet, make sure that the new toilet you buy is the right size. Measuring your old toilet is a good place to start.

Buy the Right Size Toilet

  1. Start with the rough in measurement. This is the distance from the wall (not the molding) to the closet bolts. Typical rough in measurements are 10, 12, or 14 inches. 12 inches is the most common.
  2. If there are doors or other elements of your bathroom that you don’t want to collide with the toilet or with the person using the toilet, measure how large the toilet bowl should be. When purchasing a new toilet, you’ll notice that elongated bowls are known for their comfort. But, make sure to check that your bathroom fits an elongated bowl.
  3. Use your measurements to find the right toilet.

Gather the Right Tools and Supplies

  • Wax ring
  • Brass bolts. Check that they’re really brass because some bolts only look the part.
  • Stainless steel screws
  • Extra nuts and washers
  • Stainless steel repair ring
  • Adjustable wrench or channellock pliers
  • Towels  
  • Optional Supplies
    • Masking tape
    • Penetrating oil
    • Water solidifier
    • Large screwdriver
    • Hacksaw blade

How to Remove an Old Toilet

Before learning how to install a toilet, you’ll first need to learn how to remove the old toilet. If you don’t have a toilet to remove, skip down to the section about installing a toilet.

1. Get Rid of the Water in the Tank Immediately

  1. Turn off water supply to the toilet.
  2. Flush the toilet to get water out of the tank and bowl.
  3. Remove the water that wouldn’t flush out. Do this for water in the bowl and the tank. A towel or sponge can do the trick pretty well. You can also use a water solidifier for the water in the bowl.

2. Disconnect the Tank from the Bowl

  1. Disconnect the water supply line from the tank. An adjustable wrench or channellock pliers can be effective here.
  2. Remove the nuts from the screws that are connecting the tank to the base.
  3. Be cautious when removing the nuts. If they’re stuck tight, you could break the tank by putting too much pressure on them. Try applying penetrating oil to loosen them up. You might also use a large screwdriver to hold the bolt from the inside of the tank while loosening the nuts.
  4. Pick up the tank and remove it. The tank can be heavy, and in some cases it might crack. You might want another set of hands and a pair of gloves for each of you.

3. Remove the Bowl From the Floor

  1. If you haven’t already, remove any remaining water from the bowl.
  2. Take off the closet bolt coverings.
  3. Use an adjustable wrench to unscrew the nuts of the closet bolts.
  4. Occasionally, the nuts and bolts connecting the bowl to the floor decide not to budge. To avoid straining the bolts too much and cracking the toilet, use a hacksaw blade to cut the bolts.
  5. Once you’ve tackled the bolts, loosen the bowl by rocking it. This will break the wax seal with the floor and closet flange.
  6. Pull the bowl off the ground. It’s going to need to get a few inches off the ground in order to clear the bolts.
  7. This process might leak some water. Be prepared with towels.

4. Remove the Old Wax Ring

  1. You’ll now see the closet flange in your floor. Take a paper towel and stuff it into the open space (don’t forget to take this out right before installing the new toilet). Now nuts and bolts won’t disappear down the hole.  
  2. The flange is the star player in the toilet game. If it isn’t tight, the toilet will rock. The more the toilet can move, the more the wax ring will warp. This usually ends in leaks. To avoid that, remove all traces of the old wax ring (try using a putty knife). Then, check on the condition of the closet flange.
  3. If you find an imperfect plastic flange, buy a stainless steel repair ring. This can be installed right over the plastic flange. Be aware that it will add some height to the flange. It’s best to check that the toilet will still fit over the plastic flange, the repair ring, and the wax ring before installing everything.

How to Install a Toilet

This is the hardest part of replacing a toilet. It involves setting the wax ring. Once the ring is in place, it can’t be removed and reused. Here are some tips to placing the bowl in the right place the first time.

1. Install New Bowl

  1. If the old closet bolts aren’t in good shape, replace them. Stainless steel screws do the best job here. The bolts have a tendency to wiggle around when you try to put the toilet over them. To make life easier, use the extra nuts and washers to stabilize the bolts.
  2. Put masking tape on the floor by the bolts. This helps you know where to set the bowl down when you’re struggling to see over the heavy toilet bowl you’ll be carrying.
  3. To avoid putting the toilet in the wrong place, arrange the bolts and set the bowl over them as if you were securing it for good. But, don’t actually use the wax seal yet! This way you can make sure that everything is in the right place and make adjustments if necessary.
  4. After you’ve done this test run, place the new toilet upside down.
  5. Run the wax seal under warm water, and then place it on the bottom of the toilet.
  6. Take the paper towel out of the pipe.
  7. Align the seal with the closet flange and bolts. Then, set the bowl down on the ground.
  8. Gently rock the bowl back and forth to secure it. It might help to put a knee on the lid and push with your body weight as you rock it. Eventually, the bottom of the bowl will be level with the ground.
  9. Add a cap base, washer, and nut to each of the bolts that secure the toilet to the ground. Don’t tighten them too much! It could break the bowl. Tighten back and forth between the bolts on each side of the toilet to make sure that both sides are even.
  10. Replace the caps that cover the bolts. The covering prevents rust by keeping liquid off the bolts. If the bolts are too high for the caps to fit, use the hacksaw to cut off the top.

2. Install New Tank

  1. Flip the new tank upside down. Slide a bolt to into each side of the base.
  2. Place the rubber gasket on the toilet base.
  3. Put the new tank on the bowl.
  4. Attach the tank to the bowl using brass bolts.. Alternating, hand tighten the screws from beneath. Add the nuts.  Careful of tightening too much and cracking the toilet.
  5. Reconnect the water supply tube to the overflow pipe.
  6. Attach water supply to the connection beneath the tank
  7. Turn on the water supply–slowly.
  8. Test the toilet. Check for leaks. If it is leaking, try tightening the bolts securing the tank to the bowl or the bolts securing the bowl to the ground.
How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use?

How Much Water Does a Dishwasher Use?

Energy efficient appliances have been on the rise in the last decade or so, and for good reason. Dishwasher use can dramatically increase your utility bill and negatively impact the environment. With many brands claiming to use less water and some sources claiming that washing dishes by hand is more eco-friendly and less wasteful, where is the truth? Just how much water does a dishwasher use per cycle?

How many gallons of water does a dishwasher use?

Energy Star-rated dishwashers use an average of four gallons per cycle. Any other average dishwasher uses a bit more: six gallons per cycle. In some cases, an Energy Star certified washer could use three gallons per cycle. That is half the amount of water a dishwasher uses in an average brand appliance. If you are looking to be efficient, you might want to find yourself an Energy Star certified dishwasher to cut back on how much water you are using per cycle.

Is Hand Washing Dishes Efficient?

It depends. You would need to take into account the amount of water you are using, the faucet you have in your sink, and the number of dishes you are washing by hand. Then, you would need to compare that amount to how many dishes you would have in your dishwasher. If you’re washing your dishes by hand and then placing them in the dishwasher for another wash, it’s not the best idea. This method is likely the worst option if you are looking for energy efficiency.

The Water Heater and Hand Washing Dishes

If you are washing dishes by hand, you’re likely heating the water to warm it up a bit. You need to take this into account, as well, when considering how eco-friendly and energy efficient the hand washing technique is compared to using the dishwasher. It can be more efficient if the water is not boiling hot when you are washing and rinsing, but you do need to be mindful of how many dishes you are washing and avoid letting the faucet run freely without any dishes being actively cleaned. Running the water too long could result in your water heater having to do too much work. This can up your utility bill.

How can the dishwasher increase its energy efficiency?

There are a few things you can be careful about to ensure your dishwasher is more energy efficient, whether it’s Energy Star or an uncertified brand. First off, only run the dishwasher if you have a full load in the dishwasher. You can also turn off the ‘heated dry’ option if it’s on your appliance. Even though the dishwasher is using heated water, by turning off the heat at the end of the cycle, you’re being more energy efficient.

How much water does a dishwasher use over time?

Dishwashers are great. They save on time, as hand washing can be quite a process, especially after a messy meal. The average dishwasher, though, uses several gallons of water to clean the dishes. You are likely using your dishwasher a few times per week. Depending on the amount of people in your household, the amount of monthly gallons of water used by your dishwasher will vary.

If you are using your dishwasher every day and it’s Energy Star certified, you’re using around 120 gallons of water per month. If your dishwasher is not Energy Star certified, then you’re using around 180 gallons of water per month. If you cut that in half, so you are only using your dishwasher every other day or so, you would use somewhere around 60-90 gallons per month. Washing dishes less might be easier if you live alone or with fewer people, but families or people with roommates might have trouble lowering their dishwasher usage.

The Environmental Footprint of Your Dishwasher

In comparison, the food you eat requires much more water than a dishwasher cycle. If you’re looking to cut back on your environmental footprint, perhaps start there. The production of a pound of beef requires 2,400 gallons of water. 32 gallons of water are needed to produce a single glass of wine. 19 gallons are required for just one apple. The dishwasher uses a good amount of water, though is it too much in the big picture? That depends on other lifestyle and household choices you’re making.

If you’re looking to cut back on your utility bill, perhaps decrease showering time and turn the faucet off while brushing your teeth. Not only will that save you some cash, but it is helpful to the environment, as well.

How much water does a dishwasher use?

To answer the question “how much water does a dishwasher use?” is complicated, as there are many factors. To cut back, ensure the appliance is full, heated dry is turned off, and perhaps cut back on hand washing before dish washing if that’s part of your dish washing routine. If you have not already done so, and can manage it, Energy Star certified appliances will also be of benefit in your dishwashing and household chores.

What’s the Average Garage Door Replacement Cost?

What’s the Average Garage Door Replacement Cost?

Homeowners have a fair number of options when it comes to garage door replacement. Some of the questions that come to mind in the initial stages of pricing out the garage door replacement cost might be: How much does it cost to replace the average garage door? How much of your time will the installation demand? Would your best bet be hiring a professional?

Garage Door Installation Cost

On average, it should cost a homeowner a minimum of about $500 and a maximum of $2,500 for a single new garage door. The factors that go into the pricing of a new garage door include the cost of removing the old garage door and installing new parts, as well as the overall materials and the potential of paying a professional. A homeowner’s location will also need to be considered as the type of house and if it’s a single-car or two-car garage will impact the replacement cost.

Garage Door Prices and Installation

If a homeowner is looking to replace their garage entirely and build a new garage, then the costs are higher, moving towards the maximum cost ($2,500). This would especially be true if they are planning on hiring professionals or taking on some extra assistance from a friendly neighbor willing to help in the installation of the new garage.

DIY Method for Garage Door Replacement

Most likely, homeowners will need to find a second set of hands for this job, if not more. Not only will it save on time, especially if neither person has ever installed a new garage door, but it will make the process a bit more manageable and safer all around. Plenty of YouTube videos offer a guide through the steps of installing a new garage door, and some claim that the installation is easy. Homeowners should be aware, though, that it is a big time commitment.

It could take upwards of eight hours, and that’s without considering added time for hands-on learning and the possibility of minor mistakes. If a homeowner can find another set of hands to assist in handling the wood panels, aligning the tracks, and perhaps someone who knows their way around more advanced home improvement tasks, then a DIY method might work.

If minimal repairs are needed, and not an entirely new garage, then a homeowner is more likely to be able to handle the fix and repair job on their own.

Garage Door Replacement Professionals

If a homeowner is looking to hire a contractor to install their new garage, it’s a bit pricier. The most expensive option would be a solid wood model for a new garage that is upwards of $2,500. By hiring a contractor, a homeowner will have more options than they might were they to tackle the installation themselves. Though it is more expensive, there is the choice to use wood, or steel, and then have the option for a decorative door and added stability.

The Added Costs of a New Garage

Beyond the new garage door itself, a garage door opener is often needed. These range from $150 to $300. Homeowners might also consider the costs of adding interior or exterior lighting to the garage if needed, as well as an entry door so as to give the homeowner more than one exit option. The price range for lighting fixtures varies depending on the electrician. An added side-door would cost between $200 and $1000 each.

There are two routes here when deciding on how best to install a new garage. A homeowner can either hire a contractor and find a decent price working with them, or the DIY method could save on costs, though it is more time demanding. Garage door prices and installation vary depending on specific needs and repairs, so there is a lot to take into account when pricing out the new garage door installation cost.