In a Jam? Tips and Tricks for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

In a Jam? Tips and Tricks for Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Most homes have a garbage disposal in their kitchen, but these convenient appliances don’t have a very long life expectancy. However, you can extend your disposal’s life with a little bit of garbage disposal maintenance. Thankfully, maintaining your garbage disposal isn’t difficult and can come down to a few easy steps that will help prevent clogs, keep your disposal fresh and more.

Preventing Clogs

To prevent your garbage disposal and drain from getting clogged, here are a few things to avoid putting in your disposal:

  • Eggshells and Coffee Grounds – they cause tiny, granular waste that can stick to any grime or sludge in your pipes and can quickly create clogs.
  • Banana Peels – these can form stringy fibers that will clog up pipes.
  • Potato Peelings – just like banana peels, they can create starchy waste that clogs drains.
  • Ground Glass – it doesn’t sharpen the cutting blades and will definitely not clean your drain pipes.

Maintaining a Fresh Disposal

  • Periodically grind up pieces of orange or lemon peel. The oils can clean the blades, and they smell nice to boot!
  • Grind ice cubes, which help clean old residue off the blades.
  • Never use bleach and water to clean your disposal. It can harden any grease in your pipes and will also kill the bacteria in your septic holding tank that makes your septic system effective.

Of course, these are nice, but preventing clogs is the bare minimum in terms of keeping your disposal running. The good news is, there’s plenty you can do on a regular basis to ensure your garbage disposal stays in tip top shape.

Daily:

  • Using your garbage disposal on a daily basis is actually enough to reduce accumulation because your disposal gets a good rinse of soapy waste water from washing dishes.

Weekly:

  • Flush your garbage disposal with cold water. You can do this by filling the sink with clean, cold water, then pull the drain stop and allow the water to completely drain. This will help purge the drain pipe of any loose food waste.

Monthly:

  • Empty a full tray of ice cubes into your sink and then grind up in the disposal. Once it turns into a slushy mixture, rinse it down with a light stream of cold water. At first, water will back up into the sink, give it a few minutes and the ice will start to melt allowing the water to drain. Grinding ice sharpens the disposal blades and can help remove any accumulated food waste.
  • Pour a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar down your drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes or until it’s done foaming. Rinse down with hot running water. This can help prevent bad odors from building up.
  • If your garbage disposal comes with a removable drain baffle, remove it and clean the surface thoroughly with water, dish detergent and a soft brush such as an old toothbrush. Make sure to replace the baffle correctly before operating the garbage disposal again.

Removing a Jam

If your garbage disposal ever does jam, there are a few things you can do to fix it. Always shut off the water from the faucet and turn off the power to your disposal before doing any repairs. Once you’ve done this, you can insert an allen wrench into the center hole of your disposal, which is located beneath the disposal.

Carefully work the wrench side to side until you can turn it in a complete circle. Now, using pliers (not your hands!), reach into the grind chamber and remove the object causing the jam. Give the motor a few minutes to cool down before pressing the red reset button located on the bottom of the garbage disposal. You are now safe to restore power to your disposal.

Final Dos and Don’ts

If all of this seems like too much work, though, here are a few basic tips to keep things running smoothly:

  • Do use a de-greaser to occasionally keep fat from building up.
  • Do snake the drain pipe every couple of years to prevent clogs.
  • Do run cold water during and after every use. Let it run for at least 15 seconds after grinding has ceased to make sure your food washes through
  • Don’t use hot water during grinding. Hot water can make any fat in the pipes congeal and make it stick to the blades in your unit.
  • Don’t put grease, fat or pasta through the disposal.
  • Don’t use harsh cleaning chemicals.
  • Don’t ever grind anything other than food in your disposal.
  • Don’t fill the disposal, grind food waste gradually.

When your garbage disposal finally gives up the ghost, don’t find yourself in a jam! Consider a warranty from Home Service Club to ensure your garbage disposal doesn’t stay down for long.

Quick and Effective Bathroom Cleaning Tips

Quick and Effective Bathroom Cleaning Tips

Getting your bathroom sparkling clean isn’t always the easiest task. It can sometimes take more than an hour to get it back to normal and even longer if it’s an especially well-used room. But there are a few handy bathroom cleaning tips that can help speed up your process. The following bathroom cleaning tips are cheap and easy and may even make you actually look forward to cleaning!

Tips for the Shower and Tub

Getting down on your knees and having to bend over to scrub a tub with an old sponge can be a tedious task. Instead of breaking your back, check out this tip for how to clean a bathtub: Grab a clean broom and do the scrubbing all while standing. All you need to do is cover your tub or shower floor with soap or Comet, then scrub away with a clean broom. Once done, you can rinse as usual. You’ve just saved your knees, back and a whole lot of time!

Showerheads are a big spot where rust, mold, and gunk can build up with time. If your shower head is dirty, give it its own little bath with a vinegar soak. Remove your showerhead and let it sit in a bowl or bucket full of vinegar for at least half an hour. This will help break down any grime. Give the showerhead a good rinse before reattaching it.

If you have a glass shower door, you can stop messes long before they start with a little Rain-X. On a clean, dry shower door, spray a coating of Rain-X to prevent water spots from building up.

Tips to Freshen Up Grout

Your knowledge of how to clean a bathtub wouldn’t be complete without a few tile and grout tips. Grout is an easy spot for grime and mold to build up and sometimes a daily shower spray won’t be enough to prevent it from getting dirty. If your grout is starting to look worse for wear, apply a paste of 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup bleach to the grout. Let it sit for 30 minutes and then remove it with a cloth or scrubbing brush.

Tips on Cleaning Mirrors

A hot shower or bath can lead to water stains on your mirrors. To prevent this, take a bar of soap and rub it all over your mirror, then use a cloth to gently rub it in. Next time you want a nice hot steaming shower, your mirror won’t fog up!

If your mirror has already hit a pretty bad spot with dust and water stains, you can quickly restore it to its original shine with black tea. Combine a cup of boiling water with a couple of bags of black tea, allow it to cool and then use the solution to clean your mirror. The tannic acid in the tea will dissolve any standing dirt on your mirror leaving it spotless. Make sure to use a microfiber cloth or newspaper to prevent streaks as you wipe it dry.

Tips on Cleaning the Toilet

Often, the toilet is best washed first before anything else in your bathroom. It’s easy to let water splash or drip out as you are cleaning your toilet, so don’t mop before you’ve given it a good scrub.

For another great tip, you don’t always have to use toilet bowl cleaner to get your toilet sparkling clean. In fact, you can use a few other things you already have on hand… such as mouthwash. Pour about a quarter cup of your usual breath freshener into the toilet bowl and allow it to sit for 30 to 45 minutes. Give a quick scrub and watch the mouthwash return your toilet to its original porcelain white color.

You can also take the same mold and mildew spray (like Tilex) you use on your shower tile and spray it in your toilet to help battle the orange mildew the can build up over time. Again, make sure to let the spray sit for at least 10 minutes before using the toilet again.

Tips for the Bathroom Sink

Over time, it can feel harder to get your sink clean, as water spots build up. If you’ve gotten to this point, don’t worry because it’s actually quite easy to get rid of them! Cut a lemon in half and then rub it over your stained chrome fixtures (you can also use this tip in the tub and shower). The lemon will instantly remove these hard water spots, and as a bonus, leave your bathroom smelling fresh and clean.

Another great way to keep your faucet shining is with a little baby oil. Dab a small amount of baby oil only a clean cloth and use it to clean all the chrome fixtures in your bathroom.

Sometimes the best way to clean a bathroom is to know how to prevent dirt from building up. You can prevent drain clogs in your bathroom sink by pouring baking soda and white vinegar down the drain periodically. Be sure to flush it with hot water. This not only helps break down any build-up but can also disinfect.

Keep Your Cool: Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

Keep Your Cool: Refrigerator Maintenance Tips

Your refrigerator is one of the hardest working appliances in your home. It runs 24/7, which can mean a lot of wear and tear. If you don’t take the time to keep it properly maintained, you can end up with some expensive problems on your hands – not to mention losing all your perishables. To prevent your fridge from breaking down, follow these routine refrigerator maintenance tips.

Day-to-Day Maintenance

Here are a few things you can do on a day-to-day basis to keep up on your fridge maintenance:

  • Always cover your food to prevent odors from migrating to the freezer and throughout the rest of the fridge.
  • Keep a small, open box of baking soda in your fridge to help absorb odor-causing acids.
  • If you don’t have a front-vented or zero-clearance fridge, be sure to maintain an adequate amount of clearance on all sides of the refrigerator.

Monthly Maintenance

These refrigerator maintenance steps are important to do every month to prevent odd odors from building up:

  • Keep a small, open box of baking soda in the freezer to absorb bad odors.
  • Empty your ice at least once a month. Ice can form solid blocks in the bottom of your bin, it can also absorb freezer odors causing your ice to taste funky. By emptying it out every month you can keep the ice loose and fresh.

Three Months Maintenance

Knowing how to service a refrigerator can be a very beneficial skill to learn. These refrigerator maintenance steps are extremely easy to do and should be done every three months to keep your fridge running smoothly.

  • Double-check that the fridge is level. When a fridge isn’t level, it won’t close properly which can strain the motors and cause condensation inside. You can check by placing a level on the top of the machine. If it’s not level, rotate the adjustable feet under the fridge until it lines up.
  • Inspect the door gasket. Flimsy and dirty gaskets can prevent the door from closing properly and stresses the motor. Every three months, clean the gaskets with soapy water and then dry completely. 
  • Be sure to also check the seals, if they’re loose you will need to replace their embedded magnets or remagnetize them. You can easily remagnetize these embedded magnets by running a powerful magnet along each side of the gasket in the same direction for about 50 times.
  • The condenser coils on the back of your fridge should be cleaned every three months. These coils and condense refrigerant, releasing heat. To keep them clean, vacuum the condenser coils and fan using the brush attachment on your vacuum. After this, clean the back coils and sides with a coil brush. These can reach into tricky, hard-to-reach spots. If you have pets that shed, you should clean the coils monthly.

Six Months Maintenance

  • Your fridge should have a drip pan and drain hole that remove condensation. You will need to clean these about twice a year. Clear away any food or mineral deposits, then scrub out the drain pan. You can check your owner’s manual for instructions on how to do this and where to locate both the drain hole and drip pan.
  • Newer model refrigerators often have a “replace filter” reminder that will notify you when it’s time to replace the filter. If you have an older model, you will need to replace the water filter every six months. This will ensure that you have clean ice and water and can also prevent leaks and clogs. You can check your owner’s manual for where to locate the filter and how to pull it out. Once you’ve replaced the filter, run a couple of gallons of water to help remove any carbon residue in the filter.

Other Tips & Tricks

Here are a few other things that you can do to keep your fridge well maintained:

  • Maintain the temperature. Check the temperature often in both the freezer and refrigerator sections of your appliance. The refrigerator should be around 37 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer should be set at zero degrees Fahrenheit. You can get an inexpensive fridge thermometer at just about any home improvement store.
  • Keep your fridge full. You don’t have to overcrowd it, but keeping the contents full can help the unit cool better and also help it operate more efficiently.
  • Always keep your light bulb working. This may seem like a silly thing, but if your fridge light doesn’t work, you may end up keeping the door open longer to find what you’re looking for. So, switch out any interior light bulbs that burn out.
  • Don’t place hot, steaming food in the fridge. Wait for your leftovers to completely cool, otherwise, they can raise the temperature in your unit making it your fridge work harder to stabilize the temp.
  • The placement of your refrigerator can play a big part in its ability to keep the contents cold and also in conserving energy. Although you may not be able to pick where your fridge goes, if you can, keep it away from the oven, cooktop or any other heating source.

Your fridge breaking down can stink (sometimes literally!), but there are ways to save your meals and your wallet. With some simple adjustments in fridge care, you can ensure your fridge stays working better for longer. And if you’re still worried about what happens when your refrigerator bites the dust, consider checking out the Home Service Club for all your home warranty needs!

Tub Thumping: Bathtub Cleaning Hacks to Break Through the Grime

Tub Thumping: Bathtub Cleaning Hacks to Break Through the Grime

Keeping your bathtub clean can be a real hassle, but having to bathe in a dirty one is a hundred times worse. There are tons of bathtub cleaning hacks out there, but sometimes they don’t always work. To keep your tub fresh and clean, we’ve rounded up some simple (and proven) bathtub cleaning tips. These bathroom cleaning hacks are sure to make cleaning your bathroom just a tad bit easier.

Unclogging a Drain

Use this simple how-to to easily clean a clogged drain. Grab a pair of skinny pliers, baking soda, a screwdriver, vinegar, and some paper towels.

  1. Unscrew the top of your drain. You can generally do this by hand. This will reveal a rubber washer and plastic insert. Using your screwdriver, un pop the plastic insert and remove the rubber washer.
  2. You should now see a metal cross shape. This is generally where hair gets caught and can build up. Lay your paper towels down near the drain. Grab your pliers and start by pinching any hair and buildup. If you can’t see anything, then just insert the pliers down into the drain and pinch. You will almost always come up with something. Drop whatever you bring up onto the paper towels. Continue doing this until you stop bringing stuff up. If you want, you can buy a drain snake from any home improvement store. These snakes can reach extremely far down into the drain and pipes to really clean them out.
  3. After you’ve cleared the drain, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, then pour in the vinegar until everything starts to bubble. Let this sit for about 15 minutes, then run extremely hot water down. This step will disinfect along with clean the drain.
  4. Reassemble your drain, and you’re all set!

Cleaning a Jetted Tub

Jetted tubs can come with some unique cleaning challenges, and can often get really bad buildup. To keep them cleaned and well maintained, use a cleaner like Oh Yuk to clean out slime and grime. Fill your tub with water and turn on the jets. Pour about two ounces of Oh Yuk into the tub and continue to let the jets run for about 10 minutes. You can then drain the tub.

Once you’ve drained the tub, you will most likely be left with some dirt and grime leftover. You can simply rinse down any dirt or use a sponge to wipe it away.

Cleaning While Protecting Your Caulk

Sometimes scrubbing your bathtub tile can lead to damaging or stripping your grout. But there’s an easier way to clean it without having to worry about this.

Simply soak some cotton balls or cloth strips in bleach water and then apply them around the edge of your bathtub. Let the bleach water sit overnight. When you wake up, any built-up mold or mildew should be gone!

Using What You Have

This bathtub cleaning hack is perfect if you don’t want to run to the store for any new cleaning products. It is also a great approach for anyone with limited mobility. All you need to grab is some Dawn dish soap and a clean broom (if you use this method often, get a broom specifically for this purpose and only use it to clean the tub with).

  1. Squirt some of the dish soap onto the sides and bottom of your bathtub.
  2. Use the broom to scrub the dish soap around the tub, scrubbing with the broom will help to cut down any mildew, soap scum and any other residue that has built up in tub.
  3. After you’ve scrubbed the tub with your broom, rinse down your bathtub using your shower wand or a bucket.

Cleaning Tile

You can make a simple tile and grout cleaner using baking soda, dish soap, and hydrogen peroxide. Mix 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide, and 1 teaspoon of liquid dish soap. Then use this mixture as you would any other bathtub cleaner.

All-Around Cleaning

A lot of store-bought bathroom cleaners can contain toxic substances and chemicals. If you want to steer away from these, you can simply make your own all-natural bathroom cleaner. Mix together 1 1/2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of baking soda, 2 tablespoons Castile soap, 15 drops of orange essential oils, and 15 drops of tea tree essential oils. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and then use to clean your sink, counter, tub, etc. Just about any surface in the bathroom can be cleaned with this at-home cleaner.

Be sure to try out any of these life hacks for cleaning bathrooms. You may be surprised at how easy and enjoyable it is to keep your tub clean now that you don’t have to get down on your knees and scrub until Sunday.

A Warranty by Any Other Name: What Exactly Is Home Repair Insurance?

A Warranty by Any Other Name: What Exactly Is Home Repair Insurance?

Have you ever heard of home repair insurance? If so, you may have wondered what, exactly, home repair insurance could possibly be. Is it the same thing as homeowners insurance? Or is it something different? And how does home repair insurance relate to a home warranty? Well, don’t worry. We’re here to clear things up. 

Simply put, home repair insurance and home warranty mean the same thing (and for confusion’s sake, home repair insurance is sometimes also called homeowner repair insurance or even household repair insurance). So, if you know what a home warranty is, then you also know what home repair insurance is. If, on the other hand, you don’t know what a home warranty is, we can fill you in.

Home Warranty/Home Repair Insurance Definition

To understand what home repair insurance is, let’s first take a look at what home insurance is not

Home insurance is not homeowners insurance or a manufacturer warranty.

Homeowners insurance covers accidental damage to your property and possessions, as a result of theft, fire, natural disasters, etc., but does not cover issues related to natural wear and tear. A manufacturer warranty covers appliances and systems against maintenance, repair, and replacement costs, but usually only for one year from purchase, and only for the original owner. 

And while homeowners insurance and manufacturer warranties are certainly important (good luck purchasing a home without homeowners insurance), they don’t offer the most complete coverage. For that, you also need home repair insurance.

Home repair insurance is designed to fill in the gaps left by homeowners insurance and manufacturer warranties, by offering coverage on vital home systems and appliances. Home warranty plans provide insurance for home repairs, and generally cover a range of components, including (but not necessarily limited to):

  • HVAC systems
  • Electrical systems
  • Plumbing
  • Water heaters
  • Washers and dryers
  • Garbage disposals
  • Central vacuums
  • Refrigerators
  • Stoves
  • Trash compactors
  • Built-in microwave ovens

Additionally, many home warranty companies offer extended home repair insurance options, covering things like pool and spa equipment, water softeners, roofs, and more.

How Does Home Repair Insurance Work? 

When normal wear and tear causes an appliance or system to fail, home repair insurance is there to set things right. Home warranty companies generally charge a standard fee for one year of home coverage. 

During that time, if any covered items require maintenance, repair, or replacement, the homeowner simply contacts the home warranty company and requests service. The warranty provider finds a reliable local repair professional, who then contacts the homeowner to set up an appointment. The repair professional diagnoses and corrects the problem, with warranty provider covering any related costs (including labor and parts). Finally, the homeowner pays a small per-job service fee. After the repairs have been completed, the warranty company contacts the homeowner to follow up on the provided service. 

What Are the Benefits of Home Repair Insurance? 

Above all, the right home repair insurance is simple. It takes a lot of the hassle out of home repairs. At the same time, home repair insurance is cost effective, allowing homeowners to spend significantly less per year than what they would otherwise be paying out of pocket for individual home repairs.  

And home repair insurance is also a great way to enjoy peace of mind; instead of worrying if the AC unit is going to fail and clean out your savings account, you can budget for a regular annual expense, and let the home warranty company take care of any unexpected problems. How’s that for value?
To learn more about home warranties, check out the Home Service Club In-Depth Home Warranty Guide., and see if home repair insurance (or whatever you want to call it) is right for you!