How Does a Trash Compactor Work?

How Does a Trash Compactor Work?

Are you tired of taking out the trash on a daily basis? Do you want to reduce the amount of garbage in landfills? Interested in making recycling easier? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to consider investing in a trash compactor.

What is a Trash Compactor?

Now, if you’ve watched Star Wars, your frame of reference for trash compactors may be something huge, disgusting and dangerous. Lucky for you, however, the modern rendition of a trash compactor is both small and safe! 

In fact, these stand-alone machines fit easily into a kitchen. At around 15 inches wide, 34 inches tall and roughly 24 inches deep, the average kitchen trash compactor can stand easily in a corner or alongside kitchen islands (providing additional counter space), or even fit into some cabinets. Basically, it takes up about as much space as a large drawer. Trash compactors use a lot of power, though, so be sure that your compactor has direct access to an outlet.

What Does a Trash Compactor Do?

Not surprisingly, trash compactors compact trash. Trash compactors can be used to compact some recyclable materials as well (glass is not recommended), but really, compacting things is its only job. The appliance is very straightforward; you fill it up (some models recommend filling only about halfway), close the door, press start, and wait. In under a minute, your items will be compacted into a small, much more manageable “cube.”

You continue compacting trash until the bag is full. Your garbage will weigh roughly 30 pounds, depending on what you compacted, but it will be easy enough to remove from the appliance. And you’ll be removing it much less often – around once a week depending on how much waste you produce – which is a real perk!

How Does a Trash Compactor Work?

A trash compactor is very simple: It’s made up of a bin, a start button, a key (more on this in a minute) and, the piece de resistance, a metal battering ram. Now, you’ll want to be careful when loading this machine; don’t try to shove items in using your hands and feet. Doing so could damage the compactor, or worse, result in injuries to your body.

Check to make sure everything is loaded properly before turning on the compactor. Thankfully, to avoid crushed limbs or broken machinery, many compactors come equipped with safety features. For instance, some machines require a key to turn the appliance on. Others have some sort of sign, like beeping or a light, to let you know if something is wrong.

You will need to invest in special bags for a trash compactor, but this is usually a small price to pay for having to deal with less trash.

What About the Smell?

One of the most common questions when it comes to trash compactors is whether or not they smell bad. The short answer: It depends.

Some trash compactors come equipped with filters to reduce smell. If your machine doesn’t offer this option, or you find that it doesn’t work, there are other options. For instance, try laying a sheet of newspaper over your trash, which keeps the garbage from touching the metal crushing plate. Another solution is to simply avoid crushing food products in your compactor altogether, as these are the kinds of items that produce bad odors that can cling to the compactor.

How Much Will This Cost Me?

Again, it depends. On the cheap end, this appliance will set you back around $600, but if you shoot for a more expensive version – meaning it’s more powerful, smaller and/or includes a scent filter – it can run upwards of $1,400. If you opt for filters, that will be an additional cost, and the bags are more expensive than your average trash bags, though you’ll run through them much slower! 

That said, you’ll be saving money on additional trash removal and if you compact recycling, you might even be able to sell the compacted recyclables for a small profit (depending on where you live). 

Investing in a trash compactor will allow you to decrease how much space your trash will take up in a landfill, as well as the amount of time you have to spend lugging the trash out to the bin. With trash compactors being safer and easier to use than ever before, it might be worth considering one for your kitchen!


What Is an Induction Cooktop?

What Is an Induction Cooktop?

With its sleek glass surface and powerful heating technology, the induction cooktop seems like it’s been taken straight out of a sci-fi movie. And there’s a reason the induction range is becoming more common commercially: It can save you time and money in the long run. So if you’re considering an induction cooktop for your next kitchen remodel, here’s what you should know.

How Does it Work?

Say you’re trying to cook scrambled eggs. In order to get the pan hot, your ordinary gas or electric stoves depends on thermal conduction, which heats not just the pan, but the surrounding area. Induction cooktops, on the other hand, rely on an electromagnetic field. Electric currents run through coils of wires beneath the surface, creating a magnetic current that directly heats the bottom of the pan. Without having to put energy into heating the area surrounding the pan, induction stoves heat things much faster than their gas or electric equivalents. And if you’re wondering, an induction oven heats just as well as anything attached to a gas or electric range. 

Advantages

Now, induction stovetops offer more than just more efficient cooking. By only heating the pot, these cooktops make safer kitchen spaces, easier clean up, and cheaper utilities bills. Induction stoves intuitively only heat the area beneath the pot, keeping errant hands (or paws, if you’ve got overly curious pets) safe from burns. And when the surrounding area is cool, it also means spills can’t cook onto the surface, so you can kiss scraping those frustrating messes goodbye! Finally, not only will you be paying less for the electricity necessary to power your stove, you’ll also pay less in A/C bills in the summer because cooking will no longer heat up the entire kitchen. Pretty cool, huh?

Drawbacks

Of course, there is one big set-back with induction stoves: because they rely on electromagnetic currents, not all pots and pans are compatible with the cooktop. If you didn’t realize pots could be incompatible with kitchens, there’s a good way to check if your cookware would make the cut. Take a magnet and test it on the bottom of your pan: If it sticks, you’re in business for an induction cooktop. If not, the stove isn’t the only thing you’ll be replacing during your remodel.

As a rule of thumb, ceramic or glass cookware will not work on an induction cooktop. You’ll want to keep an eye out for ferrous metal pans, like steel or cast iron, or just make sure you get cookware labeled “induction-compatible.”

It’s also important to note that many consumers have reported a buzzing or humming sound when cooking at high temperatures. Not everyone notices, or cares, but it’s something to keep in mind when deciding on a new cooktop.

Time to Go Induction?

While induction cooktops are more expensive than their gas or electric counterparts, their efficient heating will ensure savings in the long run. If you’re planning to remodel your kitchen, it’s worth considering an induction cooktop and oven for your new cooking space.

Park It: Turn Your Garage into a Man Cave

Park It: Turn Your Garage into a Man Cave

Why should your car be the one to get a private room? If you’re looking for a space to call your own, a garage is just a man cave waiting to happen. Depending on how comfortable you want this room to be, transforming your garage into a man cave might not be easy or cheap, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Our man cave ideas will help you create the ultimate garage refuge. 

Before You Start

Chances are, your garage isn’t totally empty at the moment. Maybe you’re lucky and the only work you’ll need to do is to back your car out. But if you’re like most men, your garage is filled with anything from tools to camping gear to outdoor equipment. In order to make this space your own, you can’t be sidestepping a lawn mower every time you want to grab a drink. To make room, the first thing you’ll want to do is figure out what stays and what goes. A yard sale is a perfect way to help fund the creation of this man cave and clear space at the same time. Next, try to organize gear elsewhere. Basements, sheds, or even closets could provide great storage. Once you’ve cleared your garage, it’s time to get started!

Insulation

If you’re planning on using this man cave year-round, insulation is a must. Seriously, if your room is freezing cold or scorching hot, you won’t want to spend time there, much less invite guests! To do this on the cheap, check online or in your area for people trying to dispose of drywall, offer to do the work and collect your insulation free of charge. Otherwise, foot the bill yourself. It might hurt now, but when you’re toasty warm in December, it’ll be worth it.

Floor

Speaking of weathering the elements, a concrete floor isn’t the most comfortable thing, especially in the dead of winter. Luckily, there are plenty of options out there to save your feet and fit your budget. For instance, you can make due with a few rugs or leftover carpet squares. There’s also the option of using grass rugs, which are cheaper and easier to clean. If you’re looking to cover the entire floor, however, one affordable solution is rubber flooring tiles, which are both cheap and easy to install. That said, if you want your man cave to retain the comforts of home, it’s worth considering springing for wood flooring or carpet.

Walls

Once your insulation is done, you’ll want to use this time to plan for any electrical outlets before setting up your drywall. Keep in mind everything you’ll want to add later: Will there be a fridge? A place to watch sports? An air hockey table? Whatever activities you plan on using your man cave for, now is the time to prepare for accommodations. Once you’ve set your electrical outlets and finished your drywall, you’ll want to tackle decor. Consider a fresh coat of paint — ideally a light color to avoid making the space feel dark and cramped — to spruce the place up. It might be work now, but a good coat of paint can go a long way.

Lighting

Sure, you could get by with the sole garage light, but why would you want to? Lighting your man cave can be as easy as scouring yard sales and thrift stores for used lamps. On the other hand, if you want to be more elaborate, you can install your own lighting. This can be a tricky project, especially with a detached garage, so plan accordingly. Either way, unless you want to spend your time squinting at the new bestseller you’re trying to read, it’s worth getting a variety of artificial lights to ensure maximum brightness. 

Furniture

Once all the structural changes are out of the way, you can really start making the place your own. Of course, you’ll have to pay attention to your space and budget, but it’s still possible to make your man cave fit your needs. Whether it’s a nice table for playing poker with your buddies or a couch for watching the game, there are plenty of ways to find decent furniture for cheap. There are even things you can build yourself, like shelves for storing your memorabilia. Shelves can also come in handy if you need storage space for stuff that was in the garage, like tools. Make sure you also leave space for a fridge and a television – if you’re trying to stick to a budget, you might be buying something bigger than a flat screen. Whatever it is you want, though, now is not the time for cutting corners. A table made of crates might have worked in college, but it’s about time you have something more stable. 

Decor

With your furniture in place, all that’s left is the final touches. Do you have collectibles collecting dust in a closet somewhere? Time to let them see the light of day again! Always wanted a dartboard? There’s no better place like your man cave to put that on display. Whatever your decorations, this is the best way to express yourself and personalize your space.

If you’re looking for a way to have a room to yourself, know that making a man cave in your garage is both possible and affordable, as long as you’re willing to put in the work. So stop letting your car get more privacy than you, and start on your man cave renovations today!


Drip No More: How To Fix a Leaky Faucet

Drip No More: How To Fix a Leaky Faucet

Haunted by the constant noise coming from your leaky sink? Tired of watching your money drip down the drain? Your faucet leaking is more than just an annoying inconvenience, the water waste can add up. There’s good news, though: Fixing a sink yourself is not only cheap, it’s doable for even the most inexperienced homeowner. So put down that phone and pick up some tools, it’s time to repair that dripping faucet!

Tools You’ll Need

Required

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Replacement parts: cylinder, cartridge and/or new washer/O-ring

Optional

  • Penetrating oil 
  • Needle nose pliers 

Before You Start

Step One: Not all sinks are created equal, so it will be up to you to figure out what sort of sink you have before you start with the repairs. A ceramic disk faucet will require you to replace the cylinder, while a cartridge faucet requires a replaced cartridge, and a compression or reverse compression faucet requires a washer/O-ring. 

Step Two: Unless you want to get soaked, you’ll need to turn off the water. Typically, this can be done using valves located under the sink. Unfortunately, if you can’t turn off the water to the sink, you need to turn off the water for your home.

Faucet Repair

Step Three: Remove the decorative handle. Depending on the sink, this can either be done by prying it off with a flat screwdriver, or unscrewing a small screw with a wrench. 

Step Four: Remove screw under cap with a Phillips screwdriver.

Step Five: Use a wrench to loosen and remove the packing nut. If it’s not working, consider using penetrating oil like WD-2 to help. 

Step Six: Once the packing nut is removed, you’ll need to take out the stem. Some can be taken out simply by pulling gently, while others twist out and still others require special tools. When removed, examine the stem to figure out what is damaged. If the rubber O-ring seems to be intact, it might be the cartridge or stem that is damaged. 

Step Seven: To replace an O-ring, carefully remove the old ring from the cartridge. When replacing an O-ring, it will be necessary to ensure your replacement is a perfect fit, so either bring your old O-ring to the hardware store to compare, or purchase a variety of sizes. Once you have your replacement, slide the O-ring onto the cartridge. If the O-ring is not the problem, the cartridge/stem itself might be damaged. In that case, you will want to replace that instead.

Step Eight: Make sure all of the parts are returned securely: return cartridge to its position, reattach packing nut with a wrench, screw cap back on and finally, replace the handle.

Step Nine: Turn back on the water and slowly twist the handle to test. You might have to give it time, water does not always immediately leak from the spout.

If your faucet is still leaking, there might be bigger problems at work. While it could be something as simple as loose parts, it might also be a sign that there’s something wrong with your plumbing. In this case, it’s probably worth calling an expert.

Freezer not Freezing? Don’t Have a Meltdown until You Try These DIY Solutions

Freezer not Freezing? Don’t Have a Meltdown until You Try These DIY Solutions

When you get right down to it, your freezer really only has one job to do: freeze your food, and sometimes, that’s just too much to ask. But hey, it makes sense when you think about it. After all, maintaining freezing temperatures is a full-time job — one that demands a lot of power and several specialized components all working in harmony. Every hour of every day, every day of the week, your freezer is fighting the good fight to keep your food from thawing.

And eventually, it’s going to lose that fight.

Sooner or later, the general wear and tear that comes from constant use will take its toll on your freezer. And when that happens, it can also take its toll on your wallet, with the average cost to repair or replace a refrigerator/freezer generally running anywhere from $412 – $1,151. But before you lose your cool, there are some simple, cost effective solutions you might not have thought about.

Freezer not freezing? Here’s how to take care of the issue without dipping into your savings.


First Thing’s First: Check the Owner’s Manual

Before you start taking apart your freezer, take a look through its owner’s manual. Your owner’s manual may be able to provide you with solutions specific to your appliance’s brand, and will also give you details about the manufacturer’s warranty (which can save you a lot of trouble if your freezer is defective and qualifies for coverage). Of course, if you’ve had your freezer for more than just a few years or if it came used when you purchased your home, you might not have any idea where the owner’s manual is. If that’s the case, do a quick internet search — the owner’s manual may be available online.


Make Sure Your Freezer Is Getting Power

If your freezer isn’t working at all, there may be a problem with the power. You can check this by opening the freezer door and checking to see if the interior light turns on. If it doesn’t, your freezer may not be getting any electricity. Check to make sure that the freezer is plugged in securely to the wall outlet. If it is, check the cord itself for fraying (it’s easier and less expensive to replace a cord than to buy a new unit). If the cord looks fine, then check out your circuit breaker/fuse box — an electrical surge may have cut the power.

Freezer not Cold Enough? Check the Temperature Settings

Is the freezer cold but not freezing? The solution may be as simple as checking the temperature settings. Most freezers will have some sort of control (in the form of a dial, slider, or digital panel) that allows you to regulate how cold the freezer gets. So, if your freezer isn’t quite cold enough, adjust the settings and see if that solves the problem.


Now for the Coils

OK, if temperature controls are where they should be and your freezer still isn’t working properly, then you may have a problem with your coils. Freezer coils are an essential factor in maintaining low temperatures in your freezer, and when they have problems, your freezer has problems.

Take a look in your freezer. Is there a lot of frost build up along the sides of the compartment? If so, that froost could be choking the coils, which will keep air from circulating properly in your unit. This is something you can easily fix yourself, by defrosting your freezer. To do this, simply turn off the freezer, remove everything from the compartment, and wait for the ice to melt (you may want to keep a few towles around the base of the unit to catch any runoff).

If there isn’t a lot of frost build up, coils might still be the problem — dirty coils. To facilitate the cooling process, freezers pull in air through intakes. And sometimes, with that air comes dust, grime, and hair. This can choke the coils and keep them from working effectively.

Turn off your freezer and pull it out from the wall. At the back of the unit along the base, you should see the air intake that leads to the coils. Use a vacuum cleaner to clean the coils (the soft brush attachment is especially effective, and less likely to damage the coils).


Air Circulation Problems

As previously mentioned, freezers need to be able to circulate air. And to do that, the freezer’s evaporator fan needs to be clear of obstructions.

The evaporator fan should be located in the compartment towards the back, and if your freezer is too full, or if there is something right up against the fan, then the air might not be able to circulate effectively. Rearrange your freezer items (or get rid of some of those items that have been gathering freezer burn) to free up space around the evaporator fan.

Time to Call an Expert?

There are a number of easy, DIY solutions to freezer problems, but sometimes you actually do need to deal with repairing or replacing components. If that’s the case, and if you feel up to the task, you can handle some of these repairs yourself. The most common components that may need to be replaced are:

  • Refrigerant lines
  • Evaporator fans
  • Freezer door seals
  • Compressors
  • Condenser fans
  • Water inlet valve

Sometimes, the only solution is to call in an expert. The good news is that with a reliable home warranty, you won’t have to pay out of pocket. A home warranty company will cover the cost of repairs or replacement of your freezer unit, along with labor expenses, and will even take care of finding a skilled repair expert in your area. Click here for more information about home warranties.

Keep Up with Freezer Maintenance

Your freezer only has one job, but it’s an important one. You can help ensure the job gets done by taking care of your freezer with regular maintenance. Here are some easy maintenance tips:

  • Clean out your freezer at least twice per year and and wipe down the walls and shelves. Clean out the grooves in the freezer door seals using a credit card wrapped in a clean, thin cloth.
  • Vacuum dust and grime out of your condenser coils at least once per year.
  • Completely defrost the freezer at least once per year.

With the right maintenance schedule, a working knowledge of DIY solutions, and home warranty coverage from Home Service Club, you can rest secure in the knowledge that your freezer has what it needs to get the job done.