Maintenance How-To's

How to plunge a toilet:
• Step 1- Make sure you have a toilet plunger and not a half-moon shaped sink plunger.
• Step 2- Begin by inserting the collar extension into the hole at the bottom of the toilet. Pull back gently, then push it back into the hole slowly, using a count of one-one-thousand to pace yourself. Do that for a few slow push-pulls.
• Step 3- Slowly build up your speed. You can feel the vacuum suction building at this point, and will feel when the drain has become free again. At this point you are plunging more quickly. Once the drain has become free, it is time to flush and smile! You did it!


How to turn off the water to a toilet:
• Step 1 - Behind the toilet is a hose going into the wall. Where the hose goes into the wall, there will be a knob that can be turned. Turning this knob to the right will stop the water, turning it to the left will allow water to flow. (Good tip: Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosey)
How to reset a garbage disposal:
• Step 1 - Look for the garbage disposals reset button. You can find this button, which is most commonly red, under the garbage disposal or on its side near the top. If the button is up, press it to reset it. (Reminder: If you have been trying to operate the garbage disposal, it is best to let it cool at least five minutes before pressing the reset button.)


How to unclog a garbage disposal:
• Step 1 - Turn the power off to your disposal
• Step 2 - Use a flashlight to look into the garbage disposal through the sink drain. If you can see any foreign object blocking the blades from turning, use tongs, pliers, or another tool to grab the object and remove it.
• Step 3 - Insert a wooden spoon handle or similar object into the disposal through the sink drain and manually turn the blades to ensure they move freely. (You may also use a hex-head wrench in the hole at the bottom of your disposal to manually turn the blades if you have such a tool)
• Step 4 - Turn the power to your garbage disposal back on when you think the problem is solved and test the results.
*Tip*: If an unpleasant smell is emanating from your disposal, simply place either ice and lemon juice into it or cut up lemons or limes into the disposal and run it. The lemon and lime's natural juices will rid you of the unpleasantness


How to clean lint from a dryer:
• Step 1 - Locate the screen/filter. This is generally in the front of the dryer just behind the door or on the top towards the back near the control panel. Clean the screen/filter. The lint will easily come off with a quick wipe of the fingers or a brush. Lint builds up quickly on the screen so clean it often, after every load if possible.


How to replace a smoke detector battery:
• Step 1 - Open the smoke detector. The most common detector is opened by pulling on its outside lip. Other detectors open by gently giving them a half turn and pulling. Others will have a battery compartment visible that can be opened by simply pressing a button or tugging on a tab.
• Step 2 - Once the battery is visible, tug it out of its retaining clip. This is easily accomplished by placing a finger on the end of the battery without connectors and pulling. If the battery has a wire coupling attached to it, pull on it until it unsnaps from the battery.
• Step 3 - Line up a fresh battery with the battery terminals ensuring that the positive lines up with the positive and the negative lines up with the negative. Squeeze the battery into the terminals and ensure the battery is snuggly placed into the smoke detector.
• Step 4 - Place the smoke detectors cover back into position.
• Step 5 - Test the new battery by pressing the battery test button on the front of the smoke detector. If you have installed it correctly and the battery is good, you will hear a very loud alarm. If the detector beeps continually every few seconds, the battery is either bad or was not installed correctly.


How to shut off a water heater: (Note: This should only be done if your water heater is leaking)
• Step 1 - Turn on the hot water in your house by running your shower, sinks, etc. This will help start to drain the water out of the unit.
• Step 2 - Look at your hot water heater, you should see a water line coming into the heater as well as one going out. If you are having a difficult time telling which line is which, lightly touch the pipes. The cold one is the intake pipe. This pipe should have a faucet type cut off on it.
• Step 3 - Turn this until it is completely off
• Step 4 - Shut your showers, sinks, etc off as they will no longer drain water from the heater when it is off.


How to reset a circuit breaker:
• Step 1 - Locate the breaker box in the garage. 
• Step 2 - Open the box and find the tripped breaker. A breaker that is slightly offset from the ON position has been tripped. If you cannot tell by looking, you can push each breaker toward the ON position. The one that gives a little is tripped.
• Step 3 - Flip the tripped breaker all the way to the OFF position. Wait a second and then flip the breaker back to the ON position.


How to turn an ice maker on and off:
• Step 1 - Open your freezer and locate the icemaker.
• Step 2 - There is a metal arm sticking out of the icemaker above the ice tray.
• Step 3 - Grip the arm and flip it up to turn the icemaker off. Usually OFF will be written on the icemaker, and when the arm is in line with this word, it is off. To turn it back on simply grip the arm and push it back down. It should snap itself in place.


How to put detergent in a dishwasher:
• Step 1 - Open the dishwasher
• Step 2 - On the inside of the door will be a detergent cup, possibly two. Place detergent (liquid, powder, or tablet) into the main detergent cup and close its trap door into place. You may choose to fill the open cup with detergent as well
• Step 3 - Close the dishwasher door
NOTE: Make sure you are using dishwasher detergent and not regular dish soap that you would use to wash dishes in a sink. Dish soap will cause the dishwasher to leak and overflow. (ex: do not use Dawn, Palmolive, etc.)


How to operate a thermostat:
• Step 1 - Locate the thermostat. Common locations to look are in the living room or main hallway. Usually there will be multiple tabs or buttons on the thermostat - one that reads ON and AUTO, one that reads HEAT, COOL, EMER, and OFF, and finally a tab for the temperature. (This may be simple up and down buttons for digital thermostats.)
• Step 2 - To make it warmer, slide the tab under the word HEAT and then adjust the temperature slider. To make it cooler slide the tab under COOL and adjust the temperature. EMER stands for emergency heat. This will provide heat more rapidly, but it is suggested to use HEAT only whenever possible. Flip the tab to OFF to shut the air conditioner off entirely.
• Step 3 - The final tab is the ON / AUTO tab. When the tab is in the AUTO position the air conditioner will shut off automatically once the desired temperature is achieved. To keep the AC running continually, flip the tab into the ON position. It is recommended to use the AUTO function over the ON function as often as possible.
*Tip* - Never set your thermostat too low or too high as it can often cause damage to the air conditioning unit.


How to change an air filter:
• Step 1 - Locate the air filter (or filters. There may be more than one). It can be in a variety of places. A few good places to look are the attic, kitchen, upstairs bedrooms and hallways, or on the furnace itself.
• Step 2 - Remove the filter cover. This usually requires a flat head screwdriver.
• Step 3 - Tug the old filter out and check its size by reading the numbers off the cardboard edge. (Size: 20x20)
• Step 4 - Get a new filter that matches the appropriate dimensions of the old filter.
• Step 5 - Place the new filter into the hole where the old filter once was. Usually the filter will have a small arrow on its side indicating which side should be facing in.
• Step 6 - Fasten the filter cover back in place