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Having sump pump issues? Our plumbing expert is showing you two fool-proof ways to check to see if your sump pump is working!

Not sure if your sump pump is working? Don’t worry! It is super easy to check to make sure that everything is in working order.

When it comes to checking your sump pump, there are two fool-proof ways to tell if something is wrong.

Lift the float

Perhaps the easiest method for checking your sump pump is to lift the float, however, it can be a little intimidating to do this if you know nothing about plumbing. 

The float is the sump pumps on switch. It quite literally floats and when the water level gets high enough it tells the pump to kick on. It is usually very easy to identify the float. The float is attached to the side of the sump pump. To turn the sump pump on, simply push the float as high up as you can. If you see the sump pump kick on, great you know it’s working! If the sump pump does not kick on skip ahead to the troubleshooting section. If you are not sure where your float is, there is no need to waste any time! Simply try dumping water into the pit, directions below.

Dump water in the pit

Dumping water into your sump pump’s pit is a fool-proof way to make sure your sump pump works. If you have no plumbing knowledge, identifying the sump pump’s float can be a little tricky. Start by getting a 5 gallon bucket, trash can, cooler, or even 5 gallon jugs. Then dump the water into the pit. If the pump kicks on, it works! If the pump does not kick on, you will need to do a little trouble shooting.

Trouble Shooting Your Sump Pump

When it comes to sump pumps, there is not much to them. This makes troubleshooting very easy. Basically, if it has power and it’s not working it needs to be replaced. It’s not easy!

Unplug It, And Plug It Back In

The old unplug it and fix it trick. When it comes to making sure that an electronic is working, this is the gold standard! This step is very self-explanatory, just unplug it and plug it back in.

Make Sure the Outlet Has Power

By code, sump pumps must be connected to a GFCI outlet. A GFCI outlet contains it’s own switch and if there is any sort of fault the outlet will turn off. Most GFCI outlets have a green light on them letting you know that they are on. If your sump pump’s outlet does not have a green light on it, you may need to plug something else in to make sure it has power. If your outlet does not have power, press the reset switch and double check the breaker. If that does not work, you will need to contact an electrician.

Replace the Pump

The average life expectancy of a sump pump is 10 years. However, depending on the brand and amount of use your sump pump may last between 5 and 15 years. Sump pumps do not last forever: If your outlet has power and your sump pump is not working, it probably needs to be replaced. Almost all sump pumps can be repaired, but it is usually quicker and less expensive to replace the pump. On top of that, you have a brand new pump when you’re done!

I hope this guide was helpful. If you have any more questions about sump pumps check out our other guides, like this quick buyer’s guide. We also have a more comprehensive guide.

Stay ahead of the plumbing game with these tips on protecting your home's plumbing system.

New modern faucet and kitchen room sink closeup with island and granite countertops in model house home apartment

We tend to give our home’s plumbing system little attention until something goes wrong. Even the smallest plumbing issue can put several of your day-to-day activities on hold, like laundry and doing the dishes. Fortunately, there are several tips you can put into action to protect your home’s plumbing. Regular plumbing maintenance and periodically draining the water heater are two great tips for keeping your home’s plumbing in tip-top shape.

Educate Your Family

One of the simplest ways to protect your home’s plumbing is to educate yourself on what you shouldn’t flush. While city sewers are capable of accepting a range of debris, your home is not. Common that will clog your pipes if you flush them include:

  • Plastic
  • Cotton balls
  • Cigarette butts
  • Paper towels
  • Feminine products
  • Q-tips

To make things easy, make a it rule to only flush toilet paper. It’s also important to avoid putting animal fats and cooking grease down drains.

Insulate Your Pipes

During colder weather, the pipes in your basement and crawl spaces are prone to freezing and cracking. This is especially common if your pipes are copper. A busted water pipe can lead to major water damage and costly repair bills. To prevent this, consider insulating your pipes.

Insulating sleeves are helpful for preventing frozen pipes. They also minimize condensation, which is crucial to mitigating decay. However, before you opt to insulate your plumbing, it’s important to determine the material of your pipes. If you have copper pipes, insulation will be of the utmost value. Plastic pipes are well-known for their reliable insulation value, meaning you probably don’t need to insulate them.

Clean the Faucet Aerators

Once a month, go around the house and take the mesh tip off of each faucet. This mesh tip is known as an aerator. You need to clean it regularly to prevent a blockage of water.

Clean the Filter

If you have a water softener system or an ice maker, it’s important to clean their filters. Not only does this make the water healthier, but it greatly protects your home’s pipes. You can find instructions in the manufacturer’s manual explaining the best way to clean the filters.

Be Careful With Garbage Disposals

Garbage disposals are super helpful in getting rid of waste. However, they can quickly clog your kitchen’s pipes. If your home’s plumbing connects to a septic tank, it’s best to use the garbage disposal as little as possible. This minimizes the possibility of the septic tank backing up.

Drain the Water Heater

Over time, sediment will build up inside the water heater tank. Even a small amount of sediment can hinder the functionality of this appliance.

To keep this from happening, drain the water heater on a regular basis. Because it can be unsafe to drain the water heater on your own, it’s best to leave this in the hands of a professional plumber. You can easily ask your plumber to drain the water heater during a maintenance session.

Prepare the Plumbing for Vacations

If you’re going on vacation, you’ll need to take certain steps to protect your home’s plumbing while you’re away. You can start with shutting off the home’s main water supply. This ensures that you won’t come home to a major water leak or flooding. You’ll also want to shut off the hot water heater. If you don’t, this appliance can overheat if it doesn’t have the proper water supply.

Lastly, check the flapper valves on all toilets to make sure they’re functioning properly. If one of them isn’t, you run the risk of the toilet running the entire time you’re on vacation, which is counteractive if you’re trying to reduce your water usage.

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Click here for a recap of what was featured on our home design website Cincy Home Chic Home!

Here’s a recap of what we featured on our home design website, Cincy Home Chic Home:

A Modern Twist

Walworth Junction: Site of Homearama 2020!

Word Art

Contrasting Elements

Real Estate is an Essential Business During Covid-19. Learn How It is Safely Continuing

The Layers of Design

How Do Interest Rates Impact Buyers

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Avoid a garbage disposal mishap with these helpful tips and common foods to avoid from our resident plumbing guru.

If you have a garbage disposal chances are you see it as an easy way to get rid of food you don’t want stinking up your trash. But did you know that there are things that should go down the disposal, unless you want majorly expensive plumbing issues? 

Here’s a rundown of things that shouldn’t ever go down the garbage disposal:

Bones: This one is probably a no-brainer, but bones will spin around with the blades and can break your garbage disposal.

Celery: You may think celery can be easily chopped up, but its fibrous strings can tangle around the disposal’s blades, as can asparagus and corn husks.

Coffee Grounds: This one might be a shocker, but coffee grounds shouldn’t go down the garbage disposal. They may look like they’re going down easy but really they can pile up and cause a sediment-like mess in your drain. 

Egg Shells: There’s a divide as to whether or not egg shells can be put down the garbage disposal. Some say that egg shells can sharpen the blades of your disposal while others say that the membrane lining of egg shells can stick to the sides of the disposal and wrap around the shredder. We prefer to err on the side of caution and avoid putting egg shells down the disposal.

Grease & Oil: Grease and oil are more than likely not even going to make it into the disposal and will probably clog up your pipes instead.

Pasta: It may seem like pasta noodles will easily go down the drain, but pasta swells when it gets wet, so you don’t want it filling the disposal trap.

Potato Peels: Potato peels can get soupy once they’re in the disposal, along with other starchy veggies.

Going back and forth between installing a septic or sewer system? Our plumbing expert gives you a breakdown of the differences between the two!

Drainage systems make wastewater disappear whenever toilets are flushed or hands are washed in buildings and residential properties. But for all the functions that drainage helps make possible—dishes, laundry, showers—few people stop and think about the mechanisms that go into the process. The whole thing basically comes down to two types of systems: sewer and septic.

Sewer systems are more common because they’re funded and maintained by local governments. Septic systems, however, are becoming more popular as an affordable, environmentally sound alternative that give homeowners full control over their drainage. The following article examines the facts, pros, and cons of the whole septic vs sewer system debate.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences between sewer and septic systems:

Where does the waste go?
Septic System: The waste goes into a holding tank.
Sewer System: Sewers lines carry waste to a treatment facility.

How does it work?
Septic System: Bacteria break down the solid waste and the liquid effluent is then released into the drainfield.
Sewer System: The facility removes contaminants and then discharges water back into local water supplies.

What is the cost?
Septic System: If buying a new home from a reputable new home builder, then the cost of the septic system is included in the price of the house.
Sewer System: The cost to use a public sewer system varies depending on location.  Some areas separate the cost of water and sewage, while others combine the two.

What type of maintenance is needed?
Septic System: Depending on the usage, septic tanks need to be pumped out yearly or every few years.
Sewer System: None

Who is responsible for the maintenance?
Septic System: It is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the septic system.
Sewer System: Your local municipality is responsible for maintaining the public sewer system.

What do you do if it fails to work?
Septic System: Call a professional septic repair company.
Sewer System: Call your local municipality public works department

What are the benefits?
Septic System: If maintained properly a septic system generally has fewer ongoing costs.
Sewer System: Sewer systems are very convenient and the homeowner has no responsibility for repairs

Hard water becoming a problem? Click here to read more about how a water softener can help!

While many of you may get city water, there are some folks who have to turn to water softeners to treat their water. Think you may need a water softener? Here’s a breakdown of what they are and what exactly they do:

What is a water softener?
A Water Softener is a filtration system that works to remove high concentrations of calcium and magnesium that cause hard water. When water flows through a Water Softener, the system filters out these hard water minerals and the softened water then leaves the water softening system to flow through plumbing.

What is hard water?
When you hear the words “hard water,” what’s being referenced is water that contains high concentrations of minerals, mostly calcium and magnesium, that bond easily with other types of metals. Eventually, all of this build-up becomes something that you can see, like the crusty residue on your shower head.  

Hard water got its name from the hardened mineral deposits that this type of water leaves behind. Hard water doesn’t build up in “safe” areas, it can clog and even corrode pipes and cause significant plumbing issues. Hard water deposits in boilers and hot water heaters can also make these appliances less efficient and more expensive to use. 

How does a water softener work?
A water softener works a lot like a magnet does. They work off the fact that positive and negative things attract. Because calcium and magnesium are both positively charged molecules, a water softener will sent these molecules through a filter that is filled with negatively charged resin beads. When the hard water moves through the resin beads, opposites attract and the molecules bond with the negative charges. 

Retirement is often regarded as the destination of choice after a long career. But if you didn’t prepare sufficiently, you might find yourself in a position where you need a little bit of extra money to make your retirement more comfortable. Rather than committing to long-term debt that you don’t really need, why not consider looking at a reverse home loan? I’ll break it down for you, to make things easier to understand.

What is a reverse home loan actually?

It is a long-term loan, but unlike conventional loans, you will not be bound to regular, equal, monthly payments until the loan term is over. A reverse home loan will allow you to draw benefit from the money that you have borrowed for the duration of the time that you live in the house against which the money is borrowed, and you will only need to repay the loan at the end of the period.

What is HECM?

This stands for home equity conversion mortgage. Honestly, there is not much of a difference between this and a regular reverse mortgage, except that a home equity conversion mortgage is issued by a state authorised lender, and backed and insured by the state, whereas a conventional reverse mortgage can only be accessed through a private lender, like a bank.

What is a reverse mortgage calculator?

This is a handy tool that lenders make use of to calculate their clients’ financial standing, before granting them a reverse home loan. This tool takes factors such as your house’s age, overall condition and physical location into account. It helps a reverse mortgage lender to calculate the percentage of the home’s total value that you would be eligible for, as federal laws prevent you from borrowing the full equity value of your house in the form of a loan. Remember that, if you have an existing home loan in place, you will have to use funds made available to you in the reverse home loan to pay off the existing home loan first, before your lender will grant you access to the remainder of the funds in your reverse home loan.

In what ways can I access my money?

A reverse mortgage is exceptionally flexible, and you can access the money in the way that best suits your needs. Whether you choose a single bulk payment upfront, where the entire amount is paid over to you in one go, or a line of credit which lets you access the amount you need when you need it (similarly to the way a credit card would have worked), the choice is yours, based on what you need. You can even set it up so that you take receipt of your money in stipulated monthly amounts, mimicking what a monthly salary would have been for you during your earning years. This last option is often very popular, as it gives people some form of predictability and control over their monthly income, and is very useful for those who prefer to set a budget.