With the pandemic keeping most of us at home for much of the past year, our plumbing and appliances were really put to the test. All of our homes have likely had some extra wear and tear this past year. Here are three simple tricks to keep things humming! Do them now — and avoid a pricey repair bill down the road.
Clean your toilet’s flapper.
As we spend more time at home, our pipes are getting a workout. According to plumbers, repair calls have spiked significantly over the past year. The most common complaint? Toilets that won’t stop running.
Thankfully, there’s an easy fix to try: Remove the lid from the tank, flush the toilet, and lift the flapper — that’s the rubber cap at the bottom of the tank with a chain attached to it. “The flapper keeps water in the tank,” explains Stephany Smith of My Plumber. “After a lot of flushing, the rubber on it can get dirty, preventing it from sealing, causing the toilet to keep refilling.”
Going forward, simply rub the flapper with a microfiber cloth once a month. This prevents mineral deposits from corroding the seal and stops water loss.
Run white vinegar through your dishwasher.
All our home-cooked meals mean dishwashers are getting used like never before — and breaking down more often. That’s because the more dishes we wash, the more grease and food particles build up, causing clogs, explains Smith. “Extend the life of your appliance with a monthly cleaning,” she says. “Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack of an empty dishwasher and run the hot wash cycle.” The vinegar breaks down buildup, ensuring the machine runs like new. When the cleaning cycle is done, just sprinkle a bit of baking soda along the bottom of the dishwasher to absorb any lingering vinegar odor.
Clean out your fridge.
A lot of us stocked up on food during the past year, packing our refrigerators to the gills. “Unfortunately, this resulted in a wave of fridge failures, so much so that there’s still a backlog on ordering new units,” reveals appliance repair expert Scott Isacksen, of TCI Building Services. “If your fridge is packed too tightly, air can’t circulate, straining the motor.” The simple fix: Aim to stock your fridge or freezer to about three-quarters full, and leave the most free space at the top, where air is warmest and needs to circulate the most. An easy way to do this is to stash bigger items — like gallon-sized milk containers or large Tupperware — on the bottom shelf and leave the top section for smaller items like yogurt, eggs, and jam jars.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.